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The Cul De Sac (television; NZ, 2016)

I am not really keeping up with the pop culture right now but I was surprised to discover on Sunday that I’d just missed the first episode of a new youth-oriented TV series called “The Cul de Sac”. Further surprised that I couldn’t see anyone talking about it – especially since it features KJ Apa in a lead role. The dude is playing Archie Andrews in the new Riverdale series in the US, and this show doesn’t even show up on his IMDB yet!

So, I’m gonna talk about it.

The article I read – a little promo piece in the Sunday Star Times – said the series “follows two major sci-fi tropes and mixes them together with some Kiwi flavouring: a world with no adults meets what sounds like an alien invasion.” (No adults – like another piece of NZ-produced yoof telly, dear old bonkers cheesefest The Tribe!)

This sounded worth a look, especially after namedropping those classic kidult sci-fi shows of the 80s, Under the Mountain and Children of the Dog Star, although it’s obviously scratching that Hunger Games/Divergent sort of itch. I watched the first episode over lunch – if you’re in NZ you can do the same right here. (Probably blocked for other regions, I guess?)

And – it was a good time! It goes like a bloody rocket, as the protagonists find out that all the adults are gone and sinister weather turns into a destructive event that vaporises a whole bunch of teens, while the high school has gone all dystopian authority. It gets points for planting a young woman in the lead role and giving her heaps to do – the opening scene with an unhappy dog is a brilliant piece of understated action – and I was delighted to find rising star Apa playing (with effortless charisma) what would typically be the girlfriend role – taking orders from the main hero, running to report bad news, and even twisting his ankle while running away from stuff.

You do have to give the show a lot of leeway as it races through its setup, though. We see a lot of teens and kids who seem completely happy to just stand around murmuring after this crisis and submit meekly as a few tough kids establish an authoritarian regime when, well, there is a whole adult-free world elsewhere they could go to instead, not to mention whole supermarkets sitting there unlooted. But I’ll run with it because this show obviously wants to get to its main storyline as quickly as possible.

I’ll definitely be coming back for more. Worth a look.

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