A Place to Call Home is one of those period dramas that sucks you into its world of characters, drama, and mystery. By the end, you’ll feel like you know these people and just want to spend more time with each and every one of them. This may, in fact, be one of the most addicting dramas I’ve seen and is quite enjoyable as a binge watch. Thankfully, you can stream all of the episodes (available so far) on ACORN.
A Place to Call Home, tells the story of the mysterious Sarah Adams who is in search of a new life post World War II and finds herself in a position to move to a small Australian town called Inverness as a Nurse. Earlier, she met a wealthy upper class Australian family (The Blighs) working as a Nurse aboard a ship from London to Australia and developed an attraction with George (the head of the Bligh family) who then recommends her for a Nursing position in his hometown. She ultimately accepts this job proposal and moves there in a shroud of mystery.
Unfortunately, while still aboard the ship, Sarah witnesses George’s son James try to commit suicide. Sarah saves him just in time from jumping overboard, but the “secret” of why he tried to kill himself remains hidden. Elizabeth, the matriarch of the family and mother of George, pleads with Sarah to keep James’ suicide attempt a secret. Believing it to be in James’ best interest, Sarah reluctantly agrees to the request. This run in between Sarah, Elizabeth and James remains one of the main conflicts throughout the series as Elizabeth develops an immediate dislike for Sarah, who is close to learning the truth behind James’ breakdown which could lead to ruin for the family.
But it’s not just Sarah’s proximity to the truth that causes this immediate dislike for Sarah alone, as Elizabeth clearly recognizes the attraction Sarah shares with her son George.
When Sarah moves to Inverness, Elizabeth tries everything to make sure Sarah hightails it out of town, fearful that this mysterious woman will mean the collapse of her family. Thankfully, Sarah doesn’t care what anyone thinks (due to the experiences of her past which will unfold) and sticks around making an impression on everyone in the town.
One of the best parts of the series is the rich characterization behind the female protagonist Sarah Adams played brilliantly by Marta Dusseldorp.
One of the best parts of the series is the rich characterization behind the female protagonist Sarah Adams played brilliantly by Marta Dusseldorp. She represents everything I look for in a female character. She’s layered, flawed and so incredibly human. Her strength is admirable, but she isn’t perfect which makes her all the more “perfect” as a character. Sarah is rather an enigma for a large part of the series. You learn a little bit about her at a time as she keeps her past well hidden. To reveal much, would be to ruin the viewer’s experience as you get to know her and her motives behind all the choices she makes.
The series introduces many more memorable characters for you to love and even hate. Besides Sarah, the intelligent nurse ready to defend any and all underdogs, and Elizabeth, the tough as nails (and even ruthless) matriarch of the Bligh family, there’s also George, the handsome widower who always tries to do the right thing; James, the Bligh with a secret leading him to a breakdown; Olivia, James’ new English wife who feels like James doesn’t love her; Jack, the town Doctor with demons of his own and an obvious attraction to Sarah; Anna, George’s independent daughter who’s having a secret relationship with an Italian farmer; Carolyn, Elizabeth’s daughter and black sheep of the family who first appears later in the first season; And Doris, the town gossip. Of course, there are even more characters that come later including the villainous Regina and Andrew.
The performances, in general, are fantastic and worthy of attention. No doubt Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood as Olivia is a standout with a long career ahead of her. She can act any emotion asked of her. The same goes for David Berry as James who plays this tortured character looking for acceptance with absolute heart and realness. Despite obvious challenges, you may find yourself oddly rooting for this married couple in a non-traditional way.
Besides the unforgettable performances, the writing is fantastic from series’ creator Bevan Lee. He truly captures the essence of the time and isn’t afraid to have the characters act like they are from the ‘50s rather than the modern day – a mistake many period dramas make (which only works if done intentionally for stylistic reasons). The costumes and set designs also support this high-quality production. This is not a cheap looking period drama. There’s a lot of authenticity in the writing as well as the details, even if it is technically a “soap.”
There are many romances in the series to love as well. There’s Sarah and George, Anna and Gino, Carolyn and Jack and more. I also really enjoyed Jack’s unrequited love for Sarah as the chemistry between them is undeniable. So if you love a good period romance, this series shouldn’t disappoint.
The only real downside to this series was that at times it got a little bit too soapy with perhaps too many conflicts. But this is only a minor complaint.
I should also warn that if you do watch, the show was originally canceled at the end of season 2. An ending was thrown together without much time that clearly was not meant to be the “actual” final ending – especially considering the surprising introduction to season 2 that shows Sarah as an old woman telling her story, which “hints” to certain events happening at some point or another that in fact don’t happen by the end of season 2. I know that’s vague, but to spoil anything more would ruin it!
However, luckily, the show was soon picked up by another network. So season 3 should be premiering in Australia soon. And there will be a season 4 as well! So watch the final episode of season two with a grain of salt. They are airing a different version of the episode to be released in Australia before the premiere of the new season. So think of the season 2 finale as an alternate season 2 finale!
Overall, A Place to Call Home is not to be missed if you enjoy addicting period dramas with real heart and emotion about a family in a time now long gone. So if you love shows like Downton Abbey, then you may just enjoy this Australian gem. Content-wise – expect the series to range from TV-PG to TV-14 depending on the episode.