I thought I would post about New Zealand-produced drama today. Two things in particular tickled my tickling-bone: Shortland Street’s “groundbreaking” feature-length mid-season season-closer; and the new sci-fi-lite show This Is Not My Life.
Shortland Street first. Anyone who’s ever watched knows the show is hilariously funny (I’m ignoring the claimed mistake of running a Clayton Weatherston parallel plot here), but one has to wonder what possessed them to get rid of their “key character” with a 90 minute special - I suppose the fact that he’s ex-Coro Street and can actually act makes him worth it. I have to admit, I didn’t watch the whole thing, but my partner’s synopsis was very entertaining. The episode consisted of several characters scrambling around a random forest running away from a dude with a knife and a guy who was the bad guy in every single kidult show ever produced in New Zealand. One character was in pyjamas; the “key character” was at death’s door before reappearing to save the day during an action scene so poorly choreographed that Uwe Boll would have laughed. The culmination was three people hanging off a cliff made of builder’s foam above a green-screen backdrop that was pretty much just a shift-f5 fill-with-foreground-colour teal.
I want to be quite clear here: We had to rewind and step through to work out what was going on in the action sequences (to be honest we still couldn’t work it out), and the compositing during the cliff sequence was worse than in the 50s sci-fi class The Spider - it was like watching Tim and Eric Awesome Show, only Shortland Street was trying.
So, in all, poor marks for plot, creativity, and technical competence. I have one solution for the action sequence problem - do like Michael Bay, fill the thing with explosions, then it doesn’t really matter what’s going on. All said though, still a lot of laughs.
Which brings us to This Is Not My Life. Hyped over a short period by One with promos featuring one of my favourite songs, it couldn’t hurt to try, right?
Wrong. This is the single most derivative work of televisual production I’ve seen in a long time. Mostly drawing on Paul Verhoeve’s Total Recall, with strong doses of The Truman Show, Stepford Wives and just about any ultra-modern-everything-is-white film (THX 1138, the original Solaris, and so forth), the show centres on a dude living in a utopian/dystopian community somewhere in future New Zealand where everything is strictly controlled, the nanny state is omnipresent, energy is rationed and paper is defunct (maybe Rodney Hide part-funded it), and people’s memories are controlled by a chip implanted in their brain. Sound familiar? It should do.
Weirdly though, it doesn’t appear to be familiar to The Listener’s TV columnist Dana Wichtel, who even went so far as to applaud a sequence where the hero attempts to escape in a tiny voice-controlled car which won’t respond to his commands or “just go, ahh crap” - “Crap is not a location I understand.” Of course, Verhoeven directed this same sequence 20 years ago in Total Recall:
Quaid: drive! drive! Johnnycab: Would you please repeat the destination? Quaid: Anywhere! Just go! Go! Johnnycab: Please state a street and number. Quaid: Oh, shit! Shit! Johnnycab: I'm not familiar with that address.
It seems very odd to me the Wichtel gives a glowing review without pointing out that such a sequence has been lifted almost directly. Has she never watched movies? Or sci-fi? Review fail, either way.
Still, after the anger subsided, I was left with a show that, again, was unintentionally funny enough to be a vaguely enjoyable watch. So, things are heading in the right direction on these shores anyway: Fewer reality shows, more sci-fi.
SEE! Inane celebrity news conquers the Life & Style headlines. And on a Monday morning too: for shame! Newspapers are seething with Life & Style articles on weekends, surely you had more to choose from…
Brian Edwards writes, in his piece about Chris Carter’s failboat sailing in one last time,
Q. Can Goff win the next election?
A. Probably not. But the honeymoon is definitely ending. The electorate is beginning to see Key’s shameless, give-them-anything-they-want populism as weak leadership. And the promise of ‘catching up with Australia’ already looks hollow.
Now, it’s now secret I’m a lefty, but I’d like to think I have some semblance of balance when it comes to my analyses of my situation, and I’m not sure I see any evidence of this at all. I mean the end of the honeymoon, not the shameless populism and weak leadership, that’s pretty hard to miss.
All-in-all, I think mainstream media’s coverage of this was surprisingly good, given how awful it has been up until now. Perhaps they’re all a little sad that they’ll be losing their favourite toy.
Whereby we predict the content of stuff.co.nz’s “entertainment” section for the next few months. We use the word “lesbian” here loosely, because we can’t remember what that term is that people use to describe girl-on-girl-for-dudes’-approval.
And of course, the original… Although the original was last year, when stuff ran the exact same story with either Scarlett Johansson or Megan Fox as the target.
To be fair, this probably says more about our rotten society than it does about Stuff. I mean, we already know that they’re mindless hacks just splooging out whatever draws hits.
I missed this, but Brian Edwards didn’t. For the record, I completely agree, and it’s nice that someone smarter than I and with an enormous wealth of experience in the field would enunciate the thing that really gets my goat about the whole Chris Carter thing. That is, no matter how Carter should have acted or whether or not he was wrong to do the things that he did, both TV networks can’t help but tie the whole thing to his sexuality. In this day and age, that sort of thing should be long gone, but it’s not. Apparently we’re afraid of The Gays and angry that they Spend Our Money and Take Our Jerbs.
As an aside, the loony-commentator explosion on that post is splendid. Especially when the Uncle Joe Stalin gets dragged out. Helengrad, anyone? Actually, that’s not hilarious. Millions of people dying is not the same as someone disagreeing with your conspiracy theory.
Duuuuuuuude. “It’s a No-Brainer”? Bad form, bad form.
Good on you though, ODT, your puns will not back down in the face of adversity. You’re an example to us all.
That’s really all one can say.
Another warning about believing statistics -
By way of Public Address.
Not even remotely surprising, but if I had anyone around me who wasn’t already choir, I’d be singing this at them.
3 News this evening led with the news that the government will announce a full backdown on their proposal to open up national parks for mining. Not a big surprise, really for a populist leader to follow the overwhelming public opinion on the matter (I like to think of it as “government without actually having to know anything about anything”*). But the point of this story is that, after allowing their sub-Duncan Garner comedy-political-reporter-stand-in’s report, they ran a told-you-so epilogue, playing a clip of Duncan Garner back in March saying that we could maybe expect a backdown in the following weeks.
Well, duh. Honestly, if you’re proud that he worked that one out, then things are worse than I though. I mean, I’m not a fan of this sort of thing in general (they do it over on One all the time: “Yesterday we broke this awesome story and now things are happening and it’s all because of us!”) but this one is particularly sad. Next, I suppose they’ll claim victory because Garner will have predicted that some of the National Party’s policies will be appealing to business-types.
*And let’s be fair, surely if he came across as knowing something about something he wouldn’t be the affable, approachable, down-to-earth average joe millionaire that the media keeps telling us he is.
Words fail me. And them. -
I guess I was naive to think things over at Stuff couldn’t get stupider.