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TV Previews: H&A Friday 8th July

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TV previews

The Sydney Morning Herald

4 July 2005


Home and Away

Seven, 7pm

I was going to give this an upward thumb for the fans, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Tonight is Home and Away's 4000th episode - it's 18 years since the teen crises of most of the castmembers (and the angst and grumps of the others) started airing on our tellies.

This episode, if nothing else, shows just how many young spunky things have wandered in and out of Summer Bay in that time. Of the cast members who return to help celebrate Alf's 60th birthday, those who've made a name for themselves outside the show are pretty thin on the ground (take note, Bec Cartwright).

Fans will enjoy a half-hour packed with reminiscences. The rest won't have a clue and may well want to run screeching from the room if Alf says "stone the flamin' crows" one more time as a former regular swans into the party.

We have tear-jerking speeches, the healing of collapsed relationships (and the reverse), a montage of scenes from the past and, of course, the bog-standard shocking moment at the end. You weren't really expecting to come out of a soapie milestone like this without a cliffhanger ending, were you?

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Sun Herald

3 July 2005


Home And Away, 7pm, Channel Seven.

*** 1/2

Fair dinkum! Alf Stewart is turning bonzer Summer Bay into his own Big Brother set.

There is emotion aplenty, hints of romance and things untoward, predictable tantrums, lots of tedious Aussie moments gathered around the preparation of tucker, the sort of language you thought went out of fashion with the First Fleet and a sense of never actually getting anywhere before the guests all go off to bed. Just like reality TV.

Mercifully, we're spared Alf in his undies or Morag in the spa. But this week's episode of our highly successful soap opera is a celebratory reunion.

The show that gave the world so many performers is remembering some of its good times again. It's the 4000th, or perhaps the 40,000th, episode of Home And Away and, more importantly, time to celebrate Alf's 60th birthday. Poor old cove thinks he has been forgotten. But Pippa's here, Sally's there, Donald's back - and Duncan is still trying to be accepted.

Alf (Ray Meagher) looks about as excited as an anaemic cuttlefish for much of the party, but we know he's really tickled pink. There are kisses, weddings and babies in the flashbacks. A few sorry rejections follow and, then, after some schmaltzy speeches about the true spirit of Summer Bay, there's a deadset idiot on the road to leave us with the essential cliffhanger. Stone the flamin' crows!

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Welcome home

Daily Telegraph

6 July 2005


Seven, 7pm

friday july 8

It's Alf's 60th birthday tonight and strike me pink, but the shindig just happens to coincide with the 4000th episode of the show.

So many old castmates come out of the woodwork for the celebration that even Alf (Ray Meagher) struggles to find a different Alfism to express his disbelief when yet another walks in the door. There are only so many ways one can stone the flaming crows.

Ex-Bayers making a return include Pippa (Debra Lawrance), Fisher (Norman Coburn), Chloe (Kristy Wright), Sophie (Rebekah Elmaloglou), Blake (Les Hill) and Will (Zac Drayson). Even Sam (Ryan Clark) pops up, and judging by how old he looks, his days of getting his fingers stuck in plugholes (as he did on Bobby and Greg's wedding day) are far behind him.

It's great to see them all back - particularly Pippa - but their return is such a fleeting affair that there's barely even time for the teary nostalgia fans will be longing for.

None of this is helped by the fact that the episode tries to address too many relationship problems at once - that of Chloe, Sophie, Hayley and of course, Duncan and Alf.

More Alf, more reminiscing and less cheesy histrionics, thanks.

That said, the montage of Home And Away moments over the years is pure gold.

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The Age

7 July 2005

CRITIC'S VIEW REVIEWS: Home and Away (4000th episode)

Home and Away (4000th episode), Channel Seven, 7pm

Watching Home and Away's 4000th episode is an experience likely to leave most long-time fans with a welcome sense of nostalgia for the not-so-distant past but many other viewers will have an unanswered question: how could a show so devoid of true humour, dramatic tautness or narrative drive last so long? The appeal of the other soaps on our screens at the moment is, after all, rather more obvious. The OC, for example, offers a consummate line in snarky pop-cultural smarts, while Neighbours has always had a good, folksy charm unmatched by Home and Away: hence, one surmises, why the Australian public has been so willing to invite former Neighbours stars such as Kylie Minogue, Delta Goodrem, Natalie Imbruglia and Guy Pearce into their living rooms and on to their stereos, while Home and Away stars have tended to wilt following their time in the Summer Bay sunshine.

Still, the ratings don't lie and Home and Away has undoubtedly been a great success throughout its lifetime. For what it's worth, my guess is that most Home and Away fans regard their program the same way many people regard their morning cup of Earl Grey: it's the ritual, rather than any intrinsic quality, that is important, and while the world outside might be changing at a bewildering pace, in Summer Bay, life rolls by with a pleasant predictability. Unresolved sexual tension, love, heartbreak, rapprochement, an engagement, marriage, death: this is the cycle on which any good soap is built and Home and Away has utilised it with steadfast loyalty.

Given the importance of continuity to soap opera fans, it's fitting that Home and Away should celebrate its 4000th episode by focusing on one of the characters who has been there from the start: Alf, played ever like a period piece of ocker masculinity by Ray Meagher. (He even manages to throw two thoroughly gormless "Stone the flamin' crows" into proceedings here for old time's sake.) It's Alf's 60th birthday and Home and Away's producers use the occasion to reunite him, and fans, with departed characters, including Norman Coburn's Fisher, Cornelia Frances' Morag and Rebekah Elmaloglou's Sophie. There are celebrations, warm words, minor romances and even more minor tensions, and while they amount to little, for many viewers, that little should just about be enough.

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8 July 2005

342 words

Home and Away: 4000th episode

Channel 7, 7pm

OUT with the cake and candles, and let's have a party.

What better way to celebrate the 4000th episode than join the gang for Alf's (Ray Meagher) surprise 60th birthday bash? Fittingly, some familiar faces return, including Rebekah Elmaloglou, Debra Lawrance and Norman Coburn.

Happy birthday, Alf, and congratulations on being there for all 4000 episodes.

Watch for: the smiles fading as tragedy strikes at the end of the episode. Oh dear.

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