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The Librarians – Series 1 Episode 1 (2007)

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Judging a book by its cover

Original classification rating: PG. This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

This is the opening title sequence to the series. Chief Librarian Frances O’Brien (Robyn Butler) prepares for her day at the Middleton Interactive Learning Centre, and later leads a meeting with staff members Dawn (Heidi Arena), Matthew (Stephen Ballantyne), Ky (Keith Brockett), Neil (Bob Franklin,) Lachie (Josh Lawson) and Nada (Nicole Nabout).

Curator’s notes

Two of the major strengths of this production are design and direction, both of which are demonstrated in the opening credits. The set is quite simply superb, thanks to production designer Dale Mark, art director Kate Russell and the rest of the design team. The conversion of an existing commercial building in South Melbourne builds on its contemporary features – plate glass windows, chrome finishes and so on – to create a working environment that displays all the high-tech efficiency, ordered busyness and glossy tranquillity of our modern local libraries. As you can see in the clip, the exterior is so realistic that, reportedly, locals were inquiring about when the new library would be opening.

Director Wayne Hope demonstrates his ability to make clean, clear visual statements from the outset. Apart from allowing us a very good look at the library both inside and out, there is the nice irony of the cutaway from the sign asking for quiet to the roar of the overhead jet, which also cements the library’s place in a disadvantaged urban area directly beneath a flight path. The simple sequence that traces Frances’s morning routine introduces us to a woman driven to fulfil her duties at home and at work with supreme efficiency but who clearly suffers from stress. The show’s sense of humour is evident from the very first shot of the episode, which features – almost subliminally – human excrement in the foreground of the returns chute.

For jazz fans, the show’s theme song is a variation on Dizzy Gillespie’s hit, A Night in Tunisia (1942).

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