Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Good things on the Kiwi box

I realise while I was ranting about the dismal advertising standards in this country, I may have seemed a little hard on New Zealand television. It's not all bad, and in fact there are some good things on the Kiwi box. Here are six of the best.

Outrageous Fortune: simply the best thing Kiwis have come up with in a long time – and, get this, they actually like it before someone overseas told them it was good! Great acting, Shakespearean plots, fantastic script-writing (Tim Balme take a bow) – I am glad this programme was made with the help of funding from New Zealand On Air. I would willingly pay taxes for this show.

Breakfast: worth watching for Paul Henry alone. Controversial and conservative; intelligent and outspoken – he’s what Michael Laws would love to be but never will. I wouldn’t like him but he’s a funny man who makes me laugh with his forthright opinions that he’s not afraid to voice.

He is the antipodean Jeremy Clarkson if you will. No one likes him – he doesn’t care. He has had a succession of interchangeable blonde co-presenters who attempted unsuccessfully to control him. The only one I can remember is Kay Gregory who gave him the ‘will you grow up?’ headshake he so richly deserves – the ensuing giggle proved not. I love a man who’s not afraid to giggle on live television.

7 Days: good but by its very nature it will outlive its potential very soon. The longevity of a panel programme based on Have I Got News For You? is clearly questionable when filmed in a country where the answer is no. It is, however, a great opportunity for Kiwi comedians (some of whom are startlingly good) to gain some TV exposure.

The Crowd Goes Wild: the daily half-hour programme delivers a round-up of the day's sport's news from around the world. It's slightly twisted and largely irreverent. Sure, they cover a lot of stuff that I don’t consider to be sport (X-games; beach volleyball) but it’s not just some Neanderthal banging on about rugby – I’m looking at you Murray Deaker. I particularly like Andrew Mulligan's intelligent and laconic delivery.

Off the Radar: This documentary series is now over but it was good while it lasted. Comedian Te Radar attempted to live off the land and be sustainable. Various episodes showed him rearing chickens, building a shed, planting potatoes, gutting a fish and simply trying to get by however he could.

He didn't claim to be an expert on anything and he didn't try too hard to be funny - he was naturally likeable and informative without getting all fanatical and born-again-earth-guru. He remined me of a younger Michael Palin with ginger hair and more of it.

The Cult: the jury is still out on this one. It's trying a bit too hard to be a mystical American drama and comparisons with the atrocious Lost aren’t helping as far as I’m concerned. Attempting to bring that fabled dark Kiwi edge to it is all well and good, but it runs the risk of being dull. The lighting has the too-bright, almost overexposed effect that works well for True Blood but makes this series a little monochrome. It features some good actors though – Danielle Cormack; Scott Wills; Renato Bartolomei; Kip Chapman - so I'll keep watching for now.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Natural design

As I was sitting on the village green today eating a cornish pasty, these delightful leaves fluttered down from the trees. I don't know what they are but I think they are gorgeous and I stopped to gather a handful. A small child cycled past on his tricycle and asked his mother, 'What is she doing?' The mother just looked bemused.

If I were a designer like Tamsin Coooper, I would embroider them onto fashion accessories. They would look adorable on brooches, hair-ties or coin purses.

If I were an artist, like Andy Goldsworthy, I would make some amazing temporary art-work with their tiny forms. The way they studded the grass was remarkable, and I'm sure they could be worked into a spiral or a heart or some other intricate construction.

I love the little red centres in the fragile green hearts. I think they would make amazing handmade paper for wedding invitations and the like.

But I don't have these sorts of skills. I think of the ideas but can only admire others for their practical implications.

So I look and I take pictures and I imagine. And all of these imperceptible pleasures make me happy.