11th July 2018 - this evening the first episode of Wellington Paranormal will go to air on TVNZ2, at 8.30pm. Due to Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement's international followings, there is likely to be considerable interest beyond our shores. And here in New Zealand, considering the amount of promotion the series has had; few here cannot have heard about it. (BTW, it's been branded a mockumentary, not a documentary as some seem to think.)
Years have gone by since TVNZ infamously rejected Brett McKenzie & Jemaine Clement's pilot script for a TV series of 'Flight of the Conchords' (an already-successful musical group), and, as we know, two series were produced in the USA, the first airing on HBO mid-2007, and the show became an international hit. Perhaps that earlier failure to recognise comedy gold is partially behind the investment and publicity Wellington Paranormal has received. Of course, Waititi's involvement has got to be the trump card in sealing the deal, since most things he's directed since and including the 2004 short film Two Cars, One Night have had the touch of brilliance, and - more important - relevance.
Whether Wellington Paranormal turns out to be relevant (the public appetite for TV programmes about ghosts and paranormal investigation began to decline about five years ago) remains to be seen. Likely that while raising laughs, WP will have something to say about contemporary society, much as did Waititi's films Boy and Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
Being a born-and-bred Wellingtonian, I've watched many TV series and movies over the years that have featured or explored the capital city's darker side or underbelly, for example Inside Straight (TVNZ, 1984) and Shark in the Park (TVNZ c.1989). Both TV series centred around crime, the former from the criminal perspective, the latter from the police's. The 1985 movie Mr Wrong - Gaylene Preston's tale about a haunted car - springs to mind (yeah, I'm old), as does the 2001 movie Stickmen, and of course What we do in the shadows - the vampire movie that spawned Wellington Paranormal as a spinoff. Viewing these as a local, it's always been fun to play 'spot the location'. Wellington Paranormal should keep me well amused in this regard, especially since at least one of the filming locations has been the subject of multiple paranormal investigations by the Strange Occurrences team and guests over recent years.
Anyway, there's the background. I'm planning to review the first episode tonight, so let's see how it goes. Will post tonight if I'm up to it, but currently feeling a bit peeky with a stomach bug so may just hit the sack at 9pm.
is a blog by James Gilberd - leader and co-founder of Strange Occurrences. Views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the Strange Occurrences team.
James Gilberd is an amateur paranormalist, writer and musician, and a professional photographer, living in Wellington, New Zealand.