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Pop CultureNovember 6, 2015

Television: The Spinoff’s TV Week – Ominous Reviews, Trans-Tasman Columns and Rugby News

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Bringing together the best, worst and weirdest TV moments of the week, including the mighty All Blacks parade and the mockumentary charms of The Muppets

Everybody Loves Hils and Mike

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The brave and humble New Zealand Men’s Rugby Team returned home from a successful World Cup campaign on Wednesday, and almost every member of the 3 News team was out in force to capture the triumphant victory parade. Although the All Blacks were the event’s main attraction, Victoria Park’s midday revellers were also starstruck by the sight of powerful news duo Hilary Barry and Mike McRoberts, along with sport’s Hamish Mackay, broadcasting live from a scaffolding pedestal in the middle of the park. As soon as they arrived a man in a RWC2011 volunteer’s jacket sprinted behind them like a greyhound shouting “Mike! Mike!” so he could snap a photo – not even a selfie but a straight up pap shot! – and a steady stream of fans followed suit over the following two hours. “We love you Hilary!” one woman shouted. “Really!”

(Click here to read the full story from the All Blacks’ Auckland parade) / CH

The Muppets Mock the Mockumentary

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Sunday night on TV2 saw the premiere of the new Muppets series, shot in a documentary style not unlike The Office or Parks and Recreation. These days, our favourite felt friends are toiling away on Miss Piggy’s late night TV show – Up Late With Miss Piggy. Kermit is in charge, Sam the Eagle is chief censor. Fozzie is the warm up guy. It’s 30 Rock with puppets –  but what is it actually saying about the state of mockumentary in comedy? “What an overused device!” Gonzo sniffs in a talking head, only to cut directly to his own praise of the convention in a group meeting. Could these puppets, the fakest of them all, be spitting some very real truths about the death of the faux-documentary in comedy? Maybe, but it’s still pretty funny (click here to to read my full review). / AC

800 Words Moves to New Zealand

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The latest addition to Australian TV’s seemingly endless supply of broadly likeable family comedy-dramas, 800 Words finally landed on TV One on Thursday night. At its centre is George Turner, a man whose sole responsibility in his idyllic life was seemingly to write a weekly 800-word newspaper column, until his wife died and left him to figure out what the hell to do with himself and his teenage kids. Bereaved and midlife crisis-stricken, he relocates them to a small coastal New Zealand town full of jokers, weirdos and an improbably high number of single women. While what we hear of his famed column makes it seem like it would be utterly unreadable, George and the rest of the cast – some Aussies, some familiar Kiwi faces – are an easily watchable bunch. The South Pacific Pictures / Channel 7 co-production was an instant smash hit in Australia, and with generous heapings of dad jokes and good-hearted sentimentality it will undoubtedly repeat that success this side of the Tasman. / CH

3D Under Review


This week came with the tragic news that current affairs show 3D is going under “review”, which sounds scarily like the euphemism that John Campbell was just going “up North to live on the farm.” The Spinoff’s Editor Duncan Greive wrote an impassioned opinion piece on the importance of 3D to TV3, and to public interest (click here to read the whole piece) / AC

“One of the key roles of government is to keep its citizens safe, with preventing them from burning to death high up that list. And 3D was one of the last places that kind of public interest story could be told at the length it requires, in front of an audience large enough to force change from the relevant parties. Now MediaWorks has seemingly deemed the show a relic, a style of journalism no longer relevant in 2015. Too costly.”

No Nathan For You For Us

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For all the new blockbuster shows that we are getting fast-tracked from the States, the most glaring omission in New Zealand’s present TV line-up is the latest season of a truly genius show called Nathan For You. The first season of the reality/comedy show aired here last year, and we named it one of our favourite new shows of 2014 (click here for the full list). Helping out failing small businesses, “expert” Nathan Fielder comes up with inventive new ways to turn a profit. Whether it be through making a poo-flavoured yoghurt, serving up microscopic free pizzas or creating a discount mall Santa in the summer, his ideas often defy belief – even more so when they actually work. The real people involved face absurd situations, with the blank-faced Nathan Fielder as their deranged deadpan ringmaster. It is a crime against humanity that Comedy Central haven’t picked up the gauntlet on this one, so I implore you to soak in as many Youtube clips as you can. / AC

Watch: Wild Things on TV2 at 6:00pm Saturday – new British game show featuring animal costumes and obstacle courses looks stupid, but could it actually be total genius?

Binge: Hoff the Record on Lightbox (click here to watch) – David Hasselhoff stars in this mockumentary about trying to relaunch his flagging career on the bleak beaches of Britain.

Movie: Mean Girls on TV2 at 7:00pm Saturday – the timeless Lindsay Lohan classic leads off a Saturday night triple-feature of movies with strong female leads, as Netflix would say. It’s followed by Raising Helen and Easy A.


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