Karl Puschmann is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Karl Puschmann: What's the deal, TVNZ? Terry Teo could be a hit

80s reboot has the goods to be a smash — if it were actually aired.

Earlier this week I went to the cinema and watched Ghostbusters. Later, when I got home, I flicked on an episode of Terry Teo. It's like the 80s never ended and I never grew up. Only they did and I have. Sort of.

Both reboots were pretty good and this concentrated blast of brand new nostalgia has been a welcome escape from the humdrum world of adult responsibility. But of the two, the locally produced Terry Teo was easily the more successful do-over.

Like a lot of childhood memories, my recollection of the original show, Terry and the Gunrunners, is a little hazy. The ins and outs of what went on escape me but the key points are all lodged in my brain. The sense of adventure, Terry's ever-present voiceover, the skateboarding heroics, the Don McGlashan-penned theme and its funky chorus of "Terry Teo-oh-oh-oh".

But where the new Ghostbusters has an almost slavish and at times distracting adherence to its source material, Terry Teo is an effortless reboot that's perfectly pitched for its modern audience and the old-school fans.

It pulls off the neat trick of managing to be both familiar and new. It's a winner.

Terry's now an older teen from South Auckland with a fractured family life and a burgeoning criminal career ahead of him. He's excited to prospect for a gang and is already an accomplished burglar.

It's only when his absent father is gunned down in a gang shootout that Terry gives up his criminal ways to help the constabulary track down his Dad's murderer.

Golly. Terry really has grown up ... Compared to the jolly cheese of the original it all sounds a bit dark and grim doesn't it? Don't worry, it's not.

The motivations are certainly darker but the overall tone and feel of the show remains light and fun. Writer/director Gerard Johnstone (The Jaquie Brown Diaries) hasn't gone all Christopher Nolan and turned young Terry into a Dark Knight.

Terry Teo is snappy, lively and filled with good-natured humour and zing that only occasionally rubs up awkwardly against the seriousness of its premise. The script's great, it's superbly cast and, best of all, it has proper car chases. Despite its modernity it retains that real 80s kidult action feel.

It's a wonderful thing and by all rights, this show should be a smash hit. Which makes me wonder why everyone involved is sabotaging it.

Rather than screening it on the telly as you'd expect, TVNZ have instead posted it up on their OnDemand service.

Officially, there are "plans" to screen it on TV. Eventually. At some point. In the future ...

Now, I'm no TV programmer but if I had a locally produced show of this calibre, with a positive and charismatic young Polynesian hero in the lead and a great multi-ethnic cast, I'd change whatever plans I had and get this thing on air sharpish. But no. Too dark for its planned 6pm Sunday timeslot, apparently.

TVNZ may have a point. The show's mostly terrific family friendly fun, but within the first few minutes there's a needless and not particularly funny dick joke. It's a small thing (boom-boom! See, dick jokes aren't hard ... boom-boom again!) that along with some choice language and depictions of gun toting baddies pushes the age appropriateness of the show upward.

Read more: Kids' show Terry Teo too dark for younger children

It's a real shame some of this stuff wasn't edited out. Because for the most part the appeal of this show for kids, teens and families is there. I can see kids absolutely loving it.

Terry Teo is a show that should be on the telly, it should find the mass audience it so obviously deserves and it should be a hit.

The fact that some lame cursing and juvenile peen gags may prevent this all from happening is what would be the true crime here.

- NZ Herald

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Karl Puschmann is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

A pop culture junkie, Karl has spent his career writing about the important things in life; music, film, television, comics and video games. He was editor of a popular music rag for five years and has since written regularly for every local culture/arts/lifestyle magazine worth a damn. His recent expansion into travel writing has flung him far, far from the comfort of his couch and into that bewildering place known as the ‘outdoors’. He is also currently endeavouring to make sense of the world by reviewing it over at critikarlreviewstheworld.com

Read more by Karl Puschmann

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