Colin Hogg on television

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Colin Hogg: Local shows try to tickle funny bones

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TV3's approach to comedy is to throw ideas at the wall and see what sticks - with mixed first-night results.

There is no shortage of acting talent in the cast of TV3's fresh New Zealand comedy programme Sunny Skies. Photo / Supplied
There is no shortage of acting talent in the cast of TV3's fresh New Zealand comedy programme Sunny Skies. Photo / Supplied

The word is that a number of the stars of TV3's local hit comedy 7 Days were approached for the funny man role on TV One's much talked about new week-nightly disaster series, Seven Sharp.

And, as we all now know, the not-funny-so-far Jesse Mulligan took the bait - something he may live to regret. Or not. He could end up as the channel's surrogate Paul Henry. Who knows? Who actually cares that much?

Undiminished by the defection, TV3 bravely continues to fly the freak flag for local comedy, last Friday night offering two new series for our funny bones to consider.

The channel's approach - as it has to be with comedy on television - is to throw ideas at the wall and see what sticks. Last Friday, one of the new shows stuck and one stank - well, on first impact, it stank, though it looked great.

The whiffy one is called Sunny Skies (8pm, Fridays). It's set in a camping ground up north at Sandspit, out from Warkworth, a spot so idyllic you'd move there, if the screenwriters hadn't got there first.

This was such an unlikely tale it often hurt to watch it. Part of the problem was the avalanche of set-up and characters in last Friday's first episode.

The other part of the problem was to do with a story that asked us to believe two mismatched brothers, who each didn't know the other existed, inherited a half-share in that camping ground they'd never heard of from a father they never knew about.

White, lanky nasty Oliver Driver plays one, Tammy Davis (brown, average-sized, loveable) plays the other. There's an angry camp manager (Morgana O'Reilly), a stoner maintenance man (Errol Shand), an angry teen daughter (Molly Tyrrell).

And, getting away from the cliches, there's Mark and Matthew, a stroppy old gay couple played by Ian Mune - "don't call us gay, we're homos" - and Mick Innes.

So there's no shortage of characters and certainly no shortage of acting talent. There is, though, a severe shortage of actual laughs on this smart-looking show which tries to recapture some half-lost Kiwi dream, but not in a very good way.

I knew we were in trouble when the GPS in Driver's car declared, "You are now in the middle of nowhere" as he approached the camp ground for the fateful reading of the will.

It just gets more wobbly and overstated from there on in, but with characters this strong and such a handsome setting, the series might still make us laugh, should it learn to relax.

On the other hand, and just two hours later, there's The Radio (10.05pm, Fridays, TV3) - smart, modern funny stuff, starring 7 Days lead men Jeremy Corbett and Paul Ego.

Made, by the look of it, on the sniff of an oily accountant's cuff, the series stars the pair playing themselves as duelling co-hosts on a radio breakfast show with fictional station The Radio where the boast is they're "making your life 28 per cent better".

It's funny stuff. It's stand-up sitting down, with guests and more laughs than I could count. For instance, the battle over whether the show is Corbett and Ego or Ego and Corbett, with Ego arguing short name first - "like Rape and Pillage".

Urzila Carson is a volcano waiting to erupt as their surly receptionist and there's a clever turn where The Radio becomes an offhand interview show with Shihad singer Jon Toogood turning up on the first episode to be happily abused by the hosts. Here's to more happy abuse in the coming weeks.

- NZ Herald

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