TV One's evening current affairs show will one day be looked back on with embarrassment, writes Colin Hogg.
I had to be tied to a chair and promised the comfort of strong drink afterwards in order to watch several episodes of the apparently deathless Seven Sharp this last week.
And when I say apparently deathless, I mean that perhaps it wouldn't be such an awful thing were the show indeed to die. Not really such an awful thing at all.
Rumour has it there's an unofficial motto at TVNZ which goes something along the lines of, "Don't admit it's wrong 'til it's gone".
That's certainly how it seemed to go with Seven Sharp's week-night-at-seven predeceaser, Close-Up. The channel persisted in shouting about the ongoing wonderfulness of Close-Up right up to the point it closed up after a bit of a dip in viewership.
Compared with what's happened since Seven Sharp replaced Close-Up in the 7pm spot, that dip turned out to be a mere blip - even at its lowest ebb, catching the sort of ratings the new show's hapless producers probably dream of now.
And when I said hapless back there, I meant hopeless actually. Here's a show that will be looked back on as an embarrassment - and the sooner it's in a position to be looked back on the better.
There are suggestions that might happen in the New Year, though of course the channel insists it's perfectly happy with Seven Sharp and that the show will return on January 20.
By then they might even have settled on a regular presenting team. Since the departure of journalist Greg Boyed a few months back, Seven Sharp's frontline has been operating as a bit of an open talent quest with various fluffies popping up for a go behind the desk.
It's not a demanding job. No in-depth interviews, nothing terribly important, few stories that couldn't run tomorrow, next week or never. You don't even need to be particularly funny or entertaining, though you will be required to yak a bit between items.
When I checked in on Wednesday only Jesse Mulligan from the old gang was present, with Ali Mau off sick. Reporter Heather du Plessis-Allan and Matt Gibb, that bright-eyed chap from the phone technology ads, were the night's contestants. But neither looked like a winner. Gibb chirps without ever saying much, while du Plessis-Allan is just too bossy to have indoors for long. And if she really does want the job, she should cut back on the knowing glances to camera and maybe go blonde. TVNZ favours the blonde presenter.
Wednesday's show featured five or six items, all of which had faded from memory by show's end.
Mau did show on Thursday, with Mulligan and du Plessis-Allan as Seven Sharp intrepidly investigated ... well, again, nothing much really. Something about the Milford Track, a bloke who grows plants that look like animals, a new tourist thrill ride that a reporter was duly thrilled by.
Mau was still there on Friday night, though she looked like she'd rather not have been - and hard to blame her, with Seven Sharp coming live and with teeth-gritting festive jollity from Hamilton, which has recently and impulsively rebranded itself Christmas City.
My bonds had to be tightened at that point. It was a grim and challenging half hour filled with Christmas cliches and far too much desperate niceness from Mulligan.
Even the Christmas tree looked bored.
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