Mercado on TV: New Aussie drama Troppo, Celeb Gogglebox & Would I Lie To You


There’s a lot going on in Troppo: highly improbable private investigators, cranky cops and a croc attack

Troppo (Sunday on ABC and iview) is the first new Aussie drama of the year to screen on TV instead of a streaming service. Like many recent local productions, it features an overseas actor in the lead role (Thomas Jane) but location-wise, it goes to a place rarely seen on screen.

The first TV series to film in North Queensland was Barrier Reef (1971, 10), followed by Patrol Boat (1979, ABC), then Sea Patrol (2007, Nine). There have also been a few flops, like Big Reef (2004, Nine) and Reef Doctors (2013, 10).

North Queensland has always been ripe for a Northern Exposure-type show, where everyone is mad because of the heat, rather than snow. Troppo, from EQ Media Group, is not that show, but it does have a throwaway line in the first episode where someone wonders if the heat makes the locals “slow”, only to realise the locals are slow, regardless.

There is a lot going on in Troppo, what with former cop Ted Conkaffey (Thomas Jane) escaping a disgraced past, and convicted killer Amanda Pharrell (Nicole Chamoun) returning to the scene of her crime. They team up as highly improbable private investigators who start looking into the disappearance of a Korean businessman.

Another ongoing mystery is a crocodile attack, a la Return to Eden (1983, 10), but with a more convincing croc. This time, instead of a tennis pro throwing his older rich wife into the water, someone deliberately throws themselves into the water, right in front of some gawking tourists.

Cast members like David Lyons and Sun Park do their best as cranky cops and future guest stars like Kate Beahan, Angela Punch McGregor, Damien Garvey and Simon Lyndon look promising. Hopefully it all comes together, and it is a great lead-in for the fourth and final series of Killing Eve (Sunday on ABC).

Would I Lie To You: Chris Taylor, Chrissie Swan, Frank Woodley

Don’t miss: Eurovision: Australia Decides (Saturday on SBS), the premiere of Would I Lie To You Australia (Monday on 10) or the one-off Celebrity Gogglebox (Wednesday on Lifestyle, Thursday on 10). All of them will possibly rate higher than SAS Australia, which is trailing in its timeslot, because it’s on again too soon after last year.

Read more Mercado on TV columns here.

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