This collection of 40 classic Kiwi TV series offers up images spanning 50 years. The titles range from Gloss to Gliding On, from Olly Ohlson to Nice One Stu, from Ready to Roll to wrestlers. In this special backgrounder, Stuff's James Croot writes about favourite moments of Kiwi TV. The list is in rough chronological order of when each series debuted.
The first movie written and directed by playwright Anthony McCarten is a portrait of a family melting down under the media spotlight. The comedy/drama stars Danielle Cormack in two roles — as a swimmer on the cusp of Olympic glory, and as the twin sister back home, looking on as her family descends into spats and bickering as they find the pressure to perform too much to bear. Via Satellite showcases a topline cast, including Tim Balme, Rima Te Wiata, and a scene-stealing and heavily-pregnant Jodie Dorday, who won an NZ TV and Film Award for her work.
The first episode of this Kiwi-Pasifika comedy whodunnit introduces us to the extroverted Kala, and her close-knit group of West Auckland housie lovers and churchgoers. Kala and Chaka's pricey fundraiser for the new Avondale church hall has packed them in — but then the night's takings go missing. Kala (played by musician Bella Kololo) feels all eyes and ears are on her as she tries to contain the secret of the missing money. Written and directed by Mario Faumui (Fresh), the web series also features actors Sushila Takao (Filthy Rich) and Stacey Leilua (in an eye patch!)
This animated series stars a shed of friendly machines who live on Murray and Heather’s farm near Kumara Cove. In this episode Beaut the Ute goes through a midlife crisis when he meets a younger ute — Flash — in town, and worries his time might be over. But the machines soon learn that a slick new number plate isn't everything. The colour palette of this animated series makes it clear that the machines are the characters that matter. The show is narrated by broadcaster Jim Mora (Mucking In), who created it with Brent Chambers.
Anthony McCarten is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and novelist, who has directed two of his own movie scripts. His screenplay credits include Bohemian Rhapsody, Winston Churchill film Darkest Hour, and Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything, which won him a BAFTA award in 2015 for Best Adapted Screenplay. McCarten was interviewed for NZ On Screen when he was in Auckland in 2015, for Script to Screen's Big Screen Symposium.
Alex is a champion teenage swimmer determined to win selection to the 1960 Rome Olympics, in this adaptation of the award-winning young adults novel. Written by ex Empire Games swimming medallist Tessa Duder, Alex was the first in a quartet of books exploring the vicissitudes of the high achiever freestyler as she deals with rivalry, ambition, first love and the pressures of growing up. Lauren Jackson, who played the title role, later appeared in vampire movie Perfect Creature. The film was a co-production between New Zealand and Australia.
This first series of The Watercooler features stories about sauna etiquette, nurse-patient relations, Trans-Tasman cricket rivalry and urination. The web series is based mostly on yarns provided by the show’s Facebook audience, supplemented by creator and star Mike Minogue’s own sauna story. The allegedly true stories are reenacted by a cast that includes Jonathan Brugh, Cohen Holloway and Abby Damen (The Māori Sidesteps). Each story is introduced as a chat over the office watercooler, with the storyteller and their audience also playing the main characters.
A death-bed confession from a touch judge leads to a repeat of a test match between the All Blacks and Wales played 25 years earlier — with the same players. Before the footy, a former Welsh star is forced to face up to a past romance. Mateships and rivalries are rekindled in this genial "what if" yarn, that celebrates and satirises two nations' rugby obsessions. It won best screenplay and supporting actor (John Bach) at 1992's NZ Film Awards. The cast saw former All Blacks and Welsh rugby reps playing alongside acting greats from both countries.
Youngsters Romeo, Ed, and Polly wait in two cars after dark while their parents are inside drinking. It’s a situation many Kiwis would recognise: cars without parents outside the bar or rugby club. Soon cross-car rivalry warms to budding friendship. Winning performances, and the tender mix of comedy and romance saw the tale of a Te Kaha pub carpark become an international hit. Two Cars won a boot-full of awards, launched Waititi’s career, and was the second New Zealand short to be nominated for an Academy Award. Waititi infamously feigned sleep during the 2005 ceremony.
Created by Gavin Strawhan and Rachel Lang, Jackson’s Wharf was set in a fictional coastal town and revolved around a sibling rivalry between brothers Frank (the town cop) and Ben Jackson (a big smoke lawyer). Returning with his family, golden boy Ben has controversially inherited the local pub from his recently deceased father. Produced by South Pacific Pictures, the one hour popular drama screened for two seasons. Writer James Griffin and director Niki Caro worked on the show, alongside much of the talent who would later create Mercy Peak and Outrageous Fortune.