Ever want to escape the rat race and move out to the countryside to enjoy the peace and quiet? May I suggest to take a step back in time and enjoy the peaceful community of Wandin Valley. The country town has everything, such as:
- The General Hospital that has a high turnover rate for visitors
- The local pub where the local gossip will keep you drinking pots served up by the publican
- The Vet hospital that’ll look after the wombat you just accidentally hit while speeding through the town
- The police station that will look for your stolen car, or suss you out for causing trouble
Welcome to A Country Practice – the iconic Australian TV drama that ran for 13 seasons from 1981 to 1993 on Channel 7, and one season in 1994 on Channel 10. Recently, all 1088 episodes were released on streaming service 7Plus so we could binge while in isolation. But, like with all streaming services, everything has an expiry date so the episodes won’t stick around forever. The series itself has won many awards over its lifespan, making household names out of the Stars, as well as many cameos – including the Prime Minister at the time Bob Hawke.
So, how do you keep these treasured memories of Fatso the Wombat, and Receptionist Shirley Dean (Lorrae Desmond) talking sense into Police Officer Frank Gilroy (Brian Wenzel)? Or GP Simon Bowen (Grant Dodwell) falling madly in love with Veterinarian Vicky (Penny Cook)? Or Dr Terrance (Shane Porteous) shirtless in the first episode – or simply Molly (Anne Tenney) and Brendan (Shane Withington)?
Bring in distributor Via Vision and their DVD releasing abilities! After years of A Country Practice DVD releases laying dormant since 2014 ending at Season 10, the month of August 2020 saw the unreleased Season 11, which Seasons 12, 13 and the infamous Season 14 follow months after. Now, they’re going back to the start again and re-issuing the early seasons… since they were last seen in 2007.
A Country Practice Collection One is a chunky 34 DVD box set containing Seasons 1, 2, and Season 3 Part 1 = 148 episodes.
Yes, Season 3 Part 1. I’ll explain more later. Grab a beer from Cookie, sit in the comfy chair Bob refurbished, and tell Esme to quieten down as we run through the finer details.
Manufactured in PAL Region 4 (it’ll work if you have a region-free player if you’re overseas) each episode is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio and in glorious 2.0 mono sound. When viewing, it’s as if you step back in time to the original broadcast. The image quality is as good as you’re ever going to get it, as it was recorded on tape – which has held up extremely well. If you’re a fan of ‘80s brown tone, you’ll love this. Don’t expect any remastering or restoration. It’s what-you-see-is-what-you-get…. and I’m very comfortable with it. When it comes to classic Australian TV releases, I never expect anything restored to Blu-Ray/ HD / 4K quality.
In the Collection One box set (there’s more future releases coming), there’s 6 DVD cases designed for a snug fit in the cardboard sleeve. Now, the continuity is non-existent in the menu presentation. The Via Vision release have picked up and re-printed the released versions that fell under the Beyond Home Entertainment label when they had the rights. So expect the same menu and layout. Screenshots of the DVD menus are presented below:
The A Country Practice Collection One boxset contains across 34 DVDs:
- Season One (One Case)
- Season Two Part One (One Case)
- Season Two Part Two (Two Cases)
- Season Three Part One (Two Cases)
Case One – Season One – 14 Episodes
- 4 Discs
- Disc One – Episodes 1 to 4
- Disc Two – Episodes 5 to 8
- Disc Three – Episodes 9 to 12
- Disc Four – Episodes 13 and 14
Case Two – Season Two – Part One – 30 Episodes
- 6 Discs
- Disc One – Episodes 15 to 19
- Disc Two – Episodes 20 to 24
- Disc Three – Episodes 25 to 29
- Disc Four – Episodes 30 to 34
- Disc Five – Episodes 35 to 39
- Disc Six – Episode 40 to 44
Case Three – Season Two – Part Two – 30 Episodes
- 6 Discs
- Disc One – Episodes 45 to 49
- Disc Two – Episodes 50 to 54
- Disc Three – Episodes 55 to 59
- Disc Four – Episodes 60 to 64
- Disc Five – Episodes 65 to 69
- Disc Six – Episodes 70 to 74
Case Four – Season Two – Part Two – 32 Episodes
- 6 Discs
- Disc Seven – Episodes 75 to 79
- Disc Eight – Episodes 80 to 84
- Disc Nine – Episodes 85 to 89
- Disc Ten – Episodes 90 to 94
- Disc Eleven – Episodes 95 to 100
- Disc Twelve – Episodes 101 to 106
Case Five – Season Three – Part One – 24 Episodes
- 6 Discs
- Disc One – Episodes 107 to 110
- Disc Two – Episodes 111 to 114
- Disc Three – Episodes 115 to 118
- Disc Four – Episodes 119 to 122
- Disc Five – Episodes 123 to 126
- Disc Six – Episodes 127 to 130
Case Six – Season Three – Part One – 18 Episodes
- 6 Discs
- Disc Seven – Episodes 131 to 133
- Disc Eight – Episodes 134 to 136
- Disc Nine – Episodes 137 to 139
- Disc Ten – Episodes 140 to 142
- Disc Eleven – Episodes 143 to 145
- Disc Twelve – Episodes 146 to 148
Yes, It’s only half of Season Three, which will annoy the purists and O.C.D. in all of us. But that’s how Beyond Home Entertainment packaged it originally – (Google or eBay it, you’ll know what I mean) – it has been packaged that way to keep the overall manufacturing costs down. If you want Season Three Part Two, it will be in the Collection Two release, due in stores not long after this one.
Special features: zero. There are zero subtitles unfortunately. However, printed on the back of each DVD case is an episode guide list, so you won’t have the need to refer to any fan page or Wikipedia article for a listing.
I won’t spoil any story arc episode content, but it is the first 148 episodes out of 1088 that were produced and broadcast. At a run time of 128 hours and 20 minutes, by the time you finish Collection One, the next collection instalment will be available (pssst.. they’re aiming for an April 2021 release).
So, if you have the recently released Seasons 11 to 14 box sets, then you can go back to the start and get these. If you have the editions from back in 2007, then this collection is a re-packaged edition and it looks a lot more neater and cleaner on your shelf than the old ones. The RRP sits around $150 to $160, so shop around if you’re seeing it higher than that.
You can purchase A Country Practice Collection One from Via Vision directly or any good DVD retailer. Go get it before Esme thinks twice and gossips about you.
Note: This boxset was graciously supplied from Via Vision for review and critiquing purposes.