TV Eye: Too much of a good thing

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Kate Elliott played the young Katherine Mansfield flawlessly in Bliss. Photo / Supplied
Kate Elliott played the young Katherine Mansfield flawlessly in Bliss. Photo / Supplied

Well, thank goodness we've got all that culture out of the way. Just in time, eh? Now it's time for the truly cultural aspect of New Zealand life to begin: the rugby.

I couldn't help but thinking it really was as well we'd got that other stuff out of the way before the rugby heads arrive. What would they have thought? They might have thought that we were a very strange sort of people indeed celebrating, as we did last week via our television screens, two of what are often called "icons".

No, we didn't have a dramatisation of Pinetree's early years; perhaps that's still to come. Instead we've had Billy T and Katherine M: a funny man with a high-pitched giggle and a sex-mad young woman who went on to become a famous writer and who, said, in 1908, "bugger", according to Fiona Samuels' reimagining of Katherine Mansfield's early years.

Some spat has arisen (or re-arisen, probably) about who knew the real Billy T and who has the right to say what he was like. Ho hum.

Bliss - which is a fictional account of the young KM (obviously, and hence that "bugger") - was fresh as a daisy to begin with and a bit wilted by the end, as was KM. It looked light and bright and utterly contemporary (how very strange it was to see Kate Elliott as KM in the very same striped cardy I bought on Ponsonby Rd last year ...)

KE played KM flawlessly, which means that, according to this story, she played her to maximum irritating effect. This KM is a real pain in the bum and I found myself wishing that somebody would give her a good slapping.

Ah well, life did that to her, I suppose. She got pregnant, lost the man (boy, actually - they were both just babies themselves), lost the baby, married a bloke, left him after the service, met a charming foreign ne'er-do-well, had lots of sex in cheap rooms, contracted gonorrhoea and died. Oh, and wrote some rather good short stories in her short life.

I think she had some fun along the way. You have to hope she did. I'm not sure this KM was much fun to be around. She does, here, talk some terrible drivel. Her mother said: "You're not a writer. You just make things up." You have, I suppose, to make KM up, or a version of her, otherwise there's no point making a new dramatic version of her life.

She rings true enough - to this version, but I'm not sure what it added to my version of KM. It made for good-looking television at least. (It is a particularly fine cardy.)

From now on it will be wall-to-wall or flat screen-to-flat screen rugby heads and prophets of doom and flag-wavers and folk with face paint. I can't say I'll be watching.

I might have gone back to re-read the works of KM while all of that rugby stuff was going on, but now, I don't know ... I've sort of gone off her.

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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