Tall tale of London boys in Rarotonga is part murder, part supernatural mystery.

The last time shirtless guys in their 20s showed off their Maori tats at the beach was on The GC. Here's another semi-local show, a little under the radar, a little weirder and darker.

New episodes of Tatau (Neon, Fridays) go online weekly on Sky's video-on-demand platform, just in case you needed another place to be overwhelmed by viewing options. (Freeview is keeping actors employed now, too.)

Although it might have escaped a wide publicity campaign here, Tatau was hyped for the UK's BBC3, which might've hoped it had another cult hit in the vein of Being Human (from the same production company) on its hands. BBC America and Touchpaper TV worked with New Zealand's South Pacific Pictures on this part-murder mystery, part travelogue, which goes some way to explaining why you'll hear at least four different accents.

Perhaps the ambitious show is aimed at teens who might warm to it post set-up but so far, it's patchy at best. A couple of lads from London escape their dodgy pasts for an adventure in Rarotonga. Before they leave, Kyle decides (like many clueless tourists and Robbie Williams before him) that he likes the look of a Maori moko and gets one on his arm in Croydon. The Cook Island locals aren't impressed he has no clue about its symbolism. And the new ink may explain - along with the hallucinogens he and his doofus mate decide to take on their first night with the help of a creepy American they meet in the bar - why he keeps seeing a dead girl in the forest and, later, at the bottom of the ocean.


Turns out - duh - she's fine and well and living in New Zealand. But Kyle becomes convinced he's seen the future and must stop the inevitable.

Still with me? It's quite a tall tale.

Despite the exotic locale and cinematography capturing the pristine white beaches, turquoise waters and carefree kids, that's not enough to save it from feeling awkwardly B-grade.

Along the way Kirk Torrance shows up as a rock star-like reverend, and Temuera Morrison plays the patriarch of a wealthy pearl-farming family.

So for novelty value, and local flavour, it's worth tuning in.

It's a shame that's the only reason, as it's not often you see such diversity showing up on international screens.

The cultural aspects and customs, and the smattering of te reo spoken, seem so far at least, authentic. But ultimately this is about two lads wanting to get on the lash in another land, and launching, somewhat unnaturally, into the supernatural.

Their flimsy characterisations don't do British tourists any favours, either. Hero Kyle, (Joe Layton, a deadringer for Anthony Starr in the looks department) won't shut up about the supposed death in paradise.


Meanwhile halfwit Paul, aka Budgie (Theo Barklem-Biggs), spends much of the time making inappropriate digs and trying to get out of trouble.

After attending a church service on the island, he quips, "Ever seen The Wicker Man? I think this is the sequel."

It suggests Tatau should be a comedy-horror too - and in some ways, unintentionally or otherwise, it is.