Colin Hogg on television

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Colin Hogg: Seven Sharp likely to keep knife out

Hired gun Hosking coming to rescue but he likes to hunt alone.

Jesse Mulligan of Seven Sharp.
Jesse Mulligan of Seven Sharp.

"It's all fluff and wobbly bits," the critic shrieked as the story of the year stood up and staggered on to the assorted screens of a startled nation in February.

It was called Seven Sharp and it did indeed turn out to be the local viewing event of 2013, although not in a way its channel intended. By mid-year, there were rumours afoot that Seven Sharp's awfulness was helping boost the ratings for Dad's Army, which was running up against it over on Sky's new oldies channel, Jones.

And by year's end, only one of the original three presenters on TV One's bold new approach to current affairs remained behind the apparently doomed desk.

First Greg Boyed then, much more recently, Ali Mau departed - the first back to the relative sanity of TV news, the second leaping right out of the goldfish bowl altogether, into radio.

In keeping with the lightweight ambitions of the show, it's Jesse Mulligan, the so-called Seven Sharp comedian, who survives into the New Year, though he'll be sharing the show with some oddly-matched new pals.

Doubtless sitting lead-singer centre will be Mike Hosking and, on backing vocals and blank looks, Toni Street, of TV One's mind-numbing Breakfast show.

I've heard it suggested that Street is there only so the two boys don't look too gay together, though that might not be such a bad thing for a show desperate to find a point of difference.

Though by next year's end, or even earlier, it's not hard to see Seven Sharp being a one-man band. Hosking - an astringent and polarising performer - doesn't seem the type to tolerate co-stars for long. He often barely even tolerates the people he's interviewing.

And he'll also likely hunger to take on his natural opponent, TV3's redoubtable and long-running John Campbell, who ends 2013 with his credibility on high beam.

Perhaps inspired by TV One's retreat from much in the way of serious primetime current affairs - the channel also slashed its Sunday show back to half an hour for much of the year - TV3 launched 3rd Degree, a mid-week show fronted by the besuited and carefully choreographed Duncan Garner and Guyon Espiner.

Briefly indulging madness by employing Anna Guy as a reporter, 3rd Degree found its feet, though its monthly digression into a debate show called The Vote failed to fire, due perhaps to unexciting choices of issues.

Elsewhere in TV this past year, aside from the over-cooked current affairs, it has been mostly half-baked cooking shows, talent-free talent series and house renovation contests that went on for ever.

There was also a laudable level of local drama and comedy - not all of it great, of course, but that's what you get in a small and risk-averse market like ours.

The standouts there were Harry, a gritty, Auckland-centric cop drama that ran on TV3 mid-year, and Auckland Daze, a feckless, foul and loveable comedy of bad manners which came back with a bigger budget second series on TV One.

Mining an interesting line in tragi-comedy was the same channel's The Life and Times of Temuera Morrison, which followed our famous actor channelling Ozzy Osbourne as he tried to get his failing film career back on track.

But that was all just comfort in corners in a year where big was best and huge and ultimately pointless productions dominated our screens.

In April came TV3's X Factor NZ, unleashing the tartan-informed madness of judge Daniel Bedingfield and the unending niceness of Stan Walker on us all.

It's hard now to recall who won, but the show ran for months, trawling the country for talent, though finding little of it in the process.

Then, after what seemed too brief a break, TV One launched its version of the same sort of thing, NZ's Got Talent - again spending large amounts of money and time presenting evidence against their own claim.

Here's hoping there will be a lot less of that sort of thing in 2014, though I imagine there will be no immediate end to the other TV mega-show The Block NZ which will probably not stop 'til it's renovated half the country.

Which, in the end, might be a lot more useful than finding the next banjo picker from Gore.

- NZ Herald

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