Mercado on TV: Local cast shine in NCIS: Sydney, plus Neighbours back at its best

NCIS Sydney

International drama – a US show about Australia being made for a US audience and Ramsay Street’s Flashback Week

It is a big week for Paramount+ and 10 with an international franchise, NCIS: Sydney (Paramount+), coming down under, and their international reboot of Neighbours (Amazon FreeVee) airing a can’t-miss Flashback Week.  

NCIS is a show I’ve never had any interest in, but this Sydney version turned out to be surprisingly good. The local casting is superb, with a sassy Tuuli Narkle, and accident-prone Mavournee Hazel and gruff William McInnes creating a fun workplace relationship.

It’s hard to avoid cliched shots of the Opera House and Habour Bridge and that’s because NCIS: Sydney is set right on the harbour. When the show heads elsewhere, local wildlife like kookaburras and koalas takes over. This is a US show about Australia being made for a US audience, so let’s at least be thankful they are teaching Americans the correct way to pronounce Bondi. 

NCIS: Sydney’s Australian showrunner Morgan O’Neill describes us as “these weird people that inhabit the world’s largest island on the southern tip of the Southeast Asian archipelago”. Now that is a mouthful, and it might explain why Americans are so fascinated by our rhyming slang, even though so few of us actually use it today. “Get used to it,” says JD (Todd Lassance) in the first episode as he explains to the Yanks why he is calling them “septic tanks”.

Almost every American series that films down includes rhyming slang. Sadly, there’s no use of the expression “billy lids” instead of kids, as once said by Delvene Delaney in The Love Boat (1981). And nor does NCIS include a reference to “having a naughty with a franger” as so memorably discussed by Brooke and Ridge in The Bold and The Beautiful (2008).

NCIS: Sydney understands its audience and it sticks to that formula, no matter how ridiculous the scenario is. It has served them well for many years, but Neighbours (10 and 10 Peach) chose a much riskier proposition when it was axed and returned a year later, but jumped forward two years in time. There were new characters, radical recasts and the shock new coupling of Terese (Rebekah Elmaloglou) marrying Toadie (Ryan Moloney), but how did they get there?

Ever since it’s come back, Neighbours has struggled to find its groove amongst all these changes. Two weeks ago, however, it kicked into high gear. This is a show that likes to play a long game, and Flashback Week does more than just fill in the gaps. Other storylines, all seemingly unrelated to each other, suddenly collide with each other to tell an intricate and well-planned story arc. 

Neighbours even goes back to that big finale last year, by showing a new version of the Ramsay Street party from a different angle. A bunch of former characters return and the scene is set for a stack of new stories still to come. Neighbours, it’s great to have you back at your best.

Read more Mercado on TV here.

Welcome to TV Gold: Mediaweek’s weekly TV podcast

Listen now on your favourite podcast platform for 30 minutes of TV reviews and recommendations every week from Mediaweek’s Mercado on TV columnist Andrew Mercado and editor-in-chief James Manning.
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This week: NCIS: Sydney, All The Light We Cannot See, The Curse, Bodies

The four TV series looked at this week live on just two streaming platforms. The fifth instalment of the NCIS franchise is reviewed this episode as NCIS: Sydney (Paramount+, series) launches in Australia before it debuts in the US on CBS. Also this week we look at World War II drama All The Light We Cannot See (Netflix, series), a time-traveling thriller Bodies (Netflix, series), and the patience-testing reality TV parody The Curse (Paramount+ series).
Tell us what you have been watching. Email: [email protected]

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