Be warned. Manly Beach may look picture postcard and inviting but it’s concealing killer sharks and serial killers.
At least it is in Nine’s new drama, the arrestingly-titled Bite Club.
The name refers to a club of shark attack survivors who gather to compare scars, both physical and psychological at the local pub. Amongst them is Detective Constable Dan Cooper (Todd Lasance) who, three years earlier, lost a leg in a grisly attack when he came to the rescue of his then-girlfriend Detective Senior Constable Zoe Rawlings (Ash Ricardo).
The attack was enough to lead to a split, something both have some trouble equating whenever they happen to sight one another. After travelling the world and returning to Manly, Dan is ready to get back to work. But he needs the approval of Dr. Kristof Olsen (Damian Walshe-Howling) who just happens to be the new boyfriend of Zoe.
Meanwhile the torso of a woman related to one of Dan’s old cases washes up on the beach but there are fishy signs of foul play that will leave Zoe thinking a serial killer is in their midst. Local Detective Superintendent (Deborah Mailman) and Detective Sergeant (Robert Mammone) are added to the force along with dog squad wrangler Senior Constable Stephen Langley (Dominic Monaghan). A young surfer and shark Bite Club member Amber (Marny Kennedy) also represents Dan’s path back to facing his fears.
The opening episode, written by John Ridley & Sarah Smith, devotes much screen time to the unease between Dan & Zoe, whether they have moved on and whether can work together on a case. Despite the fact their break-up was 3 years ago it’s perplexing that neither has extricated themselves from the world if it causes such angst.
Melodrama is part of the problem of this drama which needs to commit to one of the two genres it straddles. For a crime about a serial killer the travelogue shots and warm hues is pretty confusing. But director Geoff Bennett’s sluggish pace is a bigger concern. Despite the killer high stakes it somehow lacks energy. Maybe this will improve after the opening chapter.
Amongst the cast Dominic Monaghan gets the more interesting role, while seasoned actors Deborah Mailman & Robert Mammone take a back seat to the youthful Lasance and Ricardo. But it’s good to see an indigenous woman in the senior authority role.
Bite Club doesn’t compare with the dark (and sometimes twisted world) of Top of the Lake, which had a killer at Bondi Beach, but nor is it on Pay TV. With the added distraction of commercial breaks it really needed a stronger episode and a bit more teeth to take hold.
Bite Club airs 8:40pm Wednesday on Nine.