Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 33, Number 9. 25 June, 1970
The 625 Line TV with David Smith — The Tedium is the Message
The 625 Line TV with David Smith
The Tedium is the Message
More than once during the short life span of this column I have suggested that the NZBC would produce much more satisfying material at the local level if it were to recognise its technical limitations and present its viewers with compactly-packaged shows using the very best talent 'in closeup' as it were. After all, the 'cool' intimacy of TV has been recognised by most of the top networks of the world so why not follow suit and perhaps save money in the process? Well WNTV-I did just that when the first drama production of the year arrived in the shape of The Genuine Plastic Marriage replete with two fully accredited Downstage personnel. The author had previously won a Feltex award for his play Green Gin Sunset and with quite a few stops being pulled in studio arrangements all boded fair. Why then was the result bad enough to warrant inclusion in Sunday's religious programmes? Clearly the answer must be that all the approach work and good intentions in the world will go for nought if there is a basic misunderstanding of the medium in any of the organising departments. Here the fault lay in using theatrical techniques at the personal level while the probing electronic eye of the TV camera was allowed to dwell on every facial and verbal histrionic exposing it as yet another pimple on an already blotchy complexion. It goes without saying that under these circumstances the last thing that the main characters needed was a script which could be described as early Peyton Place with a sprinkling from the Penguin Book of Cliches. Direct confrontation with the camera is fine, provided one has some ammunition in the way of dialogue or personality. Eric Wood, however, floundered simply because his one-dimensional role didn't even have the odd aphorism or epigram—let alone credibility—to keep it alive (references to artificial butterflies on the porch having officially gone out with Extrav '52). So TV drama slips back another notch till next time, which won't be very long apparently. Plastic Marriage passes away leaving only a fading memory of Eric Wood fumbling at Glenys Leviston's right boob. Unfortunately it wasn't the only fumble and nor was it the only boob.
Sportsview came good for five minutes last week with some exquisite filming of our national gymnasts. Slow motion shots tastefully coupled with appropriate music and an intelligent voice-over went some way towards erasing the clumsiness of the past and proving that all good sports should have as much art as science in them.
Not since Manapouri and the decimal coin design fracas has such a flagrant disregard of public opinion been shown. Once again the programme planners in their ivory towers have demonstrated that their understanding of the average NZ adult has been computerised out of them. The Minister of Broadcasting should take the only honourable course open to him and resign. Any political party undertaking to put The Basil Brush Show on in the evenings will certainly get my vote!
Good TV 'front men' are worth their weight in cannabis and Dirk Bogarde is very good. His raising from the dead of Charles Laughton and Emelyn Williams in I Claudius was a resurrection even Professor Geering would have approved of. The painstaking research and the resulting annotation of the rushes of this aborted epic movie made a viewing experience more lasting in impact than perhaps would have been the case had the film been completed and shown intact.
The Gallery interview with the P.M. had been falling into a bit of a rut (I think Mr Smith means "runt"—Ed.) over recent years but with the advent of "Sir Keith" a new perversion presented itself. Brian Edwards set out to find the real man inside the built-up shoes. After twenty minutes of pretty gruelling stuff (15 choruses of "I'm an ordinary man") Mr Edwards clearly would have created more headlines had he given in to his natural inclination to leap up and smash this cloying dwarf round the face (both of them).