Now streaming–Troppo, your next must-watch Aussie mystery thriller series

Review by C.J. Bunce

Three murders.  One old and long-settled, one looks like a suicide, and the is other the only kind of case that could pull a wrongly accused former American cop back into action.  Troppo is basically Australian lingo for “messed up by the tropical heat,” and Troppo is the apt title of an iMDb series now streaming on Prime Video.  It’s the ultimate outback trip, complete with crocodiles and all the mixed cultures of the continent.  We’ve seen some good series out of Australia, like Picnic at Hanging Rock, Mystery Road, Glitch, and Deadloch, and you’ll want to add Troppo to that list.  It stars Thomas Jane as the American ex-cop and Nicole Chamoun as an unusual local tattoo artist and aspiring private eye in a small outback community.  Their chemistry combines to deliver memorable performances in a disturbing tale that delivers a satisfying ending.

Based on the novel Crimson Lake by Australian author Candice Fox, it’s a dark murder mystery delivered in eight one-hour episodes, just the right amount of time needed for the story.  A crazed looking man jumps into the swamp in front of a boat full of tourists watching crocodiles.  He swims toward the croc and is eaten alive.  At the same time, another man is missing, and body parts start turning up in the water.  What’s going on?

Thomas Jane (The Expanse, The Predator, Medium, The Punisher) is Ted Conkaffey, a washed-up, scruffy looking rogue type who has left his wife and child after being falsely accused of kidnapping and molesting a girl.  Maybe he should have avoided a town called Crimson Lake, where a rough-looking, younger ex-con is trying to encourage him to help her new private eye business.  She’s Amanda Pharrell, played by Nicole Chamoun (The Gloaming, Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears, On the Ropes, Safe Harbor), who ten years ago was a beautiful teenager living a normal life, until a bad night of partying ended in her killing another local teen.  She is jailed for the next decade.  But did she really commit the murder, or was she somehow framed–or did something else happen altogether?

The town holds all kinds of secrets–secrets that might conjure Veronica Mars.  Wentworth’s Sun Park plays Yoon Sun, who hires Amanda to discover what happened to her missing husband, who turns out to have his own batch of secrets.  Halo’s Yerin Ha plays Yoon’s daughter Ah Rah.  But Yoon has doubts about Amanda’s experience, prompting her to bring in Ted for help.  Ted’s stuck between deciding to go back to his wife (Pitch Black and Longmire’s Radha Mitchell) moving ahead with his life.  Ted is a good guy, even rescuing a family of geese who become his roommates, and it’s easy to see how he could have been a good cop once.

Amanda is a mess, a combination of determination, guilt, and self-doubt.  She believes she is guilty because her memory shows her participating in the murder of the girl years ago.  But she’s missing essential data.  Now she’s heavily tattooed and constantly taking risky actions to sabotage any chance at getting a normal life again.  PTSD from her crime left her with a fear of cars, so she spends eight episodes riding her bike everywhere.  But ultimately she’s a badass on a bicycle.

David Lyons (Electric Dreams, ER) plays Lou Damford, the current head of the police, who arrested Amanda after the murder all those years ago.  Nobody in town wants Amanda back, most of all Damford.  Angela Punch McGregor plays the local medical investigator, and La Femme Nikita star Peta Wilson plays Ted’s new nextdoor neighbor.

The mystery is one viewers may be able to figure out, but it’s watching the noir elements sifted through an Australian lens that makes this one fun to follow along with.  Thomas Jane makes a great washed-up private eye, and the journey Nicole Chamoun takes is pretty exciting new territory.  This is a side to Australia that American audiences haven’t seen before.

From showrunner/writer Yolanda Ramke, catch the compelling mystery series Troppo now on Prime Video, originally released in Australia last year.

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