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85 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blockbuster Australian Mini Series That Has Achieved Worldwide Cult Status
Well over twenty years old, the legendary Return To Eden (1983) firmly remains Australia's most successful mini-series to date. It has reached worldwide cult status having attracted over a staggering 300 million viewers worldwide! It has even scored mammoth viewing figures in the U.S.A, a market in which seldom an Australian drama has endured!

The central...
Published on 7 Mar 2007 by Ian Phillips

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable
Return to Eden is an overblown "bonkbuster" style romantic thriller in which a wronged woman seeks revenge against the husband and best friend that betrayed her. Stretched over three episodes, each one being 90 minutes long, the story does not rush, although having read a synopsis I was surprised about the pacing of the tale (some spoilers below...)

Episode 1...
Published 6 months ago by A. Griffiths


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85 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blockbuster Australian Mini Series That Has Achieved Worldwide Cult Status, 7 Mar 2007
By 
Ian Phillips (Bolton, Lancashire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Return to Eden (1983) 2-DVD Set (DVD)
Well over twenty years old, the legendary Return To Eden (1983) firmly remains Australia's most successful mini-series to date. It has reached worldwide cult status having attracted over a staggering 300 million viewers worldwide! It has even scored mammoth viewing figures in the U.S.A, a market in which seldom an Australian drama has endured!

The central character in Return To Eden is Stephanie Harper, played beautifully by Rebecca Gilling, who is a middle aged, rather niave and plain looking mining magnates daughter and mother of two. Stephanie Harper is also renowned for being Australia's wealthiest woman.

The story opens on the much publicised wedding of Stephanie Harper and the dashing but considerably charmless, Greg Marsden (James Reyne) a somewhat sleazy and nauseating sports star. It's made clear from the outset that Greg, a man nearly half Stephanies age, was blatantly just after getting his greedy hands on Stephanies fortune.

On the wedding day an obvious attraction between Greg and Stephanies frosty best friend Jilly Stewart (marvelously played by Wendy Hughes) is made apparent. Greg and Stephanie invite Jilly Stewart along on their honeymoon at Stephanies family homestead, Eden, located in the Northern terriotry. It is at Eden that the traitorous Jilly embarks upon a torrid love affair with Greg whilst poor Stephanie remains completely oblivious.

One night on the honeymoon, Stephanie and Jilly join Greg on a boat for a crocodile hunt. Once in a deserted spot, Greg maliciously throws Stephanie straight into the jaws of a crocodile whilst Jilly just simply stands by and watches her supposed best friend fight desperately for her life.

Stephanie Harper is presumed dead but miraculously she survives the crocodile attack (remember folks this was the 1980's) though is obviously half dead and hideously scarred. Whilst the world thinks Stephanie Harper is dead, including Greg and Jilly who continue their intense, sexually charged love affair, Stephanie spends the next six months recovering in a private clinic on a deserted island, all the while hatching a cunning plan to exact revenge on Greg and Jilly. Stephanie undergoes extensive plastic surgery that drastically changes her whole physical apperance. At the hands of the gentle plastic surgeon Dr Dan Marshall (James Smilie), Stephanie Harper is transformed from an ugly ducking into a beautiful swan. She assumes a new identity, calling herself Tara Welles and quickly becomes one of Australia's most celebrated fashion models. Stephanie, masquerading as Tara Welles, cleverley befriends Jilly, winning her trust and charms Greg into falling in love with her whilst continuing plotting bitter revenge on her betrayors.

So, ok, those of you that aren't familiar with Return To Eden, taking one read of the plot synopsis i've written, you'd be perfectly within your rights to say NO WAY! SOUNDS ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS! And of course that is very true. BUT, Return To Eden, on a purely entertainment level, works incredibly well, evoking a gripping, tense atmopshere throughout building on suspense and packed with several surprise twist and turns in the story.

Return To Eden is not least redeemed by its ludicrously over-the-top plot line by an engaging performance from its leading star, Rebecca Gilling, an acclaimed Australian actress. Rebecca Gilling is both beleavable and likeable in her role as Stephanie Harper/Tara Welles. The transformation of Stephanie Harper into the stunningly beautiful Tara Welles is truly amazing thanks to a fantastic and expert make up job. The character Stephanie shrewdly shifts from being something of a dowdy, put-upon wimp to a more glamorous, worldly sophisticated woman as Tara, brimming with more self assurance without being arrogant or unlikeable.

Another acclaimed Australian actress, Wendy Hughes, appears as the restless and fairly bitter, Jilly Stewart. Wendy Hughes delivers a cracking performance as the neurotic, needy alcoholic, making the character beleavable by displaying different dimensions to the character which included a large vulnreable side.

Early 80's rock star, James Reyne, chosen for the role presumably for his good looks rather than his questionalbe acting abilities, is quite laughable most of the time in his role as the greedy, scheming Greg Marsden. Intentionally, James Reyne literally oozed bucket loads of slime in his role as Greg though his performance is often wooden. He is at his most hilariously over the top at the exciting and dramatic climax where he is semmingly playing the whole thing as though he were the principal villain in a pantomime. Needless to say, James Reyne confessed years later in an interview for the DVD edition that he failed to take his role in Return To Eden at all seriously. He also adopted a very rigid sort of walk for the character that is of siginificant amusement value!

Completing the principal cast line up is James Smilie as the smooth (if occasionally too sickly sweet) Dr Dan Marshall who Stephanie/Tara ends up having a somewhat complex affair with. His down to earth performance blends well into this big budget film noir.

The locations used in Return To Eden are notably very eye catching and beautiful. The locations ranged from Sydney, Orpheus Island and Arnham Land in the Northern terriotry and boasts magnificent cinematography courtesy of Dean Semler who later went on to win an academy award for his work on the classic film, Dances With Wolves.

I really don't want to give anything away about the tremendous climax for those of you that have not yet watched Return To Eden but I can reveal that the stunning conclusion is very cleverley drawn out with plenty of action and high, intense drama where Stephanie/Tara cunningly lures both Greg and Jilly back to Eden to serve up her carefully planned revenge - hence the title Return To Eden. It literally escalates even further when the so-called Tara Welles finally reveals that she is infact Stephanie Harper. By this time the murderous Greg Marsden is now completely head over heels and obsessed with Tara, not having the slightest inkling that she is infact Stephanie Harper - the lady he was married too and tried to kill in order to get his hands on her fortune. With the canniving Jilly, you do, in a strange way, actually feel a little sympathetic towards her as she had been practically brainwashed by Greg Marsdens evil, mainpulative ways.

Return To Eden clocks in at well over four hours long and is admitedly hard to stick to in one sitting if viewing it on DVD or video. However when watched in the instalments as shown on television (which was shown in 3 parts) it is thoroughly enjoyable. Most notably funny in Return To Eden are the hilarious fashions seen during the cat walk sequences which proceeds to make Return To Eden look all the more dated. Undoubtedly though, the fashions, as laughably over the top as they were, was the cutting edge of its time.

After enjoying blockbuster ratings in Australia in 1983 (despite receiving a bashing from critics of the day), Return To Eden began being shown across the world, acheiving renewed gigantic success, particularly in Europe and the U.S.A. It took its star, Rebecca Gilling all across the world as millions of adoring fans of Return To Eden clamoured to catch a glimpse and meet the true star of this show.

Return To Eden was produced by twin brothers Hal and Jim McElroy, who were already renowned for their work on the Australian film classic, Picnic At Hanging Rock. The screenplay was written by Michael Laurence and was directed by Karen Arthur.

I was just three years old when Return To Eden exploded onto tv screens in 1983 but thanks to its availbility on DVD and video (both of which have enjoyed extravagent sales worldwide) has allowed a whole other generation, including myself, to discover this major landmark in Australian television history which continues in its popularity to this day. Most definitely worth purchasing on DVD or Video to watch over again.

That old adage "they don't make them like this anymore" applies accordingly to Return To Eden as its so blatantly a product of its time. Never the less it remains an enthralling and intense melodrama with excellent production values where evidently no expense was spared. Absolutely compulsive, Return To Eden is a thrilling viewing experience and is highly recommended. Providing you view it as a piece of very well made entertainment, you'll absolutely love it!

Ian Phillips

March 2007
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Return to Eden, 19 Aug 2012
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I bought this as I remembered it was good but couldn't remember the plot very well. I started to watch it one evening and couldn't stop watching until it was finished. Why don't they make mini series like this anymore?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvellous Aussie series digitally remastered., 13 Dec 2010
By 
Uenna (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Return to Eden (1983) 2-DVD Set (DVD)
This was Australia's answer to Dynasty and Dallas in the 80s. It delighted most of us for its originality, glamour and the breathless scenes from the mansions of the sydney harbour to the deadly rivers of the Australian tropics. I was very delighted to revisit this series on dvd and glad that it was released on dvd. It is not everyday that you stumble upon a drama where a groom tries to kill his bride in a most dastardly fashion and she is saved by some kind fisher man and a doctor, then goes on to reinvent herself. This is a classic and against the scenic and picturesque Austalian tropics/outback it is a winner. This dvd boxset contains the original six hour epic on 2 discs and is packed with special features viz- interviews with Rebecca Gilling (Stephanie Harper/ Tara Wells) and James Reyne (Greg Marsden) conducted in 2001. This is a great collection and one that will give you 265 mins of viewing pleasure.(this refers to the black and red dvd boxset )

The series continues as a 22 part mini-series which was laced with more glamour, intrigue, passion and power. The Saga of the Harper family continued with Stephanie now married to the doctor that treated her in the original series and her children all grown up. Harper mining is under threat of a hostile take over from none other than Jake Saunders the brother of Greg Marsden seeking revenge for his brother's untimely demise and so much more happening. Will Stephanie have the strength of charcter to rise above another adversity? This 2nd dvd boxset (the blue and white boxset) contains all 22 episodes on 6 discs. an additional 1032 minutes of viewing pleasure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyable, 16 July 2013
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I remembered loving this series when it was on the TV in 1983 so my friend and I decided to buy this complete series. Really enjoyed watching it again. However, the description on the back of the sleeve is in German and so is the opening of the 1st DVD so I was concerned that I was about to watch this whole series reading English subtitles, but that wasn't the case. The DVD's were in English but with German subtitles. Was also really pleased that at the end of each episode it automatically went to the next one and you weren't subjected to the end of/beginning of each eposide's credits.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Buy, 19 Jun 2013
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This has it all, before Revenge There was Return to Eden. A Great Show with everything, Fantastic characters, glamour, twists and turns, Danger and a crocodile attack! Watch it and Love it. Great price, quick delivery and a Great Show and A GREAT BUY! Thank you!
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Return to Eden complete series-uncensored., 19 Oct 2011
By 
POPPY (Doncaster, South Yorks.) - See all my reviews
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I have returned to "Eden"!, i did buy the follow up series first of 22 episodes as i watcthed it somthing dawned on me this wasn't the 1983 origional. So, i quickly ordered the ist one i'm glad i did it is compelling as when i first saw it on my televison in 1983.

Eden is the Dallas of Australia with plenty of schemmimg, wine and large shoulder pads, rich women, dastardly deads, bad deals and swimming pools. "OH! don't we love it?", Jilly is the JR Ewing and Stephanie Harper is the Bobby Ewing.

I suppose really "Eden" is a thing you like or a thing you dislike just watching the camera showing a close up everytime of changing expressions clinches the deal for me.

This film is a must for all things past and for collecters too. I stongly recommend this DVD, go on buy it you won't be disapointed i promise you will feel nostalgic and, have a good by the fireside piece of excellent entertainment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable, 20 Dec 2013
By 
A. Griffiths "Adrian" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Return to Eden is an overblown "bonkbuster" style romantic thriller in which a wronged woman seeks revenge against the husband and best friend that betrayed her. Stretched over three episodes, each one being 90 minutes long, the story does not rush, although having read a synopsis I was surprised about the pacing of the tale (some spoilers below...)

Episode 1 sees our heroine Stephanie married, cheated on, pushed into a river and the jaws of an awaiting crocodile by her husband and best female friend, assumed dead but washed up and nursed slowly back to something like health by a hermit, visit a plastic surgeon and get transformed into the beautiful "Tara", work her way back into life and society with this new identity until she feels ready to plan her revenge. That's a lot for episode 1, and I was wondering how they would keep up this level of plot propulsion for the remaining two.

Well, they don't really. Episode 2 sees Tara revealed to the world as a beautiful woman, seemingly much younger than she looked as Stephanie, she then makes it as a fashion supermodel and finally she begins a game of cat and mouse with her husband and former friend, both of whom have no idea who she really is. After some careful plotting she summons both of them to her remote family country getaway home to prepare the final trap! This middle episode is probably the weakest and slowest of the three.

Episode 3 sees all the main characters ensconced in the remote holiday home, and Tara begins her revenge. I won't say any more about episode 3, but rest assured that by the end of the final 90 minutes, you do get to see some satisfactory come-uppance

To it's credit, the whole thing is fairly straight, There's no (well, very little) ridiculous ham acting or overblown flouncy bitching. The actors do a very good job. Best performance comes from Rebecca Gilling as the heroine. Her suffering as she recovers does seem to take a realistic amount of time and effort, and her dramatic "unveiling" as the foxy Tara did actually make me blink once or twice and wonder if they'd swapped to another actress - they didn't - so the makeover job is pretty good, it has to be said. Wendy Hughes does a very realistic job as the best friend, but if there's a weak point, it's James Reyne as the slimy husband, he seems to have very little charm. I guess all ladies do love a bad boy.

The biggest drawback of the series is that it looks hysterically dated in the sequences where Tara becomes a "top model" and prances about in the most god-awful 80's "high fashion" outfits that you have ever seen. It's a shame really, as I am sure this all looked like hot stuff at the time, but time has not been kind. Other than that, it stands up pretty well. Stephanie's revenge, when it finally comes, seems like a fairly subdued pay off for such a long wait. But as Stephanie (the character) is not a vindictive woman, it's also fairly understandable.

You'll probably enjoy the drama and plot of "Return to Eden" if you generally enjoy soap operas. The acting is nearly all very good, and no characters act in silly or counter-realistic ways. Sometimes Tara's refusal to reveal her true identity to even her most cherished loved ones (her children!) seems hard to take, but at the end of the day it's still a soap opera, so enjoy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 20 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Return to Eden (1983) 2-DVD Set (DVD)
I remembered watching this years ago and enjoyed watching again. The quality wasn't brilliant but I suppose its the best considering it was dated from 1980's.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crocodile, 28 July 2013
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Return to Eden was the most talked about mini series from Australia in it's day. All the elements were there, good guy, bad guy, villainess and of course the underdog heroine. Excellent high camp drama!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW were we really hooked on cheesey TV in the 80's, 6 April 2013
By 
M. M. Ellis (East Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
My daughter has just give me this box set as a late Mother's day gift, and boy did it bring back memories. From a personal perspective I hoped that I would be able to see the final episode broadcast on television before I went into labour, and I did, and now 28 years later my "baby" has presented me with this set.
I have watched all six episodes this afternoon, and I had forgotten much of the story. Of course, I remembered that Stephanie Harper was mauled by a crocodile after being pushed overboard by her (very new) husband, but I had totally forgotten all about Jilly, her so-called best friend. I vividly remember James Smilie who played the very dashing Dr Dan Marshall, but not the actor who played Mr Stephanie Harper - despite his role being central to the whole story.
Did I enjoy it? Yes, I did. I'm not sure it would sit well with younger viewers, as it's very much of it's time and I had to laugh at the eighties fashions and hairstyles. A real trip down memory lane.
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