Rain Shadow: Series One
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Two women fight for the future of their outback community
After a decade of drought, a devastating sheep disease strikes the small Australian farming town of Paringa. Tough-minded veterinarian Kate McDonald (Golden Globe®-nominee Rachel Ward, The Thorn Birds) struggles to save her community with the help of a feisty new assistant (Victoria Thaine, The Caterpillar Wish) -- who is just as determined to unlock the mysteries of Kates past.
Filmed entirely on location in a natural rain shadow region in the Adelaide Hills, this poignant drama features stunningly stark vistas and exceptional performances. Hostility and hope, determination and despair mix in a combustible series that pits two strong women against the odds and, oftentimes, against each other.
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE behind-the-scenes featurette, a Rachel Ward biography, and more.
Think of Rain Shadow as All Creatures Great and Small, stripped of its leafy gentility. The gripping Australian miniseries follows the lives of two country veterinarians, but in this case they are two women (Rachel Ward and Victoria Thaine), living in the rugged bleakness of the Australian outback, their lives intertwined with the flinty farmers and ranchers they serve. Ward, who has been little seen on the screen as she has focused on directing and writing, makes a welcome return to acting as Dr. Kate McDonald--weatherworn, standoffish, perhaps hiding secret wounds surrounding the untimely death of her husband. Thaine plays Dr. Jill Blake, her new city-smart young assistant, the latest in a long line who have fled in succession, escaping the relentlessness of the harsh country--and their harsh employer. The viewer gets to learn about Kate, and the region around the fictional town of Paringa, through the eyes of Jill. Kate and Jill don't exactly spar, but they are both fearless and don't flinch in their confrontations. "You're all like the sun has baked all the life out of you," says Jill of the resident's regions. "Like prunes, then? Or roadkill?" deadpans Kate. "If you stay here, you'll end up like us." Jill is strangely drawn to the harsh countryside, and its peculiar inhabitants--and so, gradually, is the viewer. The plot revolves around a catastrophic sheep disease afflicting flocks in the region, and the perennial drought that is wearing down the stalwarts.
But the true story is about the harsh landscape, full of ragged, dry beauty and completely unforgiving--and how it can break a person--or become the best haven on the planet. As Jill learns the rules of the outback, she also tries to probe into the real story of her boss. She, along with the viewer, becomes more fascinated by the harsh landscape, and the ways it changes the rules for animals and humans alike. The DVD contains a biography of Ward, and an absorbing documentary on the making of the show, which was shot entirely on location in a true rain shadow outside Adelaide, Australia. --A.T. Hurley
Stills from Rain Shadow (Click for larger image)
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The actors are excellent as is the story. The 6 episode story arch is paced perfectly, each building on the prior installment. After watching one episode, I couldn't wait to watch more. My only regret was that I wanted the series to continue (it wraps up perfectly, while still leaving room for future installments).
Since borrowing the set that I bought as a birthday gift, I have purchased my own copy of the set, and given yet another one as a Christmas present. I'm a bit surprised that this series hasn't gotten more attention - again, I stumbled on it by accident. The quality, in every respect, makes this set more like a six hour feature film than a television mini-series. It captures the beauty, lonelyness and isolation of life in a very accurate way that I think most people can relate to.
I hope this gets aired on PBS at some point because this quality series deserves a much larger audience. I'd sure love to see another 6 episodes.
I really like the Australian movies and hope I find more. Refreshingly pleasant to watch.