The job of a season premiere is to establish new story arcs for the season, which could include but not be limited to possible story arcs set up in the previous season’s finale. I felt that this premiere only partially did the job.
As it has been over a year since the season 3 finale aired, I had to re-read my review of it. I felt that the season 3 finale didn’t do its job in wrapping up that season’s story arcs and left a lot of loose ends.
When I re-read my review of the season 3 finale, there were key loose ends that I hoped would be addressed in the season 4 premiere:
- Whether Hugh and baby Eliza would stay in Whyhope.
- Who Matt chose to be with, April or Charlie?
- Is Charlie coming back?
- Whether the cemetery business would work.
- Whether Penny and Raph’s relationship would progress.
I’m going to review the premiere character by character.
Hugh and Tara—The premiere kicks off with Tara, the new GP Registrar (portrayed by Kate Jenkinson), rushing to a motel room, looking for Hugh, who is passed out on the floor. The episode than goes back three days earlier to Hugh waking up, talking to Eliza, on her first birthday, revealing that the Doctor Doctor world has moved forward one year in its timeline.
Hugh first meets Tara when she is talking on her phone in his parking spot at the clinic. He tells her to leave and she responds by giving him the finger and calling him a dipshit. Penny later introduces her to him, revealing she is the GP registrar and is on probation, and requests Hugh to supervise her, due to his progression over the years from “Bad Boy” to respected doctor.
Later, Tara goes with Hugh to Eliza’s first birthday party at The Brewery, and is shocked to discover that Hugh is a father and grandfather, and has dated Charlie. That being said, she stays at the party and tries to convince Hugh to do cocaine in one of the bathroom stalls.
After Penny gets engaged (which I’ll get to), Hugh goes on a bender with Tara and the pharmaceutical rep, Kimberley, which ends in the motel room the viewers find him in at the beginning of the episode. Tara manages to wake him up by reminding him of the meeting, and gets him to it.
Hugh and Penny—Tying in with the Tara subplot is the Knight-Cartwright buyout subplot with Hugh and Penny. The Knight-Cartwright Unit is an MRI machine short but nevertheless ready for a buyout, which will mean the unit being upgraded and Hugh becoming a rich man.
The meeting is postponed at first, which scares Penny, but matters are made worse when it’s rescheduled the morning after Hugh’s bender with Kimberley and Tara. Hugh is high on cocaine and alcohol when he tries to get the buyers to increase the payout, otherwise the current deal will be taken off the table. The buyers ask for a break, in which they work things out with Ken. When the buyers leave, Ken comes out of the room to reveal that they still want to purchase the Unit, but relocate it and for Hugh to have nothing to do with it, however as he invested his own money, he will still become a rich man. This angers Penny, which leads her to tell Hugh that she’s glad they have moved on and she’ll never forgive him for the deal going south.
Penny and Jarrod—The premiere reveals that Penny is happy in her relationship with mine manager, Jarrod Powell (portrayed by Dustin Clare). At Eliza’s birthday party, when Jarrod gets on stage, it’s revealed that they have been together for eight months and he proposes to her. Penny is clearly surprised and doesn’t want to marry him, but says yes. When they go out to lunch to celebrate the next day, Penny tells him that he sprung the proposal on her and she felt pressured to accept as it was done in public, and wants their relationship to stay the way it is. He tells her he wants to spend his life with her, but she gives the ring back.
After the disastrous meeting with the buyers and due to her anger towards Hugh, Penny goes to the mine and agrees to marry Jarrod, informing him she wants their wedding to be only just the two of them and she wants to have it as soon as possible.
Matt, Charlie and April—Charlie has returned to Whyhope, to the surprise of everyone, especially Matt and April. Meryl and Hayley are the first to see her as they run into her while in town, with Hayley inviting her to Eliza’s birthday party. Charlie eventually makes her way to The Brewery before the party, saying hello to Matt and April, with all of them finding the situation awkward.
Meryl invites Charlie to stay at the Homestead for a week or two after initially asking her why she’s back, while April tells Matt she wants Charlie to leave and not come back. When Charlie goes to see Matt after having a swim at the dam, she asks Matt if it’s okay that she stays at the Homestead, he says yes. Later, when April finds out that Charlie is staying at the Homestead, she confronts her, making it clear that she wants her to leave. The next day, Charlie admits to Matt she has returned to Whyhope as she wants him back, Matt tells her that he believes they are both at their best apart and he is happy with April, and he does want a divorce.
Meryl—Meryl is once again up to her old tricks as she goes to Council to campaign for the road leading to the cemetery to be sealed. They tell her that she needs the appropriate votes to get the green light, and to do that, she needs to get Councillor Annie Mathis, also known as “Green Annie” on board.
Meryl then goes to see “Green Annie” at her alpaca ranch, where Annie reveals she’s on to her, however Meryl makes it clear she’s willing to bribe her and Annie gives Meryl her price. Meryl gives Annie her bribe by using a lunchbox, however the fate of the road is unseen.
Ajax and Hayley—There wasn’t any real focus on Ajax and Hayley, other than Ajax being seen assisting with a funeral, establishing the cemetery business is going well, and Hayley working on Eliza’s birthday party, with little Jimmy in tow, who is now 18 months old.
Betty—There wasn’t any real focus on Betty either, other than the fact that her and Darren are still together, which is shown when he is waiting for her outside of “Green Annie’s” to take her to work.
Ken—There wasn’t any real focus on Ken either, other than him being depressed over his breakup with Mia as she has gone back to New Zealand.
Overall I felt that the premiere was good but not great. Most of the key loose ends I mentioned earlier in this review were addressed—Hugh and Eliza are still in Whyhope, Charlie has returned to Whyhope, Matt has chosen to be with April, but it’s clear that there is a love triangle between him, April and Charlie, which most of the season will revolve around. There wasn’t much focus on the cemetery business, but it’s clearly up and running.
I found the departure of Mia and the introduction of Tara interesting. While I’m disappointed that Mia and Ken’s relationship ended and she has left, I’m looking forward to seeing where Tara takes the series, especially as it’s clear she is the new Hugh or Hugh 2.0.
I’m honestly not that enthused about Penny and Jarrod’s relationship. In the season 3 finale, Penny settled for Raph and there was no mention of him and how their relationship ended in the premiere. As the Doctor Doctor world has moved forward twelve months, and Penny and Jarrod have been dating for eight months, we weren’t introduced to him when they met or at the beginning of their relationship, and we haven’t seen how their relationship has progressed to its current point. Meeting Jarrod at this point in the Doctor Doctor universe is like starting to read a book in the middle, and it’s especially hard to be invested in their relationship as Penny is again settling and it won’t last. It’s also hard to be invested in Jarrod as a character as we know nothing about him, other than the fact that he is Penny’s fiancé and the Whyhope mine manager.
A recurring theme in this episode was ‘back to the way things were/are’. Penny wants her relationship with Jarrod to go back to the way it was prior to the proposal, only for her to change her mind. April confronts Charlie, asking her to leave so her relationship with Matt can go back to the way it is. Not to mention that Tara’s arrival in Whyhope and her habits mirror Hugh’s arrival in Whyhope in the first season. Tara as a character also shows how much Hugh has changed over the years and how far he has come.
Overall this was a good but not great season premiere as it does show some potential for the rest of the season, however while the choice to move the Doctor Doctor world forward twelve months wasn’t a bad one, I feel the time jump would have been better executed if the gaps between the season 3 finale and this premiere were filled properly.
Dora sighting—Next to the hearse that is stuck in a hole on the road, with the coffin continually falling out of the back, into Ajax’s arms.
-There was no mention of Hugh’s medicinal poppies that were focused on in the season 3 finale.
-Charlie has written and published two books.
-There was no mention or sight of Floyd.
Best one liners and interactions:
- “You’re asking for trouble letting Eliza sleep in the same bed. Given the choice I wouldn’t have you boys in the same house.” (Meryl to Hugh)
- “We’re all going to use it one day Rod, some of us sooner than others.” (Meryl to Rod on the road to the cemetery and its need to be sealed)
- “Alright…I mean okay…Yes!” (Penny’s response to Jarrod’s marriage proposal)
- “How many times do you get engaged in your life? 5, 6, tops!” (Hugh to Penny)
- “Keep the lunchbox, it will remind you how to vote.” (Meryl to Annie)