I reckon Terry Teo is not just the best kids' show made in New Zealand in the last 10 years, it's the best TV show full stop.
Best script, acting, action and design. A Kiwi show that's completely comfortable in its own skin. It's not trying to be anything that it's not. It's just Terry Teo and it's good.
Apart from the name and premise, this version owes little to the original '80s comic or TV show.
It owes more to Get Shorty and Beverly Hills Cop. It's gritty and sophisticated.
Apparently Teo has been deemed too grown up by TVNZ and they have chosen not to back it. They haven't given it a time slot. It's only available on-demand. I say for shame TVNZ.
Children are savvy. Take Adventure Time, Regular Show or Gravity Falls. The successful kids' shows today are scary, full-on and grown up.
They get adult cult followings because they offer more than just bright colours and cuddles. Kids want danger. Harry Potter is terrifying. Look how dark super heroes are these days. That's what the little people want.
Similarly, Teo has enough in it that children will think it's cool. It's not insultingly wussy.
In his mostly excellent and positive review Karl Puschmann mentioned a dick gag in the show he thought was too much. I disagree. Everyone likes these jokes, especially kids.
I tested the show on my boys, aged 6 and 9.
They had never heard the words Terry Teo in their lives. The original aired decades before they were born. I didn't tell them it was about a crime fighting, street-savvy teenager from the wrong side of the tracks. Didn't tell them he was a skater. I didn't even tell them it was made in New Zealand. Chaz and Baz had absolutely no vested interest in the show. But after one episode they wouldn't let me turn it off. We binge-watched the whole series.
My 6-year-old was jumping up and down in front of the TV acting out the fights, laughing loudly at the jokes.
At one point my 9-year-old exclaimed 'Dad, this isn't lame like other New Zealand stuff, it's like Nickelodeon but cooler'.
After one episode [my kids] wouldn't let me turn it off. We binge-watched the whole series.
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My kids have dangerously tiny attention spans. They've been brought up on iPads, video games and junk food. As a result they get bored easily.
But this show moves so fast. There's a hook every few minutes. It's action-packed. The plots are complex but easy to follow. Cool set pieces. Scenes that will have you nodding and thinking "that's clever".
Which isn't surprising - director/ writer Gerard Johnstone is a super clever guy, as is producer Luke Sharpe. Their last project was the low budget feature Housebound. A low-budget flick that looks like $20 million. Teo has the same attention to detail. The same sharp sense of humour. The same lack of lameness.
Kahn West is fantastic in the lead role. He's a superstar in the making. Josh Thompson (Detective McMurray) has the best comic timing in the country and Jason Hoyte is brilliant as the mayor.
We're a small country. We have limited money and people. Making a show as good as Terry Teo in New Zealand takes genuine sacrifice from cast and crew. People go through physical and mental pain. They bleed for it. The fact a show this ambitious was attempted here is great. That it's turned out brilliant is amazing. This is a finely crafted piece of TV.
As I said, Terry Teo is only available on TVNZ's on-demand platform. After years of disappointing commissions, you'd think they would be popping the champagne when this turned up. Surely championing great shows is why you get into the business.
Whoever makes the decisions at TVNZ should have kissed Gerard and Luke's feet and put Teo straight into prime time.
It is a truly fun, funny and exciting show. When it travels internationally we'll be slapping ourselves on the back. So winkle it out online and give it a watch. I reckon you'll love it.
* Watch Terry Teo here.