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Colin Hogg on television

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Colin Hogg: Seriously, let's lighten the load

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Robyn Malcolm saw out the second season of Agent Anna, still with that groan- inducing awkwardness.
Robyn Malcolm saw out the second season of Agent Anna, still with that groan- inducing awkwardness.

Television seems to be a little in love with politics, which shouldn't be a bad thing in a run-up to an election, unless it's dull, of course. On TV these days, dullness is a sort of death.

And I have to say I felt a shiver of deathly dullness watching the latest new local political show, Prime Time With Sean Plunket, which launched last Friday night on - you guessed it - Prime.

It's a budget affair, a half-hour studio set-up, with a round table and a considerable presenter in its well-practised star, veteran broadcaster Sean Plunket, wearing tight hair, loose suit and serious glasses.

Those glasses, it turned out, were the most light-hearted thing about the show, which spent all of its half hour pouring out great gales of words and numbers at that talk table, with the aid of two politicians and two experts.

Setting a serious tone from the start, Plunket posed a couple of large and familiar questions as the points of discussion - whether the rich were getting richer and whether there was a way out of poverty.

And so they went at it - Paula Bennett, from the right of the spectrum in an orange top, Metiria Turei from the left in beige, plus, in jumpers, a couple of blokes who seemed to know what they were talking about, one from the Salvation Army.

Plunket kept asking people for their "narrative" while Bennett and Turei spouted numbers like maths teachers at exam time. Of course, nothing was solved, never mind very much being learned.

Things did get a bit shouty at times, but not in the entertaining way they can on other shows like TV3's The Nation, I'm afraid.

Though this Friday's episode of Prime Time With Sean Plunket might just feature a bit of the old biffo, with the promised appearance of two first-class fighters, National's Steven Joyce and Labour's Grant Robertson, who put on quite a wrestling bout on The Nation a couple of weeks back.

On a slightly lighter note, TV One's locally made comedy series Agent Anna ended its second run last Thursday night with the show's hapless star declaring: "I don't know who I am."

A viewer might have been forgiven for thinking that, after all those episodes, she might know - or even feel she should have found out who she was ages ago, perhaps even at the end of the first series.

But that's the trick - or is it the rub? - with Agent Anna, which is one of those knot-in-the-stomach comedies of awkwardness where the central character is painted in broad strokes and the laughs aren't the out-loud sort, but rather groans.

There are some good lines, as when teenage daughter Bella, leaving solo mother and home to move in with her boyfriend, says: "I'm 16. It's legal. He cooks."

But the near terminal effervescence of Robyn Malcolm's Anna and her misadventures in the world of real estate remain slightly unloveable. But never mind. I'm sure I'll get a third chance.

- NZ Herald

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