So this is the one that started it all.
'Blue Heelers' was shown here in the United Kingdom by various ITV regions on various weekday afternoons. It was one of those bizarre cases where each region would give it it's own time slot and be at totally different points in the series (the London region ran much of it on Monday afternoons, but went through phases of cutting episodes in half as two parters over several days). I didn't discover it until mid/late second series, but recently have got the first season DVD and worked backwards watching episodes I had originally missed. I'm planning to work my way through the entire series, as episodes were often trimmed for their afternoon slot (for both time and content), and stopped abruptly a couple of years ago (miles from the end of the series) when all of the ITV regions joined up as one.
This first episode is very fair in that it introduces all of the characters and sets the scene for the series.
As I found with a lot of 'Blue Heelers', the plots themselves aren't always the hook (in fact - dare I say - at times, they could be rather so-so), but it is the wonderful characters and their interaction that really makes things work.
Lisa McCune plays Maggie Doyle, who serves in this episode as introducing us viewers to Mount Thomas and the current crop of officers at the Police station. McCune plays the part very well, and deservedly became a favourite actress in Australia.
Tom Wood (who I only recently found out wrote several episodes of another Aussie favourite, 'Prisoner: Cell Block H') is perfect as the irascible Sergeant Tom Croydon. He has a gruff exterior but, of course, a heart of gold. Other constable Wayne Patterson (and civilian wife Roz), Nick Schultz, and Senior Detective P.J. Hasham, as well as Chris Reilly, who runs the local drinking hole, are also introduced with varying degrees of emphasis, and would all be put in the spotlight at varios times as time went on.
For a first episode, I might have hoped for a bigger, more solid storyline, but in a way that goes back to what I said – much of 'Blue Heelers'' appeal was its characters as much (maybe even more) than the actual cases they solved. It can be quite funny at times, and very dramatic at others. This is more a case of a show finding its feet than coming in with a bang – but when that bang hit, it made for some great television.