The Cul de Sac
Sundays 6pm TV2
Rating: 3.5/5
By SOPHIE STONE.

 

TV2’s new sci-fi family show The Cul de Sac offers an intriguing glimpse into a different kind of post-apocalyptic society.

The show is directed by Stephen J Campbell and stars Greta Gregory, KJ Apa, Beulah Koale, Molly Leishman and Simon Mead. It focuses on a headstrong teenage girl named Rose and her family and friends.

Finding one morning that all the adults have disappeared and an unnatural vapourising wind is terrorising the people outside, the kids must navigate the world by themselves, whilst attempting to find out exactly what is going on.

In terms of the writing, the show definitely has something to offer. While it’s been touched upon before in other forms of media, the take on the ‘adults disappearing’ trope is unique. We only see glimpses of Rose’s father, and we learn he is a scientist working in Antarctica. Though, of course, he is only present in flashbacks and the reason for the abrupt disappearance of the adults is left as a mystery for now.

The children left behind have to fend for themselves. As Rose travels to school to get hold of her sister’s asthma medication, the kids discover the school is on lockdown. It’s being run by Doni, a manipulative boy with a penchant for eugenics. Telling Rose “only the strong can survive”, he doesn’t allow entrance to those who are young or disabled. He runs his own small empire within the school, keeping the kids allowed inside under his control with supplies and food, as well as shelter from the vapourising wind outside.

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Photo: TVNZ

The pace of the writing is perhaps a little fast, with the escalation of the school-empire and some of the character’s actions taking place unrealistically soon after the disappearance of the parents. Another fault is the special effects. While the unearthly creature the characters encounter is relatively impressive, some of the other effects, such as the hostile clouds in the sky and the interior of the plane Rose’s father is seen in, fail to deliver.

While I may be biased (I was an extra on the show as it was filmed in my own school, Albany Senior High) the performances give the show an edge.

Greta Gregory performs the role of Rose well. Her quest to protect her younger siblings, as instructed to by her father, is believable and poignant.

Simon Mead stands out as the cruel and manipulative Doni. The only thing that compromises his high quality acting is that Donnie’s motivations for the actions he takes early on – controlling the school and only allowing certain individuals in – are not revealed, which make them seem slightly out of place. This will surely be explained later on as the six instalments unpack.

There was a Q&A session at the preview screening with Greta Gregory and Flynn Steward (Rose’s younger brother, Tom). Greta gave some insight into what it was like getting into the mind-set of her character: “For six weeks I was her, and then after it was over, it was weird, yeah”.

Flynn Steward explained his own experience playing Tom: “I’m quite a lot like him actually, because people think we’re weird and we both know a lot about random stuff, so that kind of helped.”

What the show is lacking in terms some of the special effects, it makes up for in an intriguing concept which keeps the watcher involved and interested at all times.

 

 

The Cul de Sac airs Sunday nights at 6pm on TV2. It is also available on TVNZ On Demand.

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