Feedback

If ever there has been an aptly named TV show then perhaps Feedback is it.  There is nothing worse than being within ear-shot of the ever increasing drone of an audio signal being amplified and looped back on itself.  If not dealt with, the resulting oscillations can be crippling as you grasp at your ears, return to the fetal position and beg for the unrelenting pain to stop.

After the countless failed attempts at comedy in New Zealand, you’d think we’d either give up or try a different approach by now.  But no. We have to have over-emphasised actors trying to be funny.  Why? Are New Zealanders so stupid that the only way we can tell if we’re supposed to laugh at something is if there is some form of exaggeration in place? Please! That’s worse than canned laughter.

I’ll admit that I was intrigued by the opening segment of the show and thought there was some real potential. In it, we’re introduced to a current affairs show called The Week with Meek which has been banished to a late night slot and renamed Feedback after running a misleading story.  It was even a good concept, especially considering that the premise could very well be based on fact.  Were Mark Sainsbury and the Close Up team banished to the small hours, it wouldn’t be a giant leap for them to do a mimed orgy story.

However, once “Feedback” began it became quickly obvious that here was yet another weak production that NZ On Air surely must have accidentally approved for funding.

Are these really the best skits they could come up with for the pilot: 

  • Nanny-state interference with the caging up of a swingball set to make it “safe”.
  • A new extreme sport in Queenstown comprising of pushing a tourist down a steep bank.
  • A reporter in the Middle East crying like a little girl and wetting his pants after hearing a car backfire.

While I normally advocate for NZ shows to be given better time slots, I honestly believe TVNZ have been incredibly generous with the 11pm slot on Wednesday nights.  It managed a paltry 1.9 rating in the 18-49 demographic, and a 1.4 rating in the 5+ demographic.

It is time comedy in New Zealand started to have some of the things it is lacking: subtlety, intelligence and timing. In the meantime, somebody hit the kill switch on that feedback!

From the co-creators of Eating Media Lunch and Back Of The Y comes New Zealand’s finest half-hour of fake news, views and current affairs, in the new local show, Feedback.

A satirical newscast that is part skit-show, and part sitcom, Feedback takes viewers behind-the-scenes to spy on a frantic, ratings obsessed current affairs show, where the Feedback team must deal with a caldron of ambition, deceit and sexual misadventure.

Producer Matt Heath (Back Of The Y) says while the idea of doing a news parody isn’t new and is currently being done internationally, he and co-creators Phil Smith (Eating Media Lunch) and acclaimed playwright Arthur Meek (Collapsing Creation) saw an opportunity to create a New Zealand news and current affairs inspired skit/sitcom.

“We are big fans of the Chris Morris shows Brass Eye and The Day Today and we also love the Australian news sitcom Frontline starring Rob Sitch and Bruno Lawrence. This inspired us to put some behind-the-scenes interaction between the reporters in there as well, so Feedback became a hybrid between a sitcom and a satirical skit show.”

Feedback follows the slippery slide of moral decline for high-profile news presenter Arthur Meek (played by Meek). The former primetime media darling has seen his current affairs show relegated to late-night after his team were caught faking the news. Shunted from 7pm to 10.30pm, the network has delivered Arthur an ultimatum: rate, in a new late-night slot, or die.

With his back against the wall, Arthur vows to do whatever it takes to get back on primetime – so he and his crew make the most muck-raking, crowd-pleasing and inflammatory news possible.

Heath says that while some of the stories in the show weren’t borrowed from fact, some of the stories they wrote became real.

“We shot this fake story about tazors that transform into guns and a few weeks later there were shotgun tazors in the paper. A lot of the time we wrote stories while watching the news so those ones were based on fact and then fictionalized to become funny, Often we didn’t have to change things very much.”

If you have missed an episode, full episodes of Feedback will be available free online 12 hours after the show has aired on TV2. Go to tvnz.co.nz and click the ‘ondemand’ button.

11:00pm Wednesday, August 25 on TV2