Mercado on TV: High Country is a stunning new Aussie drama starring Leah Purcell

High Country

“The cracking mystery storyline, with its multiple strands unravelling, is compelling.”

High Country (Foxtel/Binge) is a stunning new Aussie drama and based on the first two episodes, it’s right up there with Boy Swallows Universe (Netflix) as one of the best new Aussie series.

From the creative team behind Wentworth, Marcia Gardner and John Ridley, this one goes beyond the prison walls into the great outdoors. Filmed in the Victorian Alps during autumn when the leaves are changing colour, it is beautiful to look at. And the cracking mystery storyline, with its multiple strands unravelling, is compelling.

The cast includes Leah Purcell, Sara Wiseman, Henry Nixon, Aaron Pedersen, Linda Cropper, Nathaniel Dean, Geoff Morrell and Irish actor Ian McElhinney who seems right at home.

High Country is brilliant, and it’s nice to see an Aussie country town that comes across as real, instead of being wildly exaggerated for TV.

Leah Purcell

See also: High Country’s Leah Purcell on funding local TV to ‘compete’ and riding on Deadloch’s ‘coat tails’

Also this week: Population 11 and Apples Never Fall

Population 11 (Stan) is inspired by story in Last Stop Larrimah (Netflix), a gobsmacking documentary that didn’t really need a remake. It’s also too similar to other quirky series like The Tourist, and it takes an entire sequence from the movie Welcome To Woop Woop.

Ben Feldman is the American blow-in so he has to go through all the usual cliched stuff involving pub drinking and local wildlife. Katrina Milsevic, Stephen Curry, Genevieve Lemon, Rick Donald, Darren Gilshernan, Fiona Choi, Pippa Grandison and Steve Le Marquand play the town weirdos, but why are they all so crazy?

Bay Of Fires and Deadloch, two series with similar premises, both had clever and valid reasons to explain why so many people in town were eccentric. By comparison, Population 11 just dials it up to 11 and then throws in a UFO storyline.

Apples Never Fall (Foxtel/Binge) is the latest series from author Lianne Moriarty and the formula could be starting to wear thin. Annette Bening and Sam Neill play a retired couple with four grown children. They’re rich and have issues, but nobody is particularly likeable.

Cast of Apples Never Fall

When the mother goes missing, all clues point to the father who is acting suspicious and has a scratch on his face. It’s so obvious, I can’t even be bothered to hang around for the twist ending where I fully expect Annette Bening to turn up alive just before the credits roll.

Set in Palm Beach in the US, but filmed on the Gold Coast, there are few Aussies in supporting roles. It is great though to see Georgia Flood playing a mysterious stranger. I just wished I cared more.

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This week: Apples Never Fall, Population 11 and High Country

Three series we are calling Australian dramas this week. Starting with Apples Never Fall (Binge/Foxtel series, 7 episodes). Filmed in Queensland from an Australian author’s book is enough for us to claim it. Sam Neill and Annette Bening star in this family drama set in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Next up is Population 11 (Stan, series 12 episodes) which is another quirky comedy/thriller set in outback Australia. Filmed in Derby, WA, it tells the story of the US son of the local tour guide returning home to discover his dad has gone missing.

Finally, another powerhouse performance from Leah Purcell. This time in High Country (Binge/Foxtel series, 8 episodes) as a country police officer thrown into a missing person investigation.

Listen online here, or on your favourite podcast platform.

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