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Chances Australian DVD release.
|Written by||Lynn Bayonas|
|Directed by||Helen Gaynor|
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of episodes||126|
|Production company(s)||Beyond Productions|
|Original network||Nine Network|
|Original release||29 January 1991 –|
3 April 1992
Chances is an Australian evening soap opera, produced from 1991 to 1992. It initially told the story of the average middle-class Taylor family whose lives are transformed by winning $3 million in the lottery. Later episodes however diverged considerably away from the series’ original premise. Chances was commissioned and broadcast by the Nine Network.
An original two hour pilot was made in 1989 but was not aired. It took a further two years before Chances was given the green light and went into production as a two-hour a week series. As a result of this, many of the 16 roles in the series had to be recast due to the unavailability of the original actors who played them. Principal cast members included John Sheerin and Brenda Addie as lead characters Dan and Barbara Taylor and Jeremy Sims as their mischievous son Alex. Deborah Kennedy was Dan's divorcee sister Connie Reynolds, Tim Robertson played Dan's shady brother Jack, Anne Grigg was his bored house-wife Sarah, and Michael Caton was the family neighbourhood friend Bill Anderson. There were also many other members of the extended Taylor family making up the large ensemble contract cast including Cathy Godbold as Dan and Barbara's rebellious youngest daughter Nicki, Mark Kounnas and Simon Grey as Connie's teenage sons, and Rhys Muldoon and Leverne McDonnell played Jack's elder children respectively.
Originally, creator Lynn Bayonas pitched the show as a family-oriented drama; however to help ensure the program's success, Channel Nine asked for nude scenes and risqué elements to also be included in the series. Initial publicity for the show focused on the sex angle, and it was for this that Chances was chiefly known. Katherine Li appears to have performed the most nude or scantily clad scenes in the series.
The show's early ratings proved disappointing, resulting in several cast purges that saw most of the original characters written out of the series, and new actors brought in, including Stephen Whittaker, Gerard Sont, Danielle Fairclough, Ciri Thompson, Kevin J. Wilson, Abigail, Lynda Stoner and Patsy Stephen. Attempts to boost the ratings saw an increase in sex and nudity, including storylines involving bondage and lesbianism. These sexual elements provoked considerable controversy, with some TV watchdogs attacking Chances as "teleporn". The program's storylines also became increasingly bizarre and fantasy-oriented, with new stories involving the Asian Triads, ghosts, an angel on a Harley Davidson motorcycle, an Egyptian Sun Goddess, laser-wielding vampires, man-eating plants, and neo-Nazis hunting valuable Third Reich artifacts (in Melbourne, bizarrely). The Age noted that Chances became "notorious" because of these elements. These changes provoked much discussion and comment within the press and the public; however, they did not lead to a strong increase in ratings. Because of its "camp" elements, Chances did gain a small but devoted audience.
Eventually, low ratings saw the show moved to a late-night slot, and the production rate reduced from two to one episode a week from episode 61. With the reduced output, the size of the cast needed to be reduced, so further drastic cast purges occurred. In the later episodes, much of the Taylor clan had departed, and Alex Taylor became the focal point of many of the storylines. In "the final episode, God made an appearance, speaking to Alex in the Melbourne library". The series ended in 1992, and has never been repeated on Australian television. Selected episodes have subsequently been released on DVD in Australia.
In the United Kingdom, Chances launched in February 1992 on Sky One, a year after its Australian debut and was initially screened at 9 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Like in Australia, Sky's promotion of the show centred heavily on the sexual aspects of the show. This failed to achieve high ratings. The Sunday Times media correspondent noted that Chances, along with Sky One's other heavily promoted imports, Studs and E Street, "all did poorly with UK viewers". Eventually, as the series moved on and dropped to one episode a week, Chances was then screened on Thursday nights at 10 p.m. and ended in early 1993. A late-night repeat was screened during the early hours of the morning during 1995. Notably, the last 19 episodes of Chances were never aired by Sky One and both runs ended at episode 107.
Chances was also shown on Russian television. However, the series ceased being broadcast there after members of the Russian Orthodox Church objected to a scene showing a naked woman saluting a swastika.
In New Zealand, the show was screened on Channel 2 for around 12 months, but was dropped due to low ratings.
Bayonas also tried to sell Chances to US broadcasters. However, the only interested network was the Playboy Channel, which made several offers for the show; Bayonas declined, stating the channel would be an inappropriate broadcaster for the show.
1991 TV series cast:
Note: In the unaired 1989 Pilot, the following characters were played by different actors:
When Chances was finally given the go ahead as a TV series two years later, the roles were recast due to the unavailabily of the original actors. Later 1991 and 1992 additions to the cast, listed alphabetically:
- Albert Moran, Moran's Guide to Australian TV Series, AFTRS 1993 p 111
- "Taking the reins" Brian Courtis, The Age,20 June 2002. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
- "Steamy Chances means stars are in and out". Herald Sun,23 October 1991.
- "Chances runs out of steam". The Courier-Mail, 1 October 1992.
- Andrew Mercado, "The Secret Life of Soaps". The Daily Telegraph, 1 December 2004 (p. T04).
- Jonathan Miller, "Behind the Screens", The Sunday Times, May 31, 1992.
- Robyn Dixon, "Crocodiles and Capitalism in Oz". Sydney Morning Herald", January 11th, 1994.