What's not to love about a Shire housewife who sunbakes by the pool with a Galliano and a first-edition Margaret Fulton?
The charm of Puberty Blues (Ten, Wednesday, 8.30pm) lies more in the bygone era than the far-flung Shire. A spate of 1970s dramas, all from Southern Star (watch out for Paper Giants wigs in Howzat! as well) is striking a nostalgic chord. Mad Men set the ball rolling, with a glimpse of a familiar lamp that could trigger more memories than a fresh-baked madeleine. The satisfaction that only comes from smiling at chain-smoking pregnant women has scriptwriters everywhere digging for irony. But will the exhumation of Puberty Blues resonate with our kids or just survivors of carefree yet dangerous '70s childhoods?
Gossip Girl phonies might find these kids who sunbake, peel and rape each other on the beach a little slow. The casting of the young leads is sensational and time travel is made all the easier because they are unknowns. The most interesting observations about Australian mores of the day involve the adult characters.
Producers John Edwards and Imogen Banks have cherry-picked a cracking ensemble from Spirited, Offspring, Tangle, and anybody good enough to play in that league. Claudia Karvan brings subtle Fabulon rigidity to Mrs Vickers. Susie Porter has been drinking Coppertone with her brandavino so whole-heartedly, she may never return to the 21st century. Rodger Corser and Dan Wyllie bring us sunshine, tight shorts and misogyny as familiar as a bad Marty Rhone song.
But it's hard to go past the youth and the ocean, and the art direction. Every timber veneer, indoor plant and wide brown collar sits perfectly. The texture of the piece reflects that time of change in Australia with a ceramic yet polyester accuracy. Spotting the tiniest mistake can turn an episode of Puberty Blues into Where's Wally? In the '70s, Sydney phone numbers had six digits, not seven, right? I don't believe Green Eggs and Ham had been released as a paperback. And nobody described anybody's behaviour or conversation as ''inappropriate''. This nit-picking in no way diminishes the joy of watching parents drink and drive their kids, or seeing children smoking - on buses. Made with enthusiasm and skill, Puberty Blues is successful, rare prime-time entertainment.
From the same stable but with slightly different sensibilities, Howzat! (Nine, Sunday, 8.30pm) will always be burdened by the onus of getting Kerry Packer right. He's like a Kennedy, but not hot.
Everybody with a job or a redundancy package in Australian media has a personal recollection of the man, so as Lachy Hulme utters faithfully every anecdote, the re-enactment isn't palpably better than the hilarious boardroom stories that have been retold a million times.
The birth of World Series Cricket represents another tectonic shift in Australia's cultural identity. It's a great yarn, worth telling, expensively.
Again, for Southern Star alumni, there is a role for nearly every boy in the class. Brendan Cowell, Matthew le Nevez, Richard Davies and co. probably swam in a sea of Brut 33 for these sideburns. As John Cornell, Abe Forsythe is a standout, and the drama is crispest when he shares the screen with Hulme.
It is the light bulb moments - literally in the moment Cornell suggests they play under lights, or when some genius suggests putting microphones in the stumps, and every second the Mojo jingle plays - that the audience laps up like a cold gold KB.
This '70s obsession can't last as long as the home-permed local drama epoch, when everybody looked like Kitty Sullivan.
Settling in an era when every man was allowed to carry a slab into the SCG to watch a little sport could be bad for the liver.