TV Review: Terry Teo goes a little dark

Kahn West and Josh Thomson play Terry Teo and Detective McMurray who team up to fight crime, in the new TVNZ series ...
Bevan Read

Kahn West and Josh Thomson play Terry Teo and Detective McMurray who team up to fight crime, in the new TVNZ series Terry Teo.

Television programmes often don't stand the test of time terribly well. It's perhaps why the Jones! channel is often a profoundly disappointing experience. You spot a show you used to love, flick it on and it's terrible.

So, it's perhaps a good thing that the 1985 kids' show Terry Teo and the Gunrunners has been updated for the modern day. It was originally adapted from a comic book creation and 1985 Terry was a happy 12-year-old boy skateboarding around Auckland in his white-stitched jeans and distinctive yellow t-shirt.

From the opening scenes of 2016 Terry Teo (7pm, Sundays, TVNZ2), when Terry skulks around in a hoodie talking about his rules for robberies, it's clear we're not in the innocent eighties anymore. He's left behind that child of yesteryear with his helmet-like haircut and yellow socks.

Kahn West had never heard of Terry Teo before auditions.

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New Terry is a grumpy teenager with artfully tousled locks and hobbies that are less about skateboarding and more about burglary. He's keen to join a gang and expand his career. That's modern youth for you, eh? Tsk.

But when he finds out there's more to the murder of his estranged dad than meets the eye, he decides to take a different path. It's an altogether darker show than the 1985 version, with more adult themes, a more complex Terry, a corrupt mayor and a crooked cop.

It does balance these however with enough light-hearted moments, humour and bumbling criminals to keep it firmly grounded in comic hero territory. At one point it's looking grim for Terry when two minor gang members are about to help him meet his maker. They open a box to get out a newly ordered gun, only to discover it's in pieces.

"It is a gun. We just have to assemble it ..." says one.

"These instructions are in Japanese. Do you speak Japanese?."

"Not confidently ..." comes the reply.

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That kind of dopey criminal takes the darkness out of this, slightly.

And the overall result is a funny show with a slick, modern-day feel. Die-hard fans of the original may find an issue with it, and it is definitely a more adult show. Apparently there was some debate between the producers and TVNZ when it became plain this wasn't really a young kids' show anymore.

And sure, you wouldn't want your eight-year-old watching. But, it's a pretty good show nonetheless – it feels fresh and thoroughly modern day and it kind of draws you in. And that's not a bad combo.

More superhero comic book-type action features in Powers (now available on Lightbox), back for a second series.

If you've not caught this show so far, the premise is this – two detectives Walker and Pilgrim work for a special police unit who investigate crime involving super-humans. This is a world packed full of celebrity-style superheroes, with a plethora of different niche powers where style unfortunately trumps it over any kind of engaging characters.

Like Terry Teo, it's adapted from a comic book. But it's less fun.

 - Stuff


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