TV preview: Both sides of the counter

By Sarah Lang

New bridal drama lacks material, writes Sarah Lang.

When I got married last year, finding a wedding dress was no stress. I bought one from Sophie Voon Bridal within an hour, and having it adjusted by a dressmaker was equally painless. But not every bride finds the process so easy.

Local observational series Meet The Frockers, which premieres on TV One on New Year's Day, introduces nine Kiwi brides "from all walks of life; the old and the young, tasteful and trashy, traditional and just plain freaky". They've got good talent, then. The spotlight also swings onto seven "Frockers", the folk who alter and customise wedding dresses for the perfect look and fit.

This eight-episode series sounds like a workable recipe for escapist TV. Judging by the success of Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and similar shows, it's not just brides who like a bit of wedding voyeurism. So Eyeworks NZ and reality-TV doyenne Julie Christie decided to document the drama on both sides of the bridal counter.

The narrator doesn't exactly extol the virtues of marriage. "Marriage - gay, straight, gullible, desperate, arranged, deranged, shotgun - it's a dangerous business," he informs us.

His voice is familiar, and he turns out to be Bill Kerton, who's voiced commercials for 20 years. "Forget the in-laws, forget the forthcoming kids, forget the eternity of diminishing sex." he adds encouragingly.

The wedding dress is the hook, but the show is more about big personalities than big skirts. In the first half-hour episode we meet Sarah, a very modern Indian bride who has two designer dresses: one for the ceremony, one for the reception. She bought the Vera Wang pavlova because it looks like the dress Kate Hudson wore in Bride Wars. She bought the slinky Alex Perry number because model Megan Gale wore it on a magazine cover.

Much is made of the original price tags: $20,000 for the Vera Wang and $12,000 for the Alex Perry. So why not say how much Sarah paid second-hand, online? As well as missing out important information, Frockers repeats itself. It's good to know Sarah needs sleeves added because bare shoulders are a cultural no-no. But why tell us four times?

Her Remuera frockers Faye Marmont and Kevin Berkahn are, the narrator informs us, the "undisputed king and queen of bridal couture - we're not saying which is which". Though they're definitely not an item, they finish each other's sentences - well, talk over each other - like an old married couple. Much of the episode shows them sniping about Sarah's taste and expectations. So far the show could be called Mock the Frock.sarah

The episode also exaggerates any drama and implies everything will go horribly wrong. Of course it doesn't. Yes, Megan Gale is three sizes smaller than Sarah, but the frockers easily circumcise enough fabric from the double train.

There's just not enough good material - no pun intended - for a whole episode, and so this opening episode is as frothy as Sarah's tulle skirt.

Meet The Frockers premieres New Year's Day, 8pm, TV One

- Herald on Sunday

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