By JO-MARIE BROWN
Bring back the bad boy!
And the good girl. In fact, bring back the bad boy/good girl combination. Bring back characters that viewers care about.
I used to watch Shortland Street every night. I, like many other viewers, was an armchair fix-it-all counsellor. My life might have been a chaotic mess but I could solve the problems of the Shorters cast in five half-hour episodes a week. I knew what they should do.
There were broken marriages to mend, blossoming romances to encourage, roguish charmers to tut-tut at, and nasty plotters to foil.
I wanted to solve their problems - to cheer them or to scold them - because they were likable characters. Lovable even. Real? Certainly.
We made friends with and related to them. So, like our own friends we want them to get the job. Get the kudos. Get the girl.
The current characters don't have the lives that my best friend or my mother or I have. I don't care about them like I used to care about David and Ellen, Johnny and Tiffany, or Lionel.
I watch now and I find myself shaking my head, not nodding it in recognition.
Bringing back Dr Chris Warner (Michael Galvin) has to be a move in the right direction. Even as I recognised the rogue he was, I was barracking for him. Greg Feeney (Tim Balme) was another bad boy who made for addictive watching.
The bad boys are missing. And the grand romances are missing. Much of the nation stopped to see Lionel and Kirsty get married. We need that on-again, off-again relationship to keep tuning in for.
I see Sofia has just found out her boyfriend and best friend are having an affair. I don't empathise with her character enough to care. But neither is she enough of a queen bitch to take revenge over it.
I like my good guys (and girls) really likable and human. And my baddies really bad. They don't get sad, they get even.
fubody"Quick, change the channel, it's time for Shorters."
The words have popped out of my mouth every night from Monday to Friday since I was 13 years old.
I am one of 480,000-odd Kiwis who still tune in each night for the latest goss on what the Shortland Street characters are up to.
Well, the only honest answer is "because I always have."
Even though I currently loath more of the characters than I like, to stop watching now would be like to stop getting dressed in the morning - something that's never going to happen.
As far as I'm concerned, 7 pm is a time to relax and unwind and there's nothing more relaxing than forgetting about the dramas in your own life and being distracted by someone else's for half an hour.
Will Amon be convicted of raping Kate?
Will Donna and and Rangi ever get pregnant?
Will Cassey give Harley the flick and shack up with Frank instead?
It's the stuff soaps are made of and Shortland Street continues to do it as well as any other.
Granted, the current crop of characters aren't as enthralling as some of those in days gone by, but their trials and tribulations are still entertaining and I can't stand not knowing how it all works out.
As for the storylines, I agree they are often contrived but at the same time I appreciate the effort the soap makes to at least try and reflect what's happening in our society.
Drug-rape, depression, jealousy - they're not cheery topics but they are issues that ordinary New Zealanders like you and me face.
Watching Shortland Street these days may be regarded in some circles as having no taste whatsoever.
But if it's a choice between watching Paul Holmes' ego or the undeniable acting talent of Geraldine Brophy, then the Street will get my vote every time.
By JO-MARIE BROWN