Brokenwood Mysteries destined for success?

I tend to get a bit exciteable when new Kiwi-made television shows are publicised - unless they are reality shows, of course.

And the announcement of The Brokenwood Mysteries is no exception.

Filming started on Prime's new crime drama series in Auckland yesterday - with the four two-hour episodes to be shown later this year.

But deep down I'm analytical at heart so let's ditch the emotion and take a look at the reasons why this show could be a hit - or a flop.


There are many reasons why Brokenwood is destined for greatness - first and foremost it's by, hands-down, the best screen production company in New Zealand, South Pacific Pictures.

They've left an indelible mark on the Kiwi film and television industry thanks to movies like Whale Rider and Sione's Wedding and shows such as Outrageous Fortune and The Almighty Johnsons.

If that's not enough then having Tim Balme as the head writer with James Griffin also involved is undoubtedly a major plus for the show.

Balme - who played family elder Mike in Johnsons amongst many other acting parts - wrote scripts for Diplomatic Immunity, Outrageous Fortune and, of course, Johnsons so is well grounded in what makes stories tick.

And with genius Griffin in the background what could go wrong?

Griffin is at the top of the pile in New Zealand - and this was evidenced as recently as a few weeks ago with his penned episode of Step Dave.

I've thoroughly enjoyed Step Dave and tune in religiously even though it's not quite up to the standards of other Kiwi greats - yet.

I've found some of the cliches a little much at times - but episode six was a high watermark. It had great moments of comedy and drama.

Afterwards I found out not only had Griffin written that particular episode but Michael Hurst had directed it too.

I shouldn't have been surprised.

Hurst is another veteran of the industry and it would not surprise me in the slightest if the episode of Brokenwood he directs is the best of the season.

Nor would I be surprised to see him pop up in an on-screen role during the series too.

That leads us to the final reason for guaranteed success - the actors. Last, by no means least, of course.

Neill Rea has his first leading role after appearing in Go Girls and Scarfies.

But it's the female lead which has me most excited.

Fern Sutherland is best known for her role as Dawn in Johnsons - Anders' PA and Ty's on, off, on-again, off-again and finally on-again love.

In the first couple of seasons poor Dawn didn't get a huge amount to do, but always impressed when she appeared.

But in the final season Sutherland got out from behind Dawn's desk and showed some serious acting chops.

There were so many memorable scenes in the Johnsons' third season, but the moment when she is watching a video and remembers she loves Ty was sublime. I cried like a baby.

I may be biased because I've met Fern and she's one of the nicest people you could hope to meet - but I truly believe she has an outstanding future as an actor.

I'm really looking forward to seeing her break away from Dawn and show us a new side as DC Kristin Davis - a driven and ambitious cop who doesn't take to Rea's character.

She's on the up and Brokenwood will show it.


There are two reasons Brokenwood may not succeed.

The first is so minute that I'm almost embarrassed to write it for fear of offending.

Yes, there is a chance - let's say a 0.00001% shot - that this may just suck. It's happened to the best actors, writers, directors in the past and will happen in the future.

What's to stop it here?

But no, I will not countenance that.

The biggest reason this could be seen as a flop is, once again, the fickle New Zealand audience.

Offer them the very best home-grown drama and comedy and they'll ignore it in favour of appalling, repulsive pap like 2 Broke Girls, Two and a Half Men and the repetitive tediousness of CSI or its shoot-offs.

So despite having the talent to provide the very best New Zealand has to offer it may still not be seen as a success.

It's those weird quirks of Kiwi audiences that have made homegrown shows a rarity on our boxes.

Thankfully New Zealand on Air is still able to support the industry financially and Prime was willing to pay the associated broadcast fees.

Let's just hope this show gets the attention it deserves and leads to a resurgence in quality homegrown shows.

And if it's bad? I'll gladly eat my New Zealand television cheerleader's hat.

And if it's good? Just promise me you'll tell everyone you know to watch it!