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‘Troppo’ Shows Different Side of Australia on Amazon Freevee

Troppo on Amazon Freevee
(Image credit: Amazon Freevee)

Amazon Freevee premieres original series Troppo May 20. It’s an Australian murder mystery starring Thomas Jane and Nicole Chamoun. If your idea of the Australia landscape is arid sand and dirt for as far as the eye can see, Troppo offers a compelling look at a lesser known aspect of the country. 

“It’s on the fringes of civilization, lush with jungle, a tropical climate, monsoons and rain,” said creator/showrunner Yolanda Ramke. “It’s a pretty wild part of the world.”

Ramke, also an executive producer, spoke to B+C from Sydney, and said the part of Far North Queensland, where the show is set, is a good 27-hour drive from her. “It’s long, man,” she said. 

The show is about a guy named Ted, played by Jane, an ex-cop accused of a disturbing crime, who heads to northern Queensland to hide away. He finds himself in a murder and missing person investigation, alongside a complicated woman named Amanda, played by Chamoun. Both are essentially detectives, but don’t carry badges, and are looked at suspiciously by society. 

“Since they don’t have real authority, they have to be resourceful,” said Ramke. “They have to be tricky about the way they attack the case.”

It is based on the book Crimson Lake, by Candice Fox. 

Troppo is an Australian colloquialism, said Ramke, meaning crazy, as if the tropical heat has fried one’s brain. “Gone troppo means the person has gone nuts,” she explained. 

In the novel, Ted is Australian. The producers casted an American actor in Jane, thinking that would help the show travel overseas, and also that the character’s American accent would make it harder for him to hide out. “It puts a more glaring spotlight on somebody who desperately does not want to be noticed,” said Ramke. “With his very distinct American drawl, he stands out like a sore thumb.”

Ramke added that “what started out as a practical consideration turned into juicy creative.”

The jungle setting serves as a bit of a character as well. Ramke mentioned “the idea of that very lush jungle infringing upon civilization and trying to swallow your town, and with wild animals everywhere. You’re living in a place where you’re coexisting alongside predators, human and otherwise. It’s a unique world to visit for eight hours.” 

Troppo has aired in Australia, where Ramke said it was received “really positively.”

She hopes it lands well in the U.S. too. “The show goes to some reasonably dark territory, but there’s quite a bit of levity to be had with the characters,” she said. “The feeling we’re aiming for coming out of the final episode is a sense of compassion, of empathy and hope.”

Viewers will find “there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” Ramke added. ■

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.