September 3, 2008

Shrek’s Home is Pure Class

By HOPWOOD, Malcolm

Wine, wool, rabbit, retail and stardom.

Sounds like a recipe for success. Well it is especially if the recipe includes the meat that goes with the merino wool, a glass of pinot noir and a rack of rabbit as an appetiser.

The five ingredients are all part of a day's work at Bendigo Station. I watched Country Calendar (Television One, Saturday) because it's as far removed from the Olympics as I could find. However, they both have something in common: excellence.

Remember Shrek? It was the wether out in all weather that pulled the wool over its owners' eyes as, for years, it escaped a short back and sides at the hairdresser. Shrek's now a celebrity and very annoyed it was cut out for the job instead of standing at stud as a merino ram.

Bendigo Station in Central Otago is an impressive high country run which flourishes because of its diversification and was featured by a consistently fine television programme.

I took a personal interest because I once stayed there and Heather Perriam, who runs the property with her husband, John, is a Palmy girl.

In true Hollywood tradition Heather and John could always "discover" Shrek 2 and 3 and we'd never know the difference. They'd produce enough wool to clothe the entire New Zealand navy including sailors on our sub- merinos.

In a weekend of mostly quality viewing, the stunning talent of Chris Lilley was on display in Summer Heights High (Television One, Saturday).

At what I presume is a fictitious secondary school, Chris was Jonah, a Tongan delinquent, Greg Gregson a precious drama teacher and Ja'mie King a toffee-nosed exchange student.

As Jonah and Greg he excelled but his five o'clock shadow got in the way of Ja'mie.

Chris is a clearly talented and versatile Australian but his show teeters on either being a tour de force or an indulgence. It's called a mockumentary, but it's more likely an ock'umentary shockumentary.

Wild At Heart (Television One, Friday) had the elephants trumpeting its arrival. But it turned out to be one of those "suddenly" drama series.

Suddenly Danny Trevanion, a Bristol vet, was faced with reviving a sick pet monkey.

Suddenly the family are off to Africa to return it to its monkey menagerie. Suddenly the monkey gets loose and suddenly they arrive at an abandoned guest house where the only inhabitants are a wino and a rhino.

Suddenly I was getting very frustrated with the episode which seemed to have had its story line and character development savagely edited, a little like Shrek's manhood.

In the end I felt more for the sheep than I did for Wild At Heart.

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