Shortland Street is a fast-paced serial drama set in an inner city Auckland hospital. The long-running South Pacific Pictures production is based around the births, deaths and marriages of the hospital's staff and patients. It screens on TVNZ’s TV2 network five days a week. In 2017 the show was set to celebrate its 25th anniversary, making it New Zealand’s longest running drama by far. Characters and lines from the show have entered the culture — starting with “you’re not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata!” in the very first episode. Mihi Murray writes about Shortland Street here.
Perfect Creature is set in an immaculately realised alternative colonial New Zealand where steam powers cobble-stoned cities, and zeppelins cruise the skies. A race of benevolent vampires preside over the spiritual life of humanity. When one of them turns rogue, a manhunt begins. Starring international actors (Dougray Scott, Saffron Burrows) Perfect Creature was the second feature for director Glenn Standring. It was the first Kiwi film picked up for distribution by a major Hollywood studio (Twentieth Century Fox), who ultimately dithered with its release.
This long-running popular factual series went behind the scenes of New Zealand's auction houses, following the process as items, from cars to family heirlooms, went under the hammer. The half-hour Greenstone show screened for five seasons, from 2000 to 2006. The auctioneers included James Hogan, Ross Millar and James Parkinson (all from Webb's auction house), Penny Reid (Cordy’s in Auckland) and Kevin Hayward (then at Plumbly’s in Dunedin). Michael Hurst narrated season five. The show is not to be confused with the 1990s BBC antiques quiz show of the same name.
Two expat Kiwis return home from the United Kingdom in this episode of Coming Home — Rocky Horror creator Richard O’Brien, and renowned opera tenor Patrick Power. Power returns for work: he’s performing two demanding roles in Pagliacci and Cavalleria rusticana in Auckland. O’Brien’s visit is far more relaxed, visiting old haunts, his siblings and a former employer. Despite the pair espousing love for their UK residences, both fall victim to that irresistible allure of home. O'Brien, a British citizen raised in Aotearoa, was finally granted citizenship in 2011.
In the early hours of 1 January 1998 Ben Smart and Olivia Hope, two young partygoers in the Marlborough Sounds, were in a water taxi looking for a place to crash. They vanished and were never seen again. The investigation transfixed the nation, and led to the conviction of Scott Watson for murder. Directed for TV3 by John Keir (Flight 901: The Erebus Disaster), this 2002 documentary revisits the case from the perspective of two fathers — Gerald Hope and Chris Watson — and brings them together for the first time to talk about whether Scott Watson is guilty.
Stalin’s Sickle takes Kiwi suburban paranoia to unexpected places as nine-year-old Daniel imagines his neighbour is feared Russian dictator Joseph Stalin. Set amidst 1962 Cold War conservatism, Daniel spots the south seas’ Stalin at church, spies on him to confirm his suspicions and schemes to send him on his way. But Daniel’s civil defence plan goes awry, leaving him with a worse threat to deal with. Based on the short story by Michael Morrissey, the Costa Botes-directed film won the Grand Jury Prize at Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival.
This low-budget feature fishtails after a Mum and her teenage kids, kicking around the far north one sleepy summer. Store Santa holiday jobs, teen romance, purloined cars, pet possums, and pot deals fill out the small town shenanigans plotline. Ray Woolf plays an undercover cop, and Calvin Tuteao is a kauri-hugging suitor. Director Peter Tait (who acted in Kitchen Sink) wrote the film to showcase the charisma of kids he was teaching at Taipa College. Made for under $20,000, the film “was bigger than Titanic” at Oruru’s Swamp Palace cinema and community hall.
Love, annoyance, jealousy...families can be hotbeds of many kinds of emotion. Documentary Some Kind of Love chronicles the contrasts between two very different siblings: artist, theatre designer and rampant hoarder Yolanda Sonnabend, and her brother Joseph, a pioneering AIDS scientist who moves to London to look after Yolanda, as she battles dementia. Filmmaking team Thomas and Sumner Burstyn continue the exploration of family begun in acclaimed 2009 documentary This Way of Life. The result has won invites to film festivals from Vancouver to Auckland.
TV personality Jaquie Brown plays (and plays up) herself for delightful comic effect in this hit TV3 satire. Former Campbell Live reporter Brown plays an egomaniacal journalist looking to climb the media ladder any which way she can. Auckland's aspirational set: a cast of Metro social page alumni and wannabes, are skewered with self-referential glee. The second series was retitled for DVD release as The Jaquie Brown Odyssey; both series won acclaim and Best Comedy gongs at the Qantas Film and TV Awards. The Listener gushed: "A local sitcom that doesn't suck."
It's election time in this special episode from the topical weekly satire series about a PR firm (written by James Griffin, Dave Armstrong, Tom Scott and Roger Hall). Giles Peterson and Associates will take on any client - even if it means trying to update Helen Clark's wardrobe, speechwriting for Winston Peters, offering succour to fading National and Alliance MPs, brokering a coalition deal between the Greens and Labour, or helping candidates master the intricacies of The Worm. Meanwhile, elements of the Catholic Church feel they haven't apologised enough.