Keeping Up With The Kaimanawas: A Review

The Wilson sisters, Amanda (left), Vicki, and Kelly, with their stallions in Keeping Up With The Kaimanawas.

I’m not really one for reality tv, but combine it with horses, and my eyes are glued to the TV, and have been for the past eight weeks. Keeping Up With The Kaimanawas finished on TVNZ here in New Zealand last week, and I’m sad to see the Wilson sisters go.

Keeping Up With The Kaimanawas followed Wilson sisters, Vicki, Kelly and Amanda as they saved 11 Kaimanawa horses from slaughter at the biannual muster in 2014 and trained their wild stallions for the Stallion Challenges at Equidays.

The series was not only insightful, but also entertaining, with Wilson sister Amanda providing much comic relief with her antics – making the builder biscuits that just happened to be dog biscuits covered in chocolate and hundreds and thousands (he actually enjoyed them and thought it was a lovely gesture…until he found out what they were of course) – and overall goofy personality. She appeared to be the underdog of the sibling rivalry and in the Stallion Challenges, but in the last episode emerged with a second place ribbon. She was my favourite.

Vicki always seemed to be several steps ahead of the others in her bond with her stallion and training for the Challenges. For me, she appeared fearless, doing a lot of tricks on bareback, on both land and water (the property flooded after a lot of rain!)

Kelly wasn’t just a ‘country bumpkin’, constantly being teased for her love of makeup and clothes by her mum and sisters. Kelly appeared to be a talent with the camera and seemed media savvy. She also wrote the Wilson sisters autobiography, For The Love of Horses (which is on my list to read!)

I loved how the show did not shy away from the difficulties and struggles the sisters faced, within themselves and also with their stallions. Amanda comes particularly to mind here, with her stallions Hoff and Nikau, where she had what can be characterised as an up-and-down relationship – with Hoff it was because of pain associated with his teeth that had become psychological. And then there was Vicki, who made the difficult decision to put one of her Kaimanawas down.

It was great to see both the stallions and the sisters grow as the series progressed, and truly captured the spirit of the horses.

The relationships that developed between the sisters and their Kaimanawas was so heartwarming, and beautiful to watch.

Overall, it was great that the series brought all the highs and lows to the screen and hopefully this means more Kaimanawas will find homes in the next muster.

I’m looking forward to their documentary The Mustang Ride which is due for release in 2016, and follows their time with training mustangs in the U.S.

If you’d like to know more about the Kaimanawas, check out this websiteĀ šŸ™‚


Our Girl: A Review

Our Girl may have only been 6 episodes long, but I fell in love with ‘Our Girl’ Molly Dawes. I might be jumping the gun, but I’d have to say Our Girl has been my favourite watch this year. I take my hat off to creator and writer Tony Grounds for creating a fabulous and heart warming series that wasn’t afraid to question Britain’s involvement in Afghanistan (slightly) and touch on PTSD. I anxiously waited for Sunday evening to roll around every week to catch up with Dawes, something that many shows I watch have been failing to do.

Lacey Turner was fantastic in her role as Molly. As I mentioned in my first impressionsĀ , Molly was the kind of character who, despite her ability to take s*** from no one with her mix of wit and feistiness, wasn’t without her vulnerabilities, and it was great that this continued throughout the series. Not only because she was the only chick in her platoon, she didn’t put up with copping flak from her comrades, least of all Smurf, played by Game of Thrones’ Iwan Rheon. As I expected, she grew into a strong and courageous young woman, not afraid to risk her own neck (on many occasions) for those she cared about. However, she wasn’t without her vulnerabilities, and this is where the series was a real winner for me – she loved her best friend and former flame Smurf, Captain James and her family. She worried about everyone but herself and in the end she was appreciated for it. Everyone accepted her for who she’d become, her family most of all. But let’s not forget about Lacey Turner. I couldn’t, and still can’t, think of anyone else who could have been Molly. Although I haven’t seen her in anything else, to me, she is Molly. A superb actress.

Our Girl also showed how versatile Iwan Rheon is in his role as Dylan ‘Smurf’ Smith. In Game of Thrones he is sadistic Ramsay Bolton and in Our Girl – I wouldn’t go so far as to say a love-sick puppy – he was a young man who cared immeasurably for the woman who’d saved his life and was trying to honour his brother’s memory by serving. It was very hard not to smile at his class clown personality, and when he wasn’t down about Molly or Molly and Captain James, he was a truly lovable character. He certainly made Molly’s time on her first tour easier. It was very sad to see him go (sorry, I know, spoilers!), although I’ll never really forgive him for almostĀ (I stress the almost) killing Captain James.

Molly’s relationship with an Afghani girl, Bashira, really pulled at the heartstrings. You just know that it’s Molly’s empathy that makes her a great medic, and what a great mother Molly’d be. To a certain extent, Bashira also served as vehicle for Molly to question the good she, and the British Army, were doing in their presence in Afghanistan. With Bashira, it was allowing her to have an education, and when Molly was targeted by the Taliban and Bashira whisked off to a safe house, Molly questioned how her decisions had inevitably changed the course of Bashira’s life forever. Nothing melted my heart more (well, maybe Molly and Captain James) than when Molly held Bashira in her arms, knowing she was safe, and Bashira had no hard feelings.

It was also great for Our GirlĀ to have includedĀ PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) in the final episodes. Both Smurf and Molly were affected by their time in Afghanistan, having nightmares etc, and it was great that Smurf and Molly seemed to be moving through it together. I hate it when it’s treated like a taboo, and inĀ Our Girl, it wasn’t. You can never dismiss a soldier’s experience, no matter how dark it may be.

Now, I can’t wrap up this review without talking about the relationship between Captain Charles James (Ben Aldridge) and Molly. I’m a hopeless romantic, I can’t help it!

Captain James & Molly

As Molly did with her comrades, she grew on hardliner Captain James and he fell in love with her wit and courageousness. They were unbelievably cute, without meaning to be. The moment he opened the door, a big goofy grin on his face and Molly said “You miss me?” in all her sassiness, I melted and was smiling for hours (no kidding, I did!).Ā In the end, love proved stronger than army regulations!

I understand there will be a series two (minus Molly šŸ˜¦ ), but if it’s any good as Our Girl was (sounds like it!), then I will definitely sit down to watch more of Tony Grounds transformative magic. Fingers-crossed that the next series makes its way to New Zealand shores.

Love, love, loved this series, so I encourage you to go away and fall in love with Our Girl.

When can I get in on DVD?! šŸ˜‰