NZ's best soap falls well short

Soap operas like Shortland Street should be looking at the legend of all soaps, Coronation Street, for inspiration and ideas on how to continually appeal to television audiences.

There has always been something about Coro that has always appealed to me, even if I don't visit Weatherfield for months on end.

Is it the characters? The writing? The acting? I guess it's a bit of all three.

After years of not watching, I have recently been lured back, quite by accident.

One night, on the telly, there it was - the familiar music, the accents and the drama.

It was like being back with old friends, even if many of the characters I knew left the soap long ago.

Ken Barlow, bless him, is still there.

William Roache, who plays the perennial character, has piled on the beef and is working at the canteen.

Guess they had to put him somewhere after all these years.

Vera passed on recently and some others, whose names escape me, are no longer on screen.

But there is a swag of new, younger characters dominating the scenes.

They have buzz, energy, charisma and storylines that most people can relate to.

It is simple stuff, but it works and has worked for more than 40 years.

So, while it's nice to be back among friends on Tuesday and Thursday nights, why on earth does our own homegrown material, especially Shortland Street, seem to get it wrong more often than not?It's almost like producers here think they know it all and believe they should be delivering a soap with outrageous storylines, unlikable characters and far from polished direction.

I would like to say Shortland Street is a quality Kiwi soap but sadly, the truth is much different.

That's a shame, because our nearest neighbours have managed to produce some long-running and successful soaps, such as Neighbours and Home Amd Away.

Both are not too flashy and the characters are believable.

But Shorty, for some reason I can't put my finger on, is too smart for its own good.

Producers here should sit down twice a week, switch to TV1 at 7.30pm and see how it should be done.

Don't miss: The Cult, Thursdays, TV2, 8.30pm: The jury is still out on this new Kiwi show, but the early buzz suggests it is well worth a watch.

Don't bother: Tua vs Cameron, the fight of the Century, Sky Box-Office, from 7pm, Saturday: Yes, there may be some interest in this bout but paying nearly $40 for the privilege of watching two grown men go toe to toe? Save your dough and log on to the internet later that night to see who won if you actually really care in the first place.


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