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Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

Pop CultureDecember 5, 2022

All the brilliant and bonkers things on Shortland Street this year

Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

Everything you need to know before next week’s Christmas cliffhanger.

No matter how bad 2022 has been, we can take comfort that we do not live anywhere near Shortland Street hospital. In the 30th year of our longest running soap, the unlucky residents of Ferndale have endured one disaster after another, falling in and out of love, losing their fortunes and discovering new family members, and even sleeping with their personal trainers on Chris Warner’s pristine white couch. Not even the fleeting return of Lionel Skeggins could ease the pain of that one for Dr Love.

Despite all the drama Shortland Street packed into this year, there’s still more to come. With only days until the show waves goodbye to 2022 with another cracking Christmas cliffhanger, it’s time to reflect on the Shortland Street year that was.

Shortland Street celebrated a big birthday

Shorty turned 30 and threw a humdinger of a hoolie to celebrate, with surprise appearances from everyone from muffin man Lionel Skeggins to the ghost of Rangi Heremia. The show departed from its usual soapy style to deliver a special two-episode documentary that saw Shortland Street crossover with Seven Sharp, as Hilary Barry rocked up to Ferndale to ask Dr Love the big questions. Regrettably, she did not ask one question about his hair.

Hillary Barry gives Chris Warner the third degree on the Shortland Street 30th anniversary special

A lot of people died

Ferndale funeral directors were rushed off their feet this year, with the dramatic deaths of Tess and Curtis in January and the more recent death of bartender Jojo, killed after her paramedic boyfriend Vili got high and crashed an ambulance. But the most shocking death went to Maeve’s son Wilder, who only last week was murdered by his pastor while being baptised in a swimming pool.

And if they didn’t die, they got really sick

Just as well Shortland Street’s a hospital, right? TK was diagnosed with prostate cancer and Marty caught Covid-19, but nobody suffered more than Damo, who was hit by a bus and left in a coma for approximately 8,000 episodes. Eventually someone remembered he was there and sent him to Nelson for specialised care, and Shortland Street staff farewelled him with an emotional cosplay guard of honour. Damo and Desi left Ferndale for good, but not before giving us one of Shortland Street’s most astonishing dream sequences ever.

Farewell Damo, we salute you

Otherwise everyone lived, laughed, loved

Between the comas and car crashes, love flowed through Ferndale like a poonami of oxytocin. TK and Cece got married, even after TK admitted to having an affair with Te Rongopai. Desi and Damo got hitched too, and Harper and Drew welcomed baby Skye. Dr Marty pashed his way into numerous supply cupboards with an assortment of receptionists and doctors, and Madonna fell in love with conman Marc who claimed to be anesthesiologist but was simply a thief. RIP, her wallet.

The Shortland Street song got an incredible glow up

Is it you or is it me? Thirty years of this iconic theme song, and we’re still looking for answers.

There were some serious storylines

As the Christmas cliffhanger approaches, Madonna has been conned out of her savings and Maeve and Nicole are grieving over Wilder, while nurse Dawn has gone undercover to expose dodgy church Brightshine. Earlier in the year, Chris was accused of sexual harassment and lost his job as CEO, Harper suffered with postnatal depression, and TK learned he had a son that died, only for the fruit of his loins to turn up in ED as locum doctor Gia. But nothing was more alarming than when the government got involved in a Shorty Street storyline, partnering with the soap to encourage the recruitment of medical staff.

Plenty of famous faces visited Ferndale

Celebrities infested the halls of Shortland Street like an uncontrollable virus, with some appearing as themselves while others did something called “acting”. Breakfast’s Indira Stewart sang like an angel at TK and CeCe’s wedding, Bree Tomasel popped up as the host of a TV show, and Clarke Gayford was invited to Damo’s cosplay buck’s night. Even Duncan Garner dropped by, but nothing could top the spectacular three minute long ad that screened during the 30th birthday episodes, which saw everyone from the Briscoes Lady to Simon Dallow to the Ferndale Strangler paying tribute to the show’s success.

Looks like the show, was actually the ad break

David Kearney returned to sort out the hospital’s finances

Chris Warner was thrilled to see his long-lost mate again and all we needed was Nick Harrison photocopying his butt in the nurses’ station to make it really feel like old times.

Plus some really bonkers stuff happened

Ghost Rangi’s cousin Nurse Awhina came back as a detective with a different name, as if she was playing a new character in a fictional soap and this isn’t real life. Dawn was tormented by a doppelganger, Leanne went on a flower stall rampage after lover Ros (Carmen 2.0) dumped her, and Harper punched a mum while out trick-or-treating, who was then immediately shot in a drive-by shooting. But of all the hectic things we saw this year, nothing will beat Damo being caught out doing a Zoom on the loo. A very 2022 turn of events.

Let’s never speak of this again

Chris Warner’s hair was a mess

That one day in May was a terrible, terrible time.

Shortland Street screens Monday-Friday on TVNZ 2 and streams on TVNZ+. The one hour Christmas cliffhanger episode screens on Thursday December 15. 

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