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Go Girls' writer's blog: Episode five

Go Girls episode 5.

Gavin Strawhan is the co-creator and executive producer of Go Girls.

Okay, five weeks into it and the show seems to be working; the ratings are good despite despite TV3 putting a different show up against us...

But it's all starting to feel a bit unreal, a bit distant...

We're all pretty busy, off working on other projects and suddenly it seems like a long time ago that we were all so wrapped up in writing and making Go Girls.  

I see Alix (Britta) on set a bit because she's got a role in a feature film I co-wrote and is shooting at the moment (called Matariki) but I really want to catch up with the other guys.

So, must be time to regroup - and because Kate McDermott has the best flat screen telly, and a lovely house, and is famous for her hospitality as well as her party stamina, some of us make arrangements via Facebook to hook up again at her place - just like we did to watch episode 1. 

I get a cab with Rachel Lang and when we arrive Alix (Britta), Bronwyn (Cody) and Tania (Angelina) are already there and the wine is flowing.  (Sometimes I worry that there's a bit much drinking on Go Girls, but other times I realise, maybe it's art reflecting life - Certainly true tonight.)

Anyway, Bronwyn's younger brother is there and Kate and her husband, Mike (who is a rock god and plays with Pluto and other bands and wrote some songs for us for Go Girls) and then Jay arrives and we all catch up a bit with what we've been doing.

Then Alix's Mum arrives. 

Alix described her as a cross between Alison (Amy's Mum) and Jan (Britta's grandmother) and I can see what she means - but in a good way.  (Alix almost didn't make it - she woke up that morning suffering a bad reaction to some make up and wanted to rub her face off, but she was her usual gorgeous self by the time Thursday night rolled around.)  And finally our producer, Chris Bailey arrives too.

So it's 8.30 and everyone is shushed and we settle back to watch.

Confession time; when I saw the rough cut of Episode 5 it wasn't my fave.  The reasons are kind of complicated, but it was partly because (for a change) I liked the script and didn't think it was all on screen.  The party scene in particular felt pretty slow and what had seemed funny on the page seemed to fall a bit flat.

This is sometimes a problem when you've got big, complicated scenes with lots of extras at a nice location; the Director can get carried away with the lovely pictures.

But to cut a long story short; the editor and Producer Chris had done a great job of cutting and shaping to give it all a much better pace.  So I'm starting to relax and think, hey, this isn't too bad at all. 

Okay, maybe it was the wine too, but I was actually enjoying myself!

By the time we get to the second commercial break and everyone is saying how much story is packed into this episode (in a good way) as well as admiring Anna's amazing, um, chest revealing dress (but not as revealing as her turn as Mr Asia's moll the previous night) as well as wiping away a tear or two because..

This is the episode where Gwen reveals that she's been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  I have to say I liked the way we did this; it seemed very Gwen not to wallow in self pity, but to explain it in a down to earth way and hand out pamphlets.  And it was all the more emotional for that.

And the scene where Cody finds her dad, Wiri, crying in the garage was pretty moving too.  I felt the actors really gave it their all.

But of course, our series is about our four heroes, so Gwen's story is really Cody's story. It pushes her to reveal her pain to Ben Maddox (and going for a grief snog while she's at it) as well as upping the stakes for her to get married. This is underlined when Gwen admits she'd like to see Cody walk up the aisle before she (Gwen) is too doolally to know what's going on.

(At the third commercial break Jarrod (who plays Ben Maddox) arrives which is kind of appropriate as he features quite heavily in Cody's story in the fourth act. He's just been in a play called 'The Arrival' for the Auckland festival)

The other story was about Amy and Brad and Angelina.  We wanted Amy to get the wrong idea about Brad giving her mother financial advice and then discover Brad was actually the good guy.  (By god, weren't we prescient?!  We wrote Brad's finance company going broke the middle of last year before the recession hit and the markets collapsed.)

So Brad ends up hanging around the Taka bar and Britta gets the idea it's all because he wants to get back with Amy.  But it's more complicated than that.  We get the idea Brad feels more comfortable there, than he does with Angelina's friends whom he thinks are more judgemental of him.  Especially now that he's unemployed.   Amy and he do get closer - much to Kevin's chagrin. 

This is also the episode where Kevin is more upfront and active about his secret desires for Amy.  He lets Angelina know that Brad is at the bar with them.  But it backfires when Angelina and Brad have a huge fight and Britta predicts she will kick him out.

(I really liked the scene in the Sports Bar car park where Angelina tells Brad that she's proud of him and she loves him.  It seemed give another dimension to her character - especially as performed by Tania who is a wonderful actor.)

So anyway, Britta drags Kevin around the next day to see if she is right but Kevin is relieved to learn that Brad didn't go to Amy's.  But then he does turn up.  But then it's only to tell Amy that he and Angelina have agreed to work on their marriage.  The final twist is when Amy isn't upset about this; she's pleased that Brad has finally grown a spine.  Phew.

And suddenly the episode is over and we're pretty pleased with it (except we're all a bit annoyed that the network run the promo for next week so quickly after the final emotional scene between Cody and Gwen ends) so we drink more and dissect the show a bit more and Jay decides that ep 5 is his favourite episode so far. 

Gradually people start to leave.  The actors are eventually all rounded up by Bronwyn's younger brother who is a stage manager and very organised and head off to another party and Kate and Mike and Rachel and I sit around and talk about how lovely they are.   

Then we have a good natured writers' argument over who came up with what.  Kate claims I was wrong in my last blog when I suggested Mother V Daughter was my idea.  She reckons she came up with a show where parents swapped lives with their kids.  I maintain that Mother V Daughter was my 'refinement'.

It's hard to remember these things; we talk a LOT in storylining meetings.  Who can keep track?  Obviously Kate thinks she can...   She also remembered writing the joke in the storyline that I used in the script where Kevin says of Larry - it could have been worse, he could've fallen in the barbecue..  I happily admit to stealing jokes if they work.

(I read somewhere that to be creative, it sometimes helps not to have a great memory for some things.  It means you have to make stuff up.  Well, that's my excuse.)

So, finally, it's time to go and I'm pretty tired and emotional (ie pissed) but also happy with the show so far. 

And very happy the next day, despite my headache, when we find out the ratings were even better.  And there's even a lovely letter from the Alzheimer's Association complimenting us on our treatment of the topic.

Roll on episode 6, written by Kate (who forgets nothing) and is also very creative and funny; where we find out that Britta's Dad is dead... or is he?  And Kevin finally gets his end away....

Gavin Strawhan