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During a trip to Mako Island, Zac gets in touch with the water of the magic Moon Pool in a night of full Moon, gaining a merman tail and the power to manipulate water. Sirena, Nixie and Lyla, three mermaids who guard Mako Island, are sent to mainland by their fellow mermaids to deprive Zac of his powers, otherwise they will be forever banned from the island. Written by
It May Be No H2O, but It's Worth Seeing for Mermaid Fans
After watching the first 26 episodes, I've come away with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it was great to have a new mermaid show follow up to H2O: Just Add Water, and this new series has much of the same creative team. On the other hand, the writing isn't as good as H2O and the characters aren't as likable. For much of Mako Mermaids the story just treads water. Secrets get held and characters give the same excuses as to why the truth can't be told. This goes on and on. It wasn't until the last four episodes that the story really came together.
H2O remained fresh because the writers kept surprising us with interesting character arcs and surprising plot twists. Mako mostly misses the boat in that regard. What made H2O special was the appeal of its three leads. Phoebe Tonkin (Cleo), Caribe Heine (Rikki), and Claire Holt (Emma) had real chemistry, and were just enjoyable to spend time with. When Holt left the series, Indiana Evans as Isabel blended in nicely, and though the series remained interesting, some of the original magic dissipated.
That dissipation was magnified with Mako Mermaids. This series is sort of an inverse H2O where mermaids get legs to go on land instead of girls becoming mermaids. The three leads of Mako, Lucy Fry (Lyla), Ivy Lattimer (Nixie), and Amy Ruffle (Sirena) spend a lot of time antagonizing each other and those around them. Lattimer tries too hard to be funny, and the writing of her character doesn't help. It seems the writers didn't know what to do with her. Her only lighter moment is one episode where she befriends a boy who has runaway from his parents.
The three girls are joined by Chai Romruen (Zac), as a boy who accidentally becomes a merman. Once that happens the three girls are banned from their mermaid pod and left to fend for themselves. The plot then focuses on the girls trying to get control of Zac, and Zac coming to terms with his newfound powers. Later in the series a trident becomes the second focus, and this just goes round and round until we reach the last four episodes where the show finally gets interesting.
Other secondary characters are a mixed bag. Zac's best friend, Cameron (mostly well played by Dominic Deutscher) is unfortunately too mysterious for his own good. He doesn't really get in gear until the last four episodes as well. Until then, he alternates between friend and nuisance to Zac and the girls. Rita, the school principal who (for reasons I won't mention) poses as the girls' aunt, is shamelessly used as a convenient plot device when mermaid lore or magic information is needed, but she is nicely played by Kerith Atkinson.
Gemma Forsyth as Zac's girlfriend, Evie, is for the longest time a one-note character. This is due to the poor writing. Later in the series she finally comes to life and actually integrates properly into the story, actually doing something interesting. Until then she just fights and then makes up with Zac repeatedly. Rowan Hills as David, who Sirena falls for, is too syrupy sweet for my taste, but perhaps young girls, the audience for this series, would like him.
Amy Ruffle (like Indiana Evans before her) is the musical side of the series, and she sings a number of songs. She has a nice voice and of the three girls, she's probably the most appealing. I had a hard time warming up to Lyla (Lucy Fry). She started off as the most antagonistic of the three girls, but in the end, she seemed to have the most interesting character arc, and Fry is probably the best actor of the three. Chai Romruen as Zac spends much of the show being annoyed, confused or proud of his powers, and none of this makes him all that likable. He too has a bit of a character arc, but it takes too long for that to happen. Romruen, like the girls, looks good underwater. He is part Thai, and his Asian features add a nice international element to the show, something missing from H2O.
Although I've got problems with this series, I need to say a few things in its defense. Overall, the show retains a sense of aquatic magic that began not only with H2O, but with the show's predecessor, the feature film Aquamarine, also shot in Australia. And as I've mentioned, the last four episodes really work well. It's just too bad it took so long to get there. The background music is similar to H2O, and just as effective. Despite its drawbacks, I looked forward to each episode and I hope they continue to make more. I'm surprised there aren't more comments about this show.
This series seems to have had a much smaller budget than H2O, but in general it doesn't show. The underwater scenes are exquisitely beautiful, and the use of the Gold Coast locations are nicely integrated. What a remarkable area that is!
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