Mercado on TV: Savage River and Marriage, Beginner’s Guide to Grief and The Bear


Exciting newcomers lead the cast in Savage River, while UK veterans turn it on in Marriage

Savage River (Sunday on ABC), the new 6-part Aussie drama, is about a surly young murderess who returns to her small country town after getting out of jail. When another murder takes place soon after her arrival, all eyes turn to her as the main suspect.

Savage River is maddeningly vague about the crime Miki (Katherine Langford) has committed and the only time she ever seems to smile is when she’s with her twin brother Terry (Cooper von Grootel). The siblings are both played by Perth-born actors who have made international series (13 Reasons Why, One Of Us Is Lying) but this is the first Aussie big one.

Savage River

Backing them up is a fine cast including Nadine Garner, Mark Coles-Smith, Jacqueline McKenzie, Robert Chubb and Virginia Gay. But it feels like we’ve seen all this before, so let’s hope with the wonderful Jocelyn Moorhouse directing, future episodes might be less familiar.

For something more unpredictable, there’s A Beginner’s Guide To Grief. In this Aussie black comedy, Harry (played by creator Anna Lindner) comes home to her small town to care for her dying parents. After a deathbed confession puts Harry in conflict with her family’s religious community, she starts hanging out with a pyromaniac (Cassandra Sorrell).

A Beginner’s Guide To Grief

A Beginner’s Guide To Grief (Sunday on SBS Viceland) is a strong debut for a new comedic voice, but it doesn’t appear to have been a priority for the network. Thanks to TV Tonight for alerting me, because the media site for press lists this as screening several months ago at 4.21pm.

Maybe typos aren’t important, but neither are time slots anymore. A Beginner’s Guide To Grief premieres at 9.20pm and seems to be playing as a TV movie. Otherwise, with 6 x 15 minutes episodes, let’s hope a bigger audience can find it on SBS On Demand.

Marriage (Saturday on ABC), the new BBC drama starring Nicola Walker and Sean Bean, is a gritty drama about uncomfortable truths in long relationships. Many will find this fascinating because it’s recognisable, but others will consider it excruciating. 


Still not sure which camp I fall into yet, but why comment when this is a show about a family that cannot communicate anything. Just watch it for the incredible lead performances, with both actors playing against type.

The Bear (Disney+) is a buzzy and spicy drama about a fancy chef (Jeremy Allen White) coming back to run his family’s Italian sandwich shop. The business is struggling, and the staff are not happy, but family is family, even if they do scream a lot.

The Bear

There is an intensity to The Bear that demands your attention, but pay attention to the random guest stars like Oliver Platt, Molly Ringwald and Joel McHale. This looks one to savour slowly.

Mercado on TV


Listen now on your favourite podcast platform for 30 minutes of reviews and recommendations every week from Andrew Mercado and James Manning. This week there’s plenty of excitement about new dramas Savage River and Marriage.

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