From the New Zealand TV Weekly. March 4, 1968
Looking back in sorrow, it could be that the dull thud with which Town and Around returned was intentional. No matter what they did, it was going to be wrong-so why not start at the low water mark so that anything which followed would almost certainly be an improvement. Let's hope it eventually becomes the programme it should be-and bringing the urbane Keith Bracey back as front man could be a step in the right direction. Odd sidelight on the following for The Forsyte Saga: Publishing houses just can't keep up with the demand for copies of Galsworthy's novels even though they anticipated the telly adaptation would boost sales. Top book-buying day is Monday, when the previous night's episode is still fresh in the mind . . . . Waitangi Day's national link was unexciting even if technically all went well. But was it such a marvellous achievement after all the years the TV set-up has been running? . . . . Long telecasts of cricket and tennis are all very well for the fans unable (or too lazy) to go to the events, but it would be interesting to know just how many viewers really want to see such turgid extended sports coverages. What does the NZBC's open-to-query survey machine think about it? . . . Colin Hill off to Australia for telly work after his contract was not picked up again this year . . . . Max Cryer making sure that his absence does not mean his eclipse by sending back snippets to local newspaper columnists. Not to mention a feature on the Victoriana in his apartment . . . . Full marks to the Hauraki "pirates" the way they are prepared to pitch in at any job and pool their earnings to keep afloat during their periodic bouts of bad luck. . . . . . . . If the rumoured comeback tour by Kiwi hypnotist Franquin comes off, the NZBC should see whether a first-rate Aussie programme he made for telly there some time ago would be available for purchase. Bet your commercial boots that they'd wait until after the tour to screen it . . . . Familiar television entertainers Miss Lee Grant, Tommy Adderley and Chic Littlewood skipping smoothly through a fast-paced 40-minute show tune melange at Logan Park's Talk of the Town . . . . The fact that the NZBC only managed to sell two programmes overseas in the past year is a sad commentary on local standards. Wonder whether this wafer-thin commercial performance was commented on among the self-congratulations and platitudes of the Commonwealth Broadcasting Union conference.
The NZBC has made some promising buys in the last few days. One of the best looks like being a BBC series entitled Inside America. The BBC spared little expense in putting the United States under the microscope -it sent, two camera crews across the Atlantic for three months and let them range across the country look- ing at ordinary Americans. In the 13-part series, a single subject talks about himself as he spends a typical working day . . . . Also on the corporation's recent buying list is Two Days in London, a film which examines the unexpected human detail for Sir Winston Churchill's funeral, and more of the popular and interesting Man Alive series. It traverses topics ranging from heart transplants to religion, pop singing to crime-. . . . Getting away from documentaries, the NZBC has purchased Another Day, Another Dollar, which centres on Charlie, a ship's steward on an emigrant-carrying liner, and how he infiltrates the rackets of ship's life . . . . Morey Amsterdam, who made a name for himself as a comic on the Dick Van Dyke Show, stars with Dionne Warwick and Al Hirt in Something Special. They are shown in their usual roles but the series also looks . at a different side of their characters.... . Other buys are Dispute and The Empire of the Dollar . . A friend in London will be returning home with a more sympathetic attitude towards the NZBC. He found colour TV
absolutely first class but it was the expense poured into, productions that impressed him most. He watched several of them under preparation and was struck by
the appallingly expensive equipment, being used.
It makes one appreciate how well the NZBC does with its limited resources, he commented . . . . The new series Man is a grating disappointment. The film itself is interesting enough, speeded up and slowed down as it is to reveal the habits of human beings. But, oh, that childish dialogue delivered by Dr Hans Hass! One would think it is aimed at a standard one audience. For an adult it is painful. Maybe the NZBC should consider moving it to a time more suited for juvenile watchers . . . . The powers that be in the NZBC might whisper in the ears of some of its staff that it is courteous to dress to suit the occasion. At a recent press conference given by the Prime Minister and the Australian External Affairs Minister, Mr Paul Hasluxck, the camera crew were all in short sleeves-and this is not the first time. To their credit the three NZBC journalists present all wore jackets.
Bearing in mind that 845 papers were presented in a matter of six days and 2,750 delegates were officially enrolled at the congress of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science held in Christchurch recently, CHTV3's team headed by Town and Around man Bernard Smyth, did a first-class day-to-day reporting job. There was obviously a tremendous amount of newsworthy material that just could not be used, but the team certainly picked the eyes out of it to provide interesting nightly presentations. If the programmes that have been taped for some documentary viewing over the winter months are of the same standard as the reports they will be well worth watching . . . . No doubt that the national hook-up to telecast the Waitangi Day celebrations was the most ambitious undertaking of NZBC-TV to date. Just goes to show what can be done when someone sets his mind to it. Viewers will expect much more of this sort of thing now that it has been proved a practical possibility. There are plenty of other occasions of national interest. Incidentally, profiting from the experience of other links between the North and South Islands, the Channel 3 crew moved its equipment further north to near the Clarence River, instead of Parnassus, as in the past, to shorten the gap between the two islands and minimise possibilities of interference that marred the two-way Town and Around link between WNTV1 and CHTV3 last year . . . . Saturday afternoon viewing assumed greater-than-usual importance in Christchurch recently when rain washed out just about all sport with the exception of the Canterbury athletic meeting which featured Australia's Ron Clarke. Involuntary stay-at-homes were well served by the O.B. unit with a first-class telecast that lost little pictorially because of the bad weather while sportscaster Keith McKewen, who knows what he is talking about when it comes to athletics, and Daphne Jameson, a national authority on the subject, provided a well-balanced and informative commentary. This was really good viewing. But, then, local viewers have come to expect this sort of thing from Channel 3's sports team that has already set a high standard with its O.B.'s . . . . Still on the subject of Saturday: the evening fare still remains pretty drab and could certainly do with a goodly injection of light and bright entertainment. In marked contrast is Sunday night with its well-rounded programme.
There must have been several sighs of relief at DNTV2 recently, when a documentary on deer culling was finally pronounced complete. A production team, headed by Bruce Morrison, began work on the documentary», some months ago, but a number of features, of which bad weather was not the least, meant a series of frustrating delays. While there is still a small amount of work to be done on it, the documentary is now safely in Wellington and we can look forward to seeing the results of the team's valiant efforts before too long . . . . DNTV2 recently lost another member of its staff to the north. This time, from the production side. Ian Richards, who last year produced On Camera, has moved, with his family, to Hamilton, where he is to be sole director on the staff. The children's quiz, which Mr Richards was to have handled this year will now be produced by Harold Anderson . . . . Yet another illustration of the value of a national link-up between television channels came a couple of weeks ago, when the Otago Athletic. Championships were being held in Dunedin. Instead of the camera team having to focus on a group of candy-munching spectators or such like between events, DNTV2 transferred to CHTV3 to pick_up a telecast from Christchurch's Centennial Pool where an international swimming team was in action. Producer Brian Ault, reports that the operation went without a hitch and indeed it resulted in a much livelier afternoon's viewing.