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.
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 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 (John Howard), 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 (The Lord of the Rings, 300) in his Australian Star-Making Role, who seems to have chemistry with Laura.
It originally aired from 1998 to 2000. 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. The show was revived in 2019 as a miniseries subtitled Paradise Reclaimed, with Sigrid Thornton, John Howard, Kerry Armstrong, Kevin Harrington and Georgina Naidu reprising their roles.
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 Pyromaniac fire fetishist- but, he's not a criminal).
- Alliterative Name: "Diver" Dan Della Bosca, and his ex-wife, Dorothy.
- Babies Ever After: Laura finds out that she's pregnant to Max in the series final. Their daughter Stella would later appear in the 2019 revival.
- 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).
- Cloudcuckoolander: Heather, Carmen.
- The Con: Bob Jelly fakes an auction over the phone in order to increase the price of the house Laura wants to buy.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Bob Jelly is probably the only one of these without an actual corporation behind him.
- 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. The 2019 revival has brought this back with Kevin and new character Zac Bell, and their conversation in the first episode includes an amusing discussion of whether anyone would remember them in 20 years. Various other characters fill in for them when Kevin is on his honeymoon with Phrani.
- 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, who is mentioned frequently in the original series, usually in amusing circumstances and with a lot of the details contradicting each other. He has been mentioned in the revival, but is confirmed to be dead.
- Happy Ending Override: The third series seemed to end on a hopeful note for Max and Laura. By 2019, Max has had a breakdown after his journalism career was ruined, and he ended up being arrested in Germany after getting drunk and aggressive on a flight. Laura leaves him and ends up volunteering in Africa, but is forced to return to Pearl Bay to sort out a Visa issue, where she's reunited with Miranda, still resentful over Laura leaving her with Jack years earlier to follow Max to Europe.
- History Repeats: In the 2019 miniseries, Laura returns to Pearl Bay to find that Miranda is pregnant and refusing to tell her anything about the baby's father. Two episodes later, after the birth, Laura's second daughter Stella arrives, as does her boyfriend Josh, and it transpires that the two were in Pearl Bay nine months earlier. Laura quickly makes the connection that Josh cheated on Stella with Miranda and confronts Miranda in disgust, telling her that she's outdone her Aunt Trudi.
- 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.
- 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.
- Not so Dire: One episode opens with Sergeant Grey arguing on the phone with someone, talking about how he's "been through this many times before" and is not putting his people through it without some serious backup - "a minimum three squad cars and some basic show of weaponry or we might as well seal off the whole bloody town and let them run riot." His subordinate, standing in the doorway, asks if he knows what the theme is for this year, to which he answers, "Latin". It soon transpires that the conversation is about the Country Fire Authority's annual dance.
- 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.
- Pyromaniac: Felix, Miranda's almost boyfriend in season 2.
- Read the Fine Print: Or rather, "Read Literally Any Part of the Contract". In the 2019 miniseries, Bob cons Kevin into selling him the caravan park by passing him the contract in the middle of his wedding to Phrani and telling him it's just a "Groom thing". While he makes some progress with his plans, as soon as Kevin returns from his honeymoon, the town figure out what happened and Miranda is able to easily prove that Kevin was conned with help from Heather.
- 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 in hindsight 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.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: The 2019 revival has confirmed that Meredith is dead, as is Bucket. Likely also applies to Harold, whose actor Alan Cassell died in 2017.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
- David Wenham opted not to return after the first season, so Diver Dan is replaced as Laura's love interest with Max Connors. The 2019 revival replaces him with Ben Russo.
- Also in the revival, Laura's clerk Zac Bell and police prosecutor Lillian Liano have a fairly similar dynamic to Angus and Karen.
- Trumplica: Bob Jelly, the wealthiest person in town, is lacking in social graces and obsessed with expansion regardless of any negative impacts it may have.
- The Unreveal: 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 (though in some cases he does cross the line in terms of his impact on other peoples' businesses, such as in the 2019 miniseries) except that he refuses to take into account that the rest of the town doesn't want to expand and they don't need to.