Calum Henderson braces himself for the Shortland Street winter season
There are three big television events I'll never forgive myself for missing if they happen in my lifetime: the Black Caps winning the Cricket World Cup, the Warriors winning an NRL Grand Final and the death of Chris Warner on Shortland Street.
Every time I sense he might be close I'm drawn back in. There have been a few close calls over the years, like the time he got a brain injury from falling off a flying fox. This time it's a knifeman on the loose in Monday night's hour-long Winter Season premiere.
"Those guards running past," a confused patient asks nurse Kylie, who seems to have undergone some kind of demonic possession since I last watched. "What's happening?"
"Oh, there's a guy with a knife in ED," she replies nonchalantly. "Someone's been stabbed."
"Jesus," the patient whispers.
It's not Jesus, mate, but close enough. It's Chris Warner.
The Shortland Street CEO is stumbling around the emergency room, clutching his torso, the front of his shirt all covered in blood. "I'm sorry bro," the deranged knifeman shrieks as he flees the scene of Warner's latest near-miss. So he should be – that was an expensive shirt.
I knew he wasn't actually going to die, not from something as mundane as a knife attack. But you can never be too safe. When it comes to the death of Chris Warner, no one wants to be The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
Anyway, it's just nice to be back in Ferndale, the town where Mercury is constantly in retrograde. It's like going home to visit family, finding everything is exactly the same but also completely different.
You walk the streets looking for a familiar face and end up bumping into the one person you desperately didn't want to see: TK bloody Samuels. Chris Warner is appointing him acting CEO, despite the rogue doctor currently being under suspension. "What was my crime?" TK asks rhetorically and very aggressively. "Oh yeah, I got smacked in the head by a rapist."
You don't want to ask but soon enough the pieces start to come together. The alleged rapist is a new character called Ben, a middle-aged dad who for some reason they've styled to look like a teenage boy in an Ezibuy catalogue. He's had some sexual misadventures with Dr Esther Samuels, who is TK's niece.
"She said yes and then she said no and I didn't stop," Ben explains to his teenage son Louis, when he finds out. "Dad, that's rape," the teen explains.
They've always loved a trending topic on Shortland Street, and the #MeToo movement appears to have come as an absolute godsend. "You need to respect women," Kylie drills into Louis at the hospital, where he appears to have a job delivering coffee.
"Listen to them and just be kind," she continues. "You're the future."
"I'll try," says Louis unconvincingly, before going home and punching his dad in the face.
A punch in the face, a minor stabbing, a TED talk on consent. Turns out it was just an ordinary day in Ferndale, where Chris Warner is still very much alive.