Wednesday, August 24, 2011

H2O: Just Add Water

Time to change pace, so let's review an Australian TV series marketed to preteens. It's about mermaids.

See, I have this habit of getting high and just picking something at random on Netflix to watch. Sometimes I get a surprisingly good series (this is how I discovered Justified) and sometimes I get... mermaids. To be fair, I did sort of know what I was getting into. It was pretty clear this was meant for kids, and feeling a little nostalgic for my childhood when I watched shows like this all the time, I went for it; but I'm at such a loss as to what to make of this series, that I just have to sit down and work it out on paper (or on a screen anyway).

The setup.

Three girls, who I might as well call 1,2 and 3 (because I have such a hard time telling apart their personalities it's painful) manage to get the power to turn into a mermaid every time they touch water through the most improbably series of events I have ever seen. Observe:

A bully tricks 1 into going onto boat that won't work (because someone stole the spark plug from the engine) and then sets her adrift because she was there. No really, that's the reason he gives. Suddenly 2 jumps into the boat, spark plug in hand, they restart the boat and they steal it (this theft has no repercussions). For no good reason they pick up 3 who is walking by the water. Even though they don't like 3 and she doesn't want to step foot in the boat, she goes with them. Then, like utter morons they take the boat out to sea, because three teenagers taking a small one engine boat works so well in real life.

I have to stop right there because we're five minutes in and I'm so frustrated with these girls lack of personalities that I need to focus on that for a minute. It took me a surprisingly long time to realize that the reason they have no personalities is because they are Mary-Sues. It suddenly occurred to me that the writers are almost being clever, because this way any girl watching can easily put herself into the shoes (or fins) of any of the protagonists. However it's only clever from a marketing point of view. I mean, we're not just dealing with three girls who have no personalities beyond one of them being really organized, one of them not, and one of them being slightly dumber than the other three. Honestly they're all airheads. They're also almost identical too, except for one who is not blonde.

I know it seems silly to complain about characters in a children's show, but how can the producers justify creating such cardboard "role-models" for kids? Why even have three main characters if they're all the same person? And why does 3 bitch about being on the boat so much when NO ONE MADE HER GET ON THE BOAT???

Right, so of course they run out of gas, but luckily they don't have to discuss who they will eat first, because right away they see an island on the horizon (one which, of course, has a spooky legend surrounding it) and paddle over, where instead of staying on the wide open beach where they can easily be spotted, they wander into the jungle. Just because.

Ladies! It probably took you half an hour to get there, this island will be the first one searched (and it is), just sit put! But no, they wander, get lost and one of them falls down a hole. Then another falls down the same hole. Then the last just jumps down the hole. The only way out of the hole? A pool of water which may or may not lead to the ocean. So of course one of them decides to swim into a submerged cave not knowing whether or not it's a dead end, but hey, it's a kid's show and she survives - but while the three are in the pool the full moon boils them or something and they become mermaids - but not right away, because... uh... Oh look a rescue boat!

The payoff.

Believe it or not, I actually think if this plot had been given to a completely different crew, one that didn't still think it was the 90s, this show would actually be rather clever. For starters, they can't control when they turn into mermaids, immediately turning every little girl's fantasy into a precarious situation. Also, one of the girls not only hates this change at first, she doesn't even know how to swim and refuses to go into the water for about three episodes. I also like all the moon business, which seems incredibly original for a mermaid story. It's poorly written and horribly acted, but I can't help but imagine at one point in production there was actually someone who gave a damn.

Unfortunately, nobody else gave a damn. This show had no foresight in its execution. Characters make ridiculous leaps in logic. Plots make little to no sense in the real world. For no reason whatsoever there's a bully character who instead of going to jail for attempted murder keeps coming back episode after episode (though he does have a story arc which, believe it or not, is also quite clever).

The morals being taught to any kids who watch this are particularly noteworthy. Such great tips like: never call the police, solve this shit for yourself; be sure to always wander into the unknown instead of waiting for help; don't tell your parents your secrets. This last one kills me. They don't want to tell anyone (except their buddy Lewis, who of course is a 16-year-old scientist/filmaker/genius/incredibly understanding sexually frustrated boy, even if all we really see him do is fish) because they're afraid of becoming a science experiment, but why not tell their parents? Their parents won't turn them in, and I assume would only help them. I just feel like in a kids' show, kids should be encouraged to share their deep dark secrets with their parents even if it's something they're ashamed of (and if you don't see why, then you are a fucking idiot).

Final thoughts.

It's horrid... but I can't stop watching it. Part of that is because I'm constantly shocked at just how much less the producers seem to care with every episode and it's akin to one's interest in watching a train get derailed... and then release a deadly gas... and then explode... and then burn down an entire forest... and then cause the extinction of several species... and... and I think you get the point. This show is so bad, I actually kind of... eh... enjoy it. Also, I think Angus McLaren (who plays Lewis) is genuinely funny... and kinda easy on the eyes (the character might be a kid, but the actor's only three years younger than me, so lay off). I don't think he has much to work with, but I can't help but feel that McLaren had a lot of fun working with three hot girls who were half-naked all the time. He certainly seems to constantly be hitting on all three of them even though his character is only supposed to like one of them. Of course, maybe he just can't tell them apart either.

P.S. Does anyone else find it strange that this show is essentially titled Water: Just Add Water?

1 comment:

Diamond Yao said...

Hahahahahaha I laughed so much at this !!!!! I used to watch that show as a things change when you apply an adult perspective on kids' stuff...