Why 40 percent of the episodes of McLeod’s Daughters are worth watching

McLeod’s Daughters had an eight-season run and most of those seasons had 30-plus episodes. So, I watched a lot of McLeod’s daughters. A. Lot. And I became consumed with knowing what could possibly happen next. Until what happened next became so stupid I had to play Candy Crush Saga the whole time to distract myself from what I was watching. And then it became so bad that even Crushin’ it couldn’t soothe the devastating disappointment I felt at every single aspect of the show and I had to skip ahead to the episodes that imdb told me would be important.

With all this said, I have to admit, if you’re looking for something to watch, check out the first 3 or 4 seasons of McLeod’s Daughters. It’s fun and the characters are great.

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Strong ladies on horses, running ranches … what’s not to love? Unfortunately, most of the final 5 seasons.

The show chronicles the reunion of sisters Claire and Tess, who were separated when their father and Tess’ mother divorced. When their dad dies, Tess returns to Drover’s Run — a stunning ranch in the Australian bush — to cash in on her inheritance so she can move on with her dreams. Of course, her dreams evolve over the course of the first season as Drover’s sinks its farmy fingers right into her heart. The women of Drover’s provide lots of empowering moments after Claire fires all the men and decides to run the ranch with Tess and a handful of other gals. The result: sisterly devotion unfolding before your very eyes. It’s nice and heartfelt and the actors bring a lot of honesty to these roles.

Which is why it’s so incredibly offensive when it all goes wrong.

This show is a soap opera in the best sense of the words. It is super dramatic, the characters are ultra angsty and the plots at times tend toward ridiculous. But all this is excusable and even believable if the writing stays authentic to the characters. For several seasons, McLeod’s Daughters did. People die, crops perish and opportunities for happiness are missed — but these are the events that shape us as human beings. Writers can make horrible things happen to characters and we, as their audience, will love every second of buying it. But only as long as we can believe that these characters are reacting in the only way they know how given what we’ve seen of the scope of their emotion life.

For four seasons, McLeod’s Daughters did this. And then it jumped the shark. (Sidenote: I actually looked up “jump the shark” because of this show. Good to know.)

My mom got me hooked on this show and I’m glad for it. There were enough moments of true joy and I wouldn’t trade them, despite wishing I’d never seen all the stupid shit that happened after. We both became extremely depressed while watching this show, and I took to making up alternate plot lines so we could feel better about life in general. So I am going to save everyone the trouble. If you do decide to watch McLeod’s Daughters, watch from the beginning through Season 4 Episode 5. Then, take heart, the couple you want to get together, gets together. You can skip ahead to Season 4 Episode 19 and watch their romance progress further through Episode 28, at which point you should absolutely stop watching. They live happily ever after.

If, at that point, you are concerned about the eternal happiness of Dave Brewer, watch Season 6 Episode 32, which is super cute. And you will probably need to know that Alex Ryan is OK, so you should also watch Season 7 Episodes 10 and 16. But skip all the scenes with characters you don’t know about because new characters stopped being interesting somewhere in the midst of those episodes you skipped. And seriously, all you need to know is that THEY ALL LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER. They DON’T all die or get diagnosed with chronic and potentially terminal illnesses. They don’t have bastard children that threaten to break up their marriages and they don’t move to other continents or go into witness protection in plot twists that make no sense other than to write actors who no longer want to be on off of the show. And when they finally admit that they are so irrevocably IN LOVE with each other that they ride off into the sunset, they don’t inexplicably return to Drover’s Run just because the series needed a few familiar faces to boost slumping ratings.

Now might be a good time for me to talk about chasing romance, which is often the root of my binge-watching habit. This is absolutely why I watched so many episodes of McLeod’s Daughters. I chased romances all over Drover’s Run and was ultimately disappointed in almost every one. But when they were good, they were great and I watched hundreds of episodes because I genuinely wanted the characters to get together and be happy. I even went back and watched the super romancey scenes over again, they were that good. (This is another bad habit. Please never ask how many times I’ve re-watched every great Veronica-Logan scene because I am a terrible liar and it will force me to admit I couldn’t possibly count the hours I’ve spent on YouTube watching LoVe compilations.)

A quick note on how unnecessary research can ruin everything: I also have a really bad habit of obsessively Googling and imdbing shows while I’m immersed. I read the worst spoiler ever in the bio of the actress who plays Claire and had to deal with that terrible knowledge over the course of two extremely long seasons. In the end, it wasn’t one of the horribly unbelievable plot points that made so much of the later seasons of this show massively depressing. It fit and sort of catapulted the other characters in a really interesting way. But I still would have preferred not knowing. Word to the wise: Don’t succumb to the unnecessary research. Sometimes you find out things you don’t want to know.

One final thing I almost forgot to mention: I really appreciate the fact that the actors are genuinely dirty through most of the show. It doesn’t look like the dirt was applied as a part of the costume, they look as though they were actually rolling around with horses and cows and alpaca.

In the end, there are probably 90 or so genuinely good episodes of McLeod’s Daughters. That would be pretty solid except for the fact that there were 224 episodes total. Still, it was fun to watch if only for the fact that Mom and I referred to everyone as “blokes” and started saying “right-o” all the time. We stopped just short of signing off our phone calls with “tiddle-poo,” but now  at least we know it’s an option.

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About Jodie Fletcher

When not obsessively consuming stories, I also find time to write and go outside. And take pictures of animals.
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13 Responses to Why 40 percent of the episodes of McLeod’s Daughters are worth watching

  1. I peeked ahead a bit, too, and I know that the casts changes radically about midway. It seems like they would have changed the name of the show, too. But no. for now, I’m about halfway through season one, and I’m happy with it. Maybe I’ll just follow your plan.

    • I would love to hear what you think as it continues, Cassandra! I loved so much of it, but as the cast begins to turn over more and more frequently, I felt the writing became forced and characters were completely contradicting everything I’d grown to love about them. I prefer the endings I made up for them, I guess!

  2. Allyson says:

    Ok It’s seems to me that the writers don’t know the charters some times. I don’t want to spoil the plot for anyone so I will have leave out why I feel this . Let’s just day Tess does somthing that I don’t feel she would do in season 4

  3. I love your blog, Jodie. I’ve become addicted and am in just Season 2, episode 22. I can already see touches of off-character bits. Thank you for saving us from the worst disillusion.

  4. Oh, and does anyone know who made/where one can buy those super pretty, subtley Western blouses the girls wear?

  5. TH says:

    Through the first 3 almost 4 seasons I really enjoyed the show, at times I wondered how much Tess would have to endure for true love, don’t get me wrong I love her and Nick together but it was like she was being punished for loving him. There were many story lines I couldn’t stomach, Alex and Fiona..why?, Jodi is a Mcleod,really? then with the witness protection guy why, then gives up her shares to cousins she doesn’t know, really??, every character after Regan, why, why, why why, kill Alex why, it wasn’t enough to lose his first love, find out the man who raised him isn’t his biological father, lose the man who raised him, he should find love a second time, create his first born son and die before he is born?… Basically Jacks brothers children end up running Drovers Run and Alex’s half brother and sister end up running Killarney, so what was the point of Harrys hard work? How is that more realistic than temporarily writing Claire out and possibly having her come back later or getting a different actress to play Claire. Not to mention Harry dies and Nick doesn’t make the funeral, Stevie and Alex get married and neither Tess or Alex’s mother attend the wedding not to mention all the major events and important deals that occurred without Tess or Nicks sign off. Its a hard knock life but seriously the number of accidents, lies, blatant deception and plan holes in the writing, in what was presented as an honest simple life style is unrealistic. I am shocked by how disappointed I am, if it was a movie, I would want my money back.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I just finished watching season 8. In spite of all the Melrose Place type dramas the writers threw in during the last few seasons, I think the biggest travesty was in bringing back Jaz. She was too different from the original actress. I can forgive the bad writing and plot lines (after all, the show was a guilty pleasure, like Melrose Place) but I never found the new Jaz to be anything other than annoying.

  7. SD Horse Guy says:

    Ok I’m hooked. Just bought all 52 dvd’s from a place in AU.
    Also have the movie that no one has mentioned here the one that started it all.
    I have am in the process of getting all the cd’s of the music (3)
    then when I get the dvd’s (52) I will need to convert them to files so I will not need a dvd player.
    Is one of the best dramas? Love that accent.
    Funny they show most of the people posting when they ride, only people that I know that do that are people that have been trained.
    So the real question is ( a mini facebook quiz?
    what person would you be in the show?

  8. SDhorseguy says:

    YYou all know that I am a YANK from California also but love the horse aspect (have owned my own) it is one of the best (overall) that i have watched in a long time. So much I went out and bought the full DVD collection from AU. I have watched 99% of it almost 4 complete times. Yes it does get strange but it is better than some of the show today
    Come to find out that Hulu also put a closed caption track on their version. and that is the one that watch (as the accent can be difficult sometimes). I have also gotten hooked on the music from the shows. (I have all 3 CD’s) and the movie as well. So you could say that I am also a MD Junkie. I’m surprise that they never had the guy that played the man from snowy river as a guest stat. And why wasn’t there any shirts or at least ball caps that said drovers Run?

    On a side note there is another one to get hooked on that is out of Canada called (Heathland CA) they only do 13 episodes a season not like MD that did 30 plus most of the time. But every show there is a horse problem and a human problem

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