Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

Paul Casserly: The horrors of war and Adam Sandler

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Paul Casserly wipes away the tears caused by Anzac Girls and Adam Sandler.
A scene from film Grown Ups starring Adam Sandler.
A scene from film Grown Ups starring Adam Sandler.

Crying while watching TV. It doesn't happen that often to me but I enjoy it when it does, in fact, I relish it. And no, bursting into tears during a Post Office advert, after a three day binge doesn't really count, although it has been known to happen.

The most recent, naturally occurring, teardrop threatened at the end of the decidedly tepid but surprisingly watchable Prime series Anzac Girls. It is not the sort of show I would watch at home but I was at my mum's place and finding something we can both deal with is not always easy.

Masterchef Australia has been tremendously helpful in this regard, but Anzac Girls proved to be a good background to the nattering, knitting and trawling through Twitter, that constitute our weekly visits.


Anzac Girls.

The tears didn't come during the deaths of the various soldiers in this Anzac 'true story' drama, though there were many. Yes, the bloody operations in the field hospitals looked grim enough, but after a season of The Knick, I have become immune to anything less than mega gory surgical squirt fests.

This was an unorthodox Anzac story in that it was a story about women, which may explain why the men were reduced to delivering dialogue made of balsa. Fair enough. I guess after countless depictions of historical events in which women are basically talking props, the men in Anzac Girls were providing some utu. The words of the men were straight out Commando comics, if Commando comics had been written by Mills & Boon and then edited by a nun.

But the show got to me. True stories have a habit of doing that.

For the first few weeks, I thought I was watching out of familial compromise, but I came to enjoy the show. Then tears welled up unexpectedly at the end. It was one of those classic closing scenes where the music swells and the enormity of it all is played out through a montage of meaningful looks and ham-fisted juxtapositions; celebrations for the Armistice taking place while our heroine, played by the captivating Georgia Flood, mopes over her dead love.

And then the kicker, the photos of the real women the characters were based on, the moment that you really realise, even though you knew, that this was indeed a true story. And Anzac Girls even had some impressive special effects, the making of which are illustrated here.

For an entirely different and less romantic take on WW1, I've returned to what might be the best historical podcast of all time, Dan Carlin's Blueprint for Armageddon, which is part of his Hardcore History series. It makes you want to cry too, but is so fascinating you don't have time to.

His exhaustive yet entertaining take on the 100-year-old conflict paints a picture in such dazzling detail, you feel like you're reading a library on the subject. Carlin, who has read the library in question, has recently posted the fifth part of his opus, and it's as stunning a take on the conflict as you'll find outside of a bookshelf.

The latest four and a half hour episode spends much of its time explaining about the American and Russian perspectives of WW1. The information is a finely balanced mix of the politics and the horror of the not so Great War. Myths fall away too. The simplistic ideas that I grew up with take a knock. Like my long held belief that Kiwi soldiers were among the best and the British Generals were solely to blame for the carnage of Gallipoli. These and other ideas come to life through the series in shades of grey that a Resene colour consultant could only dream of.


Guy Montgomery.

The idea that our nation was forged on the battlefields of this misguided carnival of carnage has always troubled me. After listening to Carlin's take, it seems even more insane - not as insane, I grant you, as watching the Adam Sandler movie Grown Ups 2 each week for a whole year.

This celebrated folly, undertaken by local comedic upstarts Guy Montgomery and Tim Batt in the podcast The Worst Idea of All Time, is nearing the end of its life and if you haven't listened then now is a very good time to start as episode 46 also features Dai Henwood and Josh Thompson of 7Days and Hounds fame.

It sounds like Tim & Guy have broken the back of this thing. Just a few weeks back the pain was evident and wheels were coming off all over the show, with episode 43 being possibly the worst podcast of all time, with only one of the hosts being audible.

It's painful, but weirdly compelling, and despite the fact it may be the best NZ podcast at the minute, it will probably all end in tears. But if WW1 has taught us anything, even the worst of times eventually come to an end.

- nzherald.co.nz

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Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

It began with Dr Who, in black and white, when it was actually scary. The addiction took hold with Chips, in colour. He made his mum knit a Starsky and Hutch cardigan. Later, Twin Peaks would blow what was left of his mind. He’s been working in radio and TV since the 1990s and has an award in his pool room for Eating Media Lunch.

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