TUNNEL VISION: Zac Franich is a script-writer’s dream.
This year’s Bachelor has been manufactured rather than born. Everything about him seems predictable, especially his dialogue, which was written for a 1980s soap opera. If you scratch the surface, I think you’ll find an android.
The claws started to extend this week in The Bachelor NZ (TV3, Mondays). Nina from Canterbury was hoping for a rose, instead she got the thorns. After departing the series, she opened up, claiming Zac was Harry Potter’s goofy side-kick.
I don’t know Zac’s background, but I suspect he came from Mangaweka, played for senior B in the local competition and helps out at the rest home where his mother works. He’s a fading memory of rural New Zealand in the 1980s when Fred Dagg left for Australia.
Zac appears to be a genuine, slightly awkward, nice guy, so what’s he doing in The Bachelor?
He’s there to find love and, once he meets her, she’ll be the missus for life.
This week, the flotilla of floozies flew to Thailand and laid around the pool until summonsed to meet Zac, either individually or in a group. They didn’t appear to do normal things like go for a walk, meet the locals or catch the next flight to Phuket for cosmetic surgery.
However, their lives were upset by three intruders who turned the remaining contestants upside down. It may have been because they’d had enough sun on one side, but they were annoyed. “The dynamics in the group has changed,” Ally pouted, and worse was to come.
The three newcomers each received a rose.
Meanwhile, Zac takes Rosie for a walk in the mountains to “explore her potential”. Zac is like a mountain goat leaping around the foliage, but Rosie has never left the bitumen in her life.
They swim together and Rosie stumbles, scraping her potential on the rocks. Conversation is stilted, with Zac keeping to script. “If you could change part of you, what would it be?” he asks.
I couldn’t believe it. Is that the sort of chat you have on your first date? What about: “Where have you been all my life?”, to which she could have replied: “For most of it, I wasn’t born.”
But with the camera crew intruding, Rosie admits, “I wish I had more confidence.” That was a touching moment, reality at last. I don’t recall Zac replying. He could have sung the national anthem or anything. How about “in the bonds of love we meet?”
Their meeting was stilted but, later in the evening, he steals her away and gives her a flower. Rosie has her rose and she suddenly bubbles. That was the confidence she needs.
The same night Zac goes off dialogue and tells Lily: “I like your walk because you strut.” You don’t find that sort of line in Shakespeare. So by moving her legs, Lily gets a rose.
You watch The Bachelor NZ in the same way as Married At First Sight: Australia or The Real Housewives Of Auckland, with disbelief. Sometimes you change channels. I’ve known people to turn The Bachelor NZ off three times in one episode, which means they switched it on again.
However, it’s compelling TV. In the end, you want to know who he ends up with and for how long. I suspect with Zac it’ll be for life. He’ll take her home to Mangaweka to show her off to mum and the oldies at the rest home. Then he’ll sing “make her praises heard afar, God defend New Zealand” and, when he does, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rosie’s not far away.
Mariska Hargitay must have spent a third of her life or nearly 20 years playing Detective Olivia Benson in Special Victims Unit. SVU (TV3, Tuesdays) began in 1999 and returned this week for its 18th season.
Olivia finds a gun-toting infant wandering in Central Park. When the SVU team locates the child’s mother, her fiance opens fire, killing a policeman, one other and injuring several more. But Olivia suspects the mother, Anna, has been beaten and raped and is an unwilling participant in the shootings.
She has trouble persuading an uptight Chief Dodds and cautious assistant district attorney, Rafael Barba. But through a series of legal manoeuvres – a few nouns and adjectives are removed from Anna’s sentence – the child goes to aunty and Olivia returns to the arms of eternally grim Captain Ed Tucker, her latest love.
SVU is like your favourite coffee mug, it grows on you. Next week, former vice-president Joe Biden makes a cameo appearance. There’s no thought of inviting Donald Trump, although he might be called a special victim.