The final episode of All Saints has it all: a death, a birth, a departure, a proposal, a conciliation and a life-changing diagnosis.
Of course, it all takes place in the All Saints Western General Hospital -so you’ll just have to tune in to learn which ones involve the residents and which are the patients…
But for most of its 48 minutes (70 including ads) this drama does what it has done for most of its 12 seasons: it gets on with the daily emergency of saving lives, attending to ill and injured patients and pausing ever so briefly to argue, fall in love, smile and reassure.
This is the end of 11 years for the Seven soap, the longest-running weekly hour drama currently on Australian screens. The final episode, “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” is written by Script Producer Louise Crane-Bowes.
It opens with John Howard’s voice over, “The philosopher Voltaire once said ‘Doctors prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less for human beings of whom they know nothing.’ I say there’s so much more to it than that.”
Howard’s presence is unmistakable in this soap. He is enigmatic, if physically distracting, as the grumpy Dr. Frank Campion. It’s a presence he maintains to the final end of this drama, forced out the Emergency Ward by rising production costs.
John Waters as Dr. Mike Vlasek has adopted action qualities this season for the Medical Response Unit. In the final episode his team is left grounded. I would have liked Campion to have asked Vlasek whether the costs of his MRU have effectively led to the shutdown of the hospital, but that’s not a conversation we’re likely to see.
Also on their medically best behaviour are other regulars including Dr. Charlotte Beaumont (Tammy MacIntosh), Dr. Bartholomew West (Andrew Supanz), Gabrielle Jaeger (Virginia Gay) and Dr. Adam Rossi (Kip Gamblin). Guest stars include Frankie J. Holden, Celeste Barber, Jonathan Wood, Heather Mitchell and Sapphire Blossom. It is directed by Marcus Cole.
And then there is Von Ryan (Judith McGrath) who is quietly leaving the hospital -a fitting plot move given McGrath is the show’s sole remaining original cast member. In trauma scenes Von Ryan again proves why she has been so compelling in this pivotal link in the All Saints chain. She is salt of the earth stuff…
As a finale this episode doesn’t dwell in sentiment. Only in the last ten minutes, after selflessly resolving its weekly medical cases, does the show take time for itself. No big MASH finale here. No going out all guns blazing. No former cast members returning to bid us goodbye.
Yes, there is a moment in which Von walks away from the hospital and turns around for a final look.
Yes there is a clip montage to remind us of some of its favourite sons and daughters: Georgie Parker, Erik Thomson, Libby Tanner, Celia Ireland, Wil Traval, Jolene Anderson, Christopher Gabardi plus Belinda Emmett and Mark Priestley.
Will you need the Kleenex? No not here, the show ends on an upbeat note going for affection rather than sentiment. Its medical record intact, it can switch off the life support knowing it has lived a long and healthy television life.
And the final shot goes, aptly, to Judith McGrath.
All Saints concludes 9:30pm Tuesday October 27th on Seven.