Golden Era for NZ HD Commissions
Sunday’s premiere of Golden (TV3, 7.00), which has been dubbed a “flabby” Kath & Kim wannabe, spearheads an upsurge in free-to-air HD commissions.
It screened ahead of the HD true-crime dramatisation, Siege (TV One, 8.30), followed Saturday’s premiere of Judy Bailey’s Australia and precedes Tuesday night’s HD newcomer Highway Cops (but not, inexplicably, stablemate Radar Across the Pacific).
Moreover, filming started Sunday of TV3′s new detective drama, Harry, starring Oscar Kightley and Sam Neill.
It’s being produced by Desert Road, which made TV One’s HD conspiracy drama, This Is Not My Life.
Also shooting this month is another HD TV3 drama series, The Blue Rose. From South Pacific Pictures’ Outrageous Fortune team of Rachel Lang and James Griffin, it reunites Outrageous Fortune’s Antonia Prebble and Siobhan Marshall as an odd couple who use their “unique powers” to battle corporate skulduggery.
TV3 has yet to decide on whether it will renew another SPP series, The Almighty Johnsons, but TV2 already has ordered a fifth season of Go Girls from the same production company.
NZ On Air is investing nearly $6.7 million in Go Girls V but has announced it will cease funding primetime drama series after six seasons; it also will stop funding factual series after four seasons.
The agency hopes “some series survive beyond NZ On Air funding support because our funding will have helped prove their ability to attract and hold an audience”, chief executive Jane Wrightson says.
However, the new policy is unlikely to be tested in the drama arena as the chances of a show running longer than six seasons are exceptionally slim (the most popular and longest-running NZ drama ever, Outrageous Fortune, was axed after six).
In his latest Media column, the NZ Herald’s John Drinnan points out NZOA has “increased its share of funding for drama” but don’t hold your breath for anything more adventurous than the likes of Go Girls and The Almighty Johnsons.
While the Johnsons’ fate is months away from being decided, TV3 has ordered a third season of the excellent but low-rating Secret Lives of Dancers, with the help of $661,212 in NZOA funding.
Meanwhile, the first print media review of Golden likened it to a “pale imitation” of Kath & Kim.
In a review headlined, “Flabby script flat in all the wrong places,” the Herald on Sunday said the show needs to shape up as quickly as its heroine, an overweight ex-Olympics star making her comeback.
“Good comedy demands impeccable comic timing and delivery or a cracker script, preferably both, but judging by the first episode, Golden has neither.”
For those who want to read the press release announcing the filming of Harry:
OSCAR KIGHTLEY AND SAM NEILL TO CO-STAR IN HARRY – NEW DRAMA SERIES FROM DESERT ROAD AND TV3
International leading man Sam Neill is joining one of New Zealand’s best-loved performers, Oscar Kightley in Harry, a six-part crime drama series produced by Desert Road for TV3, which begins filming today.
Set in Auckland, Harry follows Detective Harry Anglesea (Kightley), a solo father struggling with his personal demons as he investigates a major murder case. Neill will play Detective Jim “Stocks” Stockton, Harry’s boss and mentor.
Oscar Kightley says: “I’m already pretty excited about the opportunity to do Harry. Having Sam Neill in it lifts that excitement to another stratosphere. It is a massive honour for us that he’s chosen this project.”
Sam Neill says: “I’m very much looking forward to coming home to work on what I think should be a ground-breaking series from New Zealand – with my friend Oscar Kightley!”
Producer Steven O’Meagher says the draft scripts for Harry, co-written by Kightley, piqued the interest of Neill, who has never acted in a New Zealand drama series. Negotiations took place over a month, while the actor worked on productions in the UK and USA.
“Sam O’Neill is one of our greatest-ever actors, and his agreeing to play Detective Jim ‘Stocks’ Stockton is a huge endorsement on the quality of the series,” O’Meagher says.
“Sam and Oscar have a personal friendship which will translate into great on-screen chemistry. Stocks is a mentor, a boss and a mate to Harry, and is one of the two most important people in Harry’s life. Their scenes together will crackle. Viewers are in for a treat.”
TV3 head of comedy and drama, Rachel Jean says Harry is shaping up to be an outstanding series, raw, emotional and compelling.
“Harry is a high quality drama event, driven by a compelling central character, played by a performer our audience can’t resist,” she says. “Oscar has a track record with TV3’s viewers and they love him. Sam Neill joining the cast is the icing on the cake.
“Through the development process it has become clear this series is special. It sticks to the truth of life, of police, family, crime, drugs, overwork and underpay that everyone will recognise. In the scripting process the team has accessed true stories and advice from both affected families and frontline policing. It is this truth that will make this series ‘must watch’ television.”
Harry is produced by Desert Road for TV3 with funding from New Zealand On Air’s Platinum fund, which is reserved for high quality programs of historical and cultural importance with a significant relevance to New Zealand and New Zealanders.