On the Box

From cheesy sitcoms and mystery shows to current affairs and reality TV, and everything in between – if it’s on the box, Chris Philpott has probably seen it and has an opinion about it. Make sure you tune in for his unique take on everything television.

Goodbye, farewell and amen

08:30am 06 Dec 2013

Stuff didn't ask me to write this blog.

I mean, Stuff allowed me to write this blog and wanted me to write this blog - but it was actually my idea: I proposed the idea of a television blog after reading a terrible review of the Lost finale that ran on the site in June 2010.

There was no TV blog at the time and, convinced that I could write a better review than the one I had seen, I set about contacting Stuff and offering to do so. I had the email address of the entertainment section editor at that time, thanks to a t-shirt I'd won, so I sent him an email. He passed me on to the blogs editor and I pleaded my case.

"I have noticed that there isn't a TV blog at Stuff," I wrote. "Let me write one for you."

It took a couple of months to get sorted. During that time, I had to write a couple of test posts - one about awful sci-fi drama FlashForward, another about Go Girls. I had to come up with a title and get a photo taken for the banner; that photo of me at the top of the page was taken over three years ago in my parents lounge by my friend Nat, and I never got around to replacing it. I had to write a short blurb about myself. It was all very exciting.

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Random thoughts: penultimate blog post edition

10:00am 05 Dec 2013

Well, here we are - the penultimate blog post at On The Box which, as I mentioned in passing earlier in the week, is shutting down as of Friday (and as mentioned, I'll be announcing future plans via Twitter and Facebook, so make sure you Like or Follow me there). So what does one do with the small amount of time he has left?

I call them Random Thoughts - and here are a few I've had while waiting for my music video to crash Vevo ...

IF NOTHING ELSE, THE first episode of The Millers (which started on Prime last Sunday night) should be remembered for making Margo Martindale, the Emmy-winning actress from the second season of Justified, the centre of two fart jokes. I reckon that was pretty stink. It's a sh*t way to treat such an esteemed actress, to just blow off her talent like that, and I think the poople responsible should be ashamed. Okay, I'm finished.

"IS IT ACTUALLY POSSIBLE," says History Channel, "that aliens created the Easter Island heads as a clue towards the true meaning of Stone Henge?" "No," says me. "No it isn't." "But, aliens!" says History Channel. "Shut up and give me real histories," says me. "Aww, but aliens are fun," says History Channel. "Maybe," says me, "but they aren't histories which is what you promised me." "I don't care," says History Channel, defiantly.

MY FIRST AND LAST word on Underbelly: Squizzy - it is bloody awful.

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Walking Dead gets its clean slate

09:59am 04 Dec 2013

The Walking Dead brought the first half of its fourth season to a close last night (TV2, 9.30pm) with an action packed hour of television that closed off one major story for good and placed the fate of all our characters in limbo as we head into a two month break; the remaining eight episodes of Season 4 return in February.

(Warning: spoilers from last night's The Walking Dead abound!)

I thought the first half of the season ended well. A large scale face-off with The Governor was always on the cards, even stretching back to last season when he tried and failed to take the prison, and it made for an exciting hour of television. The show does a great job with zombie-centric attacks, so it was nice to see that they could pull off a non-zombie related battle with the same finesse and intensity.

20131204I will miss Hershel, though. Scott Wilson has done some great work with the character this season - and the likely death of baby Judith* is one of the most upsetting in the shows run. The effect their passing will have on Rick should be the central plot of the back half of the season; the poor guy will be feeling like he can't look after anyone. And I'm looking forward to seeing how it pans out. Andrew Lincoln has gotten better and better as the show goes along - he was great in a couple of key scenes (the fenceline face-off with The Gov, the escape) and is definitely up to the task.

I like that the prison is gone, too. Rick and the Rickettes couldn't stay there for ever - if we learnt anything from Season 2, it's that stasis should be avoided at all costs. Forcibly moving them on is definitely the right step at this point of the show. You can only have the group face internal threats and fend off outside challenges for so long.

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Power rankings: the best shows of November

08:30am 03 Dec 2013

TV2 manage to hold on to the top spot for the second straight month, even though we have a new champion at the top of the monthly power rankings!

* Make sure to share your favourite shows from the past month in the comments section below - but before you do, here are my Top 13 shows of November 2013 ...

Honourable Mentions:
I reckon Nothing Trivial (One) has been good, though not as good as last year; even Olivia Hope couldn't convince me that Scandal (One) deserves a place near the top; the Schreiber-Voight show continues to entertain but Ray Donovan (SoHo) doesn't quite have enough to keep me engaged; and Doctor Who (Prime) was one of the best things I've seen all month, but fails to make the grade because of my shows must air more than one episode rule.

13: Downton Abbey (Prime)
Last month: 11 | Mondays, 8.35pm

I joked about this on Twitter, but why wouldn't writer Julian Fellowes just end every episode of Downton Abbey with Carson and Mrs Hughes wrapping up the events of the past hour and discussing the goings-on among the staff while swilling a strong drink and puffing on a cigar, kind of like how Alan and Denny wrapped up episodes of Boston Legal? It could only improve a drama which has lost its sheen.

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Nothing Trivial about the fate of local TV

08:30am 28 Nov 2013

Well, this news sucks: TVNZ have announced that Nothing Trivial has been cancelled and will not be returning in 2014. "We absolutely love Nothing Trivial and are really disappointed people didn't come to it this year," TVNZ said in a statement shared at Throng, "but we have to follow the lead of our audience. If they're walking away from a show in significant numbers we have to pay attention."

20130912The announcement is disappointing, especially considering that it came with two episodes still to air (next week is the season finale) and considering the third series apparently ends on some kind of cliffhanger, if social media chatter among the cast and crew is to be believed.

But it isn't entirely surprising. The show has rated badly in 2013, averaging 258,000-ish viewers (5+ overnight) per week - a massive drop from the 412,000-ish the show averaged last year. And suggestions that it has suffered without the strong lead-in of New Zealand's Got Talent are wrong too: analysis proves that Aussie drama A Place To Call Home is averaging more viewers with a weaker lead-in than Nothing Trivial did in 2012 with the near-million viewers NZGT provided.

In that context, it's hard to blame TVNZ for making such a decision.

For myself, I'm actually more concerned for local scripted drama and comedy in general. Nothing Trivial is just the latest local scripted show to be cancelled this year: Go Girls, The Almighty Johnsons, The Blue Rose, Harry, The Radio and Sunny Skies have all been given the chop. Those last four shows were all brand new this year.

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