Thursday, 11 January 2007

State TV launch New Season; Signs BBC deal

TVNZ have just signed a new deal with BBC Australasia for a 40+ hour package of Drama, Factual, and Natural History programming, to screen on State TV this year.

UK hit Sci-Fi drama Torchwood is a major scoop, and is one Prime Television may well have been after, following their success with the revamped Doctor Who.

Torchwood follows a team of modern crime fighters and alien investigators in Cardiff, led by Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman). A spin-off from Doctor Who, the BBC3 series is bound for TV2 here.

The rest of the programming looks more like TV One fare, although Primeval, a six-part series about prehistoric creatives living in modern day Britain (from the creators of Walking with Dinosaurs, and partly shot in New Zealand) is also likely to screen on TV2.

Ancient Rome: Rise and Fall of an Empire is an acclaimed six-part dramatised documentary series telling the story of Ancient Rome, while The Innocence Project is a new drama made with half an eye to the US market, about a Law professor who takes on cases with his students.

Under the "worthy but dull" banner comes Simon Schama’s eight-part series, The Power of Art, focusing on "8 iconic works of art". I'll be sure to glue myself to the seat for that one.

Both State TV and TV3 are launching their New Season schedules over the coming weeks. Unfortunately, both suffer from the fact that this past year in the US was spectacularly bad for new shows, with very few lasting the full season.

After the success of shows like 24 and Lost, US networks ordered up a bunch of serial dramas, but viewers wouldn't commit to that many weekly shows (or were burnt by previous cancellations, like ABC's Invasion).

TV2 do have one of the few breakout hits in Ugly Betty, adapted from a popular Columbian telenovela series.

Less successful shows heading to State Television are Smith (cancelled, pulled from screens after 3 episodes), The Nine (pulled after 7 episodes), The Class (almost ran a full season before being pulled), Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (struggling, but survived a full season), Men In Trees (ditto), Six Degrees (pulled after 6 episodes), and In Justice (cancelled after 13 episodes).

TV3 fared only slighter better with its new season buys. The Superman-esque Heroes has proven a big hit with American viewers (about ordinary people who find out they have extraordinary abilities after a total eclipse).

Other shows set to screen on TV3 this year include Jericho (survived the US season), Shark (ditto), Saved (full season then cancelled), Vanished (pulled after 9 episodes), and 3lbs (cancelled after 3 episodes).

* NZ Herald: TVNZ turns to BBC for drama and docos

* NZ Herald: New hit show Heroes has some big ideas
* NZ Herald: The inner beauty of Betty

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