7. Hottest Drama Show: The New Legends of Monkey
Nominees: Shortland Street, Westside, AFK
A delight for supernatural fans, The New Legends of Monkey series follows a young monk Tripitaka, and a trio of Gods as they seek to end demonic rule.
While originally a Japanese 80s show, based on a Chinese novel, there’s a definite Kiwi bend to the remake with it being filmed in Auckland, directed by New Zealander Gerard Johnstone (Housebound/ Terry Teo), staring Kiwis Josh Thomson (The Project/Terry Teo) as Pigsy and Luciane Buchanan as Tripitaka, and remade by TVNZ alongside Netflix and ABC.
Fun and slick, the humour is similar to Hercules and Xena, keeping the series family-friendly. While there has been concern from viewers over the lack of Asian actors, the contemporary remake has worked on its gender diversity, switching up characters from the original series.
People’s choice: Westside
8. Hottest Factual Show: Stan
Nominees: Mind Over Money, Coast New Zealand, Country Calendar, Lost & Found, Artefact, Rachel Hunter’s Tour of Beauty, The Casketeers, Topp Country, Attitude
An emotional and inspiring documentary, Stan follows Kiwi musician Stan Walker as he undergoes a life-changing journey: the discovery of a hereditary cancer-causing gene and the subsequent removal of his stomach.
Walker is known in Aotearoa for his Australian Idol win in 2009, his pop/R&B style music, numerous New Zealand music awards, and recently an appearance in Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople, but regardless of this celebrity status, the one-off documentary Stan drew in an impressive audience.
When it aired on Three in March, the feature-length documentary earned a rating of 8.6 to become the most watched doco of 2018 and the second-highest rating programme for 2018 to date.
It was hotly anticipated as Walker had refused to reveal in the months leading up to the doco the reasons for his substantial weight loss and health issues.
Walker showed strength and courage in the face of a battle that has claimed members of his extended family, and Stan definitely resonated with New Zealanders – fans of Walker or not – up and down the country.
People’s choice: Country Calendar
Hottest SVOD: Westworld
Nominees: Big Little Lies, Black Mirror, The Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things, 13 Reasons Why, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, Nailed it
Not since Lost have TV viewers been transported from one ‘literally’ dead end to another, while waiting in vain for mysteries to be explained and truths to be revealed.
In the 2001 movie A.I. Artificial Intelligence, a highly advanced robotic boy longs to become “real” so that he can regain the love of his human mother. Seventeen years later with the HBO hit Westworld streaming on Sky’s Neon and playing on Sky’s SoHo channel, Hollywood’s view of AI has become more dystopian and convoluted, as AI hosts become human and those we thought were human turn out to be AI.
As with The Matrix, Westworld bombards us with esoteric symbolism and hidden meanings while taking us on a roller-coaster ride in a cowboy-esque theme-park journey of complex storylines and confusing chronology.
Described by Forbes’ Dani Di Placido as “intelligent, thought- provoking science ction, depicting the terrible repercussions of supremely selfish decisions by terrible people”, Westworld has become compulsive viewing for those willing to pay for a Neon or Sky subscription.
People’s choice: The Handmaid’s Tale
12. Hottest News and Current Affairs: Seven Sharp (TVNZ)
Nominees: The Project, The Hui, Sunday, The Crowd Goes Wild, Q+A
With its new line-up, Seven Sharp continues to keep audiences engaged in the post-news hour slot, with its humour, authenticity and a dash of cheekiness.
When it was announced Jeremy Wells would be joining new mother of the nation Hilary Barry for the return of Seven Sharp, people wondered if he would be up to the role, knowing his oft-controversial background as Newsboy, and role in Radio Hauraki and the Alternative Commentary Collective. The question on everyone’s lips – would the power of personality overshadow the content?
However, Wells has proven the doubters wrong and the fresh combination of the pair who bounce off each other wins them top of the category. Bonus points are given for having Anika Moa flout newsreader conventions and bring authentic discussions to the table while helping Barry host while Wells was on holiday.
With the shake-up, TVNZ has boldly brought a different feel and appeal to Seven Sharp after Mike Hosking and Toni Street’s four-year reign. While perhaps older viewers miss Hosking’s musings, audience loyalty ensures the figures continue to soar above its 7pm rival The Project.
While it has to be said Seven Sharp may not have the depth of The Nation or The Hui, it’s enjoyable to watch as the team continue to tackle issues from New Zealand and around the world five years after its debut.
People’s choice: The Project