Checking in With… is a regular column which features a Spinoff writer watching one or more episodes of a current show and attempting to decode its appeal. This week: Kina’s K9s. //
Episodes Consumed: One – the series debut on Maori TV last Friday.
What’s it about? It’s a show about “the world of dogs in Aotearoa” during which we’ll “meet some of the coolest dogs with the most interesting jobs”. Is that it? No – there’s a twist. The ‘Kina’ referenced in the title is the show’s host – a cute little border terrier with a twinkle in his eye. Yep, the show is hosted by a nice little dog. Woof woof.
Who’s it for? I’m honestly not entirely sure. Everything about it screams pre-schoolers – from the chirpy tone, to the cutesy writing, to the fact that it’s hosted by a damn dog. Except that it plays at in primetime, at 8pm on a Friday. Also, Kina speaks Te Reo, subtitled into English, so any non Te Reo-speakers need to be able to read – which, again, doesn’t seem to gel with the likelihood of the 5+ demo tuning in.
What’s working? The graphical elements and interludes are nice. As were the Hetet family, sheepfarmers who volunteered to try and train Kina up to be a sheepdog. Just classic salt-of-the-earth kiwi jokers. Always love seeing people like them on TV.
What’s not? Everything else. The show waddles along, a mess of different ill-fitting parts. There’s a section where these white cats with bad posho English accents heckle kina while he sits in a cardboard box. Sample dialogue: “When are you going to learn, Kina, that you are just a dumb dog with no brains?” Maybe it’s supposed to be a commentary on the futility of colonialism? There’s also a section where they play grainy YouTube clips of dogs rubbing themselves on things, for no obvious reason.
But mostly the problem is Kina. Kina is just incorrigible. Constantly trying to root Jess, one of the sheepdogs. Terrible at herding sheep. But the main thing that just plain sucks is everything he ever says.
The talking dog schtick seems a cute trick that demanded some kind of sharp, two-level writing to work for the whole family. It didn’t happen. Instead we get Kina with both the appearance and the intellect of a three year old Border Terrier. And a strange obsession with eating shit:
Honestly, this damn dog is an imbecile, and should not be on TV. Maybe it’s as banal as a cost saver – as farmer Willie Hetet says, dogs will go all day on a good feed. Humans prefer cash money.
I don’t want to harp on this, because Te Mangai Paho is an agency with very worthwhile goals, and has helped facilitate some very good programming. But this diabolical show cost nearly half a mil – or 50% more than Songs From the Inside. And it just isn’t fit for human consumption.
Should I get amongst it? No.
Kina’s K9s screens 8pm Fridays on Maori TV
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.