In the mystery world of melodrama, writer/producer Jason Herbison (Neighborhood) is positioning himself pretty well as a go-to guy.
New UK-Australia co-commission Filmingproduced for Channel 5 UK and Network 10, continues from Lie with meWhile Heat is yet to come. Probably aimed more at British than Australian audiences, these feature leading British soap opera actors against inviting Australian backdrops.
But they’re littered with good old mysterious murders. Premium drama they are not. Sleazy, escapist fun that they are.
This time Jo Joyner (EastEnders, Shakespeare & Hathaway) plays Alison, recently married to wealthy Sean (Peter O’Brien), who lives in an elegant beach mansion on the Mornington Peninsula. Alison’s wayward daughter Hannah (Asher Yasbincek) lives with them, while the family is visited by Sean’s son Ethan (Benny Turland) and boyfriend Jesse (Benjamin Samaddar).
But Ethan resents Alison for separating her father from her mother Rachel (Ally Fowler) while Hannah’s British father Michael (Ciaran Griffiths) also lives eerily nearby, hoping to reacquaint himself with his ex.
Already a messy house of cards? When Sean hasn’t shown up from a morning of surfing, true colors are shown.
Did Sean encounter foul play or did he slip away Harold Holt-style? And who to trust with this cast of potentially shady characters? It’s all part of the fun Herbison juggles in 4 episodes.
Ethan uses candid photos of Hannah circulating at school to blackmail Alison, while handsome neighbor and widower Dan (David Berry) consoles Alison in her grief.
Joyner isn’t particularly challenged by the material, but she’s a convincing wife in trouble. Ciaran Griffiths (Shameless, Via dell’Incoronazione) is too much of a note in an obvious push to portray him as a man on a mission.
Both younger leads Asher Yasbincek and Benny Turland step up, with Turland clearly enjoying a lift from his wholesome role in Neighborhood. Always a pleasure to see David Berry, best known for foreigner AND A place to call home.
It should also be mentioned that the men in this cast all have much better hair than the women…. ridiculously lush. And wait for the shot where the bubbling baked beans represent rising anger.
Director Scott Major captures the peninsula’s backdrop looking polished and alluring, with rolling waves, golden sands, spacious mansions and designer mansions that all look suspiciously alike (I didn’t buy rebellious Hannah’s designer bedroom) and a lot of flowing beachcomber swimsuits.
I would have liked a detective to lead the case, as the local police never seem to take much initiative, but perhaps there were budget constraints on the casting.
Self Filming it gets a little histrionic here and there, it cannot be denied that it knows its audience well and revels in its melodramatic mystery without ever demanding too much of the viewer.
Riptide airs Wednesday the 10th at 8:40pm.