Doug Coutts’ TV Preview: Shearing Gang



Prime, 9.30 Wednesday


By Doug Coutts

Shearing Gang’s first episode of its fourth season kicks off horrendously early in the morning – 5am for crying out loud – as shearing gang boss Peter Lyon musters his crew for the day’s contracts. 

A few people have called in sick which has given him a headache – he’s got a huge job on at Galloway Station with 8000 merinos needing a #4 and, as we’re all well aware, they’re the big and wrinkly ones so he has to put his top team on that one.

The top team includes Larry “the Legend” Lewis, a 68 year-old Buddhism and yoga practitioner, who puts the wind up everyone because he’s such a machine that they’ll struggle to keep up – in fact, by lunchtime they’ve put another handler on to stay on top of Larry’s output. 

Larry ends the day 40 sheep ahead of the next best guy and he’s barely worked up a sweat.

Everyone else is working really hard, not least the producer who has to manufacture some jeopardy to drive the story along – in that slightly dishonest cheating shabby ratbag way of using comments out of context at the end of the first segment to keep you watching.  

The entire crew comes across as decent sorts of blokes and blokesses – they have a strong work/play ethic and their skill is undeniable. 

But there’s not a great depth to the show, not much meat to get your teeth into, and to get four seasons out of what is only a Country Calendar-length idea someone’s had to pull the wool over someone else’s eyes.

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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