Where now for Rafters?
The future of a favourite family remains unclear, writes Colin Vickery
The media has been awash with speculation Rafters will finish after its sixth season on Channel 7.
The rumours have been fuelled by cast leaving the show. Logie winner Hugh Sheridan’s decision to defect to Ten felt like a death knell for the popular drama.
Sheridan’s move came after Rafters had already endured the exits of Jessica Marais (Rachel Rafter), Jessica McNamee (Sammy Rafter) and Zoe Ventoura (Melissa Rafter).
Angus McLaren (Nathan Rafter) also took a break from the show.
Fans started to wonder how Seven could continue a show called Packed to the Rafters if there weren’t any Rafters left.
Seven didn’t help Rafters’ cause. The network showed only 10 of the 22 fifth-series episodes last year.
Yet again, Rafters was truncated to make way for Winners & Losers. When Rafters returns next week it will be a whopping eight months since we last saw Julie, Dave and the gang.
Late last year, rumours emerged that Seven was cutting the sixth season of Rafters back to 12 episodes.
This year Seven is set to launch new Aussie drama A Place to Call Home. Rafters used to be the network’s flagship show but now the field is looking mighty crowded.
All of the Rafters cast are on holiday at the moment. Seven insiders say the Rafters writers will regroup in March to nut out new storylines.
Whether that will be a full series, several specials or a oneoff finale remains a mystery.
‘‘ Will there be a season seven — who knows?’’ Gibney says.
‘‘ If the storylines are great and certainly if the other actors are prepared to go back, I never say never to anything. That said, I’m currently developing new shows at Seven.
‘‘ I’mhappy at Seven and I’ve EBECCA Gibney has her fingers crossed. For months the jungle drums have been beating about the end of Packed to the got the freedom to do movies, theatre and other things.’’
Next Tuesday’s Rafters’ return episode is full of meaty storylines that will play out in coming months. Ben considers a move to the country, Ted confronts a serious health crisis, and Carbo and Retta pursue dreams of a family.
‘‘ A very important situation occurs with one of the lead characters, which is going to enormously affect the entire family,’’ Gibney says. ‘‘ It will have ramifications right throughout series six. It will be incredibly sad and heartbreaking.’’
Dave (Erik Thomson) and Julie (Gibney) are still battling the fallout from Dave’s drunken kiss with apprentice Frankie Calasso (Brooke Satchwell). Last year, Julie had her own brush with temptation — attracted to magazine editor Adam Goodman (Cameron Daddo).
‘‘ We (Thomson and Gibney) were the ones that suggested (to the writers) that Julie and Dave have some serious issues,’’ Gibney reveals. ‘‘ Erik and I respect viewers’ needs for Dave and Julie to be rock-solid, but we also have to reflect what goes on in the real world.
‘‘ If we kept on going along just being the same, the anchor of the show, we’d become bored.
‘‘ Certainly the kiss created some trust issues but Julie is ABSOLUTELY SHATTERED: Apple can be relied on to create trends, so is it really so unbelievable that the technology giant would create iPhones just for teenagers? The Onion News Network reveals that the new iPhone 5C will come with pre-shattered phone screens in several variations, including a model that appears to have been dropped in beer. Watch: http://bit.ly/TWtQ6h Back for more: ‘‘anchors’’ Rebecca Gibney and Erik Thomson (left), the full cast (above) and (below) Brooke Satchwell and Thomson in that kiss. trying to be brave and move forward. Of course, there is still going to be jealousy. She is trying to be the good wife but she is struggling with it.
‘‘ We stopped short of (Dave or Julie) having an affair. We didn’t want an affair because there would be no coming back from that. From now on we’ll hopefully see the relationship between Dave and Julie come back stronger than ever before.’’
Seven has more than 20 episodes of Rafters in the can and is promising it will run them all in 2013.
Seven has also promoted the fact that Sheridan, Marais, McNamee and McLaren will return for special appearances in upcoming episodes of Rafters. Sheridan crashed and burned with ratings dud I Will Survive. Marais struck gold as Lily Diamond in US drama Magic City. McNamee featured opposite Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams in hit movie The Vow.
‘‘ The kids will come back one by one,’’ Gibney says.
BREATHING EASY AFTER HEALTH KICK
REBECCA Gibney and husband Richard Bell’s decision to move from Tasmania to Sydney for Packed to the Rafters in late 2010 had unexpected consequences for their young son Zac.
Gibney and Bell moved just as Zac, now 8, was set to start primary school.
Unfortunately, Zac experienced asthma-type problems after the switch to the Harbour City. Living on Sydney’s Northern Beaches helped ease Zac’s symptoms, but Gibney has to remain vigilant.
‘‘We’re all on a health kick at the moment,’’ Gibney says. ‘‘We’re getting rid of sugar and products with additives.
‘‘Zac is struggling (with the new food rules) but it seems to be helping with his asthma.
‘‘At Christmas time we bought a little boat, so we’re going out fishing and we’re also doing a lot of swimming.
‘‘I always thought I was a Melbourne girl — I lived in Melbourne for 20 years — but I’m loving the Northern Beaches. I think we’ll be here for the foreseeable future.’’ ‘‘ The great thing is that the writers have always left the door open (for characters to return), with the exception of Mel.
‘‘ No one could see that (cast leaving) was going to happen, but they’re young and they want to explore
Will there be a season seven — who knows?
other avenues. No one had bad feelings about that.
‘‘ We have adapted (to the cast exits). They go for a time but they all come back.’’
Now it is up to Seven to play its part by running a full season of Rafters and, hopefully, locking down a seventh series.
‘‘ I’m really hoping they (Seven) play it out,’’ Gibney says. ‘‘ I would love to see it ( Rafters) run in its entirety.’’ Packed to the Rafters, Channel 7, Tuesday, 8.45pm iOS, $2.99 ★★★★ The move to touch controls has worked well for Joe Danger. Players still careen through motorcycle courses filledwith loops and obstacles, only now ducking, jumping, wheelies, tricks and more are all executed with simple taps, holds and swipes. It’s the perfect game for mobile phones too: each course is short and easy to beat but tricky to master. Out now. PS3/Xbox 360, $49.95 ★★★ From the studio behind Bayonetta and MadWorld, this onlinefocused fighting game takes some getting used to. Its graphics are clunky, its singleplayer component repetitive and its learning curve steep. Once players get the hang of combat, however, Anarchy Reigns more than lives up to its name. Battles are chaotic, with up to 16 brawlers at once. Out now. PS3 (PSN), $12.95 ★★★★ In this clever puzzle game, players create a swelling orchestral score by guiding streams of light around the screen. By angling, bending and twisting the light to pass through certain areas, new layers are introduced to the soundtrack. There’s rarely a single solution to each puzzle. It’s soothing, absorbing and unlike anything else out there. Out now.