In this mockumentary series, hapless property developer turned politican Dennis Plant (played by Bob Maclaren) campaigns to win a fictional Queenstown seat, then later launches party Future New Zealand. Made by Great Southern, the first season screened on TV3. A second season on TV One coincided with the 2008 election; it was thrice nominated at the 2009 Qantas NZ Film and TV Awards (Best Comedy, plus Actor and Supporting Actor, for Maclaren and Andrew King respectively). Reality met fiction when Plant's 2008 election blog appeared on the NZ Herald website.
Fuelled by enthusiasm more than cash, Newton Salad debuted on Wellington station Channel 7 in November 1999. In the first episode, Dempsey Woodley described the show as a mix of talkback and comedy. Alongside viewers' calls, hosts Woodley and Amanda Hanan introduced sketches and guests — including Flight of the Conchords, Pinky Agnew (as Jenny Shipley) and Gentiane Lupi (Helen Clark's hairdresser). After two months of live weekly shows, Newtown Salad returned for five nights in May 2000 showcasing acts from TV2's International Laugh Festival.
Long-running kids series Studio 2 screened on weekdays after school on TV2, from 2004 to 2010. It included competitions, cartoons (eg SpongeBob SquarePants), games and interviews, and The Hub website — a pioneering example of transmedia, where presenters and kids could interact. Taking turns as co-presenter were Matt Gibb, Jordan Vandermade, Dayna Vawdrey, and Vicki Lin. Guests included SpongeBob actor Rodger Bumpass and Helen Clark. Produced by Taylormade Media, the show was renamed Studio 2 Live in 2010; a Saturday version screened in 2007.
Gibson Group production Public Eye was inspired by the British series, Spitting Image. Latex puppets caricature topical personalities, mostly drawn from the world of politics (Ruth Richardson, Helen Clark, Winston Peters etc). Their foibles are duly skewered in fast-moving comic skits such as the 'Ruatoria Rasta' segment, 'The White Way' and 'Honky Tanga'. The wickedly grotesque puppets were based on drawings by cartoonist Trace Hodgson, and built by a team headed by future Weta FX maestro, Richard Taylor.
Four-part series Revolution mapped sweeping social and economic change in New Zealand society in the 1980s and early 1990s. Described as a “journalist's assembly” by its makers, it collected together interviews with the major players and archive footage. Producer Marcia Russell: “We wanted to make Revolution because we believed that unless we re-run and re-examine our recent history we are in constant danger of forgetting, and forgetting can render us passive about the present and slaves of the future.” It won Best Factual Series at the 1997 Film and TV Awards.