This popular sketch-based comedy ran to four series, screening on TV3 in 1993, 1995, 1996 and 1997. Aimed at the younger end of the channel's 18-49 target age group, the show became popular with teenagers and some even younger, despite its 9.00pm Friday-night timeslot, and many of the character's catch-phrases could be heard echoing in playgrounds across the country.
The show was presented in a three-part, half-hour format, with a mixture of one-off sketches and regular characters who appeared each week. The characters were developed through test performances in front of live theatre audiences in the pre-production period each year, and of the 30-odd sets of characters so developed, a surprising number survived through more than one series to become favourites with the audience.
Chief among these was the Semisi Family, immigrants from Samoa who lived in a poor suburb of New Zealand's largest city, Auckland. Appearing in all four series of Skitz, a total of over 50 weekly 3-minute segments, Milburn Place was a favourite, particularly among New Zealand's large Polynesian community. Other notorious Skitz characters included:
The very Reverend Phineas O'Diddle and Hori: a liberal Anglican homosexual vicar who harasses and embarasses an extremely heterosexual, rugby loving Maori joker.
Virtual Vern: The virtual reality addict who thinks he is playing a fantasy game, but is actually out in the real world - stark naked apart from his headset.
The Greens: The ultimate sandal-wearing, whale saving, sunflower-seed munching hippie couple, who have trouble coping with the drive-in, throw-away, shrink-wrapped society, and cannot hope to guide their thoroughly modern son through his teenage troubles.
The Flagrante Brothers: A couple of overdressed spivs who give their views on the world live from the comfort of their strip-club lounge, attended by the luscious Cinnamon and the mute barman, Fudge.
Skitz made a brief foray into prime-time with its 1996 series which screened at 7.30pm and included topical sketches based on headline news stories of the week. This experiment did not appear to find favour with regular fans, however, and the later episodes of series three and series four returned to the late Friday timeslot.
Best Entertainment Programme New Zealand Film and Television Awards 1996
View this show at NZ On Screen.
Producers: Dave Gibson & Chris Ellis
Production Year: 1997
Title: Skitz IV
Description: 7 x 46 min
Production Year: 1996
Title: Skitz III
Description: 30 x 26 min series
Production Year: 1995
Title: Skitz II
Description: 28 x 23 mins
Production Year: 1994
Title: Skitz I
Description: 26 x 23 mins