Lack of creative 'alignment' at centre of Terry Teo's rating debacle video

Kahn West had never heard of Terry Teo before auditions.

Television New Zealand may be reviewing its processes to ensure commissioned production companies remain on the same creative page.

This comes after visionary differences between TVNZ and the producers of Terry Teo have resulted in extra challenges in getting the show to air.

TVNZ's director of content, Jeff Latch, said that normally there is "complete alignment" between producers and TVNZ commissioners.

Kahn West as Terry Teo, the show is currently   OnDemand, set for the silver screen later in the year.

Kahn West as Terry Teo, the show is currently OnDemand, set for the silver screen later in the year.

In the case of Terry Teo, it hadn't worked out that way, he said.

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Latch said TVNZ was clear from the beginning that it wanted Terry Teo to be a children's drama for 6pm, meaning, adhering to broadcasting standards, "it could not have a higher rating than PG".

The Terry Teo TV series cast. From right: Kahn West as Terry Teo, Drew Brice Ford as Caleb, Hanna Tevita as Polly, and ...
Supplied

The Terry Teo TV series cast. From right: Kahn West as Terry Teo, Drew Brice Ford as Caleb, Hanna Tevita as Polly, and Manon Blackman as Penelope Butterworth.

In May, when the show was submitted to TVNZ by the production company, Semi-Professional, they decided the grittier take on the much-loved 1980s action series, which included violence, language, and themes meant it was suitable for a more mature audience.

It was slapped with a PGR rating, giving it the very small, and currently filled, schedule windows of late afternoon or after 7pm.

The anticipated show, which received $1.3 million from NZ On Air's children's content fund, has since gone straight to OnDemand, while it waits for a 7pm slot to open up.

Former Timaru man Josh Thomson in the role of Detective McMurray on TVNZ's OnDemand Terry Teo series based on the 80s NZ ...
SUPPLIED

Former Timaru man Josh Thomson in the role of Detective McMurray on TVNZ's OnDemand Terry Teo series based on the 80s NZ comic book Terry and the Gunrunners.

Latch, promises that the show will take up the 7pm Sunday slot later in the year, but a date has not been set.

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When asked if a TVNZ representative kept checks on the production of commissioned shows to ensure they were suitable for their intended time slot - Latch said a commissioner was was assigned to work alongside the production company.

He said he was satisfied that the commissioner had done their job, but that it had been "very challenging".

"It's a number of things but I think it's fundamentally that the producers have had a very passionate vision for the show that was slightly different to the one we had for it, I think that's probably at the heart of this."

He said it was difficult to always judge the rating by a script, especially with action scenes.

"Particularly when you're looking at action sequences, you might have something that says 'so and so kicks so and so' , but until you actually see the scene after its being shot, there's a big difference between kicking someone in the shins and doing a flying kick to someone's head.

"You only see what you're going to get once it's actually produced, shot, and edited."

Asked if the experience with Terry Teo had highlighted room for a system change to ensure shows are kept suitable for their intended slot, Latch said the situation would be reviewed.

"We are going to review it because it is unusual to be in this situation where we've had to re-evaluate 

"We certainly will review our processes to see if there's anything we could have done differently that could have led to a greater alignment earlier between the producers and ourselves."

Directed by Gerard Johnstone (Housebound, Jaquie Brown Diaries), Terry Teo was was produced by Auckland-based company Semi-Professional Pictures.

Producer Luke Sharpe said they were aware that the proposed time slot for the show would be 6pm.

When asked why it ended up with a higher rating, Sharpe declined to comment further.

The production company released a statement saying TVNZ had approved its scripts with the 6pm time-slot in mind.

"All of the material that was flagged as inappropriate for the proposed original 6pm timeslot was in the network-approved scripts and the approved edits.

"Consequently, there were indeed robust discussions had about the prospect of material changes to the content at delivery and we're glad TVNZ were ultimately supportive and made the right choice to keep the show as it was."

The statement added that they were happy the show was getting a positive response from critics and fans, and were thrilled the show would receive a 7pm Sunday timeslot.

A spokeswoman for NZ On Air said that once they fund a project, the relationship is then between the commissioner, the broadcaster, and the producer.

"The commissioner and broadcaster's role is to keep close to the producer and to ensure that everything is being done and it's being delivered on time, on budget and to the quality expected.

"From our perspective, what we got was what we expected, and we're happy to have a really good programme that people are loving, which is the main thing."

 - Stuff

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