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Colin Hogg: Hitting the streets of telly soaps

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Keeping up with the goss on two famous streets could lead to TV soap dependency.

An older, chubbier version of Michael Galvin plays an older chubbier version of Dr Chris Warner on  Shortland Street .
An older, chubbier version of Michael Galvin plays an older chubbier version of Dr Chris Warner on Shortland Street .

I have a daughter who loves Shortland Street for reasons she can't explain and I have an otherwise-loveable friend who's a slave to Coronation Street for reasons he never tires of explaining.

But I usually avoid both of those streets. The last thing I need right now is a TV soap show dependency. Life's too short - and filled with quite enough trifling detail as it is.

Then last Friday, feeling foolhardy beyond all sense, I sat down and watched them both - yes, both streets.

Shortland Street (7pm, TV2) I hardly knew at all, not having caught a whole episode for perhaps a decade or so. So the quick recap at the top of Friday's episode didn't help much.

But I did pick up the gist of things pretty quickly and quickly recognised an older, chubbier version of Michael Galvin, playing an older chubbier version of Dr Chris Warner.

He's having trouble with his rebellious arty teen son, though not interesting enough trouble for me to really care. Elsewhere, there was the usual love and work worries and treacheries, mostly played out in hospital uniforms, all a rather fetching shade of lilac.

I needed name tags to tell me who was who, but I didn't really care all that much. Everything was slightly over-acted and much of the dialogue was even more cliched than real life, though I did like the hospital receptionist's, "We are totally chocka".

Shortland Street, born 1992, is just a little bubble, of course, alongside the venerable and deathless king soap Coronation Street, born 1960.

Friday's episode (7.20pm, TV One) ran an epic - and unexpected - hour and a-half and quite wore me out with all its drama and its crusty characters.

Even the teenagers are crusty on Coro Street, which somehow manages to be outrageously modern and impossibly old-fashioned at the same time.

<i>Coronation Street</i>'s teen lesbians Sian, left, and Sophie.
Coronation Street's teen lesbians Sian, left, and Sophie.

So Sophie the 16-year-old lesbian wants to marry her girlfriend and spits the dummy when her dreary dad says no. Or as he put it, in the special language that is Coro-speak: "As far as I'm concerned, you're not getting my permission."

Though I might have landed lucky with Friday's episode, which turned out to be a full-blown courtroom drama with all the best sorts of cliches in place - an innocent woman accused, a grumpy judge, an oily prosecution lawyer, a dim-faced jury and a gossipy gallery.

The plot thickened without lumps, subplots surged - there was a kidnapping on the side - and great lines surfaced. When things took a bad turn in court for the accused, the awful woman in the front row of the gallery muttered, to everyone in particular, "If the judge still had his black hankie, he wouldn't be blowing his nose on it".

It was a kind of Shakespeare really and most odd and compelling. I managed to recognise several of Coronation Street's more ancient characters from the last time I saw it, though there was little comfort in that.

I couldn't miss Rita, impossibly old and still running the corner store with her enormous hair and her grouchy assistant Norris. And there was Golem-faced Roy Cropper and his manly wife Hayley.

Strangely, Hayley wore the most eye-catching outfit of the episode - for her court appearance. It was a fetching shade of lilac, the Shortland Street colour.

- NZ Herald

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