1.05 Public Property by Denise Morgan
Summary: The Hayes brothers are driving into town to meet up with the younger brother's penpal fiancée. As he's driving while being drunk, they have an accident (minor scratches), and get a stern talking to by the doctors for wasting valuable time. When the bus arrives, carrying the woman he's never met but is meant to be marrying, Bruce Hayes gets the shock of his life - the woman's heavily pregnant! She didn't say anything about that in her letters ... and so he refuses to marry her. The woman ends up marrying the older Hayes brother, who's now taken a shine to her, belly and all. Both Gibbo and Chris think Tom works too much and decide to stop off in Broken Hill, claiming there's something up with the plane, when in fact Chris has planned to take Tom for a swim as he needs to learn to relax. In town, there's an annual fundraiser for the RFDS - a "boat" race - followed by a bar brawl. Tom
keeps getting badgered about being in the organising committee, and
Violet isn't too happy when Chris goes in his stead.
Recurring characters: Sharon, Gibbo, Tom, Joe, Chris, Kate, Hurtle, Ron, Violet, Vic and Nance, Jack, Old Codgers.
Gossip mills in town are churning, of course, making Tom uncomfortable.
He can't not do whatever people want to involve him in, because it would
look bad. He, or even Gibbo, can't hang out with Chris as friends without rumours starting to spin.
Aside from being a complete prick, I can sort of understand why Bruce would reject the woman he's asked to marry when he founds out she's heavily pregnant with someone else's child. It's just sad that he won't see the woman behind the belly. Fortunately, his brother is a nicer soul and it all turns out all right in the end - they even name the child Bruce.
I thought the actor playing Bruce looked oddly familiar, and then it hit me. It's Marty Jarvis, a bloke from a few series down the line! I double-checked it, and yes, Mark Neal did play the part of Marty. Funny he should make an appearance this early on in the series and then come back as a regular - as a completely different character.
That the RFDS have limited funds and rely on donations is made a big point of in this episode. First, the lecture about the brothers (or rather Bruce) wasting their precious resources, when doing something stupid that is likely to cause an injury, which of course is what drunk driving inevitably does. Just thought it was odd that they didn't haul Bruce off to see Jack, but drunk driving isn't illegal in the Outback or something?
Secondly, the fundraiser. The boat race means that the participating teams have built a boat-shaped object that they carry and run with. First one to cross the finish line wins. Normally, Ron and Hurtle win because they get all the other teams plastered (very, very drunk) beforehand. They haven't been able to outsmart the likes of Gibbo, however, who together with Tom (?) ends up winning the race.
There's lots of that great town spirit. After the boat race, there's normally a bar brawl. Jack and a couple of other policemen stand on the porch outside the pub and when the first person comes flying out the door, Jack simply looks at his wristwatch and says "they're early this year". Brilliant line!
We also get to see three characters in swimming costumes, which is not exactly an every day occurrence.