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Series / Rush (1974)

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Rush was an Australian Historical Fiction drama series on The ABC, which premiered in August 1974. The first season was set during the Victorian Gold Rush of the 1850s, located in a fictious goldfield called Crocker's Gully, in the Dandenong Ranges outside Melbourne.

The stars of the first season were Brendon Lunney as Edmund Fitzalan, a young and inexperienced Gold Commissioner, and John Waters as Sergeant Robert McKellar of the Victorian Police. Olivia Hamnett played Sarah Lucas, a young woman from England who had been recently widowed during her voyage to Australia, who eventually becomes McKellar's love interest. Rounding out the regular cast were Peter Flett as Dr. David Woods, Alwyn Kurts as wealthy squatter and Justice of the Peace Lansdowne, and Max Meldrum as miner George Williams.

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The show was renewed for a second season of 13 episodes, which picks up in the early 1860s with McKellar, now widowed after the death of Sarah, arriving in Turon Springs, New South Wales, and being enticed back into the police force by Superintendant James Kendall, played by Vincent Ball. The supporting cast included French actor Alain Doutey as Constable Emile Bizard, Paul Mason as Captain Richard Farrar of the Great Eastern Mining Company, Jane Harders as his wife Jessie Farrar (and McKellar's new love interest) and Delore Whiteman as Rosie Morgan, owner of the local pub/brothel, and Max Meldrum as Henry Purchase, the local bank manager.

The first season was famously parodied on The Late Show (1992), in a Gag Dub sketch called The Olden Days.

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Rush provides examples of:

  • The Boxing Episode: "Toe The Scratch And Never Say Die", in which an English prize-fighter comes to Crocker's Gully with a plan to scam the miners by taking part in a rigged fight.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: McKellar was in the Army in England, until he shot a Sergeant with whose wife he was having an affair, and was subsequently transported to Australia as a convict. After a few years, he was paroled and was able to join the Victoria Police.
  • Deadly Dodging: One scene has McKeller cornered by two criminals, one of whom tries to shoot him, only for McKeller to dodge, causing him to hit his own partner, who made no attempt to get out of the line of fire.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The first (feature-length) episode builds up Richard Lucas as the miners' representative, standing up to Fitzalan's unfair administration of the goldfield. But after his breakdown following his brother's death, he is forced to go on the run for assaulting Corporal Colvin and only appears once later. The rest of the series has his partner George Williams in this role.
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  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Some period-appopriate racism directed at indigenous Australians, and occasionally the Chinese.
  • Don't Create a Martyr: Fitzalan tries to rein in Reverand Smith from having Dr. Kirby prosecuted for blasphemy, pointing out that Kirby has friends who would consider him a martyr and such a trial would only give him a platform.
  • Dr. Jerk: David Woods, who has little interest in medicine anymore and only practices when he's forced to.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: When Woods meets Colvin and tells him he's looking for Richard Lucas, Colvin mistakes him for Harry Lucas. George makes the same mistake minutes later.
  • Everyone Meets Everyone: The first (feature-length) episode has the arrivals of Commissioner Fitzalan, Sarah Lucas and David Woods.
  • Get Out!: McKellar yells this at Colvin on walking in on him in his tent rifling through papers.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Jessie Smith in "Lament The Days That Are Gone By".
  • Innocently Insensitive: Woods remarks to Sarah that a doctor loses too often, and the consequences are always fatal. Sarah retorts that "The consequences are surely for others," reminding him that she just lost her husband a matter of days ago.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Chinese One-Shot Character Yin Soong is played by Patricia Stephenson, who was of Burmese descent.
  • Jesus Was Way Cool: Dr. Kirby is an atheist, but when pressed by Reverend Smith's daughter Jennifer, he tells her, "Jesus was a very great man. Who did all kindness and lived a good life. If we all followed his example the world would be a happy place indeed." But this isn't good enough for Smith himself, who presses him further and forces him to admit to the class that he doesn't believe Jesus was the son of God.
  • Kick the Dog: Corporal Colvin bluntly telling Richard Lucas that his brother is dead, interrupting his widow's attempt to break it to him gently. In turn, Richard lashes out at Sarah in grief, blaming her for his brother's death because she may have exposed him to the typhoid epidemic.
  • Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow: The brief relationship between Commissioner Fitzalan and Yin Soong.
  • Persecuted Intellectuals: Doctor Kirby, an atheist paleontologist who is immediately called a servant of Satan by Reverand Smith as he rides into town. Others such as Fitzalan see him as a charlatan.
  • Period Piece: 1850s Victoria and 1860s New South Wales.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: Corporal Colvin to Commissioner Fitzalan, who quickly becomes tired of him: "There's a difference between loyalty and sycophancy. I do wish you'd learn it."
  • Romancing the Widow: McKellar and Sarah over the course of the first series.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: The conflict between the miners and aristocrats such as Commissioner Fitzalan or Captain Farrar was a constant theme.
  • Stop Saying That!: Fitzalan's reaction to Colvin repeatedly saying "Yes sir, if you say so, sir."
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Sarah dies from typhoid fever between the two seasons.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Captain Farrar for Commissioner Fitzalan in the second season.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: McKellar was often torn between his empathy for the miners and his duty to the laws of the colony.
  • Translation by Volume: Woods attempts this when asking a group of Aborigines for directions to Crocker's Gully.
  • A Way Out of a Cave-In: Happens to Peter in "For That New Promised Land".
  • What the Hell, Hero?: George calls out Richard for his treatment of Sarah after Harry's death, as does Mary Dwyer.
  • "You!" Exclamation: Sarah's reaction when she sees McKellar in uniform and recognises him as the man she and Woods met at the Aboriginal camp who gave them directions.
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