There’s good news and bad news for fans of the New Zealand TV Series 800 Words. The good news is Acorn Media has now released 800 Words Season 3 Pt.2 to accompany previously released 800 Words Season 3 Pt.1. The bad news is this marks the end of this delightful and very human series.
Set in the fictional town of Weld New Zealand the series told the story of George Turner (Erik Thomson) and his two children, Shay (Melina Vidler) and Arlo (Benson Jack Anthony). In what could be seen as an impulsive move on the part of George, he relocated his family to New Zealand from Australia after the death of his wife and the children’s mother.
While the first two seasons of 800 Words saw them acclimatizing to life in a new country, the two parts making up the third season finds them settling in and becoming more firmly entrenched in the community. While this involves various romantic entanglements and the deepening of friendships for all three Turners, it also brings more of the secondary characters into the action.
In particular the father and daughter team of Monty (Jonny Brugh) and Siouxsie Sioux McNamara come more to the forefront (Olivia Tennet). While both characters played roles in the first two seasons now they start to come into their own. Siouxsie – yes she’s named for Siouxsie of Siouxsie and the Banshees – spent the first two seasons hiding behind Goth makeup, but as she develops a friendship with Shay she stops hiding behind face paint and we start to see a much more sharply defined character.
While Monty has been treated as sort of a loveable loser/ buffoon for the first couple of seasons, struggling to win his father’s approval, in the third we see him begin to, ever so slightly, assert himself. That doesn’t mean the character loses any of his comic appeal, the role is just made more complete.
Of course they are only two examples of the characters who help make this show so wonderful. In fact what is truly great about the show is the ensemble of actors and characters the producers have brought together. They have created a genuine community who fight, love and look out for each other.
While the plots occasionally veer towards soap-opera, the skill of both the actors and the writers prevent the show from ever descending into those depths. In fact 800 Words does such a good job it sometimes leaves you quite wrong footed in the assumptions you make about a character. It’s not often a show is able to surprise you on a regular basis. However, this one not only does so, but in ways that are always highly believable.
While the DVD set of 800 Words Season 3 Pt 1 contains a behind the scenes special feature and “Pt 2” doesn’t that shouldn’t dissuade you from buying both if you can. It’s not often a TV show comes along which is both intelligent, funny and beautifully filmed, but 800 Words Season 3 is a great example of this in action.
(Article originally posted at Blogcritics.org as DVD Review Season 3 Pt1 & Pt 2)
Richard Marcus is the author of two commissioned works published by Ulysses Press, editor in the books section of Blogcritics.org and contributor at Qantara.de. He has been writing since 2005 and his work has appeared in publications all over the world including the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine.