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Series / Sea Change

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Diver Dan and Laura

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.

Sea Change is one of Australia's most iconic and critically acclaimed dramedy shows. Named after a line from William Shakespeare's The Tempest, the show is about transformation.

Sigrid Thornton (The Man from Snowy River) plays Laura Gibson, a competitive, neurotic and work-driven lawyer whose workaholic lifestyle has distanced her from her husband, Jack, and children Miranda and Rupert so much that the only thing they have in common anymore is that they live in the same house.

That is, until the day when her life collapsed.

It started when her alarm clock broke and she overslept. Which led to her jumping out of bed onto the cat. Which led to a $400+ vet visit. And that was before the day got bad.

By the end of the day, Rupert has been expelled from school, the partnership Laura was seeking at her law firm went to a younger, more people-friendly colleague, Jack has been arrested for real estate fraud, and Laura finds out he was having an affair... with her sister.


After a mental-breakdown of the home movies, pajamas and chocolate biscuit variety, Laura decides she is going to take the kids and start afresh as the in the last place where she can remember being happy: a small coastal town where they once went on holiday when the kids were little, Pearl Bay. Without hesitation she buys the holiday house in which they had stayed and takes the job as town magistrate.

Unfortunately, paradise isn't quite as Laura remembers. The old holiday house is dilapidated and in the middle of a caravan park, her first case is to pass judgment on the previous magistrate, who is also the extremely likeable town drunk, and the town seems to be firmly in the grip of one Bob Jelly, who is the town mayor and real estate agent. That's not to mention the town politics and the snail-like pace of life.


Luckily (or maybe unluckily) for Laura, there is a colourful group of locals who are ready to help in their very own laconic and easygoing way. Their leader is the laid-back and enigmatic "Diver" Dan Della Bosca, played by David Wenham (Lord of the Rings, 300), who seems to have chemistry with Laura.

Even though it only lasted three years, the show was supposedly responsible for a rise in the level of people moving from cities and suburban areas to lead a coastal life, and remains a much-loved classic.

This TV series contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Diver Dan's father, repeatedly hinted at (though no actual info was given).
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Miranda and Felix in season 2 (played with in that he's not really bad, Laura just doesn't approve because he's a nomadic Pyro Maniac fire fetishist- but, he's not a criminal).
  • Alliterative Name: "Diver" Dan Della Bosca, and his ex-wife, Dorothy.
  • Black Comedy: Several times. For example, at one point, Bob seriously considers and almost tries to commit suicide, but it's not shown as anything but funny (mainly because, being Bob, he manages to screw it up by attempting to jump off the bridge when it's low tide).
  • Code Silver: Well... sort of...
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Heather, Carmen.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Bob Jelly is probably the only one of these without an actual corporation behind him.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Miranda and Max.
  • The Dreaded: Dorothy, Dan's ex-wife. Kevin's reaction to recognising her is a horrified "Oh, no...", and Dan's reaction is basically 'drop everything and hide'.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Diver Dan does this sometimes. We only see it once, but judging by the other characters' reactions, he does it often enough that everyone knows things won't end well.
  • End-of-Episode Silliness: Each episode ends with Kevin talking to his son Trevor, often having a random and amusing conversation that just barely relates to the events that took place in the episode.
  • Exact Words: Dan's wife Dorothy says that throughout her marriage and separation from Dan, there have been no other men in her life. Which is true, because she's in a relationship with a woman.
  • Expository Theme Tune: Bizarrely, at the end of the episode during the credits.
  • Faux Yay: Craig Jelly in one episode tries to convince Miranda he's gay to get close to her... Logic was never one of his strong points.
  • The Ghost: Bucket.
  • Incest Is Relative: OK, so Trudi's baby wasn't actually Jack's, but when everyone thought it was, there was a memorable scene where Rupert asked something like, "Will Aunty Trudi's baby be our cousin?" and Laura replied, "No. Half-brother... or sister." and then they realise that it would be both.
  • It's All About Me: Bob Jelly's daughter Jules. It goes from 'annoying' to 'horrifying' when she actually tries to make the suicide of a guy she dated for a while all about her, when the only link between them was their short-lived relationship that went nowhere.
  • It's All My Fault: Rupert takes this attitude after he saw an older student he knew by sight sitting by himself, crying, and didn't try to comfort him. Said student later killed himself, and Rupert spends a lot of the episode blaming himself for doing nothing, even though he didn't know the student and couldn't have known that said student was suicidal. Diver Dan manages to get him to cheer up, though.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Max
  • Leitmotif: Diver Dan (and his shed) had two: "Down By The Riverbed" by the Backsliders, whenever things were in a bad or melancholy mood, and "Intensive Care" by the Bondi Cigars for when things were upbeat.
  • Literal-Minded: Diver Dan tends to do this to irritate people. It works really well.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: The long lost daughter of Meredith and Harold turns out to be another major character. Heather.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Diver Dan.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Carmen.
  • Nice Guy: Elena.
    • Warwick in Season 3
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In one episode, Miranda realises that something odd must have happened on a certain day, because Meredith claims to not remember anything about it.
  • Photographic Memory: Meredith remembers everything.
  • Put on a Bus: Diver Dan leaves the series and apparently goes to the Galapagos Islands.
  • Pyro Maniac: Felix, Miranda's almost boyfriend in season 2.
  • Real Estate Scam: Bob Jelly fakes an auction over the phone in order to increase the price of the house Laura wants to buy.
  • Remember the New Guy?: All the time. Most of the court cases didn't involve main characters unless they were minor, so we were always being introduced to old residents of the town who everyone liked, who'd go to court.
  • Romantic False Lead: a number actually. Trudi, Jack, Elena, Warwick and probably even Max.
  • The Snark Knight: Diver Dan, in contrast to Max's Deadpan Snarker.
  • Status Quo Is God: Justified- there's some kind of supernatural force at work in Pearl Bay that keeps the town going, even though it doesn't exactly have a great economy. This force keeps the population stable, and pretty much disrupts all attempts to connect it to the outside world (there's another road leading in and out, but all attempts to fix the bridge or build an alternative are doomed, as are Bob's attempts to change the town).
  • Stigmatic Pregnancy Euphemism: There was some "trouble" originating from Meredith and Harold's relationship. The "trouble" was given away. Then grew up and married Bob Jelly.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The toilets in season 1, and the community hall in season 2.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: David Wenham opted not to return after the first season, so Diver Dan is replaced with Max Connors.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Max.
  • That Poor Cat: Mitzi. Poor, poor Mitzi.
  • Tsundere: Laura, Karen
  • The Un-Reveal: In "Balls and Friggin' Good Luck", we never do find out why Jerome Hall killed himself. There's a few cryptic hints, but no concrete answers.
  • Wham Line: "Would you excuse me? Elena died an hour ago."
    • Max, while telling Laura that the place he was intending to move to was bombed. "No, nobody was hurt. Everyone was killed."
  • White and Grey Morality: A huge part of the show was the ongoing battle of ideas- for instance, the small-town mentality of Pearl Bay versus Laura's outsider mentality. The majority of Pearl Bay residents believe that character should determine the outcome of court cases, and while the law doesn't always deliver the outcomes people think are right, the town would probably end up letting people off when they've done things that endanger the town- like Reg, who drove a car off the bridge that nearly killed him and could have made the school ferry crash- and they would be overlooking people who desperately need help but aren't getting it. Laura, on the other hand, doesn't have that mentality and is determined to do her job despite endangering her relationships with the people in the town.
    • In addition, Bob Jelly versus the rest of the town. He wants to expand the town and modernise it, which isn't actively a malicious goal except for the fact that he refuses to take into account that the rest of the town doesn't want to expand and they don't need to.