Drama comes Home
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What's it about?
To merely say Packed to the Rafters is 'a family drama' would be grossly misleading if the phrase brings to mind the many excessively dramatic, often sappy, shows we have been subjected to in the past. An Australian show, it premiered in the country in August 2008 and now, four years later, has been brought to India (while in Australia, the sixth season begins next year). The show centres around the Rafter family — three children and their parents, and the extended family of spouses and grandparents. On the eve of the parents' 25th wedding anniversary, their 23-year-old son, Ben, finally moves out — albeit only next door — and the parents, Julie and Dave, think they will finally have the house to themselves. Their plans, however, soon come crashing as the family meets with one setback after another.
Who's in it?
Being an Australian show, all the actors are of local origin, and refreshingly so. Rebecca Gibney, one of Australia's best-known actors, plays Julie Rafter and Erik Thomson, who has starred in a number of television shows in the past, including Xena:Warrior Princess in the late '90s, plays Dave Rafter. The roles of children — Nathan, Ben and Rachel — are played by Angus McLaren, Hugh Sheridan and Jessica Marais respectively, all of whom have starred in a handful of television series each. The grandfather Ted Taylor is played by Michael Catonis — possibly the best-known actor of the lot, having starred in a number of films and television series, the most recent of the former being Strange Bedfellows in 2004.
Judging by the initial few episodes, there's plenty to like. In the beginning of the first episode, audience cannot be blamed for misconstruing the show's genre as comedy. As the episode progresses, however, the drama begins to unfold. But it is most appealing that between all the drama are moments of genuine comedy, and the producers have managed to strike a fine balance between the two. That the show simply narrates the life of a regular family, and in a commendably realistic manner, is perhaps what has made it as successful as it is.