1.01 Will to Survive by Tony Morphett
Summary: Chris Randall arrives in Coopers Crossing to take up her new position as a doctor for the Royal Flying Doctors Service. Much to (nearly) everyone's surprise, she's a woman, and the patients around the district do not exactly welcome the new "Doc" with open arms - she's a woman doing "a man's job" and therefore regarded with much suspicion. All new doctors are viewed with great suspicion, but with her being a woman, she gets it even worse than usual. With Tom busy in the operating theatre, she flies out with nurse Kate and temp pilot Ray to see a man whose leg has been crushed - two days ago (it's a big station). The weather deteriorates, the man hasn't looked after his airstrip and it makes it unsafe to take off. As he can survive with an operation, they go back to the house and Chris performs the operation... an amputation. The other part of the plot centres around a man who's wife left him ("shot through" as they say), and who has two older and two younger sons. One of the older ones lives in the City, where he's gone to study, so the other one is left to look after his younger brothers. The father has given up, drinks too much and has landed himself with some sort of ulcer - it's him that's under the knife keeping Tom busy.
Characters: Kate Wellings, Tom Callaghan, Chris Randall, Violet Carnegie, Ray Masters, Sharon Herbert, George Baxter, Jack Carruthers, Vic and Nancy Buckley, Ron Miller, Frank Turner, Joe Forest.
How wonderful to be back in Coopers Crossing, hearing the ever-famous callings "Victor Charlie Charlie" and "Mike Sierra Foxtrot", be reminded of what a shabby establishment the hotel part of the Majestic actually is (pliers to change channels on an ancient TV set, a shower and taps that don't work, and so on), but most of all, to reunite with the cast. There's Vic and Nance in the pub, Dr. Turner and the Matron in the hospital, along with Dr. Callaghan and nurse Kate, of course... Ray in the garage, Joe on the radio, Sharon looking after the office, Violet being ever so concerned about everyone... it's marvellous!
Series one picks up a bit after where the miniseries left off. The miniseries introduced Tom Callaghan (Andrew McFarlane) and showed him trying to adjust to the new surroundings and the people adjusting to him. I have a vague recollection of an American woman that he got together with (it's been a few years since I last saw the miniseries), but the woman, Liz, is now gone. Her being gone is one of Violet's main concerns, because how will poor Tom cope? And now that there's a new woman in town and all - a doctor to boot!
It's always a good idea when you're starting out any sort of story to have someone who is new to it all, because through them, we as readers or viewers, get introduced to this brand new world. J.K. Rowling does this through Harry Potter - at the same rate he's introduced to the world of magic, so are we; we discover things together. In the miniseries, Tom was new, he served as our introduction. With this new show, it's Dr. Chris Randall (Liz Burch) who [re-]introduces us.
Chris has a much greater difficulty getting accepted than Tom did, that of being a female doctor. While we know the people of the district are very sceptical of newcomers, having the newcomer being a woman doing what's widely regarded as a man's job is like waving a red flag. I can't remember if Magda or indeed Rowie had the same issues in later series, or if perhaps Chris paved the way for them. In the next episode (or the one after), Tom tells Kate why the American woman left - she was like a fish out of water. She realised she couldn't stay there and live that life when they were out on a dinner somewhere and the only topic of conversation for the women were along the lines of scone recipes. It's not exactly the same sort of life she was used to from back home in the big city, where women and men had come a bit further in gender equality than the 1950s that the Outback seemed to have got stuck in. It'll be interesting to see (when I get there) just how the other female doctors were received, and if modern times had finally caught up with them at that point.
As a first episode, it bodes well for what is to come!