A couple of days ago Jemaine Clement said New Zealand television was shit. Now I'm not quoting him verbatim, but in my version he's absolutely right.
But why is he right? One reason is because New Zealand burned public broadcasting at the stake, another is because we jumped on reality television so hard its knees broke and it could no longer leave.
New Zealand has become a roundabout of bad television, but if you work in the industry, as I do, you're not allowed to say so because it makes you very unpopular. Spitwads fly your way from the back of the class if you dare say anything bad about the New Zealand industry because people live in constant fear of no longer being able to afford to buy their lunch at the cafeteria.
You are not to rock the boat, no matter how shit your boat might be. In fact despite how shit your boat might be, you are encouraged to tell everyone there's nothing wrong with your boat, you love your boat, your boat is great and ask would anyone like to buy a boat?
I'm an outsider when it comes to nautical buoyancy, this is a big part of why I'm planning to move to the UK. I'm not making any friends here trying to change things and I don't feel I can learn more about making television comedy when I'm being shown a chart on boat floatation.
'Flight of the Conchords' was a great TV show and very genuinly Kiwi. The irony is if it had been made in NZ, it would have been decidely worse. Not because Bret and Jemaine aren't clever writers and actors, not because we don't have fine world class crew or because we're a naturally sexy people constantly distracting each other from the task at hand.
The reason it wouldn't have been as good is because of the way our networks, production houses and national funding body operate together.
Now this is where things stop being pretty, so if you're an industry person seeking veagence, please don't come to my house.
Here is the tale of "The Little Production That Could."
The production house had a great idea for a production, but it needed money to make it real.
"NZ on Air has money!" Thought the production house and it ran off down the lane.
"Can we please have some money for a production?" The production house asked. "Not without a hot slot." NZ on Air said. "You should talk to the network, they have heaps of big slots."
The production house ran off to see the network and show it the great idea. "Look what we want to make!" said the production house, its tiny hands quivering with excitement as it held up its idea to the network's hole. "That's not going to fit in there!" said the network snidely.
"However.." the network said, "If you change this, this and this, we can shoehorn it on in there". "It can't be too edgy.. and it needs to be as broad as possible to really ram it home."
"Oh." said the production house and they took their good idea away, ritualistically removed its soul and buried the original writers at the back of the garden.
The network and production house were so happy they held hands and skipped off to visit the old man who lives in Wellington under the Prime Minister's shoe.
"Look what we want to make." said the gleeming smiles of puppets in wankersham suits. "Cool!" said NZ on Air, "..but, just one thing.. can we change this?" "Sure!" said the tiny prostitutes and everyone was off to production country.
The little production that could no longer resembled its fluffy bunny self, it was better! It now had one green eye and one bulbous undulating tendril where its other eye used to be. It had one giant scaly forelimb, half a wing and was constantly in labour. "Yay!" said the production house and the network as they nipped behind the bikesheds for a quick wrister. "Nuufffcllaarrrggghhhh!" said the little production that could, long having forgotten it was for an english language channel.
Everyone in production country was happy. The network was happy, they got their hole filled. The production house was happy, their boat would float for a couple more months. NZ on Air was happy, they'd gotten rid of all that pesky money. And the crew were happy, because they could feed their families.. or in lieu of actual families, their dog. The crew long having given up on true happiness because of the long hours and punishing stress of having to dedicate themselves to television in order to make it.
There was just one tiny problem with the little production that could, no-one had noticed it was now a forty anused shit fountain.
The industry had long since forgotten that people watching don't like shit everywhere and the little production that could was cancelled. Or shot. Where ever this loose metaphor has been going.
"Oh no." cried the kids in production country "whatever will we do?!" "I know!" said the production house "We'll make another production, with the exact same people and the exact same process. It won't go wrong this time." "Does that matter?" asked the network "Shhhhh" said the crew.
And they all went home for tea.