TVNZ in 2014: what can we expect?
It's been just under two weeks since the season of new season launches (better name required) began with Mediaworks' announcement - and the season continued last night with TVNZ revealing their plans, and their lineup of shows for One and TV2, during a gala ceremony that brought cast members from Shortland Street and Home & Away together on stage. But that wasn't the only thing to marvel at ... here are a few thoughts on the major announcements from last night:
Expect an overdose of mainstream, viewer-friendly science-fiction on TV2
The big announcement for TV2 is Marvel's Agents of SHIELD - essentially a procedural comedy-drama set in the Marvel cinematic universe, that is sure to draw big viewers - but it leads a slate of mainstream sci-fi/fantasy, including Almost Human (Kiwi star Karl Urban leads a futuristic buddy-cop procedural), Believe (supernatural drama from creator Alfonso Cuaron), Intelligence (Josh Holloway plays a grumpier version of Chuck), Once Upon A Time In Wonderland (a spin-off from the successful Once Upon A Time franchise), The Tomorrow People (a remake of The Tomorrow People with really, really good looking people) and Resurrection (an eight year old boy appears in the town where he supposedly died 30 years earlier) - not to mention returning faves like Arrow, Supernatural, The Walking Dead, and The Vampire Diaries.
I guess you could complain that these shows all sound a little samey - but, even though I might sound a little sarcastic in describing them, I actually think this is a strong batch of shows, and a good core for the primetime lineup. There is a problem, though - these shows will be great when they start debuting in late January and February ...
... but expect your friends to have seen most of them already
A few of these shows haven't gotten under way in the USA yet - Believe, Intelligence and Resurrection are all slated as mid-season shows over there, so we should get them pretty quickly on our screens. But a number of the others are among the most hyped shows of the year. I think it is safe to say that a good number of people who are likely to watch something like Agents of SHIELD or Arrow are probably already watching them over the internet.
And, sure, the number of people watching those shows online might be low compared to potential audience numbers here. But it must be hard to make word of mouth work for you, or get some excitement around new season shows, when there is a group of people out there saying things like "Agents of SHIELD? I watched that months ago. Why are TV2 so slow?!"
TV One is bringing drama back
In addition to the plethora of Kiwi-made (outlined below), TV One have announced a number of intriguing dramas - including Breathless (a British period drama set in a gynaecology unit in the 1960s, which has been hailed as a cross between Downton Abbey and Call The Midwife), Broadchurch (David Tennant leads the cast of this brilliant British crime drama), Australian drama Rake (a remake of which is airing on TV3, so we might have two Rakes on two different channels), and Secrets And Lie (Martin Henderson stars in an Aussie crime drama about the murder of a four year old boy).
Those shows join TV One faithfuls like Doc Martin, Call The Midwife and Mr Selfridge, and a slew of returning procedurals like Criminal Minds, Person Of Interest, and The Following.
I love the strong focus on local
I am looking forward to local comedy-drama Step Dave; created by Kate McDermott, one of this country's best television writers, the show seems like a bit of fun - starring relative unknowns Sia Trokenheim and Jono Kenyon, Step Dave follows a guy (believe it or not, named Dave) in his twenties who moves in with new girlfriend Cara, a woman 15 years his senior with three kids. The Downlow Concept built up enough good will with Hounds that new comedy Cover Band will be must-watch - even if my years of playing in covers bands means that it might hit a little close to home. David Farrier and Rhys Darby have teamed up on a new series called Short Poppies, a current affairs spoof.
There are a handful of new Sunday Theatre films coming next year, too: Nancy Wake's Story will tell the story of, err, Nancy Wake, a Wellington-born secret agent in World War II who earned the nickname "White Mouse"; Field Punishment No 1 follows a group of conscientious objectors through the first world war; the recovery operation following the crash on Mt Erebus is recreated in Operation Overdue; Pirate Of The Airwaves follows the rise of Radio Hauraki; and Project L goes "behind the headlines" to tell Louise Nicholas' story, in a film directed by Robert Sarkies.
Agent Anna, Nothing Trivial, New Zealand's Got Talent, Masterchef NZ, and a host of reality documentaries return as well - though no sign of Go Girls, sadly. I feel like the new cast would definitely have found their feet, given time.
No sign of the missing Fox content ... but it might still be too soon
Fox Watch: Day 6, still no sign of the missing shows, search continues.
There is also a heap of new and returning content: returning favourites include Wentworth, The Big Bang Theory, Revenge, The Amazing Race Australia, My Kitchen Rules, Offspring, House Husbands, and they'll be joined by new comedies like Mom (Anna Faris and Alison Janney star as a dysfunctional mother-daughter unit), Super Fun Night (aka: "Rebel Wilson was funny in Pitch Perfect, let's give her a show"), and Trophy Wife (critically acclaimed sitcom starring Malin Ackerman as Kate, who just married Pete - a guy with two ex-wives and three kids).
A pretty strong announcement, really: there are some great American shows on the lineup that I'll be eagerly watching (Agents of SHIELD and Resurrection are two that I'm excited for, and I'll be checking out TV One dramas Rake, Broadchurch and Breathless), and I love that TVNZ have steered more toward local content - especially in light of Mediaworks' decision not to commission much original local content. However, while TVNZ have the most buzzed about shows, they need to do a better job of getting them to audiences quickly; Agents of SHIELD and Arrow are just two shows that should have been fast-tracked to audiences here - and not doing so might hurt their chances of success.
What do you think: anything in TVNZ's announcement that you're looking forward to watching?