Bitchin' Channels

A blog about television and radio with Paul Casserly

Paul Casserly: Let the current affairs battle begin

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Close Up has fired the first shot in the battle between the 7pm current affairs shows. Photo / Jeff Brass
Close Up has fired the first shot in the battle between the 7pm current affairs shows. Photo / Jeff Brass

I never thought it would happen, but a few weeks back I found myself really missing our two favourite current affairs-slash-tabloid half hours, Close Up and Campbell Live.

They leave a gap when they're gone and yet we have so much disdain for them when they're on. "What passes for current affairs in this country," etc.

Maybe it's because during the year their familiarity is a great generator of contempt. The sheer volume of content they have to serve up occasionally results in dishes as vomitus as the hospital food that made this week's headlines and Campbell Live.

Anyway, they're back and for Close Up at least the re-launch has been somewhat of a blinder, mostly thanks to this sensational sting that outed some grubby would-be internet stalkers.

It's not a new concept of course but it was deftly executed and reporter Gill Higgins owned the pervs when she confronted them.

The self-delusion of these sad men was quite stunning and Higgins played them perfectly as they tried to slime off the hook.

Naturally it lead to a discussion about the dangers of the internet and how this was a timely warning rather than ratings-winning entertainment with no actual victims.

We were told how shocked the programme was with what they found, even though it's exactly what they went looking for and surely they would have been completed gutted if they had indeed found nothing.

If that had happened they too may have been stuck in a helicopter with Michael Fay. That was John Campbell's fate across the dial as they fired their first shot of the season with a story that reminded me of something that used to be called the Yellow Peril.

Ironically Michael Fay was part of a team of local farmers who either wanted to: a) protect us from Chinese capitalists trying to take our land; or b) buy a bunch of farms for a cheaper rate than someone else (ie, the Chinese).

That's ironic, because as Campbell pointed out, Fay is famous for selling New Zealand or at least making a killing trading large chunks of it. Now he wants to buy another chunk of it at a cut price.

He certainly has an eye for a bargain - you have to give him that. He's an ideas man.

Then JC pulled out some of the old magic and began to gush, clutching clumps of grass, beautiful green, lush, dairy-giving grass.

"This is just extraordinary, look at this, look at the cows, look at the cows!"

Next up came a story about how there aren't many toilets on the road from Dunedin to Picton, if you don't count petrol stations. This is very important if you need to poo when you are travelling and presumably don't really like petrol stations.

Reporter Whena Owen drove with a father and two boys who make the trip often.

"What do you do if you can't find a toilet?" she asked. "We go 'crazy wees' where you find a bush and go behind it." said the boys.

Later she went in search of and found some freedom campers' faeces, before pronouncing it "disgusting."

By this stage it was obvious that it was Close Up's night by a urine-soaked mile.

But this is a very long race, and it's only just begun.

- Herald online

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