Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: What you lookin' at?

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  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    I had Netflix and liked it until it mysteriously stopped working on my smart TV and their support guys couldn't fix it so I was forced to cancel my subscription. Also, I liked the first couple episodes of 11.22.63; more than I liked King's book.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report

  • bob daktari,

    Lightbox, Netflix and Neon at ours... we've switched on broadcast TV once this year, on hearing of the recent big shake in Christchurch I turned on TV3 to be greeted with Ice Road Truckers.. so I switched off and unplugged the arial device to make way for a charger for a power hungry device

    I really appreciate Lightbox's kiwi content, I'd like more of that cause I'll never watch broadcast TV, willingly, again

    The adults in our household watch a lot of shows - more telly than I've ever watched as an adult... there are so many great shows and equally (for my taste) terrible. The youngsters only watch one show and thats John Oliver which we "find" for them, outside of that they watch people play games on youtube amongst other youtube delights

    I don't care for the problem TV exec;'s have, they've never catered to me so I say stuff em....

    I do appreciate NZOA's problem and those wishing to produce quality local content... how do you get an audience big enough to watch without resorting to serving up lowest common denominator clones of whats worked before or elsewhere

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report

  • Geoff Lealand,

    I have long admired the work of Gavin and his writing partner Rachel Lang. They have also been very generous in coming down to talk to my students. But somehow I can't yet bring myself to watch Filthy Rich. It is being recorded and I may get to it but only once a space between The Walking Dead* and the new Night Manager (TV One) appears--or once I can wrench the remote away from my dearly beloved and her fixation with The Zone channel.

    * I have a quick trip to a conference in Atlanta GA at the end of this month and I could get you a tshirt.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2562 posts Report

  • Peter Cox,

    My 2 cents, for what it’s worth:

    I see a large number of people in the industry sick of a culture of jealousy, bitterness. General lack of grace, a readiness to think the worst about one another. In that sense, I don’t see how tearing down Gavin and Rachel helps anyone much. Untested writers are a risk. Networks are under pressure and increasingly risk averse. That’s hardly their fault.

    Having said that, the opportunities for writers in NZ to practice what they do are miserable. With all respect to NZOA for the very difficult job they’ve got, I think it’s disappointing that there’s no mandate for NZOA in terms of talent development. The NZ Film Commission have a strong mandate to develop talent right throughout people’s careers, and I think our success in film is largely due to that focus. They’ve achieved that through real investment, not just a bit of micro budget online only stuff. What’s the path between that and network primetime pressures? There’s none.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 312 posts Report

  • Emma Hart,

    One of our main issues with watching television is accessibility. What we watch with our hearing-impaired daughter must have subtitles. Preferably subtitles for the hearing-impaired, which include sounds like doorbells, phone chimes, gunshots, etc, which often carry plot details.

    By far the easiest way to do this is to wait one day after US airing, then illegally download the files, and illegally download matching subtitle files, which will already be available. However, Prime's adoption of closed captioning may change this, because they get, pretty quickly, two of the shows we watch with her: Dr Who and Elementary. Also with her we watch Orphan Black, Agent Carter, Agents of SHIELD, Sherlock, Castle, and Once Upon a Time, which sounds like it's terrible but is really well-written.

    As friends, we get together and have flash-drive Tupperware parties*. The latest winner to come out of that is The Expanse. I would love it if we had access to something like Syfy TV here.

    I am very glad there will be more Westside, and I LOVE The Brokenwood Mysteries. It is exactly a very Kiwi Midsomer Murders.

    *We call them Tupperware parties, but given we're all swapping things we brought, they're really more like Key Parties.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report

  • B Jones,

    I've enjoyed The Expanse - I like how it's less of a cookie cutter version of modern Western Earth society than Battlestar and Caprica.

    My other summer viewing has been Narcos, a dramatization of the Colombian narco-wars through the eyes of a DEA agent and Pablo Escobar. Vivid stuff, plus you get to learn a bit of Spanish along the way. And the Chilean guy from Game of Thrones is in it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    All I had to do to get (US) Netflix to work on my Chromecast was to acquire a new WiFi router, program it to redirect attempts to hit Google's DNS server to Unotelly and make sure both the Chromecast and the laptop casting to it were on the same WiFi.

    I imagine smart TVs might be similar.

    But then, one of my grandfathers was employed as a TV installer before WW2, a process which involved him working onsite for several days and cost the customer around the price of a high-end car.

    I suspect in ten or twenty years, kids will be amazed that "broadcast TV" was ever a thing.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report

  • James Littlewood*,

    My pre-viewing perceptions of Filthy Rich are that it's a rehash of Gloss with a bit of - I dunno - Go Girls or something round the edges, neither of which holds any interest. If my perceptions are wrong, I eagerly await correction.

    I think Harry was the most promising NZ TV venture in recent times. On the downside, it stalled narratively half way through. But how many cop shows have we had in NZ? Nowhere near enough. And what a great vehicle to traverse the social ills that plague our society. Also, it looked awesome, with acting, camera, locations & art dept very much of a piece.

    Loving Derek on Netflix, a situation tragedy starring and written and directed by Ricky Gervais. Utterly brill.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report

  • James Littlewood*,


    We fell deeply in love with our first recorder. When it failed after a couple of years, we went straight out to replace it. Then that one also went kaputt. By then on-demand was up and running and we just unplugged the aerial one day.

    But a few years later the kids started hearing playground talk about - I dunno - X Factor or whatever, so I plugged the aerial into the back of the telly. It gets maybe half an hour of channel surfing after school about once a week.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report

  • Cecelia,

    Isn't this the Golden Age of TV? The French and Scandinavian shows, US TV. From the Wire on there have been such superb shows available that why would anyone want to watch something second-rate? Through Netflix, and Plex (friend's UK TV and more) I've seen Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Orphan Black, The Bridge, The Killing, Borgen, Making a Murderer, Spiral. Right now I'm watching a French series called Un Village Francais. The French can do characters you care about par excellence. I've ordered the Danish "The Legacy" as a treat for myself. DVD from Amazon. Expensive but I have to see it. I enjoyed the first series of Trivial Pursuit but these days TVNZ and TV3 make me cringe. I think I'm sulking because of our terrible news, but whatever the cause, the dumbed down news has put me off NZ television ... and I'm a boomer raised on a single channel.

    Hibiscus Coast • Since Apr 2008 • 559 posts Report

  • James Littlewood*,

    NZ on Air

    Far as I can tell, there is one argument that rages in every single funded production: the licence fee.

    Indy producer sells concept to broadcaster. Broadcaster goes yeah. Indy producer writes prop, then rewrites it to broadcaster specifications. Prop gets accepted by NZOA. NZOA then requests licence fee from broadcaster. Broadcaster says nah. Meet in sandwich. I know several instances where the producer has sucked this up.

    How is charging local producers tens of thousands of dollars for the right to hand over their idea to an advertising sales team supporting local culture?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report

  • James Dunne,

    My secret dream has always been a period drama with SIS spooks picking over the underbelly of Muldoon-era Wellington, but I suspect our defamation law means such an exercise would be a bit risky, to put it mildly.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2013 • 25 posts Report

  • James Littlewood*, in reply to James Dunne,

    period drama with SIS spooks

    I love it. Bastion point or Springbok tour? Carless days or think big?

    Such good times.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report

  • Kumara Republic,

    But the people on the network side of commercial television work in an increasingly risk-averse business. Even when a locally-produced series is funded by the taxpayer, a failure puts everyone's job at risk. And there have been a few failures in the past five years; more misses than hits. For reasons of politics rather than commerce, the same applies to the funder, NZ On Air, which pretty much lives in a low-level existential battle. No one wants to fuck up.

    What used to be the licence fee - before it was rat-fucked out of existence - has become a balkanised master-of-none that's at the whim of politicians of all stripes. It also doesn't help that our free-to-air broadcasters (or what's left of them) suffer a bad case of cultural cringe - NZ produces a lot of good programmes that are wildly popular overseas, but cultural cringe means NZers seldom get to see them - it was a big factor in Cloud9 Productions threatening to quit NZ for Australia.

    It may take a Royal Commission to fix this and the wider media landscape.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5446 posts Report

  • Russell Brown, in reply to James Dunne,

    My secret dream has always been a period drama with SIS spooks picking over the underbelly of Muldoon-era Wellington, but I suspect our defamation law means such an exercise would be a bit risky, to put it mildly.

    My experience with Roger Douglas's response to Media 3's 25-years-on consideration of For the Public Good suggests you may be right. But it would be great – maybe throw in a few period radicals. Maybe have it done in flashbacks after a millennial discovers damning documents in 2016.

    I think Westside has done the period thing pretty well – the episodes that touched on Mr Asia were great. The second series takes place entirely in 1981, which was quite a busy year ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Bart Janssen,

    Our watching is dictated by my laziness in integrating new devices to our system* and my love of some key sports. To get cricket I have to get sky, which means we have sky on demand. Sky on demand has some nice and odd stuff, "About a girl" was typically British fun if a bit cliched at times. And Sky allows us to time shift any series we are interested in on broadcast TV.

    We also really like watching TV series on blu-ray, which means really nice quality and no ads, but also means we watch most series about 6 months after they screen.

    I personally don't pirate - because I can't figure out how writers and actors get paid if I pirate. But I also recognise that the appalling monopolies in NZ and stupid distribution rules combine to make piracy seem pretty damn reasonable.

    As for what we watch, Castle, Elementary, The Night Manager, Project runway (Vibe), just downloaded Luther, set up to "tape" The Expanse on Zone (and hoping it isn't too gross). Would totally watch season 2 of "The Blue Rose" if the bastards hadn't killed it. Most cricket, some NFL, some NBL, March Madness (mostly watching from on the bike).

    *each new device seems to involve at least 2 hours of me shouting at the computer trying to get the bloody thing to work with all the other bits of the system so the apple TV and the NAS media centre are firmly disconnected at the moment.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4461 posts Report

  • Jonathan King, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    You spelled 'months' wrong.

    I suspect in ten or twenty years, kids will be amazed that "broadcast TV" was ever a thing.

    Since Sep 2010 • 185 posts Report

  • Tony Meyer, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I would love it if we had access to something like Syfy TV here.

    For what it's worth, The Zone has a large overlap with Syfy, and has a pretty decent mix of content that is very recent (e.g. The Expanse has just started, so is only a couple of months out, stuff like (the not very good) Shannara Chronicles is roughly same day as elsewhere) and older. You need SkyTV, of course, and I'm not sure what the subtitle situation is, sorry.

    The Zone has probably saved my Sky subscription. The ex watched a lot of Sky, and the kid did too (but watches nearly 100% online stuff now), so I only had it for the odd TVNZ/TV3/Soho show.

    Would totally watch season 2 of "The Blue Rose" if the bastards hadn't killed it.

    Definitely. I thought This Is Not My Life had potential as well. I presume there's no more Sunny Skies coming either, and that was good at times.

    Isn't this the Golden Age of TV?

    Absolutely (although maybe it keeps getting better still?). So much good stuff available internationally these days, and increasingly good access to it, even without bending or breaking rules.

    Ahuroa • Since Jul 2012 • 11 posts Report

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to James Littlewood*,

    I love it. Bastion point or Springbok tour? Carless days or think big?

    _Such_ good times.

    Shame this is so hard to find on the TVNZ News site...
    Back In The Day

    In my humble opinion, there is a fair amount of good stuff on broadcast TV. Don't get me wrong, the good stuff is probably less than 2% but that is enough for those that need less than 3 or 4 hours of tv a day, you just need a good way of recording it.
    My solution is to use a dedicated lap top stuck away on a shelf set to run with the lid closed, I have 3 usb satellite tuners connected to a 900mm dish (as I am one of the 20% of viewers living outside the main centres I only have satellite tv. If you live in an area served by Terestrial broadcast then you have even more choice and can get HD tv too) and use NPVR as a back end. This is connected via HDMI to a 50' LG led tv and runs through the front end, Kodi, on the laptop. EPG and series recordings are far more flexible than any set top box I have seen, including the full bells and whistles Freeview box. At this point I am recording up five shows at the same time if I need to, unfortunately Four +1 is on a separate Mux as is Prime, if I used 4 tuners I could, in theory, record everything all the time but in reality to get that "good" 2% rarely uses 2.
    Using a 4Tb drive means I haven't run out of recording space for almost a year so far and the drive is only about a third full.
    Otherwise, there are "Friends in America" that share their VHS tapes with me ;-)

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    telling vision...
    Have to say the shorts/promos for filthy Rich put me right off, so haven't bothered - I also saw half an hour of The People v OJ Simpson and was appalled at how wooden it was - David Schwimmer and Cuba Gooding Jr looked like they were reading lines taped on other actors or out of shot, with the emotional range of a gas stove - maybe that was the intent - I read a lot of books these days instead - but it is all different strokes for different folks.

    Maybe they will finally make David Lynch's Mulholland Drive into the series it was supposed to be...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Lilith __, in reply to James Littlewood*,

    I think Harry was the most promising NZ TV venture in recent times.

    +1. Harry was brilliant.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3895 posts Report

  • Lilith __, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Also, like Bart, I would happily watch another season of The Blue Rose. It had flaws, but quirky character-driven drama with women at the heart? Give me more of that.

    I’m also a big fan of Flat 3. <3 local creativity.

    On that subject, at the risk of a threadjack, can I sing the praises of 3 Words? It’s a compilation of recent comics drawn by NZ women. Some of the artists are professionals and award-winners, others novices. The breadth and depth of talent is jaw-dropping. Some of the comics I love and some I don’t, but I’m so glad to see them all.

    I wish there were a TV equivalent – a showcase for short videos, maybe? With funding and mentoring to expand on the most successful. Public voting! Why not?

    I loved Funny Girls. Not all the sketches worked, but the best ones had me chortling for days.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3895 posts Report

  • simon g,

    I admit this is totally superficial and Auckland-centric (synonyms?), but one reason I struggle to engage with a show like Filthy Rich is the locations.

    "Ooh look, they're in that bar at the Viaduct. Ooh, it's the Parnell Rose garden. Ooh, they've gone shopping in Newmarket ..."

    Years ago it was fun to sit and point out places you see every day, but it's got tired now. Hot people in a cool metropolis? Auckland just doesn't have enough glitz to pull this off. Especially when the commercial breaks take us back to the same places.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1333 posts Report

  • izogi,

    the big dramatic shows continued to be made by the same small set of people

    That reminds me of the annual school production. You could show up to the initial advertised session to show you were interested in taking part, but within 2 minutes it was patently obvoius that the teacher running the thing had decided every favourite person who'd be filling every role of the production long beforehand.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1142 posts Report

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The People v OJ Simpson


    the exagerrated presence of the teeny Kardashian daughters

    Which does actually serve to provide comic relief. There's a scene in the third episode where Robert Kardashian takes them all to a restaurant just as his new-found and unasked for fame is starting to kick in, and says: “We are Kardashians. And in this family, being a good person and a loyal friend is more important than being famous. Fame is fleeting. It means nothing without a virtuous heart.

    The pointedness, it was pointy. He might as well have been staring directly into the camera. I guffawed.

    Plus one for 'Jessica Jones', too. Which retrospectively made us go back and watch 'Daredevil' (both shows on Netflix).

    Continuing on the sci-fi/fantasy side of things, I've on-and-off been watching 'Arrow', but it hasn't comepletely captured my attention. I'm more interested in it's semi-spinoff 'The Flash', but (more interestingly from a wider industry perspective) I've been watching both of these, and a few other shows, via Amazon, where you can rent-buy access to a series either via individual episodes or the complete series as a package. No need for broadcast TV, cable subscription, or even a TV. I've got 'Agent Carter', 'Vikings', 'Black Sails', and 'The Man in the High Castle' all lined up waiting for me to find the time to watch them, along with 'Narcos', and 'Breaking Bad' spinoff 'Better Call Saul' on Netflix. Flicking through my 'you watched' library, I see 'The Blacklist', 'True Detective', 'Justified' and a few others. I've watched 'Game of Thrones', and 'The Walking Dead' in a similar manner, via legal digital box-set downloads. If I'm not sure about a series, or want to get an idea if it's small-child friendly before sitting down with my daughter, I'll head to Youtube and watch a few clips. If I don't have the time or inclination to watch 45 minutes of TV uninterrupted, I'll head to Youtube and spend 10-15 mins watching shorter vids, usually hobbyists or similar, just like Da Kidz, although in my case it's mostly medieval/napoleonic swords at the moment, rather than videogames.

    I'm a middle-aged man, and the cutting edge is a long way away these days, but it's hard to escape the conclusion that broadcast TV is essentially dying, potentially kept afloat by 'Event' telly such as big sporting events. Here in the UK, our TV package was essentially bundled into our internet package as a secondary consideration. It's exceptionally rare that we'll actually be sitting down watching a live TV broadcast. Even if we are, it's generally something pre-recorded, which means we're forwarding through the ads at 60x normal speed (no revenue for you!)

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report

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