You pretty much know from the premise of re-uniting family members, whether this will be your thing or not.
After all, the concept has proven a huge hit for Seven and there is no shortage of candidates wanting a helping hand. The question here is really: how does the Nine format differ from Seven’s and is it any better?
The first point of difference is in having Peter Overton as a presenter. Overton was attached to this prior to his appointment as Nine’s Sydney newsreader -whether this helps improve his Sydney figures, or it deters that market from sampling this will be worth watching.
Overton is visible on camera introducing the series and thereafter supplies narration -a similar approach used with Jack Thompson on Seven’s Find My Family. You can’t help but wonder whether either man really has much first-hand connection to the stories that follow. While Thompson has thepersonal experience of adoption, Overton brings a certain “newsy” tone to his new show.
Missing Pieces (which comes complete with Delta Goodrem’s “Lost Without You” as its theme) approaches its stories as mini-detective stories. There are two stories featured in the premiere: one with a woman who needs to find her father to see if he is compatibile bone marrow donor, and a family looking for two lost siblings to share in a $400,000 inheritance. One is an upbeat story, the other goes for the emotion. The transition from one to another is quite abrupt.
But in its favour Missing Pieces illustrates more detail about how it locates the family members. While Seven’s show has a faceless producer with a DVD player simply saying “we’ve found your family”, Nine’s delves more into the second act of locating and convincing the family member why they should agree to a reunion. It isn’t entirely comprehensive but it’s actually one of the more interesting parts of this premise. It’s not always about the destination but the journey too.
Missing Pieces shows a producer liasing with the ‘missing’ family member, though it would have been bolstered with a tad more credibility if it had actually been Overton in the moment.
In one meeting cameras keep their distance, as a man hears the striking news that he could be somebody’s father. That said, it is shot almost surveillance-like; you’d hope he consented to it…
There are so many Australians longing to be reunited by television shows that Seven has been inundated with requests. No doubt there are more than enough good yarns to go around. Indeed even TV Tonight is constantly beseeched by pleading individuals, who assume the site can assist their request (or for that matter, makeover their garden, supply a recipe or grant them an audition!).
Some creative postcard-style shots of missing family members as photographs dotted on the Australian landscape are a nice touch.
Sneakily slated on a Monday night, 24 hours before Seven’s Find My Family, this will probably help feed an insatiable appetite for those hooked on Seven’s version. Neither holds a candle to the real storytelling of SBS’ genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? (Nine will have the US series this year), but these have different ambitions.
Missing Pieces slots neatly into Nine’s promise of “blue-sky” television which clearly has a significant appeal elsewhere. If you’re a sucker for this genre bring your own box of Kleenex.
Missing Pieces premieres 8pm Monday on Nine.