Home And Away - Romances would have us believe that love in Summer Bay was something of a litany of marvellous times broken up by unremitting misery. For every evening sat on the beach with a picnic came a stalking, a car crash or, more often than not, a bit of 'ow's-yer-father with some good-looking young girl who's just moved in to stay with Don Fisher. Happily, they don't all end like that as, sometimes, young couples end up at the altar or hastily constructed gazebo to say, "I do!" to one another. Unhappily, this being Summer Bay, they don't always end up there with their legs working as they ought to, with a man who's been entirely faithful or having told the entire truth. One might say such is life but, actually, I don't think it is.
Introduced by Kate Ritchie - Home And Away's Sally and star of her very own celebrity sex video - Weddings takes the viewer through many of the marital highlights of Home And Away presented in chronological order. Unfortunately for what should be a DVD to leave your heart leaping with joy, this means Weddings actually begins with the lying Roo standing beside Frank at the altar and attempting to hide her tears. As explained in Romances, the pregnant Roo had convinced Frank that he was the father of her baby and so Frank, who was a decent-but-dim sort of man, took her up the aisle. After announcing his love for Roo, he shook his mullet in disbelief at what he was hearing and drove off, crashing his car in the process. Of course, who Frank really loved was Bobby and the next wedding is a much happier one as Frank, who seemed to be making a habit of this, was back at the altar. This time, though, he was with Bobby and Home And Away had their first real wedding. As Kate Ritchie lets us see, even Roo was in the congregation, giving this a very happy ending.
With a longer running time and less events to cover - there have been fewer weddings in Summer Bay than simple love affairs - Weddings can take a little more time. So, for the wedding of Carly and Ben (Julian McMahon, who would later appear as Dr Doom in Fantastic Four), we don't only see the happy day but also the very unhappy one, where, thanks to a Buck's night prank, Ben showed up at the church a few hours late and without his trousers. Carly, meanwhile, had toured the countryside around Summer Bay in the back of a vintage car until she and those gathered at the church had called it a day. Still, there was a happy ending of a sort. Much time is given over to the wedding of Angel and Shane and, what with Kate Ritchie hosting the show, Sally's wedding to Kieran. But that, being an exception to the happier times elsewhere, ends with Gypsy standing up to object on the union on the basis that Kieran had had a short fling with her while he was supposed to be busy with Sally.
But if that makes Weddings sound as though it only harks back to the past, that's not entirely true. As the show goes on, it brings events up to date with the marriages of Noah and Hayley and Dan and Leah (Ada Nicodemou, who you might remember from Heartbreak High or the girl with the tattoo of the white rabbit in The Matrix). In all, there are twenty-two marriages featured, most of which end happily, keeping to what an audience expects from Home And Away. Once again, the enjoyment in Home And Away - Weddings is seeing all of the ties of the knot in Summer Bay in one feature-length special without any of the dreary will-they-won't-they moments that seem to afflict most onscreen weddings. No, Weddings cuts to the actual marriage in almost every case here, leaving it as a way to enjoy the high points of life in Summer Bay from these last eighteen years.
Like Home And Away - Romances, Weddings is presented in 1.78:1 and uses the same technique to cover for the earlier fullscreen material, blurring the sidebars. Again, the effect is actually pretty good and one stops noticing it after a short time, although if you do look for it, it's noticeable. Otherwise, it's a consistently reasonable transfer, with the later footage looking much better than that from the late-eighties and early-nineties but the actual transfer of the material onto DVD is fine. Much the same can be said about the stereo soundtrack, which isn't called upon to do anything more than to keep the dialogue clear of the mix and to make sure that there's some separation between the channels. As with the picture, the more recent footage sounds much better than that from the show's early days - as with Romances, many of the very early clips sound curiously empty - but it's perfectly acceptable. Unfortunately, there are no subtitles on this release.
Bonus Episode - Wedding of Leah and Vinnie (39m16s): And you would be right in thinking that Leah also married Dan, which she did later in the series, but first she married Vinnie. Actually, this marriage didn't have anything in the way of a happy ending as Vinnie was eventually sent to prison for a crime committed by his father, where, on the day he was due to be released, he died.
But that was all in the future and in this longer-than-usual episode we see all of the preparations leading up to the big day before the wedding itself. Ah, it looks wonderful but, as we know, it wasn't to last. But Dan and Leah make a better couple!
Better than the Best Of Neighbours released some months/years ago as this and Romances actually places the events in Summer Bay into some kind of context, these are an enjoyable pair of releases and will be much appreciated by anyone with an interest in the goings-on in Home And Away. For those not of the faith, they're a sweet enough diversion but lacking anything of interest. However, as one with a casual interest, I had a lot of fun with the pair of them, albeit not enough to bring me back to Home And Away but more than enough for a couple of evening's entertainment.