Sunday, September 2, 2018

Pilot Review: Safe Harbour

Safe Harbour (Hulu)
Premiered August 24

Hulu is doing very well for itself at the moment with a slate of highly-acclaimed original series, and it stands to reason that they would want to capitalize on that by importing some great international fare as well. In the spirit of a short series like “National Treasure,” we have this four-episode show from Australian network SBS, which aired down under back in March. Like so many of these other short form series premiering internationally, we’re treated to a big mystery at the start before watching it unfold over the course of the episodes. In this case, seeing a few friends on a relaxing trip happen upon a boat full of stranded asylum seekers gets the intrigue going, with the revelation that the survivors believe that they were abandoned and left to die when they have a casual run-in five years later maybe it infinitely darker and more serious. The excitement expressed at this chance encounter felt inappropriate even if the Australians didn’t think they bore any responsibility in the boat being separated from theirs, and it’s clear that nothing good is going to come from any soul-searching or actual confrontations or conversations about what happened and who bears responsibility. I’ve been feeling more willing than usual to indulge some of these short shows, but this one, however worthwhile the premise might seem, didn’t manage to capture my attention. One person or more than one might have been responsible for cutting the rope, but I don’t know how much more complex or stirring that could really end up being.

How will it work as a series? Four episodes is probably just the right amount of time to explore the events at sea, chronicling both what happened to get both groups of people there and where they went in the meantime. It could be interesting, but it doesn’t strike me as truly gripping.
How long will it last? From what I can find, reviews were pretty good when the show premiered in Australia, but the ratings weren’t quite as spectacular. Hulu definitely isn’t going to be producing original episodes of this show if SBS doesn’t commission a second season, so it will be up to the Australians to decide if there’s more to this story or some new angle and storyline for a second series.

Pilot grade: C+

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