Doves of War: good enough to be … American
The brilliant New Zealand drama Doves of War is being re-run on TV3 at present. Strangely, it was bagged at the time (11 months ago, in its ﬁrst run), which I can’t understand. Here’s a (mini-)series that had the highest small-screen production values I had seen in ages, a great time-slot, snappy direction, fab photography, and top-notch acting.
The premise wasn’t too hard to follow, either. From an earlier Xtra article, when the series was cancelled, citing the press release:
Sergeant Lucas Crichton is thrown by tabloid newspaper revelations of an atrocity from his Bosnian war past. With blood on his hands he turns on his immediate comrades in search of the source of the leak, as the continuing revelations shake the foundations of the United Nations war crimes trials in The Hague.
Logical, compelling, must-watch. Yet even the Xtra writer, Phil Bostwick, said, ‘Not exactly roll of the tongue material is it. [sic]’
While I don’t agree with Mr Bostwick, and I would have had three extra hyphens, a comma and a question mark in the same sentence, his review does make me wonder how sophisticated the viewing public is. We can’t follow something that simple?
Mr Bostwick, quoting comedian David McPhail:
On that note, the script hasn’t helped the show’s cause either. TV Critic David McPhail described it as “idiosyncratic and largely unintelligible” and he has a point. The complex narrative led to character interactions that more resemble information symposiums than real conversations.
In addition, the acting has been described as awkward and moody, and the camera work overactive. Although the unusually high number of nighttime scenes and glum lighting lends itself well to a political thriller, they also left many bewildered.
I don’t know who sub-edits the Xtra site, but the more I quote, the more I realize how bad the standard of editing is.
Back to my point: OK, Messrs Bostwick and McPhail are entitled to their opinion, and it does seem the New Zealand public agrees with them, given Doves’ ratings fall. But a complex premise? Let’s see.
The new series Heroes, the one that NBC has been running, looks to be a hit.
I do not like this series. The scenes drag on without any logic or suspense, the camerawork is a triﬂe plain, the Californian backgrounds too glossy. The Japanese set design with the Chinese ideographs on a clock: fake as heck (if anyone in Japan has seen one of these clocks lately, add a comment and tell me I am wrong). And call me thick, but I can’t handle 12 threads, none of them reaching a proper dénouement. I really can’t.
The creator of the show says he has a story arc planned out for the next ﬁve years, so he is conﬁdent of the series’ survival.
He must know something that I don’t.
So Heroes is tolerable, so far, to the New Zealand public. It’s not too difﬁcult to follow, despite 12 threads. Yet when a New Zealand show has a couple of threads, it is deemed complicated. Countless Pommy dramas have production qualities on a par with Doves, and far more complex premises, yet we watch those. Their camera work is often edgier, but they don’t cop any ﬂak or claims of bewildering viewers. Every time I see John Hannah in some drama, it is always dark; and I don’t remember any episode of Taggart with bright, blue, cheery Glaswegian skies.
Even one Australian at the IMDb thinks highly of the show, photography and lighting aside:
The kiwi’s [sic] should be very proud of this show, and it’s a great shame that, instead of ditching it they just ﬁxed the few shortcomings. But that just proves how stupid the entertainment powers that be really are. …
The show had a strong cast believable in their roles (not the stretch some of the characters in American shows are) and I would’ve loved to see where it would all lead.
Had the potential for greatness. But it’s still very very good.
I believe the show was replaced by one of those dreadful ‘swapping spouses’ programmes from the US. Talk about the ultimate insult to replace something that matters with such mindless drivel.
Maybe if the Doves of War actors spoke with only British and American accents, and we dressed downtown Auckland to look like downtown Vancouver masquerading as downtown Los Angeles, it might have fared better with us Kiwis. I hope this show made heaps for Hampson, Bailey and co. overseas, where it would have been appreciated. Posted by Jack Yan, 10:50
I haven't seen Doves of War, but I have seen a couple of brilliant un-aired pilots for other Kiwi shows that have have been scrapped. I can't figure it out.
# posted by Dan Gordon: 1/18/2007 11:58:00 PM
Probably two reasons: follow the connections between the producers and the network; and follow the smell of money. Doves may have been pricey for TV3, and reality shows are cheap. (Though I am not sure if our Australian commentator is right: I think the wonderful Outrageous Fortune may have succeeded Doves of War.)
Are you allowed to share with us the premise of the other shows? (Also, let me know on private email when you are due down in Welly or give us a call.)
Interesting this, as it's now being shown on the Australia Network, which will bring it to audiences in Asia and the Pacific, but not Australia itself.Post a Comment
Similarly, Answered by Fire hasn't been shown in NZ (unless you've got a big enough dish to pick up the Australia Network) despite NZ having had far more involvement with East Timor than Bosnia. In fact, Answered by Fire could have been about an Aussie and a Kiwi instead of an Aussie and a Canuck!
# posted by Ken Westmoreland: 6/03/2008 03:41:00 PM
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