Thursday, December 15, 2016

Being a teenager is hard enough without your father packing you up and moving you to another country.  Add to all this the fact that you have recently lost your mother, and you'll understand that Shay and Arlo Turner are not exactly thrilled with their new hometown of Weld, New Zealand in the new series 800 Words from Acorn Media.  George Turner, the father of the family, is devastated by the loss of his wife Laura and, unable to face reminders of her in Sydney, decides to take his kids to New Zealand for a fresh start.  George's parents took him to the beautiful seaside town of Weld when he was a child, and so George is sure the town is the perfect place for his family to make a new life for themselves.

Unfortunately, his childhood memories were a bit hazy, because the house he buys over the Internet is not his old family holiday home, but rather a ramshackle affair down the street.  When he arrives at the house with his children, they are all dismayed to see the state of the house.  Not to worry, because laid back builder Woody is always around, and while not exactly a quick worker, at least he does attempt some work (when he's not surfing).

George is the author of a column in a Sydney newspaper called "800 Words" (the exact length of each column).  His writings are mostly musings on life and this gets him into trouble when he describes his new hometown, Weld, as a "dead end town" soon after arriving.  This does not endear him or his children with the locals, nor does the rumor that perhaps his wife's untimely death might have something to do with why the family left Australia so suddenly . . .

The unattached ladies in town, however, aren't too bothered by rumor and innuendo when a new eligible man turns up. George's daughter Shay is not too happy at the crowd of women who seem to always be circling her father.  The main candidates vying to catch George's eye are Fiona, who keeps
herself busy by running the local cafe, working at the town museum and driving an ambulance; Hannah, who is much younger than George, but runs the local surf shop and is always scantily clad but not nearly as unclothed as teacher Tracey, who spends her time out of class at "nudie bay." Then there's Katie, the free-spirited artist whose home is refuge to both her ex-husband Zac and Dennis, another artist and sometime bus driver.

The town of Weld is ruled by the Macnamara family.  Both Shay and Arlo have run-ins with the younger generation of Macnamaras on the first day of school.  Things don't get any better when Shay becomes romantically involved with Ike, a young man who is adamantly opposed to "Big Mac" Macnamara's plans to buy the local scenic camping ground overlooking the ocean in order to turn it into a gated retirement village.  He and Shay wage graffiti war on the billboard announcing the proposed development, and as their relationship grows, so do their plans for keeping the land away from the Macnamaras.

In this 8 part series, George and his children adjust to their new home and begin to forge relationships with the residents of Weld.  George continues to write his column and has frequent Skype contact with his editor, Jan, who was his late wife Laura's best friend.  George also attempts to get back into surfing, with mixed results.  It was probably not a good idea to challenge Dean "Orca" Marshall, his childhood nemesis, to a "surf-off" . . .

I found the series to be charming and funny.  The scenery is beautiful and certainly makes me want to
book my visit to New Zealand sooner rather than later!  The series ends with several "loose ends" which I hope will be cleared up in Season 2.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of 800 Words from Acorn Media in exchange for this review


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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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