Who doesn't think we need more New Zealand history taught in school? Tick that off as a no brainer, a given.
As part of a generation that grew up with scant knowledge of Māori stories, of the land wars or even the coarser, let alone the finer details of the Treaty, I'm all for injecting the nation's ears and eyes with as much of this stuff as possible.
My endeavours haven't extended much beyond watching UTU or reading some Michael King and a bunch of Anne Salmond. Māori Television has helped with some relief teaching over the years and has just now come up trumps with an unlikely winner — The Negotiators. I say unlikely because it's a series about the legal struggles of various Iwi as they settled their treaty claims with the Waitangi Tribunal. For the most part I like my legal-themed telly to be filled with murderers and self medicating anti-heroes. The word tribunal does not get the engines revving.
So we've established that it's not your usual guilty pleasure or bingeable delight but as it turns out, it's a bloody enjoyable watch, thanks in no small measure to the feisty flair of director and force of nature, Moana Maniapoto.
Episode one really comes out swinging, featuring the famed chairman of the Ngāi Tahu Māori Trust Board, Tipene O'Regan, a raconteur with the assured swagger of a man doing his victory lap.
If the first instalment (you can see it via Māori Television On Demand) is anything to go by, this is going to be a remarkable series. And should be core Kiwi curriculum. I'd say that it should be compulsory viewing but, that word, compulsory, tends to trigger people.
The Loudest Voice (Soho/Neon) is also about whakapapa. In this case the family tree of Fox News, circling on its troublesome founder, the self-styled populist prophet, Roger Ailes (played by Russell Crowe). I was skeptical about this dramatic take on the real-life tale and had fears of the heavy hand of liberal hand wringing.
Fox News tends to polarise people, and finding balance can be elusive in these troubled times. Thankfully, the sorry story of silly old Roger mostly avoids the perils of overcooking. I had some gripes. The graphics department needed a cup of tea rather than whatever stimulant it was they were on, but aside from that and few overly on-the-nose moments, it won me over.
Ailes was the brains of the Fox News operation, and knew how to push America's buttons, especially the ones marked patriotism and hate.
But like the best tabloid savants, he also knew how to entertain and how to get viewers fizzing. Sadly he was unable to keep his filthy paws to himself and feasted on the young, female staff like a corpulent wolf.
Most were too terrified to complain, but one of the network's biggest stars, a former beauty queen called Gretchen Carlton (Naomi Watts) would prove his undoing. She was mad as hell and just wouldn't take it anymore.
Somehow it helps if you know, as I did, and you now do, that Ailes will be dead before the end of the series. Russell Crowe plays him with a monstrous intensity that comes off as comical at times, but overall, is a hell of a performance.
A testament to the truthfulness of it all, is the fact the book it was based on (and the series itself) has taken on minimal flak from Fox and its supporters, and these tend to be people known to explode over the slightest slight. Their silence speaks volumes.
The rise and fall of Roger is a classical tale, power corrupts and all, and in his world, Roger's power was absolute. Only Rupert Murdoch (played with precision by Simon McBurney) has the upper hand and the uppity sons to make Roger's life hell. His punishment, when it comes, is not that he dies, but how.
Speaking of bastards, one of my favourites is the latest comedy creation of Matt Berry, he of Garth Marenghi's Dark Place, Mighty Boosh and Toast of London fame. More recently he's popped up in the US remake of What We Do In The Shadows. In Year of The Rabbit (Neon) he plays Detective Inspector Rabbit, a sozzled, boorish, man-child with disgusting habits and the morals of an alley cat. Berry has played a variation on this theme in pretty much everything he does, aided with an unsavoury face and a lovely baritone. He is immensely watchable. The absurdist, antic turns that he deals in are unpredictable and delightful. He snorts, and says things like "Bloody Nora". The setting is Victorian London, but the tone is '70s UK cop show.
The Elephant Man is a recurring character, and like Russell Crowe, his prosthetics are superb, and if you pay close attention you'll spot Taika Waititi popping in with a cockney cameo. As Berry has shown us in the past, and especially with the brilliant Toast of London (Netflix) more than anything, he's a master at making us laugh at how awful he isn't.