By Richard Moore

Way back in the 1980s the Australian TV mini-series was a huge ratings winner for commercial stations - and there were some damn fine productions presented to the viewing public.

One of the outstanding series was ANZACs, an epic look at Australia's fighting soldiers during World War I.

Unlike many other series on The Diggers, however, ANZACs went further than the heroic debacle of Gallipoli and followed the Australians into the hell of the Western Front.

There they made life hard for the British officers and even harder on the pointy-helmeted Germans.

Despite being regarded as untried against European troops, the ANZACs acquitted themselves so well they were rarely out of the action and over the war some 60,000 Australians died and more than 160,000 wounded.

The mini-series is very much an ensemble-acting affair with some very well known faces in the line-up. Andrew Clarke, Paul Hogan (in his first dramatic role), Tony Bonner, Jon Blake, Megan Williams, Ilona Rogers and Robert Coleby among many others.

It runs for almost 9 hours and is a pretty damn good look at that period and that war.

The battle scenes are terrific and the muddy trenches of the Western Front look acceptably cold and horrible.

Some of the acting goes a bit astray and there is sometimes a bit too much play on larrikinism and Ockerness, but overall it sits well as a quality drama with good characters.

I say this only because I really rated ANZACs highly when I originally saw it on the box, but since then TV perfection in the shape of Band of Brothers has come along and blown almost everything else out of the water.

The DVD transfer for ANZACs is pretty good, considering its age, although it does suffer a little from graininess (not in itself a bad thing for a gritty period piece) and it lacks sharpness and contrast.

Still, it is a good yarn and one Australians should take the time to watch.

DISC 1: Episode 1: Australia in 1914… Outbreak of war… Recruitment… Training… Gallipoli: Landing/stalemate/withdrawal.

Episode 2: Arrival in France (1916)… Nursery Sector… The Battle of the Somme… Pozieres.

DISC 2: Episode 3: The Somme Winter (1916-17)… The Hindenberg Line… Bullecourt… Blighty Leave… Third Battle of Ypres begins (July 1917)… Menin Road… Broodseinde Ridge…

Episode 4: Third battle of Ypres bogs down (November 1917)… The German Offensive (March 1918)… The Battle of Amiens… Hazebrouk… Battle of Nieppe Forest.

DISC 3: Episode 5: The Yanks are coming… "Peaceful Penetration"… Monash appointed Commander of the 5 Australian Divisions… Battle of Hamel… The "Jack ups" Monash's Big Push (August 8, 1918)… Armistice (November 11, 1918)… Back Home.


Movie: 85%

DVD Extras: 60%


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