Behind The Brush

(Maori, Tuesday 8pm) is my new favourite show.

After enjoying a weekend full of TV sport, (which included New Zealand playing test cricket like test-cricketers, and a super thrilling Super 15 match between the Chiefs and the Highlanders) I was ready for a little cultural dessert.

Smacking my lips, I sat down to watch the recorded backlog from the week, which included the final installments of The Hour and Girls and the first episode of local series, Behind the Brush, which immediately became my new favourite.

The brush that they're getting behind belongs to Gottfried Lindauer, the celebrated portrait painter whose work with late 19th century Maori has become somewhat of a national treasure. We get some of Lindauer's backstory, but this series is really about the people in the paintings, starting with a woman called Pare Watene, whose ancestor; John McEnteer, is on hand to offer his own portrait of the woman that Lindauer 'captured' in oil. We're shown the black and white photo that he based the painting on and immediately see some detail has been glossed over. Pare looks like royalty in the painting - beautiful, glowing, healthy. The photo and McEnteer's description of her circumstances, paint a different story. And that's probably the point of the series, not to castigate Lindaur for his romanticism - the works themselves are loved by the descendants - but to allow a window into a world that usually only lives on as oral history. These pictures and the detail applied by the ancestors are worth a million words.
A further 21 sitters for the painter will have their stories told by the end of the series, and I won't miss a moment of it.


As for the finals of The Hour and Girls, even getting to the end of a series these days means that you really like it. (Yes I'm still watching Banshee, yet to watch the finale.) After getting over my initial disappointment that The Hour was to be no match for Madmen, which it has understandably been compared to, it's still been a rewarding watch, helped greatly by the addition of Peter Capaldi of The Thick of It fame. (Though I'm disappointed that his potty mouth has been potty trained, and keep expecting him to unleash a Malcolm Tucker-like tirade.) The super cast and artful art direction help you get over the flimsy story, the noir naffness.

Girls, series two has been hilarious, annoying, shocking and painful. At worst it's been a little predictable. At best? Well, there's no competition really. It's star and creator Lena Dunham is absurdly talented, and her collaboration with Judd Apatow has delivered one of the greatest comedy/dramas of the era. But the final had me wondering if they can keep it up for a third time round?

Here's another question:

If your TV looked back at you what would it see?

That's the tagline for a new UK show. It answers the question by filming people watching TV. So it's a TV show about TV, showing people talking about and reacting to TV, and it's made for other people to watch on TV. It's a bit like looking into one of those mirrors in an elevator that seem to go on forever. Or when you point a video camera at a telly. No doubt it's a clever way get some of the pathos and magic we see on shows like the Royale Family without having to pay for actors or writers. The Channel 4 show, Gogglebox is probably unlikely to surface here, after all, the viewers are reacting to programmes we may never see, but the idea's a good one, which could mean a local copy in a couple of years. There's a trailer for it here.

And do you mind if I blow my own trumpet?

I was lucky enough to get to work on a story for 60 Minutes, (Prime, Monday, 9.35pm, & Tuesday 7.30pm) in which my colleague and mate Jeremy Wells gets to riff on the state of NZ cricket, and sit down and chew the fat with Brendon McCullum. I can't give too much away but the story also features a taxi ride with 80s cricket legend Ewen Chatfield, who now operates a Corporate Cab in Wellington.

As is always the case, much of what we talked about didn't make the cut.

Does he get jealous of current day players with all their money? "No, you just don't think about that. There's nothing you can do about it." We also filmed Ewen watching a Youtube clip of the famous incident in which he 'died' after being hit by a bouncer while playing England. He hadn't seen the clip as he didn't know about the "Youtubes and all that." Naturally we showed it to him.

What surprised me most is that he doesn't reckon that the 80's team was the best. "The ones in the 90's and 2000's have probably had better results." He also dispelled another myth. Apparently there were no ciggies in the drinks trolley after all. As for getting into trouble like the bad boys of today? Thankfully, back in the day "there were no camera phones or any of that nonsense."