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DVD Review

The Flying Doctors


Starring: Andrew McFarlane, Lorna Patterson, Liz Burch, Lenore Smith and Robert Grubb
Mediumrare Entertainment and Fremantle Home Entertainment
RRP: £14.99
Certificate: PG
Available 11 February 2008

Dr Tom Callaghan moves to the outback town of Copper’s Crossing to join the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia. He has barely touched down when he has to deal with a seriously ill boy, a boy who does not survive. From this inauspicious start Dr Callaghan makes both friends and enemies. Meanwhile New Yorker Liz Drever and her mother Beth return to Australia where Liz meets and falls for Tom...

The Flying Doctors (1985) is the original mini series which spawned the on-going show, a show successful enough to run for eight seasons and over two hundred episodes. Although both the main cast members would change, and eventually the location, the show remains very popular in many countries. The mini series runs for three hours and twenty-four minutes and was originally shown in three parts.

The story is pure melodrama revolving around the lives and loves of the people of Cooper’s Crossing. The level of acting is adequate for the job and does little to dispel the idea that the outback is full of testosterone, beer swilling, men and Sheilas who learn to brace themselves. If you’re a fan of Australian soaps there are a few faces that you may recognise, I spotted a couple from Neighbours and I’m pretty sure the dad from Muriel’s Wedding is in there somewhere. Of course the highlight here is the inclusion of Lorna Patterson who is a much missed actress - she retired - who had appeared in, among other things, Airplane.

The introduction of both Beth and Tom add a further layer to the show. The makers are able to use the conflict between rural values and ways of life and that of city life to show that there is value in outback life. Of course, even following Tom and Beth falling in love, with Beth representing everything that the city has to offer, it cannot change Tom’s decision to stay with the people of Copper’s Crossing.

The show is presented in its original 4:3 format and the picture is surprisingly good, given the age of the show, though the print does have an amount of grain and artefacts - though some of them might conceivably be flies - but nothing which will spoil your enjoyment. Audio is stereo but clear.

Surprisingly, for a show this old, the disc actually has some extras. You  get a stills gallery with thirteen shots from the show, a blooper reel - the quality of which is relatively rough, but still oddly funny, especially the first one. Lastly you get the Original Flying Doctors Promo (2 min 5 sec) which is exactly as it sounds.

The DVD will appeal to fans of the show, of which there are many, though I’m not sure that there is much here for the casual viewer. For all the drama and romance the best thing for me was the dog that walks on the backs of sheep.


Charles Packer

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