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Sons and Daughters: Classic Cliffhangers

Sons and Daughters: Classic Cliffhangers

The second Sons and Daughters DVD boxset, subtitled Classic Cliffhangers, was released by Umbrella Entertainment in Australia on 4 February 2007. The two-disc set was released as non-region-specific, meaning it can be played on standard DVD players all over the world. Copies can be bought from the EzyDVD website.

This set of DVDs focuses mainly on the end-of-season cliffhangers that aired in Australia just before Sons and Daughters took a break for Christmas each year, together with most of the season resumptions, plus the slightly random inclusion of the episode in which Beryl fell down a mineshaft; and the two final episodes.

A review of the DVD appears further down this page, but full details of the contents of the DVD are as follows.

Disc One

Episode 174: Year 1 - Cliffhanger
Episode 352: Year 2 - Cliffhanger
Episode 353: Who has been shot at Woombai?
Episode 528: Year 3 - Cliffhanger
Episode 529: Will Pat the Rat survive the operation?
Episode 540: Beryl falls down a mine shaft

Disc Two

Episode 696: Year 4 - Cliffhanger
Episode 697: Has Alison survived the plane crash?
Episode 868: Year 5 - Cliffhanger
Episode 869: Can Wayne escape the shark?
Episode 971: The 2nd last episode
Episode 972: The final episode

Special Features

Audio commentary on Episode 868 by Ian Rawlings (Wayne Hamilton)
Audio commentary on Episode 972 by Normie Rowe (Doug Fletcher)
Promotion for Tom Richards' Sons and Daughters Interviews DVD


Review by Graham, the owner of this website

It may be over twenty years since Sons and Daughters came to the end of its original run on Australian TV, but it's good to know that repeats since then - in Australia, the UK and other countries - have kept fandom alive. The success of the The Best of Pat the Rat DVD set released in 2006 was enough to convince Umbrella Entertainment to bring out a further DVD set and that is, of course, extremely welcome.

Sons and Daughters was famous for its end-of-episode cliffhangers and freeze-frames - and the biggest cliffhangers came at the end of each season, just before Christmas, when Sons and Daughters went off air for six weeks during the Australian summer. This DVD set includes the five season finales - from 1982 to 1986 - encompassing the wonderful moments when Patricia revealed to David that he wasn't the twins' father (1982); the shooting at Woombai, when Joe Parker held his family, David and Beryl hostage (1983); and Patricia being put under anaesthetic at the hands of corrupt surgeon Ross Newman (1984); and then the not-quite-so-wonderful but still entertaining moments when James Hamilton's light aircraft came down with Alison on board (1985); and when Alison was bitten by a snake in the study at Dural and Wayne was chased by a shark as he attempted to swim for help for his 'son', Tick McCarthy (1986).

The set also presents the season resumptions - which resolve the cliffhangers - except for that at the beginning of the 1983 season. Andrew Mercado - who put this set together - explained on The Soap Show that he excluded this episode because it was 'dull' - but I can't accept this as a good reason. Firstly, there's no consistency in the set if all the season finales/resumptions are included except one; and secondly, this set contains only twelve episodes and the The Best of Pat the Rat set contained sixteen, so surely there was plenty of room on these DVDs to include the 1983 opener?

As well as the season cliffhangers and openers, the set also includes the final two episodes. The absence of the final episode from the The Best of Pat the Rat set was a major disappointment, considering how the Patricia/Alison storyline was concluded, so it's good to see it included here.

Then, somewhat randomly, in the middle of all this is Episode 540 - the one which ends with Beryl falling down a mineshaft in the grounds of David's country house. OK, it's amusing and it's remembered fondly by a lot of fans, but it does seem slightly out of place amongst the rest of the episodes on the set.

The extras on this DVD comprise primarily commentaries on two episodes by former stars of the show. Ian Rawlings - Wayne Hamilton - talks to Andrew Mercado over Episode 868, the 1986 season finale. This is a very entertaining commentary, in which Rawlings imparts lots of memories about his role, his co-stars and the construction of that 'shark's fin'!

The other commentary is by Normie Rowe - Doug Fletcher - talking to Sons and Daughters fan, Nigel Giles, over Episode 972: the final episode. This is extremely odd because Doug doesn't appear in this episode; his swansong is in the previous episode. Andrew Mercado stated on The Soap Show that Doug's absence came as a surprise to Rowe and Giles as the commentary was being recorded; but all I can see is a distinct lack of fandom and/or research, as all proper Sons and Daughters fans will know off the top of their head that Doug wasn't in the last episode. It also wouldn't have taken more than a few minutes to have watched Episode 972 in advance of the commentary being recorded to discover Doug's distinct absence.

That all said, Normie Rowe's commentary still makes fascinating listening, as he talks about the move from stage to screen and about how Abigail (Caroline Morrell) gave him tips on learning his lines.

The final extra is a short compilation of clips from Tom Richards' recent Sons and Daughters interviews DVD. This is all very well, if you don't mind a bit of cross-promotion, but I'd rather have had the 1983 season opener.

The DVD set itself is well presented, although the text on the back of the set refers to 'Caroline the Cat' (was this ever really her nickname, as it's not one I've come across before); and to Mary Reynolds as being a 'favourite' of the show. I'm not sure this has ever been reflected in comments I've read from fans!

Overall, I'd give this boxset 3½ out of 5.

Umbrella Entertainment is looking for suggestions for episodes or themes that could be included on future Sons and Daughters DVD releases, so check out or e-mail to get in touch.

15 February 2008

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