Doug Coutts’ TV Preview: Kids Behind Bars

TV Preview: Kids Behind Bars | TV1, 9.30 Wednesday


By Doug Coutts

When a show has a title like Kids Behind Bars, you just know it’s not going to be laff-a-minit television. And on that level, this one-off special set in Indiana’s Wabash Correctional Facility certainly doesn’t disappoint – there’s not a single happy moment in the whole hour.

Sometimes there’s almost a brief spark of hope, as in the case of one 18-year-old who looks like he’ll stay in the juvenile section long enough to get his high school diploma. But no, three droplets of an unspecified liquid later, he’s off to live with the big boys.

A lot of the “kids” – aged between 16 and 18 – are there because they had a good idea, and didn’t take the time to really think it through before ending up with a whole heap of time – 45 years for 17-year-old Jesus – to mull, reflect and keep checking who’s sneaking up behind them.

The law is the law, although it may not make a lot of sense at times. Kids who commit serious crimes are tried as adults even though they may not have acted as one, and Indiana state law says that if you’re committing a crime and one of your party gets killed then you’re responsible and are charged with murder, an interesting legal quirk one kid has the next 35 years to wish he’d known at the time.

One of the officers says, near the end “I can’t give them hope.” True, because there isn’t any. But then, seeing how these kids grew up, they didn’t have much to start with.

Cats Make You Laugh Out Loud (TV2, 7.30 Friday): Well, they do. So watch them on YouTube, like everyone else.

Because that’s all this show is – clips plundered from the internet with a narrate-by-numbers voiceover and interviews with a couple of cat owners who put the clips up and a cat video expert (true!) added to sell it as a real TV programme.

And to justify the HD tag, because most of the clips have been shot on shoe phones.

Doug Coutts has had a career in and around television for close to 40 years. He spent 13 years as a floor manager at Avalon Studios before going freelance and never earning as much again. His writing has spanned TV genres — from Shortland Street dialoguery and quiz shows to documentaries and comedy — while a lengthy stint as TV reviewer in the Auckland Star earned him two mentions in Metro magazine’s Hot List and an angry letter from Jon Gadsby. You can read more of Doug (the satirist) at: Weakly Whirled News.


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