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A Place To Call Home avoids the Curse of the Second The Northern Star 18 May 2014

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A Place To Call Home avoids the Curse of the Second
The Northern Star 18 May 2014

by Rebecca Marshall

AHH, the curse of the second.

The second novel, the second album, the second child. Is there a more maligned, poor unfortunate than the second of anything?

So much expectation. Such high standards to live up to. So many comparisons, coiled and restless like vipers in a basket, just waiting for the gelignite trigger to trip on a whole fireworks-sky of nasty.

Thank goodness there are exceptions to every rule, and this week, none better came in the form of the second series of A Place to Call Home (Seven, Sundays 8.30pm).

TV viewers rarely encounter genuine moments of pure, sudden wonder. We’re too cynical for such whimsy.

But from the opening scene, I was propelled into such a moment. A very modern blue convertible car zooms up the gravel drive to Ash Park. Confused, I draw breath and sit straighter on the lounge. “What are they doing? That’s not right.”

Then I thought I had it. “Oh, it’s an ad for Renault,” and I roll my eyes at how commercial the world has become.

But then, the show’s present-day flashback arc is revealed. I felt like a fool for having such thoughts – and I loved it.

Every television series producer promises twists and turns. The two Ts are spruiked in promos, interviews and glossy magazine previews. Very few deliver.

No one saw the flashback coming – or the reveal of Bert’s killer, and even fewer expected it all to dovetail so perfectly into the scene-setting done in season one.

I could spend the rest of my days at my desk crafting a list of the reasons why Marta Dusseldorp is our country’s finest actor, and her old-lady make-up this ep was outstanding. Special note must be made of the aging done to the hands, traditionally neglected.

The angel, not the devil, is truly in the detail on this show. Props, costumes, cars, language, manners, etiquette…so perfectly 1953.

This fast-burning melodrama is precisely what the playground school kids have been chanting about for decades:

“First the worst, second the best.

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