Every now and then here at NZ On Screen, we like to stick our necks out and choose a Top 10. And our collective opinion is that these are the funniest New Zealand television series to date: from bro' Town to Billy T, from Gliding On to the tag team hijinks of 7 Days. Plus 10 runners-up that we couldn't agree on. Read on to find out more.
Great adverts are strange things: mini works of magic, with the power to make viewers smile, cry, and even buy. Kiwi directors have shown such a knack for making them, they've been invited to do so across the globe. But this collection is about local favourites; dogs on skateboards, choc bar robberies, ghost chips. NZ On Screen's Irene Gardiner backgrounds the top 10 here.
Actor Kevin Smith could do it all; from brooding like Brando in a Tennessee Williams play, through Xena, to the gentle romantic lead of Double Booking, and self-parody in Love Mussel. Collected here are selections from a career cut short (he died in a 2002 film-set accident). Plus tributes from James Griffin, Michael Hurst, Geoffrey Dolan and Simon Prast.
Screened on a TVNZ arts show, this documentary looks at how the strings were pulled on Peter Jackson's low-budget puppet movie Meet the Feebles. An old Wellington railway shed fizzes with energy and imagination as a team peppered with future Oscar-winners crafts the gleefully subversive Muppets parody. Jackson muses on his influences, processes and propensity for "savage humour" in a fascinating interview. Included is footage of his childhood films — war movies and stop motion animation made with his first 8mm camera. Richard King writes about Meet the Feebles here.
A TV network hires actor Kevin Smith to front a documentary about a town divided by an unusual discovery. Gooey Duck — a shellfish with reputed aphrodisiac qualities — has appeared off Ureroa. The quota is owned by a local couple but the rest of the town, big business, the government and the local iwi all have their own ideas. Smith's involvement gets complicated when he innocently consumes the mollusk while watching Prime Minister Jenny Shipley on TV. Writer Stephen Sinclair satiries television, celebrity, gender, politicis, small town New Zealand and penises.
Two decades before the animals of Black Sheep run amok, comes this Sunday night horror about a couple trapped in the countryside as the sheep start getting restless. In between encounters with a cheerful butcher and a man of God, we learn that New Zealand has undergone revolution: anyone who farms or harms animals is now branded a criminal. Directed by Costa Botes; scripted by poet and lawyer Piers Davies, who co-wrote Skin Deep (plus cult movie The Cars that Ate Paris, with acclaimed Australian director Peter Weir).
Rima Te Wiata created a name for herself impersonating many famous New Zealanders in comedy shows Laughinz, Issues, and More Issues. Her most famous parody was of newsreader Judy Bailey. Te Wiata is also a successful dramatic actor, having appeared in a number of TV dramas such as Shark in the Park, Sons and Daughters, and Shortland Street. Her film credits include Via Satellite, 50 Ways of Saying Fabulous and (after this interview was conducted) Housebound and Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
Judy Bailey is sometimes referred to as the 'Mother of the Nation' thanks to nearly 20 years as newsreader on TV One’s 6pm news bulletin. She began as a TV/radio reporter for the NZBC, before co-hosting the regional magazine show Top Half with John Hawkesby. In 1986 Bailey began her newsreading career on the Network News with Neil Billington, and a year later partnered with Richard Long. In 2004 she took on the role solo before leaving TVNZ a year later. In subsequent years Bailey has hosted a number of other shows, including the Māori Television Anzac Day Coverage and her travel show Judy Bailey’s Australia.
With a chorus to do any football terrace proud, the final single from Th’ Dudes (featuring Dave Dobbyn, Peter Urlich and Ian Morris) has become one of the great Kiwi drinking songs — though it was written in Sydney to parody hard-drinking pub crowds, and the lyrics namecheck local landmarks (The Coogee, The Cross) and luxuries unavailable back in NZ (Spanish shoes, falafel). The video, shot in the booze-barn like Cricketers’ Arms in Wellington, captures the raw essence of the song as it showcases the excitement of the band’s live show, and offers a snapshot of bar culture in early 80s New Zealand.
Director Jason Stutter's endearing martial arts parody (and cult classic in the making) was filmed on a shoestring on the mean streets of Wellington. Sam Manu stars as the Tongan Ninja, while Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), who co-wrote the script, chews the scenery as his arch nemesis, the anonymously named Action Fighter. The film plays for laughs - think B movie accents and bad post-dubbing - and hangs off a flimsy plot involving an evil crime syndicate's hostile takeover of a Chinese restaurant.