TL;DR – This has an intriguing premise and a clear visual style but struggles in areas like how it represents some of the conflicts.
Disclosure – I paid for the Paramount+ service that viewed this series.
The Bridge Australia Review –
Regarding competition television shows, they can capture my heart like Survivor and make me watch season after season. Or I bounce off quicker than that time they tried to do Survivor but on a pirate ship. However, I am always looking for something new in this area which is where I found gems like Lego Masters. Today, I am looking at the first three episodes of The Bridge Australia to see which side of the coin it will land. Will it suck me in, or will it end up on the bottom of a Tasmanian river?
So to set the scene, there is a river deep in the wilderness of Tasmania, and in that river is a $250,000 prize sitting on an island beckoning them to claim it. All the twelve participants must do is work together and build the titular 330-meter bridge from the materials around them. They have 17 days to work together to get across the island while a guardian blinks with its red light and tempts those making the trip.
The show gets bonus points right out of the gate because of its setting and location. The location in Tasmania is stunning, like sign me up and take me there in a heartbeat, stunning (but not in winter because I am a tropical boy). There are gum (eucalyptus) trees, stained waters, and tree ferns a plenty. Then there is the lodge/cabin they are staying in, which is immaculate. Look, I am a sucker for a lovely herb garden. It works because it is both a little bit fancy while also situated in the world they are creating. Getting the dulcet tones of Hugo Weaving to narrate your show also helps set the mood and tone of a location.
This presentation extends to the visual style that the show is going for. The show has its iconography built-in with the bridge on the water, calm on one side and fought with ripples on the other. Water plays a big part in the nature of the competition and in the show’s visual style, from rain to fog to the rainforest surrounds. Juxtaposed is the red of the ’beacon’ of the island, representing chaos or decision. The light flashes in the distance are a constant reminder, making good visual reference day or night. Then you have the red flares that can go off at any moment and mean that disruption is coming.
The competition itself has a good mix of risk and reward that is common in shows like this, but the difference is the work you must put in. In a lot of competition shows, there are challenges that you have to do intermittently. Today, we have the immunity challenge, or the following location is a roadblock. Here there is one challenge, can you build the bridge, and if you don’t, no one gets any money. This single task focuses the show and provides a source for a lot of the conflict because it is a physically demanding task of which there is a real chance they will not finish. Also, anything the game does that stops people from working on the bridge is an immediate issue.
A show like this lives and dies on its format first and its contestants second, and I think overall, they have done an excellent job of casting the show with a diverse group of people with different life experiences. Getting a team that stretches from a social media manager to a bush poet to work together is one of the critical fracture points but is also one of the show’s strengths because while the threat does exist to remove people from the game, it does not happen at the same speed that makes it a constant menace. The conceit that only one person gets to walk the bridge and they can choose to keep it or share it also comes into play because you all want to be the one making that choice. Even if you want to keep the money for yourself, you have to pretend you must share it, and what if you get offered ten grand now? Would you take it even if it puts heat on you for that final choice? In many competition shows that come out of Australia, there can be this feeling that the conflict you are seeing is manufactured in the edit and not reality. There is a bit of this here, which does distract in places, and I am not sure the show handled some of the conflicts as well as it could have. However, it does feel like a show that is moving at its own speed rather than one that has to be constantly oiled up to move to the next phase.
In the end, do we recommend The Bridge? Well, I would say so far, the central premise has intrigued me, and the visual style help sell everything. I think I will find out who walks that bridge in the end, or if they even manage to finish it.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
Have you seen The Bridge Australia yet ?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Bridge Australia
Based On – El Puente by Zeppelin TV
Production/Distribution Companies – Endemol Shine Australia, Channel 10 & Paramount+
Starring – Hugo Weaving with Jonesy, George, Dean, Rhiannon, Bushie, Tony, Bardie, Madison, Tiana, Maddie, Elliot, Steve & Jessi
Episodes Covered – The Build, Whispers and Lies & Fractures.