The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race (Wednesday on 10) is a charming new Aussie telemovie about the age-old battle between women and men. It’s comfortably familiar, with an undercurrent about small-town life. And whilst it doesn’t play like a pilot, it would make for a great ongoing series.
Penny (Claire van der Boom) is a doctor returning home, but she upsets the townsfolk by asking why women don’t get the same prize money as men in the local potato races. All hell breaks loose, worsening the prickly relationship she has with her sister Nikki (Katie Wall). Luckily, there are also good times with growing nephews and gorgeous Aunty Barb (Genevieve Lemon) and Uncle Bob (Tiriel Mora).
Out to steal the show is bossyboots Joan (Robyn Levin), an uptight receptionist at the surgery who has two loser sons. Mark (Rohan Nichol) is depressed while his angry brother Gavin (Andy Ryan) rages at the pub about “lezzos and lefties”. That makes for a shocking moment but it is also begging for a backstory – why are some men in the bush feeling so adrift today?
The time is always ripe for such a show, because Aussie country TV towns have often been big hits. There’s been Bellbird (1967, ABC), Matlock Police (1971, 10), A Country Practice (1981, Seven), Blue Heelers (1994, Seven), SeaChange (1999, ABC) and McLeod’s Daughters (2001, Nine). There’s been a gap since Doctor Doctor (Nine) went off the air in 2021, and Appleton should be next.
Is it a coincidence that The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race is written by Melanie Tait, who also co-hosts A Country Podcast, the podcast about A Country Practice? And is 10, by screening this telemovie at 7.30pm, trying to echo the success of Wandin Valley which ruled that time slot for 14 years! Paramount should commission a return visit to Appleton, because country women are always welcoming, even if some of the men are deadbeats.
Also next week: Don’t miss the incredibly moving documentary film fresh from cinemas, John Farnham: Finding The Voice (Monday on Seven). There’s a new #goplasticfree #designitbetter series of War On Waste (Tuesday on ABC), and the second season of Minx (today on Stan) is just as saucy as the first.
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Listen now on your favourite podcast platform for 30 minutes of TV reviews and recommendations every week from Mediaweek’s Andrew Mercado and James Manning.
This week on the TV Gold podcast: The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race, Special Ops: Lioness and Minx (S2)
TV shows reviewed this week are the charming new Aussie telemovie The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race (10 and Paramount+), the new Taylor Sheridan and Nicole Kidman series Special Ops: Lioness and the still-saucy second season of Minx (Stan).
Bonus episodes this month: Marta Dusseldorp on Bay of Fires, Jason Herbison on Riptide
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