23 September 2006

bring back the good old shows

i usually leave my office at 3:00 a.m. no big deal. my dorm is right across my research school. after taking my night shower, i watch australian t.v. these days, the nine network has brought back australian t.v. classics from the 1960s to the 1980s. produced by the legendary crawford productions, these titles include matlock (police drama), carson’s law (family/legal drama), skyways (airport drama), division 4 (police drama) and holiday island (surf, sand and sea drama). these old shows are now being aired again on weekdays from 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. each episode may be peppered with occasional stylistic conventions. nonetheless, i watch these shows religiously to see australia long before i got here. i take my seven hours of sleep immediately after watching.

of the crawford classics, i totally adore carson's law. screened before australian t.v. audiences from 1983 to 1984, this family/legal drama had predated the likes of l.a. law, ally mcbeal, the practice and boston legal. carson's law is even better. on the surface, it appears like a saga on the carsons, a very powerful melbournian family during the 1920s. but it is really more about jennifer carson (portrayed excellently by lorraine bayly), a feisty and independent widow, single mother and human rights lawyer who makes every effort to slug it out with the snooty, male-dominated victorian high society. jennifer was forced to pick up the pieces when husband william (jon sydney) passed on. to make ends meet, jennifer had to independently practice law again. even more importantly, she was engaged in battles relating to social, political, cultural and moral issues of the day.

quite frequently, the highlight of the series is jennifer’s never-ending collision with godfrey carson (kevin miles), her very influential father–in-law. godfrey is ultra-conservative. he upholds the traditional view that women should stay at home. he strongly opposed every bit of jennifer’s forward-moving ways. quite often, they represent opposite camps even in court.

show after show, lorraine bayly exemplified what good acting is all about. she portrays jennifer with compassion, conviction and penetrating lucidity. the creator (terry stapleton) and directors (chris langman, brian lennane, paul maloney, mandy smith and mark joffe) should be remembered for what appears to be a turning point in australian television. the crawfords made certain that every bit of art deco/art nouveau-infested 1920s had been meticulously translated on the small screen. even more significantly, carson’s law discussed and debated on touchy issues like the white australian policy, the widespread ill-treatment of the country’s aboriginal population, birth control, reproductive rights, feminism, widespread graft and corruption, breakdown of peace and order, services and facilities, "australians" vis-a-vis people of color, and so on. these issues were discussed within the contexts of the 1920s. but they were hugely significant to australia in the 1980s as they are these days under john howard's liberal cabinet.

perhaps somebody in the philippines should put up a new cable channel called nostalgia tv. classic philippine shows like your evening with pilita, carmen on camera, seeing stars with jq, tawag ng tanghalan, dance-o-rama, dance time with chito, nida-nestor show, kahapon lamang, student canteen, penthouse 7, lovingly yours, helen, superstar, stop, look and listen, the sensations, aawitan kita, lino brocka presents, balintataw, ms. ellaneous, two for the road, uncle bob and friends, ora engkantada, prinsipe abante, laff-in, john en marsha, kaluskos musmos, music factory, tang tarang tang, panagimpan, salamisim, duplex, champoy, nothing but the truth, see-thru, germside, ang bagong kampeon, eh kasi babae, chicks to chicks, iskul bukol, dear teacher, ryan ryan musikahan, tatak pilipino, baguio, cebu, davao, flor de luna, anna liza, abangan ang susunod na kabanata, teysi ng tahanan and many others can be reintroduced to accommodate both elderly and younger t.v. audiences. conversely, philippine terrestial t.v. networks can have these vintage presentations screened during the wee hours. i am certain about viewers clinging on to every bit of the foregoing.

there’s nothing like having a bit of nostalgia in our t.v. screens. after all, they can remind audiences about the way life used to be. as the saying goes, we couldn’t possibly move forward without the good old days.

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lorraine bayly as jennifer carson in carson's law (1983-1984)
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lorraine bayly as vera balovna in the pioneering australian sci-fi classic interpretis (1966)
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lorraine bayly as diana mannering in hunter (1967)
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lorraine bayly as faye hudson in neighbours (1990-1991)
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the man from snowy river (1982)
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1994 who magazine-organized reunion of the main cast of the prizewinning australian film "the man from snowy river" (1982): terence donovan, sigrid thornton, tom burlinson and lorraine bayly
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lorraine bayly, being interviewed by abc-tv's "talking heads" (2005)

26 comments:

Paolo said...

I don't know about old shows but one of my favorite series of all time is an Australian drama series of the Pearl Bay community: Seachange.

wendell said...

paolo!! great to hear from you! sea change is interesting indeed, but abc cancelled the show five or six years ago. sometimes, i get to catch an old episode (as filler during the off-season) but they don't get screened too frequently.

btw, i had you connected to my uk-pinoys e-group. many of the guys there are old friends of mine, some from u.p. like bobi rodero, fe abogadie, mahar lagmay, rommel feria, harry roque, dexter canoy and several others. enjoy st. andrews in spite of the freeze. scotland is chilly even at this time of the year.

hang in there. take care,

w.

gibbs cadiz said...

hi there. your grasp of world pop culture minutiae is awesome! i'm sincerely envious. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Wendell, just got back from Beechworth, Central Victoria w/my family. Wow! great write up on "Carson's Law". One of the main actors in it was Ross Thompson (I think he played one of the Carsons). He is a good friend of mine. You are so right in your write ups. I would like to refer your blog to my Actor's Australia discussion group as I'm sure they would like to read your point of view, and perhaps trigger a new drive to get our TV drama back into life again. Hope you are well. I'll send you an email soon. lots of stories to tell - Alfred Nicdao

wendell said...

gibbs! thanks for dropping by. all the while i thought i was too mababaw engaging with what is generally perceived as "low" art. it's always great to hear from people who are just as appreciative. hello to our common friends back there.

w.

***

alfred! great to hear from you! i thought the best of australia's tv series during the 1970s and 1980s were provocative. they should be revived. do let me know when you are working on a project and ill have it plugged here. regards to louise and the girls. take care.

w.

Anonymous said...

matlock?!?! gawd, i remember staying up late at night till the wee hours of the morning when this was screened locally (i think it was over channel 9, but i forget)! this brings back memories of shows i used to enjoy back in my childhood days (anybody say 'remington steele'). check out retrojunk.com, and i'm sure you'll have a memory trip yourself :)

reggie

wendell said...

reggie!!

they're showing matlock every week during the wee hours over here. in black and white, as usual. wish they can do the same back home.

w.

Anonymous said...

Was having a(nother) search for Carson's law when i found your blog. I used to love carsons law!Great actors, great sets, great stories.Was hoping it would be on dvd by now but it doesnt seem the case. The only thing i have left is this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJUeCHhVIAI This was such an intense episode i remember like it was yesterday!!If anyone has been able to copy any episodes on dvd and are willing to share please email me at biffco_6@hotmail.com

wendell said...

thanks so much for dropping by. i do love carson's law. australia doesnt have anything like it right now. will let you know if someone has dvd copies. i couldn't have time to record it because of my dissertation. i can only watch it just before sleeping. i should have taped it then. right now studies comes first!

Anonymous said...

I know this is from a long time ago, but I also adored Carson's Law when I watched it many years ago. I found out about the WIN repeats in October, but pure chance, as I don't live in Aus, and am thrilled to have some gotten some eps by now, thanks to a friend. I'm gutted I didn't know about them beforehand though, as I'd really love to watch the early eps again - I've already missed so much. You can vote for having it released on DVD over here:
http://www.umbrellaent.com.au/vote.html
I really hope that one day it'll be available...

wendell said...

indeed, it should be released as a dvd. i really stay up late writing my dissertation. i watch crawford classics especially carson's law right after my writing-up. i love the chemistry between the performers and the creative team behind each episode. sadly, australia does not produce many of these types anymore.

Anonymous said...

I think it's probably my favourite show ever. It was so weird watching a few episodes again after not having seen it in 12 years, but I'd pay gold to watch the early episodes again, and I've already missed them on WIN :( (which isn't surprising, considering I live on the other side of the world). If anyone has episodes of the show that they would like to share/trade, or just discuss it, I can be contacted at hshalgi@yahoo.com - would love to chat to any fellow fans! :)

wendell said...

i read in the papers that they are releasing DVDs of more australian tv classics. carson's law is one of them. you may also google crawford productions and ask for a direct purchase. carson's law is really one of a kind.

Anonymous said...

OMG are you serious? They really are releasing it on DVD? You have just made my year... ever since I found out about the WIN repeats, and received some episodes (well, 3 for now... and I already know some scenes by heart), I've been obsessed with finding the early ones that I missed... I even emailed Crawford's a few days ago out of desperation, not believing it'd be any use... do you know what episodes they'd be releasing? If they release the whole show, it'd be a dream come true... Thank you very much for the info :-)I so hope that article is correct!

Anonymous said...

Hi again :) Just wanted to ask if you remember any details from the article, or if you happen to recall what newspaper it was in (perhaps there's an online version?). I was so sure that they have no intention of releasing the show on DVD so it took me by surprise, and I'm wondering if they really would release the whole show and when... surfing the net at the small hours of the morning, I got up today to check that I haven't dreamed up the whole thing... and thank you so much for your help, these news have made me very happy... I do think this show is one of a kind, and it was no more than a memory for so many years. Having said that, I don't know if you're familiar with the later episodes, but they have changed it rather drastically towards the end, and not for the better... I found a really funny episode guide for it - it's in German with automatic translation to English, but if you view the original page you actually get the normal titles...
http://www.kabeleins.de/serien_shows/serienlexikon/ergebnisse/index.php?serienid=546&highlighttext=

The translated version is good for a laugh though!
http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=de&u=http://www.kabeleins.de/serien_shows/serienlexikon/ergebnisse/index.php%3Fserienid%3D546%26highlighttext%3D&sa=X&oi=translate&resnum=2&ct=result&prev=/search%3Fq%3D%2522Carson%2527s%2Blaw%2522%2Brequiem%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D

H.S.

wendell said...

ill do my best to look for the article. i saw it before christmas. sorry if i couldnt respond asap because im writing my phd thesis and im scheduled to submit in a few months.

will find time to look for that article in the old newspapers section of the ANU library. im not sure if i saw it in the age, sydney morning herald or the daily telegraph.

Anonymous said...

No worries at all about not responding sooner - your phd thesis is definitly more important! :-) Thank you very much for offering to look for the article - I'd of course love to read it, but was just wondering if there were any details you recall from it?
I'm also waiting for a reply from Crawford Productions, as I asked them about buying episodes, so if indeed the show is about to be released on DVD, they would definitly mention it, if they ever write me back, that is! Well, it's only been a week, so I should probably have more patience! Admittedly, I'm really excited about this... which I guess you'd have realised by now lol.

Thanks for all your help, and btw I really enjoyed reading this write-up again!

Hadas

Anonymous said...

Hi again - just searched the Sydney Morning Herald archive, which I think also gives results for The Age, with no luck (if you go a year back there are a couple of articles about the WIN repeats, but that's it). So perhaps it was in the Daily Telegraph - their archive only holds some samples, and not all publications as far as I could see, so I couldn't search it. Just thought I'd let you know!

Hadas

wendell said...

Hadas,


Here are details. You can email Crawford and request to buy episodes of Carson's Law:

184 X 1 hour Episodes produced from 1982-1984
First televised 24 January 1983 (Ten Network)
Executive Producers: Hector Crawford, Ian Crawford & Terry Stapleton
Producer: John Barningham Mark Defriest (ep.81-156, 167-184) Keith Aberdein (ep.157-166, 169/170)
Directors: Chris Langman Brian Lennane Paul Maloney Mandy Smith Mark Joffe


CONTACT:
Crawford Productions
259 Middleborough Road
BOX HILL 3128
Ph: 61 3 989 52211
Fax: 61 3 989 05732
Email: admin@crawfords.com.au
Eton Films


Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much :-) However, I have seen that info on their website - I also emailed them over two weeks ago and sadly never heard back.
I was wondering, do you recall any details from the article about the DVD release? Did they actually say you could order episodes from Crawfords? Or did they give any info on what episodes would be released on DVD and when? If you happen to remember anything about it, it'd be good to hear. Thanks for the contact details though - I wonder if I should try fax, as they never responded to my email, or take the hint that they have no intention of selling eps to private people (still think it would've been nice had they written me back, even with a negative answer).

Hadas

wendell said...

hi again.

the release was just part of a long gossip-like column. that the crawfords, channel nine, ten and seveb were beseiged with requests to release their old popular shows. and some of these shows are about to be released soon.

i guess people are sometimes slow in responding.

perhaps you can send a registered mail to crawfords (an ordinary mail may get lost) and request for copies. carson's law is still on TV here. tuesdays (errr--actually wednesday early morning) at 4 a.m. lovely episodes. a true australian classic.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that :-) Well I'm glad that they're beseiged - it's about time they released these old shows. It's a shame that all those great shows can't be seen again, when there are definitly many fans interested in them,

It is of course possible that it takes them a long time to respond. Thanks for the tip re: registered mail. Might give that a try.

And yes, I know it's on in Aus - 3:00am where my friend is. I only got three eps so far, but with next week's he'll have another ten - two DVDs to send to me - I can't wait. Sadly, he missed two recently - Happy event & The scent of battle, according to the epi guide. Those only aired here once, at 1990, so I can't remember what they were about. But yes, most of the episodes around this time were brilliant. It wasn't until episode 138 or so that the show changed for the worse. I'd love to buy the ones that I missed though.

Thanks for all your help!

Hadas

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Thought I'd let you know, that I emailed Crawford's again, using another email addy, assuming the first email might've not gotten through. Got a reply straight away, yet sadly not the one I was hoping for:

Thank you for your email. I regret to advise that we do not have any plans to release this series on DVD. I am not sure which country you are writing from however international rights to this series in most countries is controlled by;

Eaton Films Ltd
10 Holbein Mews
Lower Sloane Street
London SW1W 8NN

Their email address is - eaton.films@talk21.com
You may wish to contact them directly to see if they have any plans for this series in your territory - either re-broadcast or DVD release.

Best regards,

Crawford Productions Pty Ltd.

That's it. Talk about dashing my hopes... I guess that gossip-like column might've been just that... gossip. I've written Eaton Films but I don't hold out much hope. Very disappointing, and sad to think that such a quality show may not see daylight again (apart from the WIN repeats, of course).

Hadas

wendell said...

Im so sad to hear about this.

I guess the column was probably written to put some pressure on the company. But even insistent public demand would not convince them to do it.

I was planning to buy a DVD set before I leave Australia, after my studies. I guess that's not going to happen.

I really love Carson's Law. It's a once in a lifetime experience.

It's still worth fighting for. Writing Eaton, that is.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Sorry to be the bearer of bads news. I'm so disappointed, and a lot more upset than I should be over a TV show, but for me it's a lot more than just another show. It's quite ironic, that in this commercial world, when you're constantly bombarded by ads, there's a product I desperatly want to buy and no one would sell it to me.

I've already written Eaton - nothing to lose, but I'm not holding out much hope. I've also had more correspondence with Crawfords, asking about the sale of individual copies - and of course the answer was no. They were quite nice about it, and wrote me back straight away, but they can't do it.

There is one more thing - that umbrellanet site where you can vote for the show to be released on DVD:
http://www.umbrellaent.com.au/vote.html
Worth placing a vote, even though I don't know if it'll come to anything.

Hadas

Anonymous said...

And, of course, Eaton's reply was the same (sigh) - that they have no plans to release it on DVD. So frustrating yet not surprising. I hope there's a lot of public demand in Aus for those old shows, so maybe one day... hopefully before all their fans die of old age...

Hadas