REVIEW: ‘Tidelands’

It's Netflix's first original Australian series, but how does the supernatural tale measure up?
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Sick of cookie-cutter Australian dramas set in hospitals and police stations? Netflix’s new big budget, bells-and-whistles series Tidelands is not drawn from that playbook. In fact, it’s quite unlike anything you’ll see on TV this year – maybe ever. This could be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on your taste.
If, for example, you like the idea of a drama set in Far North Queensland that melds a realistic, gritty storyline with elements of the supernatural – enter half-mermaid, half-human Tidelanders (strange, sexy sea siren types who live among the inhabitants of small fishing village Orphelin Bay) – then this might be right up your alley.  
If this sounds all a little too much, best give this series, starring a gloriously ethereal Elsa Pataky (Mrs Chris Hemsworth, to the uninitiated) as one of the aforementioned sea nymphs, a wide berth. For while the performances by some of the central actors – Pataky, in particular – are good, the script, and all it’s wild and wonderful elements, really puts strains on your ability to willingly suspend disbelief.
At its heart, Tidelands is about a young woman, Cal (Charlotte Best), who returns to Orphelin Bay after 10 years in juvenile detention to a find a town with some dark, dirty secrets – with her family at the centre of it all. How do those sirens fit in? Well, that’s the question. And one that’s set to be explored throughout the series’ eight episodes.
Will I get that far? Maybe. One thing’s for sure: this series is sexy as hell. Everyone is ripped, and there’s plenty of sexy stuff happening to keep me interested. But there are some clunky moments – when central character Augie (played well by Aaron Jakubenko) warns his sister, Cal, about getting involved with the Tidelanders, he utters the line, “I know they look good, but that’s meat you don’t eat.” See? Not great.
Still, there’s every chance this will develop into something intriguing and original. There’s certainly enough to see me dipping in past episode one. (On Netflix from 7pm on Fri., Dec. 14) 2.5 stars

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