Far North Queensland is the setting for the ABC’s latest drama series Troppo. It’s a double header detective show which has Nicole Chamoun teamed up with US actor Thomas Jane as an unlikely duo hired solve the season-long mystery of a missing Korean man.
Chamoun plays Amanda, a woman who is about a year or so out from a prison stint after murdering a man. She is a struggling tattoo parlour small business owner who is trying to diversify her income with some detective work on the side. Thomas Jane plays Ted, a former cop who fled to Australia with his wife after he was accused of a heinous crime. He is innocent, but being falsely accused of the abduction and rape of a teenage girl can weigh down on a man. His marriage dissolved and he’s gone deeper into hiding - mostly into a bottle of drink.
The best thing about the series is its setting. The tropical background of Far North Queensland makes for an appealing location that surprisingly hasn’t been captured on screen by Australian productions as often as it should. The show looks tropical, but is perhaps not quite as sweaty as the show should probably be.
Because it is Far North Queensland, expect to crocodile action on screen. The series opens with an especially gruesome opening that will resonate a little stronger than intended, following a recent high profile shark attack here in Australia.
Beyond the location, the show doesn't really have a whole lot left to be excited about. It’s not that the show is bad - it's perfectly okay. The performances are strong, the cinematography is really good, and the scripting is good with substantial characters (both main and supporting) and a plot that moves at an appropriate leisurely pace. But as an entire package, the show feels just that. It’s a package. One gets the sense that the show exists less because there was any great passion for the story, but rather because various elements could be put in place that would assure global sales for the show. And you can feel that on screen - it all just plays out a little flat.
If you press play on Troppo, you’re in for a perfectly fine time. You’ll find yourself on IMDB wondering what else Nicole Chamoun has been in before (SBS’ Safe Harbour and On The Ropes are her two biggest roles to date). You’ll wonder what else you’ve seen Thomas Jane in (the answer is pretty much everything. He was in Boogie Nights, he was The Punisher for a spell, he was incredibly well-hung in HBO’s Hung). You’ll like the setting. And you might even be curious about the central mystery.
But you won’t be deeply involved in it. You won’t find anything particularly special on the screen. It’s just yet-another murder mystery show. And that’s fine. I guess. It's just not memorable.
Troppo debuts on ABC TV in Australia on Sunday 27 Feb. Every episode will be streaming on iView from that same day.