Not a superhero in sight, but a race of people who live underwater. They look like us, speak like us (well, the Czech among us) and walk with us, but The Aquarians possess an extra gene which allows them to breathe underwater. Due to the Aquarians meeting and mating with landlubbers over time, their population is growing dangerously low. This low-budget sci-fi sitcom follows the remaining numbers. What We Do in the Shallows, as it were.
A Czech comedy TV pilot about water-dwelling non-Mermaids is likely to make nobody’s to-do list in this age of Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and other such ‘premium’ telly, but it really should be. Immediately gripping, it opens with a young couple admiring their baby as it sits comfortably submerged in a bucket of water - before lobbing the infant into the sea to meet its brothers and sisters. A solid set of laughs, even before the opening credits.
The rest of the humour, it should be said, is altogether more dry. Enter suicidal fraudster Ivan Lausman, who discovers that he too is an Aquarian, a realisation he comes to during a failed attempt at drowning himself. In doing so, he inadvertently threatens to alert the police and media to the Aquarians’ existence. The race is on for the Aquarians to find Ivan before it’s too late. Shut him up, murder him or mate with him? It’s all up for grabs.
A more charming version of E4’s The Aliens meets Modern Family, this is an inventive, cheerily surreal TV pilot which shows promise for its own future. Thirteen episodes are available for streaming now on Channel 4’s foreign language service Walter Presents, and if you can drag yourself away from Sky Atlantic long enough, it’s well worth a go. As with all TV series, it’s too soon to say whether the joke will hold up for long (and an hour per episode does feel like too much) but it at least bears dipping one’s toe in the waters to see.