Doug Coutts’ TV Preview: Deer Devils



Prime, 9.30 Wednesday


By Doug Coutts

How do I get a job like that? You gotta be stupid for a start.” No, not an applicant for the next series of The Bachelor … that’s a deer recovery guy talking. You know the ones – they hang out in dangerous locations and take aim at large hooved creatures of limited intelligence. Actually it could be one of The Bachelor applicants.

But it’s not. There are dozen things that could go wrong, our man says. And, he adds, most of them did go wrong. 

Deer Devils is a potted history of the deer recovery industry, that started with bringing them back from impossibly difficult terrain in a rather dead state, and then – once it became apparent killing deer was a sure-fire way of reducing the number left to kill – bringing them back alive.

Techniques varied. One bloke jumped onto the deer, hitting tit with his chest and – with luck – knocking it down. “First back on his feet won,” he said. 

Not everyone was a winner. Injuries were a frequent occurrence, and just as frequently ignored. Men were men back there, you see. “There wouldn’t be enough Voltaren in the world for me to do it now,” one survivor admits.

Some didn’t survive. “You were going to a funeral every two or three weeks, that’s what it boiled down to.” 

It’s a simple idea – mixing historical footage with today’s interviews of those who were there and lived to tell the tale – but it works, and works well.

We tend to take deer farms for granted these days, but if it weren’t for the efforts of a few brave, and possibly deranged, pioneers the only people eating venison now would be those who’d tramped four days into the hills to shoot it, butcher it and lug the best bits out. Thank goodness for helicopters, and documentary makers.

Stay with Prime after the credits as it’s the first episode in the ninth series of Back Benches, the only pub politics show in the world where MPs stand in a room with drunks who aren’t solely other MPs. Expect shouting, booing, jeering and vile insults being tossed about – and that’s just from the floor manager. (Me.)

One big change sees Hayley Holt, from The Crowd Goes Wild, replacing Damian Christie as Wallace Chapman’s trusty sidekick. Christie apparently has other projects to pursue. Holt filled in for Christie for one show last season and did a damn fine job. 

This week’s guests are said to be Labour’s Phil Goff, Act’s David Seymour, National’s Tim Macindoe and Marama Davidson of the Green Party, although there are often late substitutions – except of course for the ACT party.

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:
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