It was a while ago that Bill Shakespeare wrote that “All the worlds a stage and we are but players on it”. Perhaps this has never been truer than it is today.
During the national effort to hide away from the world because, so we were told, an insidious evil lurked there, many through boredom or a desire to be informed turned to and turned on the television to find a new programme being aired.
Today’s viewers are spoiled for choice and with the proliferation of so many competing platforms an audience can be hard to capture and even harder to keep. Producers are compelled to produce content that can tick more than one box and be of broad appeal to a wide variety of differing tastes in entertainment.
An ambitious production, the fictional thriller, ’Pandemic Emergency’ tried to do just that. A cross between a drama series and a soap opera with elements of reality television and classic horror thrown into the mix.
There was much excitement over this years new release. It has used a previously untried technique of slight script adaptations and the use of local actors to tailor content towards locals in order to broaden the shows appeal. The idea is to include every different national audience world wide. There was simultaneous release of this newest big budget blockbuster and much like the plays of Shakespeare’s time, much of the content was performed live.
Here in New Zealand the narrative focused on Jacinda Adern in the lead role. Attempting to blend self empowered feminism with a matronly concern she is cast as two distinct characters. There is St Jacinda who saves the country by taking things very seriously and speaking to her beleaguered subjects like a concerned Nanny dispensing worldly wisdom and cautionary instruction to her young charges.
And there is the imperious Queen Jacinda who narrates stern edicts to guide a wayward people prone to rebellion. To give credit where credit is due this aspiring actress does well to keep a straight, albeit long and equine, face during some of the more comedic aspects of the show.
When delivering the line, ’Government is the only source of truth’ she played it as deadpan as any seasoned professional might. Yet there was still something missing. The intangible and elusive X factor possessed by those acting greats that could convince us of even the most outlandish of fictions. Sadly the local writers responsible for adapting the original script, a collaboration between the United Nations and The World Health Organisation produced a sub standard translation. Indeed even the original work suffered from a thin plot that lacked credibility and the acting of the supporting players, even at its best, can only be described as mediocre.
It quickly became too obvious that the Heroine was reading the script as she went along and had not spent sufficient time practising her lines. At least this was obvious to those of us with any experience in the industry. No special effects or CGI seemed to be able to cover these defects in the production.
The show would no doubt have rated poorly but for literally playing to a captive audience. In spite of this even though the bodies of such a broad audience were held captive it still failed to capture the hearts and minds of most of the viewers. Most of whom have now turned off their sets and decided that real life with its dangers and disappointments, its work, play and social interaction is preferable to the fake fantasy of poorly contrived television fiction
Although the show was an interesting concept which may have a future in the entertainment industry, all in all the production was not well directed. Even though there was obviously no lack of effort from those involved it can only be described as a piecemeal and unconvincing story that failed to live up to its potential.
Neither tragedy nor comedy it was really one big nothing, a waste of time and a needless distraction for those who should be engaged in more productive endeavours. It now seems doubtful that, due to its many deficiencies, this sad excuse for entertainment will run for a second season. Only one star for this one.
© Worzel 2020
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