A groundbreaking Australian five-part miniseries set during the First World War. It chronicled the path of Australian involvement, from Gallipoli to France, giving focus to both soldiers on the ground, the civilians at home, and the Staff Commanders that plotted the war. It's often considered a peripheral part of the Australian New Wave, coming out alongside Breaker Morant, Gallipoli and The Lighthorsemen.
Its main focus was on a single platoon in the 8th Regiment. While at heart an ensemble piece, it starts by following young University student Martin Barrington, scion of a wealthy aristocratic family. An educated man opposed to the war on idealogical grounds, he none the less enlists with his best friend Dick Baker as a chance to see the world and have an 'adventure'. Along with a number of local (and not so local) volunteers, they form a platoon of the 8th Battalion.
It isn't long before the young men are thrown into the meat grinder that was the Gallipoli landing, and the reality of war soon comes crashing down.
- Ambiguously Gay: Lt (later Captain) Armstrong could very easily be interpreted as being in love with Martin.
- Anyone Can Die: The first episode alone sees a good chunk of the platoon wiped out. Even Martin dies during the final battle. Dick dies in the very first episode.
- The Chick: 'Not' the tough nurse Kate Baker, but the shy Rolly Collins.
- Bearer of Bad News: Reverend Lonsdale, whose unpleasant job is to deliver families their loved ones Death Notification.
- Break the Haughty: Happens to Drill Sergeant Nasty Sergeant McArthur. During their first action on the Western Front, he has a mini-Heroic BSoD when a short round drops nearby and knocks out Lt Armstrong, forcing Martin to take over the platoon. He is awarded the Military Medal to protect him from the authorities. He later becomes more friendly and sociable with the rest of the platoon. He is killed at Hindenburg Ridge, taking over the Lewis Gun when badly wounded by a grenade, to cover Flanagan as he carries a wounded Bluey to safety. He earns his medal by the end.
- Dangerous Deserter: Most of the deserters shown on the Western Front swing from simple pacifists who refuse to fight, up to fugitives who have become major criminal operators in France. One in particular is a former member of the platoon; Dingo.
- Death Notification: Reverend Lonsdale's job is to deliver death telegrams. Women avoid him like the plague.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Sergeant McArthur is a low-brow version of this. Nowhere near Full Metal Jacket proportions, but he is somewhat of a Jerkass who develops a personal rivalry with Martin and Pat.
- Dumb Muscle: Puddin is remarkably dull-witted. The Australian soldiers think of the Americans like this, but it isn't necessarily true.
- Ensign Newbie: Lt. Max Earnshaw, son of the "Would-to-God'er" Cyril Earnshaw, becomes an officer in the platoon in Episode 3. He gets off on the wrong start, but starts to show competency shortly before being blinded by an enemy shell.
- Field Promotion: Frequent, due to the high casualty rate. Several characters go from the enlisted ranks to full officers, particularly Martin Barrington and Flanagan who both finish the series as captains.
- Friendly Enemy: After the brutal Somme battle, the Australians and Germans make arrangements with each other, in which no side will shoot before 16:30 hours, because both are sick of the war.
- Heroic BSoD: Puddin goes through quite the freak out on the Western Front, and makes an effort to desert from the military. All the character struggle with it to some degree.
- Historical Domain Character: Plenty. Keith Murdoch's efforts to end the Gallipoli Campaign, including a meeting with British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, are depicted in Episode 1. Both also appear later in the series. Many prominent generals, including the infamous Douglas Haig, his chief-of-staff General Kiggel and John Monash, who was praised and knighted for his role in developting tactics to prevent trench warfare and ensuing lesser casualties.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: Keith Murdoch's antisemitism is completely glossed over, along with his antagonistic relationship with the Jewish-Australian General John Monash.
- Officer and a Gentleman: Martin has this air even before he becomes an officer, being well educated and fluent in French. Lt Armstrong also has a good deal of this.
- Retirony: Martin is killed in October 1918, a month before the war ends. Particularly nasty in that he survived a stomach wound and even a coma to be killed by a lone German soldier with a Mauser rifle. Also Puddin, who was with him.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Lt Armstrong has broken down by Episode 3. His last appearance, at the dedication of a memorial to the Anzacs, shows him as emotionally fragile and residing in a rest home.
- The Scrounger: Pat, fitting in with his character.
- Token Enemy Minority: German-Australian 'Kaiser' Schmidt, who is treated with respect by the rest of the platoon.
- The Voiceless: Bluey has no lines, but is still promoted to opening credits in the last episode. A Running Gag has him interrupted any time he tries to say something.
- War Is Glorious / War Is Hell: Both personified in Rolly Collins. He hates the killing and the fear of death, but the love he has for his comrades makes it hard for him to say he truly 'hates' war as a whole. It really screws with his head.