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The Fourth Wall: A picturesque New Zealand town worth more than '800 Words'

You can have your “Game Of Thrones” — mayhem and treachery among battling families and factions, complete with dragons, in a soul-devouring quest for power over your adversaries.

You can have your “Killing Eve” — mayhem and treachery among battling factions, complete with dragon ladies, in a soul-devouring quest for power over your adversaries.

You can have your “Veep” — mayhem and treachery among battling factions, complete with fire-breathing, dagger-toothed politicians, in a soul-devouring quest for power over your adversaries.

But keep me far away from the mean streets of the Westeros, western Europe or Washington, D.C. ... and let me spend an hour each week among the denizens of Weld, New Zealand, wherein humanity dwells.

Weld — a surfing village relatively unspoiled by mayhem, treachery or dragons — is the center of the universe for a series called “800 Words” ... an Australian series which airs weekly on SOPTv (for now, at least) and across something called Acorn TV.

And, no, I don’t know what Acorn TV is, either.

If that all sounds a bit soapy for your tastes, don’t be concerned. The befuddlement of the Turner trio to their current state — not to mention the delicious glee with which the citizens of Weld practice a form of logic-based gossip — turn the turmoil into a communal effort.

Weld is the sort of town you find yourself wanting to live in, as though those who find their way there join in a pact to live life at its own pace ... and where the occasional struggles are rooted in a reality that isn’t a metaphor for anything more sinister than the human heart.

It’s the New Zealand sister city of Cicely, Alaska — without the snow or piano-flinging catapult — a sense of place long-missing in the conspiracy-driven, angst-laden landscape of today’s American entertainment.

Consider what passes for a conundrum in the world of “800 Words”: A famed painter named Dennis is preparing for an upcoming show. The problem? Dennis is having a moral crisis because, well, he doesn’t believe he actually exists.

Rather, he thinks he’s a character in a fictional universe — which means his paintings, as admired as they are, aren’t any more “real” then he is, and therefore it would be fraud to present (or heaven forbid, sell) fake paintings to real people.

There is nothing in “800 Words” — not sibling rivalries on a cricket field, the theft of the head from a ceremonial statue, or the traumatic loss to fire of a barbecue grill — that can’t be soothed in the middle of the night by sharing cheese on toast around the kitchen table.

The solution comes into the form of what Dennis calls “Plan B.” The operators of the local art gallery will themselves paint works in Dennis’s style and pass them off as his own. These would still be fraudulent, of course, but they would be ... in Dennis’s way of seeing things ... real.

That this plays out straightforwardly is part of the series’ charm. You end up debating the morality of an artist faking paintings of a real artist who believes his own works to be fake — and set aside the notion that Dennis is in some delusional self-portrait of his own ... he believes he doesn’t exist, unlike the people with whom his non-existent self comes in contact.

While you chew this over, treat yourself to a bite of cheese on toast.

There is nothing in “800 Words” — not sibling rivalries on a cricket field, the theft of the head from a ceremonial statue, or the traumatic loss to fire of a barbecue grill — that can’t be soothed in the middle of the night by sharing cheese on toast around the kitchen table.

It’s a bittersweet feeling knowing that there’s only so long we can ride the perfect waves in Weld. You want series (and towns) such as this to exist indefinitely; on the other hand, it’s better to have loved and lost.

It is there where we left the central Turner family after this past week’s episode — each mourning the loss of their relationship.

Daughter Shay’s boyfriend, an actual artist denying his talent, can’t abide her decision to assist in Dennis’s Plan B deception. Son Arlo, recently deflowered, is unceremoniously dumped over the phone by the girl ... who has decided to rekindle an old flame.

And widowed father George (around whom the show revolves) lands in the stickiest wicket of all — one of three possible fathers to the twins being carried by a woman in Sydney, a jolt that makes him realize that he doesn’t want to start again with another set of children ... an admission which ends (at least for now) his current relationship.

If that all sounds a bit soapy for your tastes, don’t be concerned. The befuddlement of the Turner trio to their current state — not to mention the delicious glee with which the citizens of Weld practice a form of logic-based gossip — turn the turmoil into a communal effort.

The 800 words of the title reference the length of the newspaper columns George writes each week. (Aside: This is how we know we’re not watching a documentary. 800 words? That was so ... umm ... dozens of words ago.) As you might expect, his topics mirror the themes of the week — but are used as voiceovers to underscore that, even in Weld, people looking in the mirror don’t always see what’s in front of them.

A show as singular as this seems sentenced from birth to a short shelf-life; and, indeed, production of “800 Words” ended last fall. SOPTv currently is showing the later episodes of the second of its three seasons.

It’s a bittersweet feeling knowing that there’s only so long we can ride the perfect waves in Weld. You want series (and towns) such as this to exist indefinitely; on the other hand, it’s better to have loved and lost.

If you have yet to discover “800 Words,” you’re in for a treat. The rest of us will console ourselves with some cheese on toast.

Mail Tribune copy desk chief Robert Galvin also believes he exists in a fictional universe, accessed by emailing rgalvin@rosebudmedia.com.

Robert Galvin