The death of the Almighty Johnsons

MIKE KILPATRICK
Last updated 12:34 11/12/2013
Almighty Johnsons

UNCEREMONIOUS DISMISSAL: The Almighty Johnsons have been axed after three seasons.

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OPINION: And so The Almighty Johnsons has been officially cancelled and fans around the world are left to mourn the passing of another great television show.

The news, of course, was delivered in that seemingly unique Kiwi way.

TV3 programming boss Mark Caulton broke the news on Radio New Zealand National, apparently catching most of those involved in the show by surprise.

Caulton claimed South Pacific Pictures were told 'some weeks back' that a fourth series would not be commissioned.

James Griffin, co-creator of the show, told the radio station "To be totally honest, today is the first time I've heard anyone definitely say it's not coming back."

The confusion came because TV3 hadn't wanted news of the future of the show in the media, even though it indicated it would cancel the show - and so Griffin, who also co-created Outrageous Fortune, was surprised to hear the confirmation in his pre-recorded interview.

It's a pretty unsavoury way to end a fantastic show, but probably not suprising.

This is the same TV3 that allowed a preview of the following week's show to totally destroy the drama and heartbreak of a cliffhanger ending.

It took the spectacular work of Michelle Langstone, one of our top actors, and treated it with a lack of respect that left many, rightfully, furious at the decision.

And while the Almighty Johnsons may not be everyone's cup of tea, it has garnered a fan-base around the world which would be the envy of any other show.

Fans in Canada and the United Kingdom love the Johnsons and are as gutted as we are that it's not coming back.

And bear in mind The Almighty Johnsons was the first New Zealand show to be bought for broadcast in the United States without being remade.

Not even Outrageous Fortune managed that. It seems short-sighted of TV3 to ignore those factors, especially with new avenues to deliver content.

Yet we in New Zealand are quick to bag things we don't like or understand. It's sad.

So where does it leave us? New Zealand drama has been virtually gutted and we're left with the spectre of even more reality television.

And while the likes of The Block and X-Factor New Zealand are undoubtedly ratings winners for our television channels it can't just come down to ratings.

People are consuming their media in all kinds of new ways and ratings are still largely derived from 600 (yes, 600!) families with Nielsen black boxes in their houses.

They only started measuring PVR (like Sky+) content last year and more and more are turning to various methods online to get their fix.

And instead of taking risks and giving local talent a chance we're turning to guaranteed winners which will not have the legacy the likes of Johnsons can give.

All we're going to end up doing is sending our biggest and brightest - writers, producers and actors, overseas and we'll lose them to New Zealand for good.

Those who take pleasure in bagging New Zealand and our television shows will rub their hands in glee.

Meanwhile I'm off to mourn a unique television show that made me laugh, made me cry, made me angry and made me proud.

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So farewell then, The Almighty Johnsons. You will be missed.

- Stuff

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