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WELLINGTON PARANORMAL gets 5.5/10 Less than supernatural

Season 1 episode 1 Demon Girl

Created by Jemaine Clement, Taiki Waititi
Starring Mike Minogue, Karen O’Leary, Maaka Pohatu

5.5/10

Ordinary New Zealand police officers and terrifying supernatural monsters clash in this new comedy series, created by Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Taiki Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Thor: Ragnarok). Wellington Paranormal acts as a spin-off for What We Do in the Shadows (2014), similarly using a mockumentary style to investigate the paranormal living amongst the normal, but this time from the perspective of the Wellington Police Force.

Set up as a fly-on-the-wall mockumentary following the on-the-street police work of Officer Minogue (Mike Minogue) and Officer O’Leary (Karen O’Leary), they are ushered into a department for paranormal cases by Sergeant Maaka (Maaka Pohatu) who has an on-going fascination with the supernatural. Episode 1 sees these two officers encounter their first paranormal case, a possessive demonic spirit that is passing between different people (and animals).

As is expected from its Kiwi creators, the humour is particularly dry, even more so than the number of other projects this duo have worked on. Although there are a handful of fairly good jokes, mostly in the middle of the episode, the humour just seems too held-back to be anything other than mildly amusing.

This show mixes the normal with the paranormal, eliciting a fair amount of humour from the straight-faced reactions of the officers when they’re faced with the wild supernatural powers of the demonic spirit. Even when it all builds up to a hellish ending, the officers still react with as droll a response as possible. This is the tone that’s flatly present all the way through the first episode, making it a struggle for the humour to be present.

This kind of humour is seemingly becoming more and more synonymous with New Zealand comedy (mostly thanks to these Kiwi creators and their successful backlog of similar comedy shows), though the dryness this time may be a bit too much for some viewers. For those that dig this sort of slightly awkward, improvisational-like comedy, they may find Wellington Paranormal to be a laugh riot, but for others, the humour may come across as too flat to be funny.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

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