As I wrote in my review of Season 1, “H2O: Just Add Water” is an Australian TV series obviously intended for teen and pre-teen audiences. But the creators and writers add a lot more than water. Every episode of this 2006 series will remind you of other TV shows and films, and that makes the show appealing beyond its target group. Heck, the “Baywatch” style title sequence and catchy theme song is enough to do that.
Like “Lost” there’s a mysterious island that holds the secret behind the lunar phenomenon that transformed the main characters.
Like “Bewitched,” those with powers work them secretly and try to conceal them from others, and that leads to comic situations, but also drama over whether they’ll be discovered.
Like “Power Rangers” and “Wonder Twins,” the effects that signal their transformation can be a little cheesy—though this season the visual effects are actually quite impressive.
And of course there’s a bit of “The Little Mermaid” and “Splash” in this series, which was broadcast on Australian television but went the TV equivalent of “viral” after being syndicated world-wide.
In the show, filmed on location on Australia’s Gold Coast, three 16-year-old girls end up in a boat that drifts out to sea, forcing them to swim to mysterious Mako Island. As a result of an incident in an ancient cave (during a full moon, of course), they’re somehow transformed so that any time afterwards that they touch water—even the tiniest drop—they turn into mermaids with heavy, golden tails and a golden fish-scaled crop top.
Unlike Daryll Hannah’s character in “Splash,” these kids know exactly what will happen if they’re discovered. They’ll end up being dissected as a science experiment or exhibited as freaks of nature. But they have more immediate problems, like navigating the waters of adolescence.
I was curious to see how this show would hold up after the first year, but if anything the writing and general attraction is even stronger the second season because, as in “Lost,” creator Jonathan M. Shiff seems to have a Mako Island mythology in his head and teases us with installments as the series moves forward. These are not stand-alone episodes, but rather a continuing storyline that hooks family members with surprising ease.
Rikki (Cariba Heine), whose special power is that she can make water boil, comes from a lower class than the others. This season we get to meet her father and understand the full circumstances of their modest lives. She continues to date former trio nemesis Zane (Burgess Abernethy), sometimes behind her friends scaly backs, other times out in the open.
Emma (Claire Holt), who was on the swim team before her transformation forced her to give it up and is now able to make water freeze, gets infected this season and behaves quite crazily. But she also finds a boyfriend (Craig Horner as Ash) whose surprise elevation as her boss creates problems.
Cleo (Phoebe Tonkin), is the shy and awkward one who lives on the Gold Coast but somehow ended up being afraid of water and never learned to swim. She can control the form that water takes and also manipulate the wind, but she can’t control the trio’s best male friend, confidante, and science guy Lewis (Angus McLaren), who’s dating an annoying and needy girl named Charlotte (Brittany Byrnes). Cleo dated Lewis in Season 1 but broke it off, and still obviously has feelings for him . . . and vice versa. That triangle forms the basis for much of the Season 2 action, but things get even more complicated with Lewis meets a strange man who seems to know all about Mako Island.
This season, the girls have problems with their powers, new characters add interest, the acting is better than most teen shows you see on TV, and a playful musical score reminds viewers fairly constantly that this show isn’t intended as drama: it’s just plain fun. intended to be fun. The location Australian filming is refreshing, the concept is a combination of campy and intriguing, and the through-plot and sub-plots keep you interested. But it all comes down to characters, and the characters are a likable enough bunch to hang out with from week to week and vicariously experience their fantasy-drama-comedy adventures.
It’s the kind of series that families can enjoy together. There’s nothing in it that the smallest ones can’t see, and strangely enough there’s an intangible something that this show has that makes it addictive for parents as well as children.
Twenty-six episodes are included on four single-sided discs, housed in a standard keep case with individual plastic pages to hold the discs.
“H2O” is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, and there seems to be less grain this season than the first. Colors are true-looking, as are skin tones, and, as I said, the Australian scenery is fun to look at.
The audio is nothing special—what appears to be an English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no frills and no additional audio options or subtitles.
The only bonus feature is a 90-minute telemovie of Season 2, which basically boils down close to 11 hours of material into an hour and a half. I can’t imagine watching that way, which makes me wonder, what’s the point?
“H2O: Just Add Water” picks up speed and interest in Season2, and it has all the elements that make for a good family viewing experience.