Friday, September 22, 2006


I don't think it's news to anyone that I love TV. I mean really love TV. TV shows are kind of like sports to me--not only do I watch intensely, I analzye what happens, I discuss nuances with friends, I have my favorite and not-so-favorite teams and platers, and I read articles by "experts" and people who just think they're experts. Sweeps month is like playoff season. So needless to say, I've had gone through some withdrawl during the past seven months of travel. Not that I don't get to watch TV here, but it's different TV, and it's definitely not the most recent episodes.

There are some upsides, however. Although it's a huge pain being months behind in what's being shown, it means we actually get a better selection of show. There are only about five main channels over here (TV1-TV3, C4 the music channel, and Prime), but they pack in shows from the five/six main US networks, plus HBO, Showtime, and other cable channels, and the best from the UK, Canada, and Australia. So I get to watch things like The Office and Trailer Park Boys without illegally downloading anything. It seems like the networks here just figure out what shows have been good in other English-speaking countries, and then only bring those here. There are some mishaps, of course (for some reason we get "The War at Home"), but we don't have to sit through any of those shows that get canned after three episodes. Furthermore, because they are so far behind, there is no off season like the summer is in the States. We just finished a bunch of finales here (like Grey's Anatomy, House, and Boston Legal), but there's still a whole crop of new-to-NZ shows to replace them (like Scrubs, Family Guy, and SVU). The biggest downfall is having to keep myself away from the headlines and articles on the US websites I read. Please, please, please don't tell me what's happened on Season 3 of Project Runway because I want to be surprised.

Also pretty cool is that not only do I get to see my favorite shows from home (except for the US-focused ones like the Daily Show or Best Week Ever of course), I also have discovered some New Zealand shows that I'm a big fan of. And no, I'm not talking about Shortland Street, the national soap opera.

My first new favorite is "Bro'Town," which my flatmates introduced me to almost immediately after I moved in (they have it on DVD). It's a primetime cartoon, somewhat in the satirical vein of The Simpsons or South Park. But it's set in South Auckland and is more or less a half-hour block of New Zealand inside jokes. It's a pretty prime example of how Kiwis like to "take the piss out of" (read: mock) anything and everything, including themselves. And everyone is in on the joke--they get heaps of famous New Zealanders (Lucy Lawless, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Prime Minster Helen Clark, All Blacks captain Tana Umanga, to name a few) to guest star. I've already bought one of the DVDs, and am very excited that new episodes are starting soon.

Then there is my newest discovery, "Pulp Sport." Think Jackass, Punk'd or the Tom Green Show, but funnier, and very specific to New Zealand. Most of the pranks and spoofs are on New Zealand celebrities or institutions. I am especially a fan of the "McKay-Ver" (the correct pronunciation rhymes with "MacGuyver") segments, where they play pranks on sportscaster Hamish McKay.

Part of what I especially love about Pulp Sport is their awesome product placement, which there is a LOT of. It's almost all local products, which makes it a little more fun for me, but really it's just a fine example of how Kiwis don't take themselves too seriously.

I've decided that I'll really be able to call myself a Kiwi when I can watch an episode of one of these NZ shows and actually get all the jokes. I'm not sure whether my flatmates get annoyed or think it's fun that every few minutes they have to be like "He's one of the greatest All Blacks ever" or "That's referring to the 1987 World Cup when we played South Africa". As you can tell, about 90% of the jokes are rugby or other sports references. So considering that I know barely anything about American sports, I think it might be a lofty goal to learn the sport history of another country just to get their jokes on TV. But I'm working on it.


Anonymous said...

What about the big JC, huh???

You know you love Marvellous John. He is, after all, the best thing currently on New Zealand television.

Sandy from Adelaide said...

Are you sure there is no off season in NZ?

I'm not sure how it works there, but here in Oz, we only seem to get endless re-runs and sporting programs on TV over our summer. My impression is that we have an off season in our summer - just like the US. Which is why we never catch up!

teana said...

that mac-kay-ver was hilarious. so much better than punk'd ever will be.