22nd August 1998
Jack of Frank – who will Goldie choose to be with?
Three long years of romantic to-ing and fro-ing between the emotionally battle-scarred Water Rats detectives Frank Holloway and Rachel “Goldie” Goldstein may finally come to an end in the next two episodes of the series.
Most action-orientated shows end each year with at least one major character facing a life-or-death situation. Audiences are left on the edges of their seats until the next year to find out who dies, who survives and exactly what will happen.
Water Rats is no different. But instead of the characters’ lives being in jeopardy, their relationships hang in the balance when the romance between detectives Jack Christey (Steve Bisley) and Goldie (Catherine McClements) takes a dramatically serious twist.
Goldie has a habit of falling for the wrong guys – remember her nasty former husband and her ill-fated engagement to crooked cop John “Knocker” Harrison?
It seemed her only option was an inevitable romance with her partner and confidant, Frank (Colin Friels).
Audiences loved the idea of Goldie and Frank getting together, and the will-they-or-won’t-they? storyline has surfaced several times.
Despite audience pressures, the Water Rats writers have been reluctant to have their lead actors mix business with pleasure.
Remember the disastrous impact on Moonlighting when David (Bruce Willis) and Maddie (Cybill Shepherd) got together? Almost as soon as the sexual tension was gone, so was the show.
“You marry two characters off and suddenly people lose interest,” says Water Rats creator John Hugginson.
“I think the trick with drama is, if you’re going to have a married couple, bring them in right at the beginning.”
The Water Rats writers decided not to cave into pressure to couple up Frank and Goldie.
Rather, they took a punt, did the unthinkable this year and introduced another senior detective into the mix.
Steve Bisley’s Jack Christey – originally intended only as a temporary replacement for Colin Friels when he was off sick and travelling overseas – was suave, slightly bombastic and very unlike Goldie. But, at the same time, he was very appealing.
“He’s sort of evolving as we go a bit,” Steve says of the character’s direction.
“He’s a bit of a larrikin and I think larrikins are very endearing.”
Jack and Goldie started off with a love-hate relationship, but it was apparent to viewers from the start that there was a sort of easygoing and slightly combative sexual chemistry brewing between the series veteran and the laid-back newcomer.
“If you’ve established a path for the two characters (Frank and Goldie) and then throw someone new in there, it busts things open a bit,” Steve says of his character’s potential for disruption.
Strangely enough, audiences seemed to agree. The same viewers who hoped Frank and Goldie would get together didn’t react badly to the idea of Goldie mixing a bit of business and pleasure elsewhere.
The night Goldie and Jack actually fell into bed for the first time was a ratings winner.
Pretty soon Steve was signing on the dotted line to take up a more full-time position with the show.
“To me, to have a three-way thing going between the characters, rather than two, creates a very different dynamic,” Steve says.
“A character like Christey will shake things a bit. It’s not going to be all comfortable, I imagine.”
While the show’s original detectives have spent years working out their out-of-hours relationships, Goldie and Jack haven’t had that luxury.
But their romance is moving at lightning speed as we get nearer the show’s finale.
When Jack asks Goldie for a commitment, she’s confused and turns to Frank for advice.
Is this Frank’s last chance to finally reveal his intentions towards his partner?
Is Goldie hoping Frank will give her a reason not to commit to Jack, or is Goldie’s idea to finally sever the romantic tension that keeps pulling her towards her work partner?
It’s a cliffhanger, so we’ll probably have to wait until next year to find out whether Goldie and Jack are going to get serious about their relationship. If they do, what effect will that have on Frank’s demanding and often strenuous relationship with Goldie?
If they don’t, where does that leave Jack who, we’ve been assured, will assume a more regular role next season?
Even Steve, who relishes his character’s opportunities to shake things up, is unsure of just how romantically driven his character will be in the next season.
“If they know, they are not telling me,” he says with a robust laugh.
“But I don’t mind being kept in the dark.”
Original content copyright TV Week.