Plot: George Turner (Erik Thomson) moved his life from the bustling urban landscape of Sydney to the laid back town of Weld, New Zealand. This was supposed to afford he and his two children a chance to start fresh, but as it turns out, leaving behind the old ways has proved to be difficult. His daughter Shay (Melina Vidler) didn’t accept the shift at all, running off to go back to her former life. So now George must sort out that issue, all while still adjusting to the quirks of Weld himself. The colorful residents aside, George must also figure out his career path and generate some income, to begin the process of putting down roots. The town is also home to numerous beautiful, available women, should George find himself ready to reopen his love life. The move to Weld hasn’t panned out exactly as George had hoped, but can he patch up a few glaring concerns and make a real go of his new lifestyle?
Entertainment Value: This review covers the first eight episodes of 800 Words’ second season, presented as Season 2, Part 1. The first season of this show was a brisk watch, light humor and predictable, familiar situations. But television often takes familiar scenarios and throws in some fresh new elements to spice it up, so 800 Words was able to rarely feel like a retread. These episodes continue the tone and basic approach, with things staying light and brisk, but some effective conflict is injected as well. I mean, I doubt anyone expected grand revelations or massive twists, but it was nice to see some unexpected turns, even if they’re minor ones. The trials and tribulations of a total family uproot continue to provide passable narrative threads, with these episodes leaning a lot toward Shay’s situation. I appreciated that George was kind of put on the back burner at times, as the other characters need that time to shine as well. But fans of George have plenty to soak in, as he pushes forward with his Weld transition, including of course, some romantic options. I do think overall, these episodes follow the formula laid out in the first season, so fans should be pleased. I wouldn’t mind a few more risks, but the show is still a solid watch.
Just as the narrative and tone keep the pace set by the first season, the cast follows suit with their performances. This material is light, so there’s not a wealth of depth and that kind of limits the actors, but not to a severe degree. Erik Thomson is once again the main force behind the show’s appeal, turning in a charismatic performance that feels right at home within the material. This is crucial even more in this second season, as his various relationships become more important and Thomson is able to play off his cast mates well in the assorted exchanges. Melina Vidler gets a little more of a chance to shine in these episodes and makes good use of her added screen time, while Benson Jack Anthony fills out the Turner family unit with a solid effort. The chemistry between the three is fine, but the show’s strength continues to be George’s interactions with the various odd folks in Weld. I might not be the ideal demographic for 800 Words, but I enjoyed these eight episodes and found the series to be harmless, predictable television. Which might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but those who just want to kick back and watch uncomplicated programming, it is worth a look.