Two key Spinoff writers Alex Casey and Joseph Moore share a dirty little secret: they’ve never seen any of the defining ‘important’ TV shows of our time, and are trying desperately to catch up. During this week of Ferndale appreciation, there is no more ‘important’ viewing than the first ever episode of Shortland Street. //
Alex: Kia ora, welcome to Shortland Street! That’s something Marj didnt say in the first episode that I was sure she did!
Joseph: Kia ora, welcome to this conversation.
Alex: Kia ora. What did you think of Shortland Street episode ONE
Joseph: It was pretty good. Don’t see it lasting very long.
Alex: I know, I don’t know what they were thinking. That diverse range of characters. That perfect hospital setting for tonnes of drama, romance and action. Idiots.
Joseph: This ep gets straight bloody into it with a big ol’ car crash right off the bat.
Alex: Not just any car crash, a PREGNANT CAR CRASH!
Joseph: a TEENAGE PREGNANT CAR CRASH!
Alex: a TEENAGE PREGNANT CAR CRASH WITH THE SON OF THE AMBO OFFICER BEING THE FATHER OF THE BABY!
Joseph: Luckily the ambo drives into a normal hospital with a by-the-books staff just having a normal day. First of all, there’s no doctor on duty when she arrives! As pointed out by the very impatient Tara who, in this performance, invented the now iconic (and oft imitated) acting style of “belligerent Ferndale teen”. The wonderfully hostile tone that so many young actors would use to say “stuff off!” many times over in the years to come.
Alex: Harry Warner has sure adopted the Tara method. Tara is seriously peeved because she has a sore wrist – probably from doing the fingers to adults every two minutes or so eh? But Doctor Chris Warner is nowhere to be seen…
Joseph: Chris shows up, probably in the greatest television entrance of all time, in the mirror of a sexy aerobics gym. I can only assume someone in the aerobics class said his name three times.
Alex: Here’s what you do: wear a creepy g-string leaotard over some leggings, do 3 squats and say “Chris Warner, Chris Warner, Chris Warner” into a mirror. And then prepare to have a major SEX workout – that’s actual dialogue from the show, nearly.
Joseph: There was some hardcore innuendo in this episode. Feels like they’ve definitely pruded up in the last 20 odd years.
Alex: Absolutely. Plus, there was a very nudey-ish sex scene for a 7pm timeslot. When Chris and Suzy Aitken bang there is a LOT of skin. Granted it’s all back skin, but it’s skin nonetheless.
Joseph: As a red blooded TV viewer, I’ll take a bit of sexy back over nothing.
Alex: “I’m bring sexy back” – Chris Warner. Anyway, so they are doing it in some sort of changing room with Chris Warner’s Beeper set on No Beeping mode. Meanwhile we’ve got a preggo crash victim about to give birth and a grumpy teen with a hand problem. Is there anyone who can save the day?!?
Joseph: Well, no Alex, because the hospital rule book says only Chris Warner as the on-duty doctor is licensed to save the day. And we’ve got to stick to the hospital rule book, right?
Alex: Yes, even if there is a fully qualified Temuera Morrison doctor with a giant popped collar and the worlds highest pants on waiting in the wings. He simply can’t practice, he hasn’t even had his Guatemala quarantine injections yet.
Joseph: He’s assertive though. That’s what I like in a doctor – someone who just gets on with it despite being told by absolutely everyone that he isn’t allowed to.
I was really interested in how much TK is aping his line delivery these days. I mean sure, they are playing basically the same role (straight-talking alpha-male Maori doctor with a dumb jacket). But his general cadence was basically identical.
Alex: Maybe TK just doesn’t have that Guatemalan worldliness? Plus, there is no need for him to have to constantly step in now that Chris is no longer a crazy Casanova with no beeper on, and more of a baby holding lizard-man.
Joseph: I really liked seeing OG Chris Warner. They talk a bit on the show these days how he used to be Dr. Love, but between the acoustic guitar strums of him leading an “Anchor Me” singalong, I just didn’t see him ever being that. Or ever having had sex.
Alex: Yeah. Like you just imagine Harry was spawned out of the Warner toilet bowl or something.
Joseph: He built him, using doctor skills.
Alex: Chris seemed incredibly young to be a doctor…
Joseph: Michael Galvin was 25 in season one. I don’t find this very realistic, as I am also 25. And I am not the best damn doctor in a fake hospital. And I very seldom have sex with aerobics instructors after saying up to 2 puns.
Alex: You don’t even have a beeper you loser! To be fair, I’m just saying, the guy is pretty hunky. Like a very classical ’90s hunk. Floppy blonde hair et al.
Joseph: I agree he was A+ attractive. I thought everyone was, pretty much. I’ve always had this false idea in my head that people only started being attractive around 2004 or so. Not the case. Who else did we meet? Marj of course, she did some solid admin work.
Alex: I mean, she was okay. She couldn’t be arsed finding Dr Warner so sent her lackey Kirsty along.
Joseph: Kirsty seemed…. fine? I guess there was only 22 minutes or so, not enough to get into the home lives of these soon-to-be Kiwi legends.
Alex: Yeah, but mate I was hooked. It’s annoying because there’s no way in hell I’m watching all of it. That would be a catch up club for the AGES.
Joseph: What a marathon.
Alex: Tem delivers the new baby safely despite potentially getting a growling. The baby is Marj’s grandson? She seems quite chill about this, considering she only just found out that her haphazard son impregnated a girl then had a giant car crash nearly killing her.
Joseph: Which I think sums up this series both then and now quite nicely: people being pretty chill about super dramatic stuff.
Alex: It’s true. Chris returns to the hospital from his bone sesh and he’s really landed in it, we know this because he says “oh god, I’ve really landed in it.”
Joseph: “really landed in it” = Rachel McKenna’s dad yells at you for approx 15 seconds.
Alex: I thought that man had a very luscious head of hair. Strong CEO hair.
Joseph: We get it, Alex, everyone in this show is very very sexually alluring.
Alex: I can’t even imagine how aroused the nation must have been when it first aired.
Joseph: I wonder how many Shortland Street ep one babies there are in this country? If you are reading this and you were born in NZ in early 1993…think about it.
Alex: Yes! Let’s honestly get a survey going. They could technically all be added to Chris Warner’s long sprawling cartoon style parchment list of children.
Joseph: In a way, all New Zealanders are Chris Warner’s children.
Alex: As the anonymous henchman nurse says, “I wouldn’t want to be in Chris Warner’s Gucci loafers right about now!”
Joseph: We’re all coming for our child support payments, Warner. Luckily you have been a full time top doctor since you were 17 or so, so you can probably cover it.
Alex: Freeze frame on Chris Warner’s face, credits roll. Just like the actual ending of episode one.
Joseph: “Is it you or is it me”… Was that song in there?
Alex: I don’t actually think it was. Guess we’ll just have to keep watching till it is.
Joseph: The song: one of so many wonderful things we know are to come on this show which, I can now can say with authority, has been killing it since day one. Killing it and then bringing it back to life.
Alex: Back to life…just like Justine Jones in witness protection AMIIRIIIITE?
Alex: That took me ages, just wanted to end on a cool Shorty reference.
Joseph: I have no idea who that is.