Top five TV picks of the week

Lucy Schmidt, as Shelly, is awash with problems in Golden. Photo / Supplied
Lucy Schmidt, as Shelly, is awash with problems in Golden. Photo / Supplied

Pick of the week: Golden

What would happen if a gold-medal-winning rower had a freak accident and put on 65kg?

That's the premise for the latest collaboration between South Pacific Pictures and TV3, and the question which actor, writer and creator Lucy Schmidt sets out to contemplate with Golden.

As the show begins, Sally Bowman - played by Schmidt - is holed up in her West Auckland home, happy in her bubble of board games, television and doughnuts, her gold-medal single sculls rowing days firmly in her past.

Her cousin, best friend and physio, Eliot (played by Jesse Griffin, better known as comedian Wilson Dixon) is ever-loyal, feeling helpless about changing this lax lifestyle which Shelly has adopted for the past three years - ever since she smashed world records and won gold, but then had a freak accident during the medal ceremony, making worldwide headlines .

"She believes her own truths and she lives in such a small world because she can't go outside and expose herself and be found out," Schmidt says.

"So Eliot and her mother are her world and her life - and she was used to being everyone's focus and getting a lot of attention."

Shelly's mum Bev (Jennifer Ludlam) is desperate for her daughter to get back in shape and reclaim her glory, so she stages an intervention, confronting the blase and "in denial" Shelly about her obesity.

But it's not until Shelly sees her jilted former boyfriend and coach, Paul (Joel Tobeck), on television with an attractive new rowing protege, clearly making another bid for a gold medal, that she suddenly accepts her problem and decides to make a comeback.

"I'm not Shelly Bowman - I look like I ate Shelly Bowman," she sobs.

The self-pity doesn't last long though, with Shelly determined to get Paul back as her coach, and find a way to fit into a single-sculls boat again.

The project has been helmed by Schmidt and her long-time collaborator Stayci Taylor from the get-go, creating the storylines, characters and dialogue.

"We were thinking, 'Yeah we'd like to write a comedy, a real Kiwi comedy for the family'.

"And we were thinking, 'Oh yeah, well we're a sports-mad nation so what about rowing?"

"Then we were thinking we needed an obstacle, and I kind of looked down at my belly, and said to Stayci: 'What if she'd put on 60kg?'

"And we both started laughing."

"I think Shelly is a cross between an elite athlete and a clown," Schmidt says.

"All the characters are quite clown-like actually, and the great thing about Shelly is that she's only recently put on a lot of weight so she's sort of finding out that all of the assumptions she had about fat people are kind of wrong.

"So that's an interesting and quite an amusing journey."

When: Sunday, 7pm
Where: TV3
What: Olympic-sized comedy

Travel picks: Judy Bailey's Australia, Radar across the Pacific

Many Kiwis have been to Brissy, caught a ferry at Circular Quay in Sydney, and been swimming at Surfers - thanks to Tame, Jade-Louise and Rosie, The G.C. almost feels like home. Now Judy Bailey goes in search of Australia's lesser known gems in this new travel series. She starts in Perth - on her way to Darwin - visiting the Margaret River area and hooking up with NZ winemaker Clive Otto. Meanwhile, comedian Te Radar may live in Auckland, the world's biggest Polynesian city, but he knows little about Pacific countries. So, in his latest series, he goes to Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands and Kiribati, to visit expats, locals and the experts to find out what the island nations are all about.

Judy Bailey's Australia
When: Saturday, 8.30pm
Where: TV One
What: Mother of Australia?

Radar across the Pacific
When: Tuesday, 7.30pm
Where: TV One
What: Radar's Pacific

Animal pick: Hoiho

This new series trots, canters and gallops through 200 years of Maori horse culture. Many of the passionate people interviewed speak of a strong spiritual connection with their horses, which is perhaps why most of them can ride bareback so effortlessly, ripping along beaches or through paddocks. Presented by Annabelle Lee-Harris, a Maori Television journalist, and co-produced by her sister, Michelle Lee (their mum is former politician Sandra Lee), the first episode visits Hokianga's Pawarenga beach where locals race each other in 600m beach sprints. The day ends with a gruelling cross-country race. Later, the series goes to the rodeo, delves into the whakapapa of the Kaimanawa wild horses, and visits Otaki Maori Racing Club, which was formed in 1886.

When: Sunday, 8pm
Where: Maori
What: Horsing around Maori-style

Drama pick: Siege

This week's Sunday Theatre is a dramatisation of the three-day stand-off between police and Napier gunman Jan Molenaar (Mark Mitchinson, Rage) in 2009. When police officers went to Molenaar's house to serve a search warrant for allegedly growing cannabis he opened fire, killing Senior Constable Len Snee and wounding two officers and his neighbour Lenny Holmwood.

Siege is based on police files, eye witness accounts, plus the incident inquiry and coroner's investigation. It focuses on those who survived, including Holmwood, who is credited with saving the two officers by distracting Molenaar so they could reach safety. Also on Tuesday, at 9.30pm on TV One, Siege: The Interviews is a one-hour documentary telling the survivors' stories.

When: Sunday, 8.30pm
Where: TV One
What: The Napier gunman drama

Drama pick: The P{illars of the Earth

Though Game of Thrones has finished, there is more warring, manipulation and brutal betrayals in this nine-part miniseries set in 12th-century England under the reign of King Henry (played by Clive Wood). Based on the best-selling novel by Ken Follett, it took a year to make - it also stars Donald Sutherland as Earl Bartholomew and Alison Pill (Scott Pilgrim vs the World) as Princess Maude. It begins with the succession of the English throne in doubt when Henry I's only heir dies in the sinking of the White Ship. So begins a power struggle for the throne between Maude, the King's nephew, Stephen (Tony Curran, The Adventures of Tintin), and bastard son, Robert of Gloucester (Matt Devere). It also encores on Soho on Sundays at 9.30pm (from June 24).

When: Monday, 8.30pm
Where: Soho
What: Real life game of thrones

-TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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