TV3 & Four in 2013: What's coming up

Last updated 13:27 09/11/2012

Mediaworks TV - the good people who oversee TV3 and Four - held their annual season launch on Tuesday morning, presenting their new line-up of shows to advertisers and media, and capping off the show with performances from newly announced The X Factor NZ judge Stan Walker and The X Factor USA runner-up Chris Rene.

20121109It was an interesting announcement for TV3 - where these season launches normally feature a plethora of international shows, TV3 announced just five new scripted series. But, excitingly for a Kiwi TV fan like myself, TV3 are making up for the lack of new international content by introducing a stack of new, and rather impressive looking, locally-made shows.

The most exciting of these new projects is easily Harry, a gritty cop drama in the Underbelly tradition (early, good Underbelly, not later, looking-for-any-excuse-to-make-one Underbelly) that stars Oscar Kightley as a tormented detective investigating a murder. Sam Neill co-stars, and the small amount of footage I saw looked surprisingly good - I know plenty of people will have reservations about comedian Kightley taking on a dramatic role, but he looks dialled in.

Next up was Hope & Wire, the only new show about which I have a few reservations. The show is a six-part fictional drama series, "based on inspirational true stories", set in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake of February 2011. We didn't see any footage from the show itself, but just the idea of it makes me think that it needs to be handled with care, coming with an incredibly high chance of failure. That said, documentary maker (and drama director) Gaylene Preston is at the helm, which is a definite step in the right creative direction.

The longest trailer went to The Blue Rose, a new show from Rachel Lang and James Griffin (yes, the same people who made Outrageous Fortune ... but hey, they know how to make good television). I'll be honest: The Blue Rose wasn't exactly what I was expecting. For whatever reason, I thought it would be much lighter in tone, but the trailer suggests a shadowy conspiracy thriller with black comedy undertones. Siobhan Marshall and Antonia Prebble look great in their roles and the footage we saw had a great feel about it. It should be a pretty entertaining show.

Lastly, another surprising entrant was Sunny Skies, which tells the story of two half-brothers (played by Oliver Driver and Tammy Davis) who inherit a camping ground from their deceased dad. It looks more comedy than drama (as you'd expect from Driver and Davis), but with a cast that also includes Errol Shand and Morgana O'Reilly (both from the strong tele-movie Safehouse) and Ian Mune, there is talent there for something a bit deeper.

There are new comedies too: Jeremy Corbett and Paul Ego team up for The Radio, which follows the pair as they do a fictional radio show complete with a special guest each week and Urzila Carlson as a grumpy receptionist, while Ben Hurley and Steve Wrigley team up for Ben & Steve Present, which sounds kind of like Jono & Ben At 10 (note: Jono & Ben At 10 is also coming back). Of course, there is also The X Factor NZ ... but the less said about that, the better.

Plenty of Kiwi content is coming back in 2013: aside from Jono & Ben At 10, there'll also be new seasons of 7 Days and Madeline Sami starrer Super City, to go with the third season of The Almighty Johnsons and a swag of factual and reality shows like The Block NZ, Hottest Home Baker, The Secret Lives Of Dancers and a redesign of 60 Minutes titled Third Degree, to be hosted by political reporter Duncan Garner.

There are a few new international shows coming in 2013, with TV3 announcing just five overall: madcap parenting comedy Ben & Kate looks utterly forgettable, with only one gag in its short trailer forcing a laugh; Matthew "Chandler Bing" Perry comedy Go On might be okay, though Perry hasn't had much luck of late; and The New Normal, from Glee/American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy, is a comedy about a gay couple trying for a baby with a surrogate mother and looks like the best of the three.

In terms of drama, fire station procedural Chicago Fire, starring House's Jesse Spencer, doesn't look like being a red-hot hit, while drama-thriller The Americans took me completely by surprise: set during the 1980s Cold War, Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys play Russian spies living in suburban America as sleeper agents - sure, it's an attempt by US network FX to cash in on the success of Homeland, but the trailer looks pretty damn great. Californication, Bones, CSI, Sons Of Anarchy, Homeland, The Big C and Modern Family are among the many shows coming back with new seasons.

Four is also putting its focus elsewhere, instead of introducing too many new shows: while they have brand new shows Guys With Kids (one review calls it "the seasons most depressingly generic" new comedy), The Mindy Project (which has been well-received, albeit low rated), animated comedy Unsupervised and parenting comedy Up All Night, starring Christina Applegate and Will Arnett, joining its line-up of returning hits, their main focus will be on the Fast Four brand, which will only expand as the network works out quicker distribution deals and catches up on existing shows.

Anyway, now you know as much as I do. I thought it was a great season launch, made all the more exciting by the announcement of so much local content on TV3. If the other channels can keep up this pace, 2013 will be an exciting year for Kiwi television viewers and fans.

What do you think of this new line-up? Anything you're excited to see next year?

Wondering what is coming up next week? Never fear, click here for a look at the week ahead.

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