Are television channels trying to alienate viewers?

Last updated 14:28 31/01/2014

An acquaintance recently moved to New Zealand from the United Kingdom and, knowing my interest in the box, asked me about New Zealand television.

Well, when he asked me it was actually couched in a rhetorical questions along the lines of 'Jeepers, New Zealand television is crap, isn't it?'

Within two weeks of landing in Aotearoa he had made the decision to essentially ignore the offerings of our channels and was simply trying to decide whether to stream Netflix or download via bittorrent.

If I was coming into the country new I'd probably be faced with the same decision.

Yes, he's been spoiled in the UK, particularly with the BBC which continues to put out exceptional comedies and dramas on a regular basis.

Meanwhile our own output, while usually of a very high standard (like The Almighty Johnsons and Nothing Trivial) doesn't get the viewers it deserves.

As he ponders which VPN provider to sign up with so he can subscribe to Netflix I spent a few nights flicking through the local offerings and they were pretty dire.

Once the kids have shuffled off to bed the wife and I have just a short period of time to find something to watch before it's my turn to hit the sack.

Yet every time we've been forced to watch something recorded from other times or stream over the internet.

Primetime? Don't make me laugh. The only thing prime is surely the number of people watching the dreadful offerings (usually 1, 3 or 7 people, I imagine).

Thankfully that changes a little this week with some new shows for us to enjoy at a decent time of night.

I've already written about my excitement about cooking programmes so Sunday night's double of The Great Food Race and Masterchef NZ will have me hooked to the box.

But it's The Blacklist which gives some hope for those who like their American dramas.

James Spader is an excellent actor - he's shown his skills in the likes of Boston Legal and the amazing film Secretary - and so it's right he gets another lead role.

However I didn't overly enjoy him in the first couple of episodes of The Blacklist - it felt a bit overplayed to me.

Everything I've read since then, however, has convinced me of the quality of the show so I'll be tuning in on Sunday night and watching the rest of the season.

We're getting the show within a reasonable timeframe from the US too, so hopefully this will pay off for TV3.

The same can't be said for The Following, which kicks off its second season on One on Monday.

It's another quick turnaround from the United States, but Kevin Bacon's character was so hopeless in the first season that I'm debating whether it's worth continuing.

The only saving grace is James Purefoy, who plays the wicked Joe Carroll on the show.

I'll give this a couple of episodes to either improve Bacon's character or kill him off.

Let's finish with another returning show, Homeland.

Unfortunately those without SoHo are going to have to wait even longer to see it as the premium Sky channel is showing it first.

If you use any social media, however, chances are you either know what happens this season or have already found other ways of watching it.

Homeland was a victim of TV3's financial woes and therefore is probably on too late in New Zealand to get too many people's interests.

However with Claire Danes, Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin involved it's always worth checking out.

It's not as good as the first season, but then again not many are.

What are you looking forward to over the next few weeks? Or have you given up on local television?

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