I don’t know anybody who is happy about the state of television at the moment.
That’s what I was going to write about this week, and I still intend to. But there’s been a level change in the continuing battle against Covid, so I'm going to briefly divert into pandemic territory.
Because a lot of people are asking me about gigs and what’s happening under level two. Just 50 people inside? Distancing? How does all of this work?
The simple answer is that it doesn’t. I’ve spent the morning chatting to venue owners and, as they are inelegantly known, “interested stakeholders”. As we sadly already know by now, live music and level two don't mix, especially the new Delta level two.
At the Jam Factory, pretty much everything is off. It’s a small venue and once you attempt social distancing it only holds around 30 people (depending on how big groups are, since “bubbled” groups can sit undistanced).
Everyone there is keeping their fingers crossed that things will return to normal by the Fringe Festival on October 23. As Tanya from the Incubator told me: “It’s going to be a bit tricky if there’s a limit of 100 people when we’re expecting 5000!”
It’s much the same story in Katikati, where the Folk Club has cancelled its next event at The Arts Junction. English band Good Habits, who have been stranded here during the pandemic, have now cancelled the rest of their tour and are returning the UK. The next Folk Club show is on October 1... hopefully.
That’s the story for pretty much everything at The Arts Junction, with the regular movie nights cancelled too. Talking to Jacqui from Katch Katikati, she said they too are holding out for things to be clear by October - a month devoted to the Katikati Festival of Arts, which includes music, theatre, film, painting and much more.
At the Mount’s Totara Street there are also a lot of postponements, with several from overseas or Auckland bands. Hip-hop gig Enter The Ville on October 1 has been postponed, as has the next night’s NZ/DC tribute to AC/DC. The upcoming Radiohead tribute is off, as is the Jon Stevens tour. Meanwhile Fur Patrol have rescheduled their reunion show for November 11. Best check out the Totara Street website regarding all upcoming gigs as things are very much in flux.
Okay - back to the telly...
This was meant to be the golden age of television, and in many ways it is. Money and a vast array of creative talent are being thrown at the medium, and in the past decade there has probably been more great television than ever before.
The problem is that nobody knows where to find it. You can bet your life that whatever you want to watch is being streamed on some channel, but is it a channel that you are subscribed to?
As far as I can tell, your options are Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Quickflix, Google Movies, Microsoft Movies, Family First, Sky Go, Neon, Acorn TV, Mubi, Fandor, Curiosity Stream and Lightbox.
As you can imagine, if your preferred viewing is spread across several channels, the subscriptions can add up rapidly. And that's just the subscription channels showing films and documentaries and TV shows - it doesn’t include sport channels or the almost two-dozen free alternatives.
It’s also worth noting that there are a lot more channels internationally, including a number of well-known ones we hear about but don’t get such as Hulu and the Australian streaming service Stan.
So it’s a bit confusing.
I’m going to be delving into my favourites over the next while, but for now let me recommend one more not on that list: DocPlay.
What grabbed me were the music documentaries, which include ones about the Go-Betweens, Grace Jones, Crosby Stills, Nash and Young, Death, Paul Kelly, Flaming Lips, Into the Void, Liam Gallagher, Shihad, Mavis Staples, Janis Joplin, John Lennon, and, as they say, much much more.
It’s a subscription service but there’s a two week free trial. Well worth a look if you find yourself at a bit of a loose end...