TV Review: A Place to Call Home Season 2

TV Review: A Place to Call Home – Season 2

A pertinent truth hidden in drama

By Mark HadleyWednesday 14 May 2014TV and StreamingReading Time: 3 minutes

What will viewers learn from the return of the highly successful A Place To Call Home? Don’t mess with a winning formula. Seven’s back with more soap and nostalgia, and the life lesson is somewhat familiar as well – beware your sins will find you out.

'A Place to Call Home' is back for Season 2. 

Several reviewers have referred to A Place To Call Home as Australia’s answer to Downton Abbey. Certainly the production values seem to be just as high for this series set in the decade after the second world war. But I doubt that even the denizens of Downton Abbey could get away with a storyline that seems more at home in Home And Away than period drama. For those who are struggling to remember how the first season ended up…

• Our mysterious heroine Sarah Adams is set to marry head of the manor George Bligh, but has agreed to spend three months living in his home to see if the lifestyle suits her…

• Matriarch Elizabeth Bligh is set to dig up the dirt on her prospective sister in law with the assistance of conniving Aunt Regina…

• George’s daughter Anna has lost her baby but decided to mirror dad’s decision and move in with her lover Gino’s farming family to see if she’s got what it takes to become an Italian wife…

• But Anna has also found out that dad’s not her dad after all – her real mother Carolyn Bligh is back on the scene and staying in the guesthouse…

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• Son James is getting electric shock treatment in Sydney for his homosexuality because he’s still in love with his wife’s brother…

• And the season ended with a body floating down the river – someone’s killed wife-beating Bert who was blackmailing the Blighs with threats to reveal James’ gay lifestyle…

Yes, it’s increasingly hard to take seriously with this many suds obscuring the small screen. Strangely the series continues to be compelling to audiences, though, and I think that’s because they’ve got two essential truths right.

Firstly, secrets destroy relationships. Or, to put it in a more positive light, truth is the only foundation for anything that will last. Time and again the characters from Ash Park have learned that trust destroyed is very difficult to regain. The Bible records a pithy saying to summarise the same wisdom:

“A brother offended is more unyielding than a walled city.”  

And so week in week out you can expect to tune into season two and see the Blighs and those who know them constantly recalling who did what to whom, and how it scarred them for life. The first episode makes it clear, for example, that we’ll be watching Carolyn and the drug addicted Doctor Jack Duncan struggle to leave behind the wrongs done when they conceived baby Anna.

But the second truth is probably even more essential to the soap opera format: secrets don’t like to stay secret. The primary motivation for tuning in, I suspect, is wondering if this will be the week character A actually finds out about character B? Episode one is actually ironically titled, No secrets, ever not because the lovers involved promise to stay truthful but because the lies they’ve told just won’t stay hidden. 

Season two actually uses a very clever plot device to underline this by starting the program 60 years in the future where Sarah Adams is now an elderly women, finally revealing what she knows about the murder of Bert – no spoilers, promise! – and demonstrating the effect holding in that information has had on her all this time. And once again, the Bible is not caught flat-footed. It not only knows the problem, it suggests a better answer than any Seven’s writers have so far conceived:

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”  


Rating: M 
Distributor: Seven Network

Release Date: Sundays, 8:40 PM