Colin Hogg on television

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Colin Hogg: Few gems among yuletide turkeys

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Dumping lots of leftover shows on air over the Christmas season offers little to please the discerning viewer.

The Queen's Christmas Message is compulsory end-of-year TV viewing.
The Queen's Christmas Message is compulsory end-of-year TV viewing.

There's no such thing as bad television. There's just some stuff you wouldn't watch unless your life depended on it, and that's a little hard to imagine.

Unless you're a TV critic, of course, and you're viewing your way through that strange and barren time around Christmas and New Year when the channels empty out their rubbish and their recycle bins.

It's a cruel and merciless season and if there's anything new at all it's either full of Christmas cheer or it's stuff they didn't want to run when the advertisers were interested.

On Christmas Day it would have felt almost irreligious not to watch The Queen's Christmas Message (TV One, 6:50) and, anyway, she only talked for 10 minutes and it was about the only time you heard God mentioned during the religious holiday on prime time TV.

Wearing a rather fetching lemon-coloured outfit, the Queen certainly had an ear-catching opening line this year when she said, "I once knew someone who spent a year in a plaster cast".

It turned out that the theme for her chat was the power of contemplation and it certainly got me thinking, though that came to a halt when the equally inevitable Royal Variety Performance came into view half an hour later on the same channel.

That went for two hours and had a bit of everything, including Prince Charles, Dame Edna Everidge, a boy soprano with a brass band, an endless parade of stand-up comics and Mary J. Blige, who did a belting version of My Favourite Things.

I didn't really think it could get much better than that, but on Thursday it actually did when I caught the Doctor Who Christmas Special (Prime, 8.30pm), never having been a follower of the eccentric English sci-fi series.

Not having seen the show for several decades, I was pleased to see that they've finally got a decent budget for the special effects and that the Daleks are still out to get the good doctor, shrieking threats and waving their little drain-plunger arms.

The show ended spectacularly with the old Doctor morphing into the new Doctor, played by the mad-eyed Peter Capaldi.

It was so good I managed to stay awake right to the end.

Which is more than can be said of my viewing choice for the third day of Christmas, though I was risking it with Beauty and the Geek Australia (TV3, Thursday, 7.30pm).

But I have a sentimental attachment to the show, having watched the first couple of seasons with my teenage daughter. It was our weekly viewing date and we used to think it was a hoot.

But repetition puts deep lines on the once fresh faces of amusing nonsense like Beauty and the Geek, a game show that plays off teams of brainless beauties with hairy hopeless refugees from the planet Nerd.

Last Friday's special sent them all off to Fiji where it set about torturing them for two hours of TV in which the beauties were taught the "beauty of knowledge" and the geeks were taught how to pash and shave.

It felt wrong watching it without the daughter, who has long since lost interest.

Fusion Feasts (TV3, Saturday, 7pm) seemed more my demographic, following famous chef Peter Gordon as he visits a different marae each week in a bid to pep up their traditional kai with his fancy fusion nonsense. Though it's pretty enough and everyone's awfully pleased to see Pete, he's an unfunky sort of presenter, even when he's trying to do something creative with rotten corn.

And, am I the only one who feels a tad insulted at the playschool-level graphics offering such language tips as "iwi=tribe", "waiata=song" and "kaumatua=elder"?

Bring on the New Year I say.

- NZ Herald

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