Paul Casserly 's Opinion

Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

Paul Casserly: Tragic, in a good way

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Kelsey Grammer is Boss.  Photo / Supplied
Kelsey Grammer is Boss. Photo / Supplied

Kelsey Grammer's Mayor Kane makes Len Brown look like, well, Len Brown. Hell, he makes Robert Mugabe look like Tim Shadbolt.

Season two of Boss has begun on Soho and it's a stone cold political drama without equal.

Like Breaking Bad's Walter White, Kane is a man on a downward spiral. Unlike Breaking Bad, Boss is a one-note pony and that note is grim.

While comic relief is usually a key ingredient in the most successful dramatic endeavours - think Roger Sterling on LSD in Mad Men or Paulie Walnuts on The Sopranos - it's pretty much absent on Boss.

It probably explains why it's not a huge ratings success in the States, and why some find it hard to get into. But that weight, even without light relief, is in of itself a thing of beauty.

It may be chiseled from a great big slab of the very granite of doom, but Boss certainly has momentum.

Kane ended series one in a twitching heap on the floor, thanks to a worsening degenerative condition. His karma points are in a shocking state of disarray - a daughter he sent to jail for political gain, a traitorous colleague dispatched to the morgue, oh and he has an appallingly treacherous wife played superbly by Connie Nielsen. Ice queen doesn't even start to describe this reptilian beauty.

It should all be too much, too grim, but Boss is a great ride, it helps that Grammer is at his captivating best, and that visually it's a feast. It also has a killer score, and a good score can help paper over the cracks, just as it does on The Killing.

Season one is worth seeking out, but season two has just started on Soho, (Saturday's 8.30pm) and will be easy to catch up with. It may be challenging at first, but it will make sense and it will be one of the better shows you watch this year. Especially because as his condition gets worse, Kelsey Grammer's Kane just gets better and better.

There's even some nice symmetry given the real-life political intrigue he's embroiled in. It seems Grammer, an 'out' Republican, is peeved that he's been overlooked for the Emmys, despite winning for his portrayal of Kane last year.

There's also a compelling sense of impending doom in the world of Deane Waretini, star of Deane Waretini - Now is The Hour currently playing on Maori TV (Friday, 10pm).

In this extremely charming low-fi-docu-comedy - that sits somewhere between The Office and The GC - Waretini is a one hit wonder trying to make a comeback. In real life he had a genuine smash hit with The Bridge, back in 1981, and part of the fun of this series is trying to tell what's real and what isn't.

We follow him on what appears to be a semi-factual journey to re-discover his former greatness. In the opening titles we see moments from that famous music video, and then we see Deane asleep, clutching a Best Bets in the front seat of his yellow taxi.

Like Mayor Kane, Deane has his own health issues, which we witness when he goes to the doctor for a check-up before the tour. It's one of those moments you hope is scripted and not real, because he's told that his blood pressure is 180/90.

Possibly more of a worry for Deane is that the concert promoter from "Tamaki Makaurau", who's promising to get his career back on track, is one Orlando Stewart, the same man who guided Wayne Anderson - of Wayne Anderson: Singer of Songs/Glory Days. If you've seen those shows then you'll know what you're in for here.

I mentioned The GC before, meaning that this also illustrates what's now called "soft scripted drama", but this show has an especially keen eye for the unvarnished reality of life in suburban New Zealand that's the antithesis of The GC's shiny glamour.

As one of Deane's "biggest fans" says in the first episode: "I think he has a magnificent voice but to be quite honest I think half the country thinks he's dead."

I'm hooked.

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Paul Casserly

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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