If our local TV networks are finding it tough competing with the tsunami of international content on global streaming platforms these days, they're doing a good job of hiding it.
Kiwi TV has enjoyed a golden run for the first half of 2019, with a few more risks being taken in getting local content out to the masses.
Some of these risks have been bigger than others. TVNZ, for example, launched two new local shows — Straight Forward and Zombody Save Me! — via its OnDemand platform this week, with each of them representing uncharted territory for the network.
One is a globetrotting co-production between New Zealand and Denmark. The other is the world's first horror zom-com reality show, filmed over five days in a local forest. The dramatic storylines found in both shows are, unfortunately, equally believable.
There'd initially been much excitement ahead of Straight Forward's release this week. An eight-part crime drama, it was shot in Copenhagen and Queenstown with a mix of Danish and Kiwi actors. And given Denmark's reputation for producing some of the world's best crime dramas, it seemed viewers were in for some quality Scandi-noir with a little Kiwi flavour in the mix.
Unfortunately, Straight Forward is less Scandi-noir and more unintentionally comical caper across the continents.
The story focuses on Silvia Petersen (Cecilie Stenspil), a small-time Danish conwoman who seeks revenge when notorious gang boss Ravn (played by New Zealand's Mark Mitchinson) has her father murdered. But when the plot goes awry, she flees "as far away as she can" to Queenstown, leaving her mother and daughter in danger and also on the run in Europe.
The first episode ends with Silvia landing in Queenstown after taking a convoluted and sometimes ridiculous journey to get there.
She and her colleagues spend a few days coming up with a plan for their revenge on Ravn, which seems to consist mostly of hacking attempts while a photo of the gang boss glowers at them from a large computer screen. At one stage, one of Silvia's crew crosses out Ravn's face on the screen in a fit of rage. That sure showed him.
Silvia's contribution to the heist, meanwhile, is picking out a blonde wig from her very extensive collection to wear with a skin-tight black leather suit.
Said heist is both predictable and over within a matter of seconds. Silvia's later skirmish with the Danish police is just as disappointing in its mediocrity.
If it wasn't for that very Kiwi quality of needing to know what the rest of the world thinks of us (even fictional characters in TV shows), I don't know if I'd be back for a second episode. I can only hope Straight Forward's Queenstown chapters feature fewer cheesy crime tropes — and far fewer wigs.
But I do know I'll be going back to TVNZ's Zombody Save Me! for a second bite, for the following two reasons: Host Laura Daniel's perfectly weighted disdain for the show's hapless contestants and one of the finest reality TV exit concepts I think I've ever seen.
Zombody Save Me! sees eight contestants dropped in a forest where they spend four nights trying to survive a series of zombie attacks in the hopes of being the last person standing and winning $10,000.
By day, it's a fun look at the not-too-distant future, as the teams fearfully scavenge for food, water and shelter in a series of challenges that test their survival skills.
By night, one contestant is deemed the weakest link (or annoyingly identified as the female contestant who's simply too "bossy" and "outspoken") and is then forced to escape through the pitch-black forest while being chased by screaming zombies.
Honestly, it's an element that should be implemented into every single reality TV competition going forward. Just imagine all the eliminated contestants from shows like Survivor, DWTS or The Bachelor having to dodge zombies in a forest before they can carry on with their lives.
And this television schadenfreude is all the better with Laura Daniel's ever-so-casually guiding the contestants through their nightmare. There's no room for an earnest host in a zom-com reality show and Daniel treats the contestants with just the right amount of mean such a scenario calls for.
It's all very, very silly.
But unlike Straight Forward's opening episode, at least that's the whole point.
• Straight Forward and Zombody Save Me! are both available on TVNZ OnDemand.