Blue Heelers

Season 3 Episode 12

Happy Families

0
Aired Wednesday 8:30 PM Apr 16, 1996 on Seven Network
8.0
out of 10
User Rating
2 votes
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Episode Summary

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Happy Families
AIRED:
Maggie celebrates her 25th birthday but the fallout from a drug bust threatens to tear her family apart.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • P.J. leads a bust to try and nab a drug supplier, but everything that can go wrong, does; while Maggie's dad and brothers visit to mark her 25th birthday. But the fallout from the bust threatens to tear the family apart. Starts shakily, gets good later...moreless

    9.0
    This review contains spoilers.



    'Happy Families' is the second of three episodes for the series penned by John "Tom Croydon" Wood (he had previously written the second season instalment 'The Homecoming Queen', and would go on to write one more episode for the fourth season.



    The story starts off watchable but a bit so-so. The continually botched drugs bust, to try and nail a slippery, flashy local dealer, is vaguely amusing, but in the early stages only feels to be "average".

    At around the same point, Maggie's father and two brothers arrive in town to celebrate her 25th birthday. Maggie's father Pat (Dennis Miller) is always good fun when he makes an appearance, but in the early stages of this story thread, I found the whole family thing, with the continual bickering between the brothers, and between eldest brother Mick and father Pat (who has virtually disowned Mick after a previous Police incident they disagreed over) rather tedious. (By the way, Mick is played from this point on by Terry Serio (seen in a different role previous in the second season episode 'A Question of Courage'); on Mick's first appearance in the second season two-parter 'Paranoia', he was played by a different actor). And to be honest, whilst Mags is a very interesting watch as a Police officer and interacting with her colleagues (including a certain P.J.!), I do sometimes find coverage of her home life a bit unengaging.



    Although neither of these two plot threads particularly grabbed me during the first few minutes, slowly but steadily a stronger episode began to emerge. The struggles to get the drugs charges to hold up, combined with Maggie's family woes (which eventually tie into the whole drugs situation, as youngest brother Robbie turns out to be an addict) really build up into something very watchable. Quite impressive for two plot threads that, during the early stages of the episode, didn't particularly grab my interest.



    For all I've said above about finding Maggie's home and family situations slightly trivial and uninteresting, when the revelations about addict brother Robbie come out late on, and each male family member starts blaming each other, it played out very sharply, and – with Maggie herself starting to put the whole situation right – is another great performance by Lisa McCune.



    As we "can put a face the name", especially one we all like, maybe it's hard to judge John Wood's writing work for the series equally with the other various writers, but even so, I do feel that he has a good feel for the series and it's characters. He fills out the episode with drama interlaced with some nice moments of light comedy (a 'Blue Heelers' hallmark when it's on form), and I particularly feel that he enjoys writing things concerning Tom and Maggie's professional friendship, and greatly understands the mechanics behind it. I particularly like the scene at Maggie's birthday party at the imperial, where Tom quietly, without making a big thing of it, gives her a present of a brooch that belonged to his late wife Nell.



    The episode makes no mention to the traumatic sudden death of Wayne, covered in the two previous stories, which is fair enough, as the break had to be made somewhere, without characters going on moping week after week; it would damage the momentum of the series.



    Then there is the several shock scenes at the end of the episode (a what I call "extended ending", after the main plot is over and done with, something that was done on a number of first season episodes) – Tom's estranged daughter Anna suddenly appears on the scene for the first time in five years, heavily pregnant (with the father being an Indian man, something I assume Tom will be challenged to get used to), and not realising that her mother is dead. The second shocker at the end of the episode is the revelation that Gina (Maggie's housemate, introduced late season two) has spent the night with P.J.



    All-in-all... well, what a turnaround. As mentioned above, for two plots that, in the very early stages, I found rather distant and monotonous, it wound up in being a very engrossing plot. It does have it's faults, mostly in aforementioned earlier stages, but for the enjoyable episode it winds up being, I give 'Happy Families' a respectable 9 out of 10.moreless
Martin Sacks

Martin Sacks

Senior Detective Patrick Joseph "PJ" Hasham (1994 - 2005)

John Wood

John Wood

Senior Sergeant Tom Croydon

Julie Nihill

Julie Nihill

Christine "Chris" Reilly

Lisa McCune

Lisa McCune

Senior Constable Margaret "Maggie" Doyle (1994 - 2000)

Damian Walshe-Howling

Damian Walshe-Howling

Constable Adam Cooper (1994 - 1998)

William McInnes

William McInnes

Sergeant Nick Schultz (1994 - 1998, recurring 2004 and 2005)

David Wenham

David Wenham

Robbie Doyle

Guest Star

Debra Low

Debra Low

Suzi Kerenyi

Guest Star

Rhys Muldoon

Rhys Muldoon

Geoff Grimshaw

Guest Star

Dennis Miller

Dennis Miller

Pat Doyle

Recurring Role

Nick Waters

Nick Waters

Inspector Faulkner

Recurring Role

Rachel Blakely

Rachel Blakely

Gina Belfante

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (2)

    • From this episode onwards, Maggie's elder brother Mick is played by Terry Serio (who had previously played a different character in the second season episode 'A Question of Courage'). On Mick's first appearance in the second season two-part story 'Paranoia', he was played by a different actor.

    • This is the second episode of the series that John Wood (Sergeant Tom Croydon) wrote for the series, the first being 'The Homecoming Queen' in the second season. He would contribute one further episode, 'Immaculate Misconception', in the fourth season.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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