If New Zealand has a problem with domestic abuse, last night's debut of Burying Brian (TV One, 8.30) could perpetuate that bad rap.
In this case, wife Jodie was the abuser. Her beef seemed to be that Brian (Shane Cortese) was a slob. Nag nag nag. With a screech like a kea, she was enough to make any man leave the house, which is what Brian often did, as flashbacks showed us. Or escape inside his head in a fug of booze and dope. Who could blame him?
Jodie could, and did. Tottering home in her awful westie clothes after a girls' night out - during which she shrieked on about how she'd like to KILL BRIAN - Jodie awoke her husband, who was clutching a glass bong, then proceeded to hurl plates around. The final insult was when she busted the bong, and turned his prized gold disc into a discus. Brian slipped on the floor, and impaled his throat on the bong.
Jodie, played by Jodie Dorday with a vocal range that veered from a whisper to a bellow, inexplicably allowed two of her friends - Theresa and Denise (Carrie McLaughlin and Ingrid Park) - to persuade her she'd be better off hiding the body instead of calling the cops.
And so the rather silly farce began as the three women, still wearing their fancy clothes, struggled to get the body into the car, making a helluva racket - and yet no neighbours noticed. That was a credibility problem.
Next the girls ran over the neighbour's dog, Napoleon, and had to take his corpse on board as well. That was a set-up for an ensuing series of stiff-canine gags, including waving the poor mutt's paw at a cop at a drink-drive roadblock. Fairly tasteless and, again, unbelievable.
After a clumsy effort to find a site for Brian's body, during which time demure Denise displayed a creepy practicality for handling a corpse, the girls ended up back home, digging a huge hole in the reserve right next door to Jodie and Brian's house.
Once again, the neighbours didn't seem to notice the sounds of shovels and picks, the girly chatter, the torchlight ... although Napoleon's owner was still looking for his dog. He must be blind, deaf and dumb.
While Jodie so far is an unsympathetic character, and we didn't see much of Cortese, Denise is shaping up nicely - fully fleshed out by Park, with every indication that she could be a psychopath, happy to pull the bong out of Brian's throat, more than ready to jump in the grave and retrieve his cellphone. And she's kept the bong in her bag, fondling it with a sly smile.
Last night, the fourth member of this suburban quartet, Gerri (Rebecca Hobbs), arrived to hear the news about Brian. She's bossy. She has plans. Denise's eyes narrowed with jealous fury. The dynamics between these four women could get interesting over the next five weeks.
But last night's opener proved there's a very fine line between satire and farce, especially when its soundtrack is awful tinny guitar music.