Set in a small, fictional, New South Wales country town called Wandin Valley, A Country Practice focused on the staffs of the town's medical practice and local hospital and on the families of the doctors, nurses, and patients. Many of the episodes also featured guest characters (frequently patients served by the practice) through whom various social and medical problems were explored. Although often considered a soap opera, the series was not built around an open-ended narrative; instead, the two one-hour episodes screened per week formed a self-contained narrative block, though many of the storylines were developed as sub-plots for several episodes before becoming the focus of a particular week's storyline. While the focus was on topical issues such as youth unemployment, suicide, drug addiction, HIV/AIDS, and terminal illness, the program did sometimes explore culturally sensitive issues, including, for example, the Aboriginal community and their place in modern Australian society.
Among the show's principal characters were Dr Terence Elliott, local policeman Sergeant Frank Gilroy, Esme Watson, Shirley Dean Gilroy, Bob Hatfield, Vernon 'Cookie' Locke, and Matron Margaret 'Maggie' Sloan. In addition to its regularly rotating cast of characters, A Country Practice also had a cast of semi-regulars who would make appearances as the storylines permitted. Interestingly, while the series initially targeted the adult and older youth demographic, it became increasingly popular with children over the years.
Set in the fictional Riverside Police Station, Cop Shop combined self-contained stories focusing on specific police investigations with the type of open-ended serial storylines familiar from soap operas. This allowed Crawford Productions to make use of the expertise gained from their highly successful police procedurals (all recently cancelled) and serials such as The Sullivans (then still airing).
Although the format may sound predictable and routine, in fact it was pioneering. In putting women police on the screen, Crawford's were moving Australian crime drama away from being an all-male domain. In addition, by choosing a suburban police station populated both by uniformed police and plainclothes detectives, Cop Shop introduced an upstairs and a downstairs world. The latter, in particular, began to exert its own attractions with handsome young men and women in the roles of the new constables.