Bitchin' Channels

A blog about television and radio with Paul Casserly

Paul Casserly: Lost in the Bermuda Triangle of TV

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A scene from Two Broke Girls, which makes Two and a Half Men seem complex and subtle.
A scene from Two Broke Girls, which makes Two and a Half Men seem complex and subtle.

Like those quiet surf spots we're urged to keep away from because of dangerous rips, I can identify a similar dead zone that is best avoided.

It might even be fair to call it the Bermuda Triangle of local TV. It's 8pm and it's on a Wednesday night. You have been warned. (Note: This experiment was conducted in a motel room without the benefit of Sky or Freeview.)

It begins on TV One, and I must be careful here so as not to give the impression that I am not an animal lover, or that I condone cruelty towards beasts of any kind (fishes, lambs and cows aside, which I will of course kill* and eat with gusto, and sometimes pesto).

The show in question is SPCA Rescue (TV One, 8pm), a very popular and successful - it's been exported to Australia - reality programme about people, who are in effect, doing God's work. They get stuck in for the SPCA and they save animals. I'd be churlish to have a go at that wouldn't I? Stupid might be a better word, but here goes.

I like people more than animals, and the people on this show seem to get a rough deal. It seems to me they're mostly sad, possibly under-educated and sometimes mentally ill folk who don't realise they shouldn't leave the dog in the car on a hot day, or that having 900 cats doesn't represent such great long-term planning after all.

And then there's the sadness of the whole affair, like the dogs on death row awaiting adoption. I know it's an uncomfortable truth kind of thing, but it just making me uncomfortable. Click.

What's this on TV2? Oh I've heard of this, very zeitgeisty it promises to be too, it's called Two Broke Girls (TV2, 8pm).

In just a few minutes of viewing you'll realise it's really a moronic, laugh-track-riddled sitcom that makes Two and a Half Men seem complex and subtle. It wouldn't be too surprising to find out that the actors here are really just a form of very advanced talking-meat, bred by scientists in a lab, designed to spout the constant stream of one-liners that passes for the script.

Again, I'm not in the demographic, and it is a very popular show, but I'm out of here. Click.

Now on TV3, this is promising - some bad behaviour on the road in a new local reality show. Who doesn't love the munted kiwis who make Motorway Patrol and Police 10/7 such perennial favourites?

The premise of Road Madness (TV3, 8pm) is promising enough: New Zealanders are terrible drivers and truck drivers armed with cameras are in a good place to record some really shocking behaviour.

Sadly they are attempting this with some really shocking cameras. And, more importantly, most of the action isn't actually shocking, just the sort of below-average overtaking that you see every time you drive out of town.

But I'm always up for a new twist on road-based reality and Ewan Gilmour does do his best to breathe life into the enterprise or at least create a diversion, but the likeable westie could really do with the writers from Two Broke Girls. He needs some one-liners. He needs some zingers.

Actually what he really needs are some wasted kids from Hamilton rapping in the back of a Nissan Skyline. Because the show is based around cameras attached to trucks the only human connection we have is the audio of the truckies as they curse over the idiot drivers who overtake badly.

The most surprising thing here is that truckies don't swear half as much as your average eight-year-old. Even more surprising is the fact, that as I write this, I know I will be tuning in again.

I don't really need to see any more sickly miniature horses or watch Caroline build a murphy bed (this week's listing for Two Broke Girls) but for some reason I need more Road Madness.

Perhaps something happened to me when I entered that (free to air) 8pm vortex. It may seem strange but I need to go back to get my bearings. I remember it being really weird, but could it really be that strange? Will there ever be an actual crash?

See, it's happening, it's pulling me back, that reality rip is very, very strong. I think it's getting me.

* Okay, I only kill fish. The actual killing of lambs and cows I tend to outsource.

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