bro'Town

bro'Town was a New Zealand Television animated series. The show used a comedy based format, targeted at a young adult audience.

The series is set amongst New Zealand's fast growing Pacific Islander community, and focuses on a central cast of five young boys. bro'Town is heavy with popular culture references, and is based on the performance of the local four-man group The Naked Samoans.

Vale, Valea, Jeff da Māori, Sione and Mack live in the suburb of Morningside (catchphrase: "Morningside 4 Life!"), and attend the local college, St Sylvester’s, where their principal is a Fa’afafine and the P.E. teacher is the legendary ex-All Black rugby player Michael Jones.

Contents


Production

Produced by New Zealand company Firehorse Films and funded by New Zealand On Air, bro'Town was made using three animation studios – two in New Zealand and one in India – and involved over 100 staff.

Animation

The series was done in traditional ink and paint animation, Each episode took up to six months to make and consists of 16,000 animated cells, making it a huge undertaking for all involved. Despite the carefully planned nature of animation, the Samoans' performance style often gives the dialogue an improvisational, spontaneous feel. When successful this effect is fresh and funny but at times it renders the dialogue indistinct, with characters stepping on each other's lines.

Content

The show satirises the boys’ culture, with vivid dialogue in the local vernacular, expressing what it is like to grow up as a minority culture in Auckland City, Auckland the largest Polynesian city in the world. Although the setting is contemporary and the satire topical, the humour often reflects a nostalgia for the 1980s period of the Naked Samoans' own boyhood. The series is also scattered with references to New Zealand literature, particularly the novels and short stories of Witi Ihimaera.

The series have strong religious references, with most episodes starting with events between God, Jesus Christ and other historical figures, which leads to the theme of the episode and the subsequent events between the boys.

The Boys

  • Vale Pepelo (Oscar Kightley) (Vale loosely translates to Dumb) - brother of Valea Pepelo and has a strong social conscience. Contrary to his given name, Vale is considered the intelligent one of the group, frequently seen carrying a literary classic.
  • Valea Pepelo (Shimpal Lelisi) (Valea loosely translates to Dumber) - brother of Vale Pepelo, is more interested in girls than his brother Vale. Whenever he sees an attractive one, he does a rendition of the 'schwing!' gesture (peyow peyow!) Valea's name is an apt description.
  • Sione Tapili (Mario Gaoa) - From A Tongan Descent, His Mother (The Tongan Stereotype) is known as a Sheman also katera and Valea’s best mate and fancies himself as a bit of a ladies' man, while he constantly looks for ways to impress the girl of his dreams, sixth former Mila Jizovich.
  • Jeff da Māori (David Fane) - Jeff Da Māori lives with his mum and eight dads in a car shell outside the house. He was brought up in the country by his Aunt Queenie (a caricature of Māori leader Dame Whina Cooper) but then moved to the city ‘for better TV reception and "because the thieving colonialist stole our land’". You can never see Jeff without his broken guitar. He is often portrayed with a horribly runny nose. More than the other boys, Jeff's character is obvious caricature of Maori stereotypes, assembled from clichés drawn mostly from Witi Ihimaera stories and Once Were Warriors. He is known for his catchphrase 'Not Even Ow!' (meaning 'that ain't right'). He calls many people his cousin, and claims "everyone's my cousin, except Winston Peters he's a 'dick' ow", he is known to be cousins with famous actress Keisha Castle Hughes and famous actor Cliff Curtis).
  • Rodney McCorkenstein-Taifule aka Mack David Fane - Mack rounds out the group, a heavyset boy who is clearly homosexual and has a knack for talking his way out of things, though he does stand behind his word eventually. Mack is considered a tough guy by the group, claiming to have been raised in the streets. He actually lives in a high class mansion with a loving mum and dad. Mack's homosexual tendencies and feminine behaviour are more and more obvious as the show continues, but his friends seem to choose to ignore it.

Other characters of Morningside

  • James Pepelo Pepelo (David Fane) - Vale & Valea's dad is a benefit bludging, occasional fork-lift driver with a love of beer, pornography and gambling (aka "The Town Drunk"). His catchphrase is "I'm going to the pub... I may be some time". Pepelo's wife died when the boys were young and they were entrusted to his care. However, his method of child rearing was ignoring them to fend for themselves. The closest he inadvertently gets to parenting is occasionally telling the boys a relevant and touching story from his own life. He's known to discriminate against other ethnic minorities in Morningside, have frequent drunk-driving accidents and blame his dysfunctions on the war in Vietnam.
  • Wong (David Fane) - Initially a Chinese exchange student from Hong Kong. After a rocky start he quickly became buds with the Boys by sharing his wealth and letting them ride in his car. He once helped the Boys by joining in the St. Sylvester's Rugby team in Get Rucked and bet a million dollars on Honky the Wonderhorse. Wong has a brother named White, who exists only to facilitate a slightly racist pun about being unable to tell White from Wong.
  • Fong (Mario Gaoa) - Fong appears to be a big menacing Chinese guy who lives in an apartment. In reality, he's a smart engineering student who seems to be incompetent in a fight. Appeared in only one episode.
  • Constable "Bobby" Bababiba (Mario Gaoa) - A cynical and unsympathetic policeman who, being the only police officer to appear on the show, has been involved with many of the Boys' mishaps as he tries to restores Morningside Order. His image and name are based on actor Robbie Magasiva.
  • Rakeesh Maadkraklikka (Mario Gaoa) - A disgruntled South Asian (Indian) dairy store owner. He is eager to shoot and zap any potential troublemaker or thief in his store. Pepelo owes a massive debt to Rakeesh's store due to his indulgence and improper spending. Is married to the beautiful Satisha.
  • Satisha Maadkraklikka - Rakeesh's spouse. She isn't as brash as her husband, but Satisha is just as tough. However, she shows a sympathetic side as well: twice, so far, Satisha helped The Boys with their problems and issues.
  • Reverend Minister (Real name unknown) (Vela Manusaute) - Stereotypical minister who heads a Samoan flock in Morningside. He frequently preaches about the local issues in very vivid and exaggerated ways (as was featured in Sione-rella and Touched by a Teacher). He is also quick to drive his flock on mindless angry mob sprees. As a sideline for his church he also sells 'authentic' holy items at high prices (like holy water and sheep-shaped caps). There seems to be an intimate relationship between him and Agnes. Agnes' youngest child has an uncanny resemblance to the minister, including his hairdo - for that matter, so do most of the very young children of his congregation. He is very similar to the Minister character in the recurring sketch Milburn Place, part of the Skitz comedy series in which several Naked Samoans were involved.
  • Mahari Stevens(Vela Manusaute) - A Social worker from CYPFS -Children and Young Person's Family Services (a reference to the NZ CYFS -Children Youth and Family Services). She appeared in the first episode when Pepelo disappeared for four days, responding to a ten-year old complaint about his terrible parenting, and made the Pepelo brothers "Wards of the State". She also later interrogated Mack and inadvertently manipulated him into accusing Brother Ken of child molestation, and threatened to take him away from his parents when he revealed it was in fact false.

Tapili family

Agnes Tapili (David Fane) - Sione's mother and the Pepelos' neighbour. Deeply religious and physically aggressive, especially to Sione (she refuses to show this side of her in public, though). Despite this, she seems to have intimate relations with the local minister. A caricature of the overbearing Polynesian mother who won't hesitate to humiliate her children.

Sina Tapili - (Teuila Blakely) - Sione's big sister and Mila's friend. Sina does not think kindly of her brother and The Boys, except for one time when Mack was crying. Attends St Cardinal's College for girls, known to the boys of neighbouring St. Sylvester's as 'Car(di)nal Knowledge.'

Motorcycle Boy (Timothy Tapili) - Agnes' eldest son. A delinquent who is a regular in the local delinquent centre (which Agnes euphemistically calls a "boarding school") and jail. His real name and nature were revealed in the episode "Go and ask Agnes", where it is revealed that his criminal record is not very impressive and he behaves more like a pretentious bully than the "hardcore" criminal he claims to be.

Samson - Agnes' youngest son. He is the son of the minister, though Agnes refers to him as "A miracle by Jesus".

School folk and students

Brother Ken (David Fane) - St. Sylvester's Fa’afafine principal. Is a personal friend of many famous New Zealanders, including famous actress Lucy Lawless and Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark. Brother Ken is a caring and reasonable principal, and once helped a then-young Mack (a nickname created by Brother Ken) to become friends with The Boys.

Rex Ruka - Rex is a typical sort of jock or alpha male in St. Sylvester's. He is regularly seen mocking the boys due to their supposed inferiority with Joost by his side. Rex is Sione's rival for Mila's hand.

Joost van der Van Van (Oscar Kightley) - A South African immigrant whose father Hansje manages the local zoo. As is expected, he acts as Rex's partner/toady, providing appreciation for his many putdowns (often saying "Hilarious!"). However, it was revealed in "A Chicken Roll At My Table" that Joost's racism was an act and he only did it because he was discouraged by his grandfather from making friends with coloured people. His name is a nonsense parody of Dutch surnames and means 'of the of.' Although unknown, it has been suggested that his name may have been derived from Springbok player Joost van der Westhuizen.

Mila Jizovich - A Croatain student of St. Cardinal's, best friends with Sina Tapili and the girl of Sione's dreams. She is best known for helping Lucy Lawless with the birth control presentation in "Sionerella". Her name appears to be a combination of tribute to the actress Milla Jovovich and a somewhat unsavoury joke.

Abo (Abercrombie Smith the Third) - An Aboriginal Australian who studies in St. Sylvester's. His nickname is either derived from his ethnicity or his real name, Abercrombie. Abo is known to celebrate every occasion with a (often very long) traditional song or dance. He is often seen riding an emu. Though Abo has made political comments regarding Indigenous native title, the satirical point of this character is unclear as very few Aboriginal Australians live in New Zealand; he is more surreal than satirical.

Ms. Lynn Grey - A teacher who manages The Boys' class at St. Sylvester's. She seems to have an affection for the Māori Man (as is shown in "A Māori at my Table"). A parody of well-meaning liberal Anglo-Saxon ( white ) - she will carefully use Māori vocabulary but immediately follow it with a slightly patronising English explanation. Her name is a reference to the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn.

Figures in Heaven

God (Mario Gaoa) - As himself. As the creator of the universe, God can choose to be anything he wants. Thus he is portrayed as a well-built Pacific Islander in a lavalava. He appears mellow and easy-going, rather than strict and wrathful. God starts each episode in Heaven as if it were a fairytale, usually telling it to Jesus Christ and other famous, deceased notable figures.

Jesus (Shimpal Lelisi) - The Lord's only son. Unlike the past serious and solemn renditions of the Christian divinity, Bro'Town portrays him as young and naive (despite his past mortal life more than 2000 years ago). He generally seems like a somewhat wimpish teenager, who often needs to be gently taught a lesson by his Father.

There are also two female angels Angelina and Angelita.

Occasionally, deceased relatives such as Pepelo's wife (Vale & Valea's mother), or Jeff da Maori's Auntie Queenie are featured, appearing in dreams to communicate with the living.

Guest stars

bro'Town frequently features special guests - notable celebrities from politics, art, culture, music, the media, business and sport. The most regular cameos are John Campbell and Carol Hirschfeld, newsreaders from TV3. Former All Blacks and Manu Samoa player Michael Jones is the only special guest who could be considered a member of the core cast, as he is the P.E. teacher at St Sylvester's. Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark has appeared in all seasons except the last and Hip hoprapper, Scribe has been a guest on all five seasons of bro'Town to date. Other guests include, Russell Crowe, Rove McManus, Robyn Malcolm, Flight of the Conchords and H.R.H Charles, Prince of Wales.

Books

  • bro'Town Annual (2005) - A hardback book with character profiles, map of Morningside, puzzles etc. It also has an episode story-board from the first season.
  • bro'Town Annual 2 (2006) - The sequel to the first book, which has more profiles.
  • bro'Town Annual 3 (2007) - Focuses on the 3rd season.

DVD Releases

DVD Name Release Date Ep # Additional Content
Series 5 December 7, 2010[1] 7

Worldwide distribution

See also

References

  1. . . http://www.brotown.co.nz/series5dvd.html. Retrieved October 6, 2010.