In the salty, sea-spray world of Tidelands there sure are a lot of pent-up emotions.
But the cameras are there when they manifest themselves in either sex, brawling, or both at the same time…
A youthful, chilled out cast of buff bods and alluring femmes populate this mysterious fringe community, possibly located just north or south of the more juvenile H20: Just Add Water.
Our central character is Cal McTeer (Charlotte Best) who returns to the fishing village of Orphelin Bay after 10 years imprisoned (that’s pretty serious time for someone who was obviously just a teen). Time behind bars has made her dangerous or possibly super-human in strength.
But back in Orphelin Bay it isn’t the handsome young copper Will (Matius Inwood) that consumes her, but her unfinished past. Cal has fond memories of her young fisherman dad (Dustin Clare). While her alcoholic mother (Caroline Brazier) now runs a local bistro, Cal aligns with her hunky brother Augie (Aaron Jakubenko).
Augie is a lynchpin in a local fishing co-operative (which includes Offspring‘s Richard Davies), busy trafficking illegal goods -none of which are the scaly kind. But he finds himself at odds with the local Tidelanders, referred to as a “hippy community,” whose presence and mystical powers are deliberately unclear.
The dreamy Tidelanders are led by the alluring Adrielle (Elsa Pataky) who slinks in an out of the ocean as readily as she does flowing satin. Pataky purrs throughout with her Spanish accent, seemingly driving sailors to their death, and making conspiracy deals in Algerian deserts when she is moored on dry land….
Throw in some hard yakka cops, driftwood, Queenslander homes, sugar cane fields and crashing waves and you have a horny hotbed of emotions, bad boys, bad girls and the supernatural.
Quite where it will all land remains to be seen. While this may aspire to be True Blood by the Bay, or perhaps Shadowhunters by the Shore, Stephen M. Irwin’s script signposts an awful lot, too often with clunky dialogue. Temptresses and rogues aplenty may draw us in but character sympathy is a more sustainable commodity in episodic drama.
I’m also unclear on what the secretive Tidelander community wants (perhaps that’s deliberate), and curious that it seemingly draws upon more forces than the history of its handful of Indigenous members. But with more rules of this world becoming evident than the opening chapter provides there is a potential for a cult, youthful audience if Supernatural or the Vampire Diaries aroused you.
As the first fully-funded Australian drama from Netflix, one hopes this drama performs internationally. In the humid Queensland climate, Tidelands certainly looks inviting on screen and, in the hands of director Toa Fraser, is prone to getting horizontal very quickly.
And there are a lot worse ways to spend your summer.
Friday December 14 on Netflix.