On a holiday to Mt Tarawera with her scientist parents, teenager Jenny (Katrina Hobbs) finds an odd shard of metal. By touching it she unwittingly awakens 'Drom' — a survivor of an alien mission to deactivate a planet-annihilating space gun (aka the volcano!). Local kids Tessa and Lloyd also own key pieces; if Drom and the teen trio can't defeat the gun-toting mechanoid ... human and alien species extinction is imminent! The internationally successful six part series was a South Pacific Pictures and Canadian co-production; it screened in 1991.
Children's adventure series Gather Your Dreams follows Kitty, a teenager who dreams of stardom while travelling with her family's vaudeville troupe in Depression-era 1930s New Zealand. The troupe's impresario (and Kitty’s father) was played by Mortimer’s Patch star Terence Cooper. Mostly shot in the Coromandel, the half hour 13-part series was one of a run of kidult dramas made in the late 70s by South Pacific Television. Like its predecessor — colonial scamp saga Hunter's Gold — it had international sales success. Dreams was helmed by Hunter's Gold director Tom Parkinson.
Created and directed by Brazilian-born Roberto Nascimento, this anthology web series looks at gay and queer dating life in the second decade of the 21st Century. In a series of stand-alone vignettes — some serious, some comical — urbanites of the digital age chase physical and emotional connection. The stories in Sui Generis were conceived in collaboration with "members and allies" of the LGBTQIA+ community. The first series of six episodes was set in Brazil, and won Best International Web Series at the 2018 Melbourne WebFest. The second set of six relocated to Auckland.
In the Nature of Things saw Christchurch zoologist Ron Walton deliver science lessons to children. Walton (along with Night Sky presenter Peter Read) made made science pop, and was one of NZ’s best known broadcasting personalities of the 60s and 70s, fondly remembered by a generation of Kiwi kids. His fame saw him endorse everything from microscopes to Pye TV sets. From a gentler time, well prior to the pyrotechnics of MythBusters, Things was one of the few NZBC products from the era that screened internationally, selling to the US and a host of other countries.
This vehicle for self-styled “failed teenage rappers” Mark Williams and Otis Frizzell (previously MC OJ & The Rhythm Slave) took its name from their initials. A TV extension of their long running radio show, it was inspired by hip-hop rather than being about it. The premise was simple: the pair were let loose with digital cameras — Frizzell learnt to operate his reading the manual during their first flight — to find exotic locations, Kiwi expats and international stars (at London's Pinewood Studios Lee Tamahori introduced them to Halle Berry and Pierce Brosnan).
"As dark as Twilight, as twisted as Twin Peaks, and as bitchy as Gossip Girl" is David Stubbs' summary of the series he co-created, produced and directed with Tom Robins for Krafthaus Films. Beautiful but doomed Beth Connolly (played by the coincidentally named Beth Chote) washes up in Kafkaesque suburban Porirua, where folks are understandably freaked out by her dead-on resemblance to missing schoolgirl Tara. The winner of an International Digital Emmy in 2010, the series originally screened in 2009 and has since been sold to Swedish channel SVT.
On the heels of Issues (1990), More Issues offered more of the same satirical takes on local and international current affairs. It pokes fun at the advent of news-presenting personalities like Judy Bailey, Richard Long and Paul Holmes - such a prominent feature of NZ TV at the time. Politicians Ruth Richardson and Robert Muldoon also featured regularly, and celebs such as Oprah Winfrey and Rachel Hunter made appearances. Issues of the day included Martin Crowe's upcoming nuptials, the first Gulf War, and Māori land claims.
Life on Ben is a partly-animated series for kids exploring the intricacies of life on skin. Gordon and Gloob (voiced by Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement and Boy director Taika Waititi) are two symbiotic creatures who go on an unexpected stop motion journey. When their host, 10-year-old Ben, gets an itch in his butt the Plasticine duo find themselves exiled to his nostril; on their quest to get back home they encounter a petri dish of other microbial folk. Created by Luke Nola (Let’s Get Inventin’), the 10 episodes of this two-minute show sold internationally.
3:45 LIVE! was an afternoon links programme for young people that screened from 1989 - 1990. As well as linking afternoon programmes on TV2, the show included interviews with prominent (local and international) music stars, sports heroes and media personalities of the time, from rapper Redhead Kingpin and Eurythmics' star Dave Stewart to newsreader Judy Bailey and All Black Gary Whetton. Presenters included a young Phil Keoghan (of future-Amazing Race fame), Hine Elder, Rikki Morris, and Fenella Bathfield.
Ambitious Jonathan Gunson-created children's series Space Knights pitched the King Arthur myth into a zany sci fi universe of Knights of the Round Space Station, Vader-esque villains, and laser lance jousting. The distinctive look of this early South Pacific Pictures series — like a picture book come to life — was developed by Listener cartoonist Chris Slane, and achieved by using actors in life-size puppet suits and blue screen effects. The series was 22 half hour episodes and screened internationally. The memorable 'Space Junk' theme song was by Dave Dobbyn.