DAVID BIANCULLI

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Season 3 of 'A Place To Call Home' Should Be on Your Winter List
December 20, 2015  | By David Hinckley  | 4 comments
 

We can never have too many engaging TV dramas, so you might want to put Australia’s A Place To Call Home on your holiday wish list.
 
It’s a handsome show with solid writing, solid acting and a seriously screwed-up rich family in which the soap is balanced by somber reminders of the way inhumanity can linger long after its perps are gone.
 
The central family is the Blighs, and as Season 3 launches Dec. 21 through Acorn TV or Acorn online, first heir George (Brett Climo, top with Marta Dusseldorp) has decided it’s time to go into politics.
 
Since his family harbors enough potentially embarrassing personal secrets to shame Charlie Sheen, there’s some concern that George perhaps shouldn’t open them to the inevitably increased public scrutiny.
 
Hey, replies George, what could possibly go wrong?
 
If you’re curious to see, Acorn is making the first three episodes of season three available Dec. 21, with a couple more every Monday through Jan. 11.
 
It’s also available, along with the show’s first two seasons and dozens of other hard-to-find shows from other lands, through a subscription to Acorn online at http://acorn.tv.
 
While comparing A Place to Call Home to Downton Abbey requires a little wishful thinking, it’s a solid pleasure all on its own and it’s got a couple of Downton-like qualities, including a great look.
 
Set in the early 1950s, it has lovely landscapes and excels on interior shots, with those bright, uncomplicated 1950s colors for both décor and outfits.
 
Character-wise, the Blighs include the decent, sometimes prickly matriarch Elisabeth (Noni Hazlehurst, left), oldest son George, forward-thinking daughter Anna (Abby Earl) and unsettled daughter Olivia (Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood). Olivia is married to James (David Berry), whose one drawback as a husband is that he’s gay, which was not a social positive in 1954 Australia.
 
Or probably almost anywhere else.
 
Wisely, however, A Placed To Call Home doesn’t use the Blighs as the tentpole of the story. Rather, they form the broad roof. The central character is Sarah Adams (Dusseldorp, top, with Climo), a nurse and Australian native who has spent the last 20 years in Europe.
 
That brilliant stroke immediately elevates the story above ordinary soap opera, since any Jewish person who spent the 1930s and 1940s in Europe is going to be working through the aftereffects for the rest of his or her life.
 
Over the first two seasons Sarah’s own unthinkable horror story has gradually emerged, despite her efforts to bury it. As the third season begins, we’re also getting further into the impact on her husband Rene (Ben Winspear, below, who happens to be Dusseldorp’s real-life spouse).
 
Sarah isn’t a perfect person watching an imperfect world lurch around her. In the first season, before Rene returned, she began an affair with the widowed George that scandalized much of the family, especially Elisabeth, while bringing them to the brink of the altar.
 
Meanwhile, Anna fell hard for a handsome young Italian fellow, Gino (Aldo Mignone), who also wasn’t what the family would have chosen. More dire, Olivia made a drastic and questionable decision by which she hoped to save her marriage. As we enter the third season, she’s doubling down, trying to make it actually become a marriage.
 
All the characters have dark sides, some darker and less avoidable than others. The closest thing to an actual villain, however, has emerged more slowly in the person of George’s sister-in-law Regina (Jenni Baird), who just oozes delightfully cunning evil.
 
Regina is a classic prime-time soap character, at home with blackmail and all forms of self-serving deception. She’s also an anti-Semite and while she’s sadly not alone in that nasty little corner, she’s in a position to remind us that Sarah’s trials didn’t end when the Nazis surrendered.
 
So the viewer knows exactly how myopic George sounds when he cavalierly dismisses the chance that public scrutiny could embarrass any of the Blighs.

No worries, mates? Well, maybe a few – and that’s a good thing, because A Place To Call Home has been renewed for not just this third season, but a fourth. It’s beautifully filmed, nicely acted and well worth savoring.

 
 
 
 
 
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4 Comments
 
 
Linda Larson
I have watched all the episodes on Acorn but season 3 just stops where is the end?
Jul 7, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Casey Green
I love the show. I subscript to ACORN and can't get enough of the program! It is very well written and the acting is great. I am so happy to hear there will be a season 4. Thank you
May 23, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Tonya Segars
This is my favorite show, ever, right above Downton Abbey. It is so well casted, not a mismatch in the bunch. Wonderful actors all of them. I get Acorn TV, and I have already watched all they have, but why are they missing the last two episodes? I check every other day to see if it is out on DVD yet!!!
Jan 9, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Jim
I have been watching this series for the past couple of years. It is well done and entertaining. The Elisabeth character is a little more than prickly and sometimes makes the show hard to watch. She is extremely controlling and manipulative. But, shows a vulnerable side that you are not sure is used just to control the situation. Overall a very good show.
Dec 21, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
 
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