Monday, 9 July 2018

Wellington Paranormal: TV Review

Wellington Paranormal: TV Review

It's the show that's been a fair few years in the making from Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, and their New Zealand Documentary Board.
Wellington Paranormal: TV Review

Spun off from What We Do in The Shadows, Wellington Paranormal's mix of mockumentary stylings of Cops and also NZ homebred hit Police Ten 7 gets off to a promising start, with the return of two police officers briefly glimpsed in the orignal film.

Wellington Paranormal: TV ReviewMark Minogue and Karen O'Leary play hapless officers Minogue and O'Leary, who find the start of their shift is impacted by the discovery of a girl projectile vomiting in one of Wellington's most infamous streets.

This is less Hill Street Blues though, more a Hell Street Blues if you will, as they dig deeper in after being co-opted by Sergeant Maaka, played by the Modern Māori Quartet's Maaka Pohatu.

He's the boss of the top-secret Wellington Police Paranormal Unit and who's been looking at the odd for years - though has been dismissed. (To be fair, one of O'Leary's early musings is that Maaka's so-called UFO photo is actually a hubcap).

But things take a turn as the case develops.

Wellington Paranormal's first episode riffs on The Exorcist in terms of story, and also with a famous line coming from the most unexpected of sources (one of the episode's delights).

It's also got that mix of The X-Files creature of the week feel too - and the title sequence feels like a more upbeat rendition of Mark Snow's infamous theme.

And while deadpan and ad-libbing appear to be the show's MO, it's wisely not abandoned its horror elements as well, with some impressive jump scares and a commitment to the mythical elements nicely sown liberally in.

Its lead pair is laconic and laid back and director Jemaine Clement encouraged them to adlib during filming, and it shows - in a good way.

It's tricky to mix genuine scares and humour, but Wellington Paranormal's first ep does it well and there's a lot of buzz abroad about the show, so it does have potential. Clement's clearly got an eye for the humorous behind the camera, as well as the flow for the show, ensuring the drama is never second place to the obvious humour.

A minor nitpick for me is the two leads referencing Mulder and Scully, which is why it's sometimes hard not to believe they know what was going on, but it'll be interesting to see how this develops as the six episodes play out. And it'll be intriguing to see if the gag runs out - it works well for 30 minute slices, but extended exposure to this could count against it.

Nicely paced, with sight gags never being put aside for the supernatural, and with some riffs on Buffy's Hellmouth, Wellington Paranormal offers up a lot in terms of proffering some universal humour, as well as the ability to satiate the local audiences.

Smartly delivered, and kookily clever, Wellington Paranormal could soon be the cult comedy TV hit that New Zealand's been dying to deliver for years.

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