Sucked in by Gloriavale

Gloriavale: A Woman's Place aired on TV2 on Wednesday, July 27.

Gloriavale: A Woman's Place aired on TV2 on Wednesday, July 27.

OPINION: I have this strong feeling that what began as an expose of an extreme religious sect, has become a publicist's dream for a strange New Zealand cult that's gone back to the future.

Gloriavale: A Woman's Place (TV2, Wednesday) told the story of Dove Love's search for a husband from among the 540 adherents at the West Coast community. It also showed, in glowing terms, the life of Gloriavale, awaiting God's instruction and cut off from the rest of the world.

If Greymouth is the rest of the world, then they may not mind being cut off.

Dove, at 22, is a Biblical cougar, ready to trade down to Watchful Stedfast, a 17-year-old apprentice builder, who's keen on joinery, especially if it's with her.

Dove, full of love, waits for word from above and is sent Watchful. The courtship begins but they're not allowed to touch. That's naughty. Only the almighty can get into her nightie.

Instead they romance each other with words, talking about life, love and establishing a dynasty of children.

It's a fascinating world they belong to and the documentary obliges them by becoming as innocent as they are. Indoctrination isn't a word that's spoken, nor is it asked. I imagine a censorship has been imposed on the series by the leader, Hopeful Christian – Neville Cooper who was once convicted of three charges of sexual abuse – but we're not told.

In some ways we're viewing North Korea, west of the alps, without the scary bits. Instead we see a benign, carefree, ordered society that can do without the world, thank you very much.

We're shown the mass production of meals, families, clothing and laundry by the thousands of garments daily. I'd hate to imagine if Fervant got Faithful's underwear by mistake. It's likely to happen, because they all dress in one colour. Instead of Fifty Shades of Grey to match Fifty Shades of Greymouth, they dress in Fifty Shades of Blue.

The documentary glosses over the male-dominated community, the selection of brides by the men, the couples being chaperoned by mum and dad and the primitive mating rituals where, if your hand comes in contact with your partner's body, you're sent to jail without passing Go.

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However, after the wedding service, to which everyone's invited, the newlyweds go upstairs to have a bonk and then return for the reception. Mum and dad are left on the far side of the bedroom door.

Yet the story captures you as Dove naively tells her story and Angel patiently awaits the birth of her sixth child after nine years of marriage. While many people will be repulsed by Gloriavale, some could be attracted to it.

That's the art of the successful storyteller and why Kim Jong-un is so popular in Pyongyang.

Tonight At the Palladium (TV One tonight) isn't Britain's Got Talent but it's enjoyable enough. It's entertainment that comes at you and your only decision is whether to change the channel.

Hosted by Bradley Walsh (The Chase), Tonight At the Palladium is old-fashioned variety that extends from dance routines and two Muppet characters to songs from the latest musical and a moment of class when Andrea Bocelli sings Music of the Night.

A singer called Birdy guested with a song that had no beginning or ending although, wearing part psychedelic, part paisley and part skin, Birdie did.

Bradley works hard at engaging his audience and mostly succeeds. He invites Zoe, who sells maternity clothing online, to join Peter Andre in the Royal Box, he wangles two days' leave for another audience member and discovers a talented 11-year-old guitarist, Toby Lee.

When he refers to Wednesday as "two more sick days before the weekend" he's won Britain over. Now they have Brexit and Bradley.

And just possibly "old fashioned" could just become "new fashioned".

 - Stuff

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