Tatau: Review: Series 1 Episode 1 (spoiler-free)

Tatau 1What appears to be a bad trip takes on sinister overtones when a young British tourist believes that a murder is being covered up…

It’s being touted as BBC Three’s last new drama series while it’s a broadcast channel (rather than being internet-based), and there’s been some queries over the choice of this over a third series of In the Flesh/second season of The Fades/more Being Human etc. Hopefully those who have enjoyed those shows will give this one a fair chance – because on the evidence of this opening episode, there’s going to be plenty there for them to enjoy.

Based on this opener, it’s perhaps not going to be as all-out genre as those previous shows: there aren’t zombies, vampires, werewolves or other such denizens of the genre. This is more primal, going back to discussions of belief systems (there’s some neat counterpointing of a tribal ritual with a Christian service) and whether there are powers beyond those we comprehend.

Joe Layton and Theo Barklem-Biggs make an appropriately odd couple of friends, whose backpacking odyssey brings them to this small island. They’re keen to experience everything they can – but this puts them at odds, and the two actors have got the “brother from another mother” aspect to their relationship down well. Both have hidden secrets (some of which get revealed in the episode), which explain the reason why one wants to get involved, while the other doesn’t…

Even on a streaming review copy, the geography of the Cook Islands comes across wonderfully, and it will no doubt look incredible in HD – and that provides a sparkling backdrop for intrigue, and perhaps more. There’s plenty of meat in Tatau, and the throwforward suggests that a lot of the obvious moves are being got out of the way very quickly…

Verdict: Intriguing and at times haunting, this is a good start for BBC Three’s new show. 7/10

Paul Simpson

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