coverGrade:  B+
Entire family:  Yes
2007, 26 episodes (650 min.), Color
Unrated (would be PG for mild thematic elements)
New Video
Aspect ratio:  1.78:1
Featured audio:  Dolby Digital 2.0
Bonus features:  F


When Lost was on television, my wife and I stayed up to watch episodes with our son—much to the dismay of our young daughter, who was excluded because it wasn’t appropriate for her age level.

H2O: Just Add Water has the same addictive quality, only every member of the family can watch. Lost was pitched at adults, but teens also got caught up in it; this show about three teen girls who become mermaids targets teens and ‘tweens, but it hooks pre-‘tweens and parents as well. We’ve watched in marathon sessions of six or so episodes in a row, and the kids will still say, “One more.”  They’re not alone. Only two seasons with a 52-episode arc were planned, but fan demand forced the producers to come up with a third series.

In this show, as in Lost there’s a mysterious island that holds a secret, and like Bewitched those with powers use them secretly and try to conceal them from others. That leads to both comic situations and also tension over whether they’ll be discovered.

And of course there’s a bit of The Little Mermaid and Splash in this series, which was first broadcast on Australian television, then went the TV equivalent of “viral” after being syndicated worldwide.

H2O: Just Add Water is about three teens who end up transformed by an event at Mako Island so that every time water touches any part of their skin they change into mermaids. It sounds gimmicky, but the mermaid angle really adds a fun level to an otherwise typical teen and family comedy-drama.

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. 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.

castRikki (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 when Lewis meets a strange man who seems to know all about Mako Island.

Both the picture quality and visual effects seem stronger this second season, and the location Australian filming adds more interest. Like Season 1, Season 2 of H2O: Just Add Water is a winner. And unlike so many American TV series aimed at a younger audience, the adults aren’t complete dopes and the kids aren’t disrespectful snots.