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Hero image for Melody Rules - Going, Going ... Goner (First Episode)

Melody Rules - Going, Going ... Goner (First Episode)

Television (Full Length Episode) – 1995

Jeff Stone
Jeff Stone
31 May 2012 - 07.02pm
I do not accept ANY of the excuses given in the comment below for why Melody Rules sucked so incredibly hard. And you shouldn't, either. Plenty of other NZ TV shows of the time and now had/have the same restrictions on them, and none of THEM became known as the personification of crap. The writing was so bad, so incredibly bad, that it made me think that they were TRYING to make it horrible as a sort of ironic statement. "Mis-positioned", indeed. Nonsense. It was promoted like hell when it began - I remember, because I was there at the time - and the only mis-positioning employed was TV3 claiming it was really funny when in fact it was the biggest load of rubbish ever filmed. The show sucked because it was offensively unfunny, badly acted, claustrophobic and...well, God, you've all seen the clip, it is THE worst sitcom in the history of television. Stop trying to defend the abominable. I'm glad it gave people training in how to NOT make bad TV - what a good use of public money, letting patently incompetent people blow hundreds of thousands of bucks on a completely unwatchable load of cobblers.
16 Mar 2012 - 05.45pm
It was crap. A boatload of fail from beginning to end. There's no running away from that.

But speaking as one of the series writers (fortuitously uncredited), I can give a little insight here. First, the writing experience and tuition received was undeniable GOLD. Honest: everything the writing process gave us from first seminar to script was right on the money. We were funny, and good at it. But MR was bad for all sorts of reasons, none of which have been listed in these comments:

1) Writers were new. Yep, I'll cop blame here. Some decisions we made to do with dialogue and pace were undercooked. I list us first, not because we were the worst offenders to the sitcom genre, but because there is no arrow of blame here, and you might as well fess up to the crimes you've done up front.

2) The show was mis-positioned. The development of a TV3 sitcom came down to 5, then to 3 options, to cover off different timeslots and audiences. No offence to the original show developers, but the show selected to go forward (Melody Rules) was the show the writers liked least. The premise was for an afternoon slot - kids and young teens. The writers wanted to do 'Friends' - something way more mature and streetwise.

3) Almost every actor was cast against type. After the writers got started it was announced that the show, featuring a level-headed mother-by-default character, was to serve as a star vehicle for Belinda Todd. We were like "...LOLWUT?" Susan Brady, the show's most formidable actress and a far better choice for the lead, was cast as the 'Belinda Todd' of Melody's universe. Rimmer's skills were mature, but she was told to ham it up. The two boys would act better in reverse roles.

4) The set was microscopic and we had zero budget for fly-sets. Medium close-up follows medium close up. In most sitcoms you have far wider shots to see non-speaking characters react, which is where 70% of TV humour comes from. We had an inexperienced director and a producer with 1970s experience in this genre.

5) The Network was King. I remember vividly one moment in another person's script that had Melody kissing a guest actor. The Network, by way of the Producer, vetoed this idea - they wanted a more implicit way to play this scene. Apparently an innocent kiss was not appropriate for this character in a 7pm timeslot. That was one of many straws that had all the writers going "This is career suicide". Several decisions came to us from the Network that overpowered any way we could eke out a joke from the premise.

These are just the broad brush strokes. The actors were relatively new (though Brady, Brough and Douglas were champions and Rimmer's talent was just starting to make huge waves), once the script was written, writers weren't allowed to take part in "Notes" sessions on set - a common practice that most sitcoms have in rehearsals... So much fail.

The experience was invaluable. The product was BS. I now know 50 really good ways how NOT to make a sitcom.

There was a carrot tossed after the stick of Melody Rules. The writers got to develop new scripts for another sitcom. This was edgier, more mature. We all enjoyed writing for it, and I take pride in that it was a premise created by my original writing partner and I. But when I found out that this series was going to be slated for another TV3 'Star', I thought "Here we go again" and bailed on continuing my contract with the producer. The other writers stuck around - Hey, money is money, and it's a good series, they're not to blame for that :) But a couple of months after I left production didn't get the go-ahead. I heard from the other writers that it was a good thing I left when I did, but meh, I dunno what happened. Or what didn't happen.

A lot of words to say: Melody Rules Sucked, but not for reasons of Americanism. In a different timeslot it would fly. Shit happens.
16 Mar 2012 - 04.13pm
It's so bad it's kinda funny... Makes me cringe like watching the office. And Jodie Rimmer grows up hot.
Floyd Looney
Floyd Looney
29 Jan 2012 - 06.47pm
How did this wreck go 44 episodes?? Let me guess, it was government funded?
Nathan Unknown
9 Aug 2011 - 02.10pm
this is awful
Patrick TePou
29 Nov 2010 - 03.59pm
Melody Rules is New Zealand's worst ever sitcom in the history of television, which starred Belinda Todd (Nightline). It was designed for TV3's weekend 7.00pm timeslot and family viewing in 1995.
Robyn Gallagher
26 Nov 2010 - 02.42pm
The big lesson that we should learn from Melody Rules is that New Zealand has its own kind of humour. It's not something that can be plugged into an American-style sitcom, or indeed formats that successfully work in the UK or even Australia.

Thankfully TV3 (and TVNZ) has since produced excellent, genuinely funny comedy shows.
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