Lashings of landscapes help make yet another primetime reality TV series watchable.

There are some words that seem good to have in television programme titles. "Celebrity" is excellent. Another good one is "Patrol". And "Rescue" is increasingly popular.

Indeed, there have been unsubstantiated rumours that the new show to replace TV One's recently deceased Close Up might be called "News Rescue".

Meantime, if rescuing is required, we now have High Country Rescue, a new series on TV One, which screened its second episode last night at eight.

I'm not saying I had high hopes for this one, but I had foolishly considered how a series with a title like High Country Rescue might play out.


It could, I thought, offer a variation on the tried-and-true Hotel Inspector theme - with a charismatic rural presenter visiting troubled high country runs, giving bewildered farmers the hard word on where they're going wrong with their lambing averages and helping them get things back on track.

Or, even better, the show could have had more of a country gothic tinge with wild tales from New Zealand's lawless backblocks featuring large farmers being rescued after falling into their offal pits or feral shearing gangs running wild, pursued by flint-eyed high country coppers.

But, as it turned out, none of this was to be. High Country Rescue, unsurprisingly, is simply more of a familiar brand of reality television involving authority figures sorting out silly civilians.

Programmed as the third sensible show in a row after Border Security (at 7pm) and Piha Rescue (7.30), High Country Rescue involves Wanaka and Fiordland's Land Search and Rescue teams leaping into their choppers to pluck lost and broken trampers from the deadly scenery of the south-western South Island.

It's a great excuse for lashings of landscape - and New Zealand doesn't get much more beautiful and dangerous than the Fiordland and Mt Aspiring national parks, where the series is shot.

Last night's episode of High Country Rescue followed two rescues - one of an indestructible 73-year-old bloke trapped by flooding in almost impossibly deep Fiordland, the other of an injured tramper up a remote creek in rugged country near a spot called Lake Alabaster.

Things never became exactly nail- biting as the chopper-borne cavalry came to the rescue, but it was great to look at - even with the slam-dunk camera zooms, the noisy newsy-style and the insistent, say-it-as-you-see-it voiceover.

Now that we're currently being rescued from our dangerous landscape and beaches and motorways, you might wonder what else a TV series might rescue us from. Or whether there's any rescue from some TV series.

Which there was, on Sunday night, when NZ's Got Talent finally came to the end of its first almost-endless series - and with a winner who did, indeed, appear to have talent.

That last episode was an obstacle course, though, littered with guest stars and endless plugs for the car the winner would be getting, along with $100,000. Oddly, for an hour-long show, everything felt padded except the judges' vocabularies.

"Ridiculously amazing," Rachel Hunter shrieked at one point.

But finally we got to a winner, Clara Van Wel, a gifted 15-year-old singer/songwriter from Marlborough, whose final song, Where Do You Find Love, was a showstopper.

Thank goodness.