First Review: Rain Shadow

The overwhelming mood from the first hour of the new ABC drama series Rain Shadow is one steeped in the stillness of time.

The landscape is spare, the people are unhurried, and the images, script and performances are languid. All of which is perfectly in harmony with a land struggling merely to hang on amid this debilitating drought.

As seasoned veterinarian Kate McDonald (Rachel Ward) tells her new assistant Jill Blake (Victoria Thane), the property dwellers in the dying district of Paringa merely hope to “make do.” Meanwhile their land is fatally thirsty, their animals diseased and hope is merely a memory.

Blake is a city vet working under McDonald, a “bitch on wheels” according to one colleague. The two share an empty post of a surgery, that comprises little more than two ramshackle huts. McDonald has stayed on the job years after the death of her veterinarian husband, but with her abrupt and grim manner, she hasn’t managed to hold down an assistant. In this unforgiving environment is it any wonder?

The script by Tony Morphett (Blue Heelers) is suitably less ambitious than his recent Sea Patrol pilot, which sought to package a slicker, more contemporary television hour. Rain Shadow’s best assets are not as readily identifiable. As a 6 parter, the series arc is neither necessarily apparent, but this works to great effect as the charms of the characters and the land itself creep up on you. Under the hand of director Shawn Seet (The Alice, MDA, Secret Life of Us, Loot) there is enough trust in the material and performers to allow some real resonance here. Producer Gus Howard (Blue Heelers) is equally at ease with the freedom of an uninterrupted story canvas. Writer Jimmy Thomson is co-creator.

The cinematography captures the overwhelming brown-ness of the South Australian bush, and the score by The Audreys evokes a haunting, placid, rural spirit. They are employed to illustrate the isolation and despair of the challenges faced by our farms, but with less melodrama than McLeod’s Daughters and less passion than the foreclosing banks of The Farm, another ABC drama.

The ABC has had great success with genial Sunday night dramas, Seachange and Hamish Macbeth, and even the other animals in All Creatures Great and Small to name a few. Likable characters have been pivotal to these successes.

Rain Shadow, which slowly introduces us to its true-blue Jill and a cast of jackaroos, may not aspire to quite the same dizzying heights, but that’s to our advantage.

Rain Shadow premieres 8:30pm Sunday on ABC.

Gallery: Rain Shadow.

4 Comments:

  1. Hi.

    Just re-watched Rain Shadow and I love it! I’m from Mount Barker, and it was fantastic to see people I knew and places I have been to. The church in episode 2 (I think) is the Callington church and outside cemetary.

    The Vet Surgery owned by James Campbell is in Mount Barker opposite the bowling club. The huge silos featured throughout the series are in Monarto, just off the freeway. Much of the landscape scenes are shot throughout the Callington Area. The park in the series, looking lush and green, is the Keith Stevenson Park in Mount Barker.

    Hats off to everyone involved in Rainshadow!

  2. Hi. Have now watched this series and congrats to cast and crew. Would like also to know which cemeteries were used in the filming which apparently took place at Callington,Monarto South and Mt Marker areas.

  3. I am obsessed with ABC’s top quality series ‘Rain Shadow’. I’ve seen the original and the re-run, and I now have my own copy (DVD) to keep the obsession alive. What a fantastic script, great acting, photography, music (The Audreys, WOW) and a very satisfying and credible story arc. I wish there was more of this type of TV on offer … any chance of a sequel? It is a mystery to me that this mini-series has not (apparently) won any awards thus far. If this is the case, we ought to stone the crows and all go live in Paringa… as sheep.

  4. Hi,
    I love this show the first time around and I am lovig it the second! However I am frustrate. I live i the Adelaide Hills and can’t work out the location of the church in the opening of one episode or the cemetary where Kates husband is buried.

    Jill had better not have any problem with her car as the car yard is no longer there!

    Well done to everyone concerned and is there any chance of a sequel.

    Thanks

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