Shortland St. Two words which make TVNZ’s ad sales warriors 50% stronger while TV3’s equivalents suppress waves of nausea at the very mention. For 22 long years it has had a monopoly on the New Zealand soap scene, but news broke Wednesday that from 2015 it will finally have competition. TV3 have announced plans for a five-nights-a-weeker of their own, and invited interested individuals to submit their own ideas.
This was more temptation than we could possibly bear at young up-and-coming kiwi battler TV site The Spinoff, so we’ve assembled a crew of contributors to have a run at their own concepts for the show. We discovered two things in assembling them. 1. This is harder than it looks, even when you’re writing something intentionally awful and 2. You get really attached to even awful ideas. Now, to the pitches…
Side note: in case any execs are prowling these halls, the ideas all remain © the authors so no thieving the genius OK?
Tagline: A high stakes (and low calorie) drama
Finally NZ’s love for daily workplace drama catches up with our ever growing love for self-serve frozen yoghurt in Frozen Hearts, a high stakes (and low calorie) drama following the lives and loves of the staff and customers at a semi-gourmet self serve frozen yoghurt shop in Mission Bay.
Tamati Dobbyn, a hulking Maori yoghurt chef who has inherited the store from his father. Used to be in a motorcycle gang. Takes his shirt off in episode 3.
Brooke Babeson, a total babe and occasional total bitch till operator, with aspirations of taking over the store and/or eating all the M&Ms when no one is looking.
Craig Temptation: A rugged ex-farmhand who has taken up driving the forklifts at the yoghurt warehouse. Melts hearts, and also yoghurt (he is a very slow forklift driver).
The Mitchell family, a caring family unit who all voted for National. Have between three and seventeen mysterious cousins in Australia who might pop over from time to time.
Carrie Babeson: Brooke’s twin sister. Dies topically.
Mason Shithead, a little shithead with a penchant for drugs and gangs
Ngaire Antagonist, old fashioned despot and head of the National Yoghurt Administration board. Wears pant suits. Fucked Tamati at the Christmas party.
Chris Warner (no relation), a successful and attractive doctor/customer with a taste for adultery and over-doing it with the Oreos. What? It’s a coincidence. You can’t just trademark the name Chris Warner. That is a very common name.
Joseph Moore: a vegan who can’t eat anything at the frozen yoghurt shop and quietly resents his friends for taking him there.
Producers note to TV3: can we film a few episodes per year in Rarotonga? Thanks.
Tagline: They wanted the good life, they got Waiheke.
Chris Vance (Peter Elliot) is a successful Auckland businessman growing tired of the ethically questionable manner with which he made his money. So he sells up and moves his reluctant wife Hannah (Robyn Malcolm) and two teenage kids over to Waiheke Island for a new lifestyle.
They purchase an old bed and breakfast and plan to re-open it as a holistic healing and convention centre called Island Thyme. Chris and Hannah face a lot of local resistance to their presence, and are forced to become engaged in island politics.This brings them into contact with the island’s power hierarchy, at the top of which sits the unofficial ‘Mayor of Waiheke’, a local vineyard owner/former broadcaster played by Roy Billing.
Meanwhile, the teenage son gets mixed up with a gang of local ne’er-do-wells, while the daughter comes under the thrall of The Lavender Lady (Miranda Harcourt), a local guru whose compound resembles a cult.
Also, there are issues with commuting.
NEWELL ST WATCH
Tagline: How well do you know your neighbours?
Gritty kitchen-sink-interactive-crime-soap about a family on sleepy Newell St in Point Chevalier – several months after The Block has wrapped. The Newell St family will consist of a Dad (Shane Cortese) and a Mum (Nerida Cortese), who have just welcomed a baby into their family home (played by the currently unborn child of The Block’s Quinn and Ben, who will be obligated to appear by birth due to some Mediaworks small print).
In the pilot, their youngest daughter Cassie (played by Cassie from X Factor (also bound by residual contractual obligation) chases her unruly ball across to the yard of one of The Block houses. She finds a dismembered arm wrapped in Alex and Corban’s saggy curtains a la Twin Peaks.
The suspected murder quickly tears the seaside community apart, placing blame on everyone from the affable yet deeply lonely postie (Mark Richardson) to the moody adopted teenage son of the Cortese family (played by Colin Mathura-Jeffree).
The audience will be invited to help solve the vicious crime via revisiting old episodes of The Block and looking for clues that have since been digitally inserted (transmedia: giant tick). There will be a clue hotline hosted by Fletch & Vaughan live after each episode (make that two giant ticks).
The killer will eventually be caught in a cliffhanger Christmas in the Park episode. But the drama doesn’t stop there! The stories of the people of Newell St are forever intertwined: Cassie has found a love interest in saucer-eyed rookie policeman Evan (played by recently ejected Evan from Shortland St). Colin, after undergoing DNA sampling during the murder investigation, is about to find out who his real parents are. And postie Mark, well he’s about to deliver the package of his life.
LATE NIGHT LIGHTS
Tagline: The stories nobody else can get
Late Night Lights takes us behind the scenes of an evening talk show hosted by former infomercial queen Sandra P (played by Judith Collins). The series centres on the daily tensions that surface between her and her executive producers (Jennifer Ward-Lealand and Peter Daube) and research team (James Rolleston, Josh Thomson, Pebbles Hooper and the girl who won X Factor) as they battle for ratings – and for love.
In the pilot episode, recently divorced Sandra P tries out ‘Tinder’ for the first time and makes a match with a cameraman from the cooking show next door. She’s also surprised to find that her executive producer is on there and frets about whether to swipe left or right.
Josh spends the afternoon at the hospital, trying to find a doctor who’ll come on the show to talk about ebola, while James and Pebbles travel to Albany to investigate a karaoke joint who have been filming their customers and putting the videos online.
The pilot ends in the studio where one of the executive producers (Jennifer Ward-Lealand) is on the phone, wondering whether the show needs a new host – not realising that Sandra P is still there, waiting for the cooking show cameraman to wrap up.
ONCE WERE HARAWIRAS
Tagline: Mana, is a four letter word.
Having made an embarrasing forced exit a graceful step down from the hustle and bustle of parliament, Hone Harawira is looking forward to a relaxing retirement with a bit of gardening and the occasionalSunday afternoon hikoi. Unfortunately Hone’s about to find out that life after the beehive, still packs the occasional sting!
Think Curb Your Enthusiasm meets Crooked Earth in the winterless North as Hone and his Whanau (the cast and crew of The Dark Horse) try to have it all. There’ll be love, romance, and a shit tonne of aroha. And if the ratings aren’t high enough, we can always chuck in some racist subplot about gangs. Maybe even put Lawrence Makoare in there somehow.
With the role of Kim Dot Com played with subtlety and thoughtfulness by Taika Waititi in a party hire sumo suit (top-knot and all!) and a script written almost entirely in Te Reo Maori, this show is a can’t miss. Afterall, if there’s one thing middle New Zealand loves, it’s a Maori speaking Maori.
Presented by TV3 in association with the Mana Movement
Tagline: A new perspective on life awaits… next door.
A young, white middle class couple with two young kids buy property in what they’re told will be The Next Grey Lynn, only to find that they’re one step ahead of the gentrification curve. Drama, hilarity and well-meaning ignorance ensues.
The Man (Arthur Meek), an advertising ‘creative’, falls for the precocious university student living next door (Lani Says). He teaches her about Lena Dunham, the New Twitter Feminism (lends her Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist), and pour-over coffee. She teaches him about living with authenticity, taking him to the market and showing him how humble ingredients can nourish the soul.
The Woman (Miriam Pierard), a mother looking to re-enter the work force. She used to work in PR (that’s how they met) and do cocaine, but now, inspired by her new surroundings, she starts Getting Involved In The Community and decides to start studying to become a social worker (“I just really… care… about people,” she tells her partner (they’re not married – too modern for that) tearily when, in the pilot episode, she wonders what to do post-children.
Tagline: Can you pick it all back up when prices go down?
Property Magnate Stuey Terepisos (Chris Warner from Shortland St – a big money poaching to kickstart ratings) seemed to have it all: a beautiful wife, five handsome children, a terrible pro football team and best of all heaps of sweet, sweet cash. But then an Indian property magnate with an even worse football team scammed him out of his last $500k in working capital just as the market turned. His over-leveraged empire crashed down around him, leaving him bankrupted, his coolguy lifestyle a fading memory.
The show opens six months later, with Jerry now head janitor of the Millennium Mile, the building he once ruled from the penthouse suite. His family has split in two, with Stuey solo parent to the three younger Terepisos siblings (played by the three former Harry Warners from Shortland St) while scheming to get back in the commercial property game.
He’s blocked at every turn by his eldest son Antonio, (Evan Cooper from Shortland St) who – in a madcap twist no one will see coming – is now building manager at Millennium. He’s lost his pro football contract with Dad’s team after the bankruptcy, and dribbles a football up and down the hallways, looking for minor maintenance issues which need urgent attention. His signature “STUUUUEY!” catchphrase is sure to become a kiwi classic.
The females of the family openly scorn their father. His beautiful wife Margiela (Wendy Cooper from Shortland St) has now become the paramour of arch rival Bob Cojones (Murray Cooper from Shortland St), a bald Mexican property magnate and horrible newspaper columnist across town. His only daughter Sabrina (Jasmine Cooper from Shortland St) had set up an Occupy movement in the lobby to protest her father’s wealth before the crash, and never bothered to move out. Their sanitary arrangements lead to a neverending supply of janitorial issues for long-suffering Stuey!
Will Jerry rebuild his fortune and win Margiela back? Will Sabrina achieve an end to global inequality? Will Antonio make division one at indoor? Find out on tonight’s FAMILY VALUES!
End note: It is important to note that even writing these terrible pitches drove our writers mental, giving us all newfound respect for those poor men and women who do this for real. It must be a terrifying experience. And even more respect for Shortland St itself, taking Greg McGee’s genius location – a private hospital figuring out its role in the public system – and making it a vehicle to display New Zealand life and challenge our assumptions and just generally make New Zealand a slightly less bad place every single night (I truly believe this). It’s impossible to over state how excited we are for TV3’s new entrant.
We all now want to watch our terrible shows – and would love to read your own terrible ideas in the comments if you have some.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.