The Alice: articles

'The Alice' pulled in Australia before its NZ debut

The week before it is due to hit New Zealand screens, The Alice has been canned mid-series in Australia because of bad ratings.

It is not a propitious beginning for TV One, where the series is due to begin next Wednesday.

Nine Network pulled The Alice from its primetime slot after 11 weeks of its 22-episode season and replaced it with reality show Supernanny.

Other Australian series have thrived on New Zealand screens, says TVNZ head of programming Annemarie Duff, so Nine's decision does not mean the bells of doom for The Alice.

"What appeals in one market can be quite different in another," she said.

"Australian dramas have enjoyed enormous success with New Zealand audiences.

"Viewers flock to McLeod's Daughters week after week, and prior to that Always Greener and Blue Heelers were both very successful dramas for TV One."

Herald critic Frances Grant said the middle-of-the-road programmes, such as Water Rats and Blue Heelers, tended to do better here than the quirkier stuff. But she's not counting out The Alice yet.

For a start, it's screening on TV One at 8.30pm, so a good audience is almost a fait accompli.

"And we love Aussie shows. Maybe it's because we haven't usually had much of our own good drama."

She has support from the Listener's television critic Diana Wichtel, who says: "I think the reception the programmes get might be different in each country at times. Perhaps some of the actors get over-exposed to audiences over there but not to us here.

"There tend to be females cast in strong roles, and the settings could be an appealing factor for New Zealand. They are similar enough to be comfortable but different enough to intrigue."

The Alice is spun as "whimsical drama" with a mystical edge, typical of the quirkiness that has characterised Australian drama since The Castle.

New Zealand had enjoyed such fare enough to follow suit, in programmes like Mercy Peak and The Strip.

Ms Wichtel suggests the "sub-genre" of gentle, quirky drama peopled by oddballs around a main character who has stepped out of their comfort zones may have had its day.

By Claire Trevett
October 01, 2005
The New Zealand Herald