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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 33 No. 4. 7 April 1970

625 — TV with David Smith — Narcissism or Incentive?


TV with David Smith

Narcissism or Incentive?

TV with David Smith

In the next few days the most tastefully designed trophy in New Zealand history (sic) will be presented to a variety of television producers as reward for their efforts over the past year. Programmes such as The Alpha Plan and Gallery have been submitted and a fair amount of publicity buildup has been accorded the whole affair giving the overall impression that locally-produced programmes are part of a preordained scheme of things rather than that which starts when the overseas funds stop. Yet is it really all backslapping writ large? How many locally conceived efforts have raised themselves above the level of adequacy alone? It would not be very far from the truth to say that nothing has been memorable, much has been embarrassing, one or two things have been promising, and Gallery has been reliable. Where money has been spent and trained personnel used, the results have usually been acceptable provided that the inevitable limitations in studio facilities were capable of being overlooked.

Awards in this situation are, in my estimation, fraught with dangers. There is the implied assumption that enough quality is in view for us to be choosy. In fact, although at the time of writing the awards have not been announced, I am prepared to ha d that badly flawed programmes such as Alpha Plan which utilised everybody who was nobody (that is, most of the big guns of New Zealand drama)—will top their categories. In the absence of cream, the scum will have to come to the top. This means that the F&T awards must be signposts on the way rather than an indication that the NZBC has 'arrived'. The obvious parallel would be the Loxene Golden Disc which so far has been the Loxene Golden Handshake. (Remember Alison Durbin, Shane, Lee Grant?) Taken at the level of incentive the awards could be most significant in the emergence of TV as a legitimate and separate form of expression on the local scene.

No awards for the NZBC fill-ins. The "Blue Note Quartet" would be better described as the "Bum Note Quartet".

Softly, Softly continues to provide the most tightly written drama on television at the present time. Not a word is superfluous. Even though the writers are dealing with long-established characters (Barlow and his cohorts first hit the screen eight years ago), they have maintained depth and credibility whilst not only retaining viewer interest but stimulating it. To achieve such a feat where Hollywood has so obviously failed with Peyton Place is a triumph of content over packaging.

Why did nobody warn us about Vietnam many years ago? Well, of course, Graham Greene did in The Quiet American but that was a book and was taken about as much notice of as Mein Kampf. Maybe Mountbatten mouthed a little at the time but that's all very academic these days. However any I-told-you-so's of the futur might well form up behind Nicholas Tomalin of the New Statesman whose filmed sorties into Zambia and Rhodesia revealed a starkly war-oriented political outlook among those who could start another Vietnam, this time in Africa. His ability to egg politicians on to the point where they chew themselves to death with their own [unclear: mooths] bared a facet of the Rhodesian situation that our press and other news media have either been unaware of or totally negligent about. Perhaps it is just that we don't have very many reporters like Mr Tomalin.

After viewing the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park I have only one question to ask. Would anyone like to subscribe to a Mick Jagger Swimming Pool Fund?

(Absence of this column last issue was attributable to my revue-ing in Exclusion Claws thus falling down on the actual tube checking which is desirable in a job like this.)