Comedy Pilot Week is upon us. Here’s what you need to know

Three’s Comedy Pilot Week starts this Sunday night on Three – but what is this newfangled thing? Sam Brooks gives you the low down.

Five new shows over four nights? Isn’t there already enough TV to consume?

Yes, reader, there is. But this one is worth your time, even in this age of peak TV, which is media-talk for ‘literally if you spent your entire day watching all the TV someone tells you to watch, you would still not get through even a fraction of it’.

Three’s Comedy Pilot Week is based on a format that the ABC network in Australia pioneered last year. What happens is that a whole bunch of people make pilots (that’s industry speak for first episodes, which is kind of like a proof of concept) which are then broadcast for an entire week. The decision of which show goes to series (that’s industry speak for ‘gets more episodes’) is made based on ratings and public votes. These votes are collated through social media, with the handy and sensible hashtag #ComedyPilotWeek.

It’s kind of a genius idea, and it’s a way to gauge response to your show without shilling out an entire NZ on Air grant. You invest a little bit widely, gauge response, and then invest big in the one that does well.

But enough commentary on the idea and how genius it is – it’s only genius if it works and only genius if the shows are good. So what are the actual shows?

Luckily for you, I’ve got you covered on what the shows are, when they’re on, who made them, who’s in them, and all the information you could possibly want!

Mean Mums screens on Sunday night ad stars Morgana O’Reilly, Anna Julienne and Aroha Rawson.

Mean Mums (Sunday night, 8:30PM)

What’s it about?

Jess’ only son starts school, and with school comes a world of know-it-all, judgmental, passive-aggressive women. Hilarity likely ensues.

Who made it?

South Pacific Pictures, venerable makers of shows such as Shortland Street and Westside. The writer is Amanda Alison, who also wrote Three’s web-series for children ‘Lucy Lewis Can’t Lose‘.

Who’s in it?

Morgana O’Reilly plays Jess, who you might remember from being campily fabulous and fantastic as a villain on Neighbours, or making a mark as New Zealand’s best (and potentially only) Scream Queen™ in Housebound. The other leads are Anna Julienne, who is likely still most famous for playing fan favourite Maia on Shortland Street, and Aroha Rawson, who was fantastic in Mahana and it’s frankly awesome to see her in a lead role.

Sidelines premieres on Monday, and stars Nick Rado, Tarun Mohambai and Cohen Holloway.

Sidelines (Monday night, 8:30PM)

What’s it about?

Sidelines follows four parents who are reluctantly forced together every Saturday morning because their children play sports together. Hilarity, obviously, ensues.

Who made it?

The production company is The Laugh Club – and the writers are Nick Rado and Tarun Mohambai, who also write for 7 Days, which you might know as one of the shows that air before The Spinoff TV.

Who’s in it?

Rado and Mohambai are in it themselves, along with Cohen Holloway (who also stars in Mangere Vice) and Kiwis of Snapchat sensation Tom Sainsbury.

The Lonely Hearts airs on Monday and stars bonafide New Zealand icon Ginette McDonald.

The Lonely Hearts Motel (Monday night, 9PM)

What’s it about?

A mum and son run a weird-as-hell looking hotel in Palmerston North that’s about to get closed, when another son and his partner show up to save the day. Hilarity, yes, ensues.

Who made it?

The show is produced by Brown Sugar Apple Grunt Productions. It was written by Millen Baird and Siobhan Marshall, Auckland Daze writer and the actress who played Pascalle in Outrageous Fortune! Baird co-directed it with Kiel McNaughton who was one of the writers and producers of Auckland Daze as well, and McNaughton co-produced it with Kerry Warkia. Warkia and McNaughton are a producing super couple who brought us last year’s tremendous, Waru.

In short: These people have all worked together a lot. The tapestry of the New Zealand television industry is an overlapping one.

Who’s in it?

New Zealand legend Ginette McDonald plays the mum, Baird himself plays the son. They’re supported by Toby Sharpe, Fasitua Amosa, and Spinoff favourite Angella Dravid.

Golden Boy airs on Tuesday and stars Hayley Sproull, Dean O’Gorman and Kimberly Crossman.

Golden Boy (Tuesday night, 8:30PM)

What’s it about?

A big city journalist gets fired from her job. She returns to her small town where she’s kept under the shadow of her brother, a newly minted All Black.

Who made it? 

It’s produced by Mediaworks Ltd! The writers are Alice Snedden, Nic Sampson, Eli Matthewson and Thomas Ward. The first three are writers for Jono and Ben and Funny Girls, while Thomas Ward comes with (if my googling is correct) a pedigree from Australian series Please Like Me. It’s also directed by Jackie Van Beek, director of The Breaker-Upperers.

Who’s in it?

The multi-talented actress-slash-Bake-Off-host-slash-comedian Hayley Sproull plays Mitch, and the rest of the cast is rounded out with Dean O’Gorman, Angella Dravid, Kimberly Crossman and Boy himself James Rolleston.

Mangere Vice airs on Wednesday, and stars Cohen Holloway and Iaheto Ah Hi.

Mangere Vice (Wednesday night, 8:30PM)

What’s it about?

It’s a parody cop show set in the mean streets of South Auckland, following the travails of street-smart detective Robbie Kingi and his new partner – a preppy church boy from Epsom, Detective Povi Va’a. Hilarity, as I’m sure you’ve guessed by this point, does ensue.

Who made it?

Adrenalin Group, who also made the Stacey Morrison fronted show Whanau Living and popular doco-series Aotearoa. It’s created by Bradley Walker, who worked on the aforementioned shows, and written by Damon Fepulea’i, who’s directed many documentary-type things, as well as popular New Zealand short film Watermark.

Who’s in it?

Cohen Holloway! Iaheto Ah Hi! Breaker-Upperers break-out Ana Scotney! New Zealand legend Rachel House! A whole bunch of cool people, essentially.

You can watch the trailers for all these shows right here at Three


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