TV Review: BBC America’s Tatau Is Pretty But Lacks Weight

In the case of Tatau, premiering tonight on BBC America, some things are pretty to look at, but lack substance.

Tatau, the latest offering from the production studio that created Being Human, follows Budgie (Theo Barklem-Biggs) and Kyle (Joe Layton), two bro types on holiday in the Cook Islands. While there, the pair chase the local girls and sample a hallucinogenic cocktail that leads Kyle to a vision a girl dead, chained down in the waters. When he returns with the police, there’s no sign of her. Are the natives covering something up? Did Kyle see the future? And why is everyone so freaked out about his tattoo?

At its best in the premiere, Tatau is muddled when it comes to direction. It wants desperately to evoke the mystical or supernatural mystery vibe by tying into Maori mythology, but that intention is thwarted in execution. None of the acting in the show lands, with the characters coming across more that caricatures than believable people. Imagine the acting in a late night Cinemax flick minus the gratutious sex, not that I’d know anything about that! Layton as Kyle is pretty to look at, but never really registered with me. Of course, the scenery is fantastic, and will make you want to plan a trip yourself.

With only on initial season of eight episodes, there’s still plenty of time for Tatau to develop into something with more weight. The network paired Tatau up with Orphan Black’s return, so they are certainly hoping to pull in that audience. Sounds like a tough sell…maybe there’s more of that drink lying around?

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