A pair of Kiwi comedies airing on TV3, Sunny Skies and The Radio, finished on Friday night. I reviewed both earlier in their seasons, here and here, and neither season improved on my earlier estimations. I have a few thoughts on the full seasons of both, one good and one bad, as soon as I warn away anybody concerned with spoilers ...
(Warning: spoilers from seasons of Sunny Skies and The Radio follow.)
If you take out the spate of current affairs shows, considering only the scripted and light-entertainment fare on offer, it's hard not to think of Sunny Skies as the best of the bunch (so far). The locally made, and locally flavoured, comedy was funnier than either Agent Anna or The Radio, and I think the characters were more interesting than those on The Blue Rose, despite the latter's quality in both story and production values.
Bolstered by the likes of Tammy Davis, Oliver Driver and Morgana O'Reilly, Sunny Skies had a great cast of characters being played by actors who knew how to deliver every week. Even occasional supporting players like Ian Mune and Mick Innes turned in memorable performances with limited screen time. This was a fun group of people to hang out with for a half hour, even though Erroll Shand's Gunna became a one-note annoyance as the series moved along.
The writing was strong too, with memorable exchanges producing frequent belly laughs. Just in Friday's finale there were a handful: Charlotte lamenting her situation, saying "You're my only friend, Uncle Oscar, and you're a dick!", or Mark suggesting "Let's all have a crap and we'll think of something brilliant," to which partner Matthew snorts "They're called crepes, Mark. I don't know why I bother." - and accenting a simple but effective storyline with a nice payoff.
Sunny Skies wasn't high-class entertainment, but it was enjoyable, well made and well performed, and that's all you really want from a Friday evening comedy. I certainly hope it comes back for a second season.
The Radio, on the other hand, is a show that need not return; fortunately, it ended (and rated) in such a way that I don't think there are any plans for a second go-round. Just as well, I reckon, because this show was adequate at the best of times but painful to watch for most of its six episodes.
It isn't so much that The Radio was bad. It was needlessly bad. By the end of the season, a series of running gags that were funny the first time - constantly playing the introduction to Nickelback's Photograph whenever there was a music break, having the weekly guest take a photo of the pair, a stream of silly station IDs that transitioned scenes, the manager prematurely ending conversations - hampered the show down the stretch.
I get that the series was based on a live show from last year's comedy festival, and I'm sure they were funny for the entire hour or so that it was on stage. But on a weekly series, it starts to feel as though the writers - in this case, the likable Paul Ego and Jeremy Corbett - haven't got enough ideas to fill up six half-hour episodes.
The live audience was also a mistake. Not only because they were half-heartedly chuckling all the way through the series (if you're going to have audience laughter, at least have them laugh as though they're enjoying themselves), but also because I think the show would have been better without the live element; a faster pace and better execution would have gone a long way to improving what we saw.
It wasn't all horrible: the weekly guests mostly worked, with the interview segments usually producing the most laughs (Anika Moa and Dave Dobbyn stand out for me), and Urzila Carlson entertained, particularly later in the series when she got more screen time. But it wasn't enough to overcome a flawed premise, lazy writing, poor execution, and a live audience who sounded as though they wanted to be anywhere else.
So, two more Kiwi comedies have come and gone - those are my thoughts, now over to you:
What did you think of Sunny Skies and/or The Radio? Do you agree with my thoughts? Or have I got it horribly wrong?