Worldwide interest in the paranormal is mainly centred on events and locations in the Northern Hemisphere, in countries far older than New Zealand. Despite this, we have a rich history that encompasses the paranormal in microcosm: there are stories and examples of paranormal events of every major type here, such as the now world-famous phantom waka of Lake Tarawera, witnessed by dozens in 1886, and one of the first mass-reported UFO incidents - the 1909 Zeppelin scare. The Kaikoura Lights UFO sightings and footage of 1978 attracted much international attention, so it's hardly surprising we have an early, fascinating example of crop circles - Puketutu in 1969-70, before the term was even coined. Here's another NZ crop circle-type incidence.
One of the more elaborate crop circle hoaxes was staged near Winton, Southland in 1998. The Circlemakes team flew all the way here from the UK, probably because there would be almost no one present to witness the hoax or ask awkward questions. (See this crop circle debunked.)
Opening the "Extraterresticals" episode, the security of the Wellington Police's hidden paranormal office has been upgraded to include voice recognition, or so Sgt Maaka would try to have his crack paranormal investigation team of Officers O'Leary and Minogue believe. "If you reckon it was weird on the streets of Wellington," Sgt Maaka says, after using a paper plate, a sausage and a lettuce leaf to demonstrate how a failed alien abduction of a cow might result in said cow being stranded atop a tree, "It's far weirder out in the country."
Weird indeed, and chaotic, a little scary, a little hilarious, and a bit dodgy. If Episode 1 channelled The Exorcist, this one channels Alien, with a seasoning of Doctor Who, maybe Lost in Space, and of course the X Files again - notably Home - the inbred hicks episode. The look-alike aliens/farmers - Buzza, Muzza, Sharon, et al, in their blue Swanndris, are reminiscent of the "blue-shirted freaks" - the human form of the aliens - in Peter Jackson's Bad Taste (shot at Makara Beach, on the west coast of Wellington). And like Jackson, Waititi and Clement reckon farmers to be fair game to take the piss out of. Fair 'nuff.
On encountering Buzza, Minogue *says to O'Leary,"I don't trust this guy, the way he speaks in that monotone. It's disconcerting."
"That's how farmers talk, Minogue. Have some respect."
And like any episode of Police Ten 7, the studio technician responsible for pixelating out faces and genitalia is required to work overtime, particularly when the extraterresticals appear in their true form.
Jemaine Clement said Episode 2 would be funnier, and I concur. OK, it ain't perfect; some of it falls flatter than intended, but that's part of the charm. I look forward to next week's show, set (fictionally, if not actually) in my home suburb of Khandallah. Yes, that hotbed suburb of paranormal chaos and demon worship, Khan-dall-ah. Bring it on!
Wellington Paranormal Episode 2 screened on TVNZ 2, 8.30pm on 18th July 2018. View the series on Demand
*My quotes from the dialogue may not be 100% accurate as I'm writing them down while watching live.