Lydia Jenkin is an entertainment feature writer for the New Zealand Herald.

TV review: Shortland Street's gripping 'mega-episode'

Chris Warner (Michael Galvin) in a chilling scene from Shortland Street's 20th anniversary episode. Photo / Supplied
Chris Warner (Michael Galvin) in a chilling scene from Shortland Street's 20th anniversary episode. Photo / Supplied

They wanted it to be bigger and better than their previous feature length episodes, and Shortland Street outdid itself last night.

This mega-episode was all about bringing multiple storylines to a simultaneous boil, ratcheting up the drama, and providing plenty of juicy fallout to cover in coming weeks.

The Jeffries family have always been a tad annoying, but their return last week hasn't been quite as irritating as expected.

In fact, Yvonne and Libby had some pearler lines last night. Yvonne's at her best when she's being sarcastic about other staff, and Libby was brilliant in the face of the news that husband Gerald's replacement heart might no longer be useable, after being flung from the helicopter which had crashed into the carpark.

"No, no, no, I can't have that. It's totally unacceptable."

The chopper crash itself was great stuff. Remarkably high production values for the Kiwi soap, well edited, and surprisingly realistic in just how quickly it all happened, with minimal histrionics.

The fact that no one died, and that Gerald's new heart remained intact despite being found in a tree, may have pushed the boundaries of believability, but that's soaps for you.

Nicole's rescue by Maxwell allowed for some understated heroics, and for the feature-length tradition of introducing a new character mysterious new English doctor Josh Gallagher appeared, and proved very capable and charming in the face of his first emergency.

Which female character will be the first to fall under his spell?

Despite the epic crash, and Ula's baby dramas, the story surrounding Chris, Rachel and Hayley (Shorty's most maddening, manipulative and terrifyingly psychotic character in ages) has been the show's most compelling plotline of late.

And it came to a violent climax last night - after a stylishly noir-ish build-up - with Chris waking from being beaten unconscious to find himself arrested for Hayley's murder.

Poor Chris. After nearly 20 years of dealing with many a woman scorned, it looks like he's really in trouble this time.

* What did you think of the Shortland Street's feature-length episode? Post your comments below.

- NZ Herald

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