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August 2, 2010 | by  | in Online Only | [ssba]

Academic Idol: Round Three

That’s right, another week of reality journalism. Will you get sick of this? We sure hope not. David O’Donnell took a commanding lead in voting last week, no doubt thanks to a sterling campaign initiated by the Theatre department. We hear there are even posters. Good work team! P.S. You should go and see The Great Gatsby at Circa. It’s on until 28 August.

Marc Wilson and Dean Knight are still making a strong showing on the tally, but it’s pretty obvious that a well-run campaign goes a long way to making sure your favourite lecturer stays in the game.

The question on everyone’s lips though—who’s out? Dun dun dun. Dramatic pause… Geoff Stahl—the tribe has spoken, but the hipsters were silent. There is nothing more to say really.

In other Academic Idol news, resident Salient advice columnist Candy Badger appears to have launched her own voting campaign on Facebook. Candy ain’t even a lecturer. Given Candy got ten votes, we’ve decided to STV that shit and distribute her votes among the ACTUAL Academic Idol participants. Just so you all know your votes for Candy haven’t been wasted.

Anyway, what you’re really here for… This week’s responses! Text the name of your favourite lecturer to 027 CUSTARD or email

Who will it be Victoria University?

This week’s question:
The guys at TVNZ want to produce your idea for a sitcom. Write a blurb describing your sitcom, and what role you’d play within it.

Marc Wilson, Psychology

Academic Guy: A Scrubs-like exposé of the japes and hi-jinks that happens at Academic Board!” Replete with obvious and inaccurate stereotypes—including the English classics prof (wears cricket whites and and Indiana Jones hat), computer scientists who don’t wear shoes and smell of freshly-baked bread, artsy design types too busy to vote for their lecturers, and (as these are stereotypes) the handsome and not-at-all-unbalanced psychology lecturer. For no good reason the cast will occasionally break into rap/song, people will be electrocuted for the good of science, and someone will have a weird head shaped like a rugby ball. It’ll be funnier than Melody Rules and more popular than Country Calendar for several seasons before lapsing into atrociously self-referential humour and getting canned. A few cult-like fans will pile root vegetables on the lawn outside TVNZ…

Dean Knight, Law

Lambton X-Legal
A renegade barrister (that’s me) crusading in court for the underdog against nasty corporates. 
But he has a secret. Mutant powers. Knightrider QC (aka Mad Cow) can transpose words in law reports with the blink of an eye.
As a judge studies the leading precedent, the ratio decidendi morphs.  “Appeal dismissed” becomes “Appeal granted”. Magic! 
But if only his bumbling law clerk could work the photocopier…
Knightrider’s closing argument reaches its climax. He refers the judge to Fitzgerald v Muldoon.
Alas. The critical page has been wrongly copied.
The Dom Post crossword instead. 4-across becomes 7-down. V-I-B-E becomes S-I-G-H…

Justin Bachoff, Modern Mythology

I’d like to make something about one man’s experience of a post-apocalyptic world, struggling to survive in isolation. Throughout the series you will see flashbacks of what happened etc., but as it progresses it will become increasingly clear that the apocalypse never in fact occurred, and that the flashbacks are mere hallucinations of an insane and deranged mind, while the series culminates in some other horrifying act of insanity. TVNZ probably wouldn’t buy it though, so maybe, er, a light-hearted race comedy set in, oh, I don’t know, a corner dairy would be more suited for pitching instead…

Peter Andreae, aka Pondy, Computer science

I hate watching sitcoms because as a viewer I am helpless, unable to intervene with a word of advice or a distraction to prevent the inevitable acts of stupidity, ignorance, and embarrassment. My proposal for TVNZ is an interactive, multiplot sitcom, where viewers would be able to give advice to characters during the show (e.g., by txt or active TV screens). The collected responses would then be instantaneously analysed using intelligent text processing and decision algorithms and used to choose a different path through the sitcom multiplot. I leave the details of the situation to more competent writers; my role is the intelligent algorithms.

David O’Donnell, Theatre

The GLEEn Room is set in the greenroom at 77 Fairlie Tce, where students conduct incestuous backstage romances and struggle to write extension requests for their overdue English essays during all-night technical rehearsals for their vampire musical Bite of the Conchords, in which Kiwi musicians fall victim to the fangs of an over-zealous fan. I play Pill, their hopelessly optimistic teacher whose naïve optimism borders on delerium for, unlike the prodigiously talented students at the real 77FT, these aspiring performers are a bunch of social misfits with real impediments to stardom such as stuttering, dyslexia, halitosis and dementia.

Chris Eichbaum, School of Government

Go with what works—no plagiarism, but derivative.
Option 1
Yes Vice Chancellor
—in the tradition of The Thick of It and Yes Prime Minister. Second thought, no! This is a sitcom, not a documentary (I would have played the Director of Communications—Alastair Campbell meets Bill O’Reilly).
Option 2
FCOM StreetSesame Street meets Shortland Street. Story of an intrepid band of fluffy characters offering a (great) university course, but with intentionally bad acting. Leslie Brown and me as the Yip Yips; Michael Cash and Pal Davies as Bert and Ernie.
Option 3 (favoured)
The Big Bong TheoryCheech and Chong meets quantum physics—Lady Gaga as Penny—me as a very relaxed Leonard—why? Because the Dude abides…

Matthew Trundle, Classics

Yes, Vice Chancellor sees a young(ish) Associate Dean, Married Without Children, attempting to subvert the university system from within, battling red tape with Latin and Greek. In the pilot series, episode titles include ‘Managed Enrolment’, ‘Student Debt’, ‘Performance Funding’ and ‘Academic Standards’. The show ends with said Associate Dean moving to West Auckland lamenting his Outrageous Misfortune.

Hilary Pearse, Political Science

I’d politely suggest to TVNZ that they don’t have such a hot track record for situational comedy. Instead, I’d pitch a New Zealand version of True Blood. Half the cast in season three are antipodeans anyway so they could abandon their attempts at the Louisiana accent and come home. We’d have to film it somewhere warm—not wearing a shirt is an essential part of the character development for several roles—perhaps Northland or Hawkes Bay? I would play Sophie-Anne, the vampire queen, being naturally bossy and prone to burning in direct sunlight.

Don’t forget to vote!


About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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