It may not have had the same overbearing promotional campaign as a certain rowing comedy that started last night, but new Kiwi comedy Hounds - which is now half way through its run, airing at 10pm on Fridays - might be the best new comedy on television this year, and the best scripted comedy this country has produced in years.
(A quick aside: it is criminal that I can't watch TV3 or listen to The Edge for an hour without seeing/hearing a commercial for Golden, but haven't yet seen a promo for Hounds anywhere except the "coming up next" spot during 7 Days. TV3, do you not realise what you have here? A critical darling (positive reviews here, here and here), in the comedy genre, that this country can actually be proud of, and not a peep on the promotional front? For shame.)
Based in the peculiar world of greyhound racing, the show has just the right mix of characters (wacky trainer Marty, lovable douche Will, impressionable teen Lily), has struck gold with casting (Mick Innes and Toby Sharpe are brilliant), and is improving with each episode.
The humour bounces between straightforward belly laughs - the veterinary scene from Friday (Vet: "[The dog will] have to be euthanised." Marty: "How long till he can race after that?"), or the funeral scene in the premiere - and the more idiosyncratic gags that place the show comfortably alongside the likes of Louie, Community and Wilfred. In short, Hounds is a really funny show.
But is it actually, objectively speaking, the best scripted comedy this country has ever produced? Or is that hyperbole?
The natural response is to think about how many shows this country has produced and assume there must be something better in that long list. But the more I look into it, trawling through lists on Wikipedia and search results at NZ On Screen, the more I think that Hounds might be the highlight among the annals of scripted New Zealand comedy.
When I think of local scripted comedy (as opposed to improvised like 7 Days), I tend to think of painful sitcoms such as Melody Rules and sketch shows such as McPhail & Gadsby or Pete & Pio - and I'm not even sure that sketch shows should qualify in such a discussion.
Even looking at the last decade, when local television productions improved across the board, the best local comedies have been The Jaquie Brown Diaries and Bro'town. I liked those shows, but I definitely think Hounds is better so far.
Perhaps Hounds is the best scripted comedy simply because there aren't any other real challengers to that title? As someone mentioned on Twitter, being the best local comedy isn't exactly like scaling Mt Everest.
Regardless, I think Hounds is the best this country has ever produced, and if you aren't watching it yet, you should be.
What do you think is the best scripted comedy this country has ever produced? Are you watching (and, like me, enjoying) Hounds?
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