James Griffin: Shades of Brown

9 comments
Could 'Shades of Brown' take off as a TV series? Photo / NZH
Could 'Shades of Brown' take off as a TV series? Photo / NZH

Dear Mr Griffin,

Thank you very much for your unsolicited proposal for a TV mini-series called Shades Of Brown.

Our development staff have read the proposal now and while a series about a philandering mayor and a plot to use his indiscretions against him has merit, there are many aspects of the project that we find troubling and, to be totally honest, absolutely perplexing.

To start with, our development team were confused as to what genre this is meant to be.

There are many elements of a political thriller about it, a la House Of Cards, which is good, and very timely in these turbulent times. But then there are so many other genres laid on top of this - comedy, farce, tragedy, pantomime and a kind of creepy horror - that it becomes impossible to take the thriller aspects seriously.

As one of our development team put it, "it is like All The President's Men got drunk and tried to seduce Basic Instinct but instead ended up in bed with Dumb and Dumber and then nine months later had a mutant baby."

The main problems with Shades Of Brown, we all felt, stem from the characters you have chosen to tell your story. Quite frankly, there is not a plausible one among the lot of them, from the television show host, failed mayoral candidate to the cliched tabloid hack. It was widely felt, among our team, that this is a collection of characters who would fail miserably at organising a piss-up in a brewery, let alone mastermind a political coup, so to craft a TV series around them would inspire incredulity rather than engaging an audience.

Also, with the characters, it was felt that none of them were in any way likeable and, therefore, watchable. Characters can be good or evil, but the audience still have to want to invite them on to their TV sets and into their houses. With this lot, however, you would let the dogs loose the moment they set foot on your property, rather than spend even a single minute's viewing time with them.

As an example of this, we know it is fashionable to portray bloggers as lonely social rejects who let their bitterness ooze across the internet, but there are limits to how far you can push this stereotype. To literally have the word "oil" in the name of your blogger was, we felt, an example of how far your story pushed things beyond the bounds of what would be credible, even on television.

While we are in this general area it would help a lot if you gave your characters believable and realistic names. For starters, Bevan is a Welsh name meaning son of Evan, so to give this name to an Asian woman character just adds to the fog of confusion. And Luigi Wewege? Really? The name Luigi Wewege is the sort of name you would give to a character in a children's video game, not to a scheming back-room political fixer. Mind you, given his degree of success as a political fixer his name may very well be the most authentic thing about his character.

In terms of plot, dialogue, subtext and every other conceivable level there are many aspects of Shades Of Brown that are equally deeply dissatisfying. For example, to have your mayor character go on and on at every opportunity about trains and tunnels, and to then have an affair with a much younger woman really overloads the sex metaphor to the point where it makes something inherently icky even more icky.

Yet for all the ickiness, it is the mayor who comes out of this whole mess of a story looking the best of this sorry bunch of characters. This is the core problem with Shades Of Brown. When the adulterer, the cheat, the man who used the Ngati Whatua room for the passing of things other than council remits, emerges as the most morally upstanding character, then you know there are big problems with the world of the characters. The world of Shades Of Brown, we felt, is one where the moral compass is not so much facing the wrong way, as one where the moral compass has been run over repeatedly, by the train, as it heads in and out of the tunnel.

In conclusion, we have decided not to option Shades Of Brown, as if we did put this story on television the audience would not know whether to laugh, cry, throw things at the TV set or feel a deep and abiding shame at the state of the human race.

We would, however, like to talk further about your idea about Norse gods living in New Zealand, as we feel this is a much more plausible concept.

Regards, David Kahane, Head of Development.

- NZ Herald

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n4 at 21 Aug 2014 20:41:37 Processing Time: 538ms