Radiation by Fiona Rae

Drama? What drama?

I arrived fashionably late at TVNZ’s launch of its 2005 season programmes, which is just a euphemism for a) I went to the wrong place first (note to self: read invitations before setting out); and b) parking about a mile away from the Maidment Theatre, where the launch was actually taking place.

I did arrive in time to see Matthew Ridge popping out the side door and a TVNZ lackey, afraid he’d do a runner – possibly from his debts – saying to a security guard, “Can you make sure Matthew doesn’t go awol?”

They wheeled out a few celebs for the launch – who better to sell the new season to the agencies than The Domness himself – but frankly they would have needed the wattage of George Clooney to make what’s passing for local programming next year seem even vaguely worth looking up from your cocoa.

Sure, there’s a couple of things: major series Frontier of Dreams is a history of New Zealand, five years in the making, according to the publicity. But really, would you watch something called How Clean Is Your House? or Is It Safe to Eat?; the producers apparently so unsure of their programmes that they had to use a question for their titles.

And there’s no polite way of saying this: where the f**k is the local drama? There was virtually none mentioned, just a kids’ series called Holly’s Heroes, and an Australian co-production called Last Man Standing that has, like, oh at least one Kiwi in it. Honourable mention goes to the new series of Mataku, but there was no mention on Tuesday of the reported Insiders Guide spin-off The Insiders Guide to Love.

Having canned Mercy Peak and decided against a second series of Serial Killers, shouldn’t TVNZ have commissioned something new? Why isn’t some of the extra Charter money being used for drama? TVNZ also has another $11 million to play with. What the f**k is going on?

The good news is that there are some big fun shows on the way: Desperate Housewives and Lost, which I mentioned in the previous blog; daft BBC series Hustle; the Denis Leary vehicle Rescue Me, which Entertainment Weekly just loves; and a couple of Aussie dramas, The Alice and Blackjack which looked good, but then they would on a showreel, wouldn’t they? There’s another Aussie drama from the producers of The Secret Life of Us called Love My Way.

But when Newsboy (btw, his and Paul Casserly’s Unauthorised History of New Zealand is a wee bright light in all the murk) said on the showreel, “TVNZ’s 2005 season; hopefully, it’ll be all right,” it didn’t sound so ironic. Not for local producers anyway.