The new Kiwi-Canadian thriller The Sounds, which features stunning scenery and a layered storyline, premiered today in the US, Canada, and UK.

The Sounds on Acorn TV
The Sounds: Rachelle Lefevre as Maggie Cabbott and Matt Nable as Jack McGregor — Photo © South Pacific Pictures, courtesy of Acorn TV

The Sounds opens with two people in a struggle with each other in the water. It’s not immediately clear who they are or when this event takes place, but it will be.

Not at all violent (but not without drama, either) is the drive that Tom Cabbott (Matt Whelan, The Luminaries) and his wife, Maggie (Rachelle Lefevre, Under the Dome), make to Pelorus, the quaint harborside town on New Zealand’s South Island that the happily-married but still-childless couple will call home. It is here that Tom is setting up his sustainable aquaculture business, a salmon fishery, that is expected to bring new jobs and revenue to this economically-challenged town and to leave as small a footprint as possible on the environment. The town is also on the other side of the world from Tom’s family, specifically his tyrant of a father, in Canada — another reason for choosing Pelorus for his first solo business venture.

Like the drive over, the public ceremony for the deal-signing has its own bit of drama in the form of Pania Cottle (Vanessa Rare, Last Man Standing), a vocal local protesting Tom’s “soul-sucking greed.” Later there’s a scuffle between Tom and another man, witnessed by Maggie, which sparks more marital discord before they settle in for their first night together in six weeks, made more special by being on their beautiful boat, the Maggie, in the middle of the bay.

As it turns out, it would be their only night together on the boat.

The next morning, when Tom doesn’t return to the boat from kayaking, Maggie sends out a distress call. Answering it is Police Chief Jack McGregor (Matt Nable, Mr Inbetween), who organizes a search for Tom. Meanwhile, Maggie finds drug paraphernalia hidden in the boat’s life jacket compartment, followed by Kat Hines (Tandi Wright, 800 Words), leader of the search and rescue team, finding the empty kayak overturned. Things don’t look good, so Maggie calls Tom’s brother, Nate (Josh McKenzie, The New Legends of Monkey)), in Vancouver to inform the family.

Although Frank (John Bach, Janet King) treats Tom miserably, the latter is still the former’s son, so Frank pulls his financial investigator, Esther Ishikawa (Emily Piggford (The Girlfriend Experience), off of her current assignment of finding Frank’s stolen money, and sends her to Pelorus to find his missing son. Unlike most of the townspeople, who are warm and welcoming, Esther is low on the emotional intelligence scale and has commensurate people skills.

Elsewhere in Pelorus, Jack’s daughter, Zoe (Anna-Maree Thomas, The Brokenwood Mysteries), is in deep trouble with a powerful local criminal, while her dad and sister, Hannah (Morgana O’Reilly (Wentworth), and now Maggie, look after her 8-month-old daughter. And Stuart McGregor (Peter Elliott, Tarzan), Jack’s brother and Tom’s business partner, is trying to prevent Pelorus Salmon from going under before it even gets going, all while taking care of his ill wife, Annette (Sara Wiseman, A Place to Call Home).

With the search effort having turned up Tom’s mobile phone but not his person, Jack and his team shift gears to a recovery operation. This does yield a result, a very unpleasant one, and soon the search for Tom is officially called off. Still at it, though, is Esther, who continues ruffling feathers while using her skills as an “expert who can find anything” to get info on Tom’s business for Frank. What she turns up leads to more questions than answers. The same can be said for Maggie, who’s been doing some digging of her own and learns things about her husband that she never would have guessed in their twenty years together.

For certain of the townspeople as well as Maggie, these recent events rip open long-buried wounds and expose the truth behind all the facades. And when all is said and done, none of their lives will ever be the same again.

As noted earlier, The Sounds is a slow-burn thriller. But when it begins to pick up a wee bit of pace mid-way through, it also starts to get much more interesting. And as an armchair detective (not that this is a whodunit, mind you), I started to have what would be a number of  slap-on-the-forehead “I could’ve had a V8®!” moments — such is 20/20 hindsight about all the details I missed.

So, a tip of the hat to series creator and writer Sarah-Kate Lynch — who has written for another Kiwi series (800 Words) and is a best-selling author (The Wedding Bees) — for her crafty plotting and storyline reveals. And props to the show’s production team (and Mother Nature!) for the fabulous shots of the magnificent scenery in and around Marlborough Sounds.

Costars in the eight-part drama include Tainui Tukiwaho (Step Dave), Adam Brown (The Hobbit), and Emma Fenton (Filthy Rich).

The Sounds, an Acorn TV Original series, will continue on Monday, September 7, with its third episode, exclusively on Acorn TV and its digital channels, including Acorn TV on Amazon Channels. New episodes will be released weekly through October 12.


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The Sounds: Slow-Burn New Zealand-Canadian Thriller Premieres in the US
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