Mercado on TV: The First Inventors, a 10/NITV co-production, deserves your attention

First Inventors

Plus The Swarm: a big-budget production with huge stunts and stunning underwater photography

The First Inventors, which is made by both Ronde Media and Moogie Down Productions, is also the first co-production between NITV and 10. This incredible series discovers untold history about how our First Nations people cultivated landscapes, created communications systems and navigated extraordinary distances.

Margee Brown, who co-produced my documentary Outrageous: The Queer History of Australian TV, is also the co-creator of The First Inventors. She first told me about her idea in 2015, so it’s been a long journey to get this onto the air. Then again, what’s eight years when you’re examining a culture that goes back 65,000 years? 

Outrageous just won Best Feature Film at the LGBTQ+ Toronto Film Festival, but get ready for a slew of awards to come for The First Inventors. Aussie shows like this resonate overseas, especially with recognisable faces who already have an international profile. Aussie dramas like Mystery Road and Total Control are big hits all over the world, so it was a smart decision of The First Inventors to get proud Tiwi Islander man Rob Collins to host its four episodes.

First Nations

Andrew Mercado and Joe Hasham at Outrageous World Premiere at Mardi Gras Film Festival in Sydney in February. Plus the award Mercado’s documentary won last month.

Given we now live in a global TV world, co-productions like The First Inventors are all the rage. Once upon a time, a big-budget German series like The Swarm (Binge) would have struggled to recoup its production costs, but now it’s being jointly funded by multiple partners including France Television and Hulu Japan.

The Swarm (Binge) is described by some as science fiction but don’t let that put you off. I prefer environmental thriller because it doesn’t lean too heavily into its sci-fi roots. Over eight episodes, this production quietly draws you in thanks to a gorgeous cast and a growing sense of dread.

With the Arctic Ocean as its backdrop, the action moves effortlessly from a whale-watching disaster off Vancouver Island to a shocking tsunami that ravages the Shetland Islands. It’s a big-budget production that pulls off its big stunts and the underwater photography is stunning.    

In some ways, The Swarm is a classier version of a classic 70s disaster movie but without an American hero. Based on the bestselling German novel, this adaptation wisely drops a Lieutenant General character who is a close friend of the President. 

Instead, this TV series concentrates more on heroic scientists and marine biologists. Its diverse international cast includes Canadian First Nation actor Joshua Odjick, Belgian actress Cecilia de France, German actress Leonie Benesch and British actress Sharon Duncan-Brewster. Big thumbs up, I’ve binged it all and hope they make a second series.

Read more Mercado on TV here.

Mercado on TV

Welcome to TV Gold: The all-new weekly TV podcast

Well, the name is new! So is the email address asking for feedback and question – [email protected].
Listen now on your favourite podcast platform for 30 minutes of TV reviews and recommendations every week from Mediaweek’s Andrew Mercado and James Manning.

Listen online here, on the LiSTNR app or on your favourite podcast platform.

This week on TV Gold: The Crowded Room, The First Inventors, Based on a True Story, The Swarm

A diverse group of shows this week starting with the US crime mystery The Crowded Room (AppleTV+). Next is The First Inventors (10/NITV) about how our First Nations people cultivated landscapes, created communications systems and navigated extraordinary distances. (Andrew reviews the series above.)
Based on a True Story (Foxtel/Binge) is a comedy set against the backdrop of a true crime podcast and finally The Swarm (Foxtel/Binge) is an eco-thriller both reviewers enjoyed. Andrew actually binged all eight episodes!

 Email the hosts and tell us what you have been watching. The good and the bad. Emails to: [email protected]

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