Colin Hogg: TV3's benevolent dictator warm and witty - but serious

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Paul Henry is "brilliant and irrepressible", according to Paul Henry.
Paul Henry is "brilliant and irrepressible", according to Paul Henry.

Bugger and good grief, I say, having expected to not much like the much heralded (mostly by him), all-new Paul Henry Show, which arrived on Monday, replacing TV3's old late-night news.

Having touted himself and his self-centred show as "brilliant and irrepressible", Henry popped up on that first show looking like the cat that ate the whole of Fonterra - comfy in his manly man cave studio set, his beautiful newsreader nearby.

"Congratulations on being part of television history," he beamed at us with the unbridled joy normally seen in the eyes of newly risen dictators. And in a way, Henry is a dictator, mostly benevolent, so far, but maybe you would be on an opening show with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition as happy studio guests, though separately in the seat.

First, though, a solid news bulletin read in a warm and, it must be said, somewhat alluring style by the glamorous Janika ter Ellen.

Then Labour leader David Cunliffe into the interview seat, quickly gasping at Henry's announcement that "I'd never vote for you".

"I thought you were a neutral journalist," said Cunliffe. Henry: "What made you think that?"

And so it went, Monday and Tuesday nights (at 10.35), news and sharp, witty, sometimes even serious interviews, done with a sense of fun that still manages to deliver the goods - even if the host is sometimes at odds or even mad and angry with the matter at hand.

On Tuesday, talking to reporter Rebecca Wright about sneaky Auckland Council plans to boost the cost of rubbish collection, Henry fumed: "I can taste blood in my mouth. All councils are bastards."

Other issues covered in those first two shows included whether mouthwash can kill you, how bad things really are in Afghanistan and why Wellingtonians have stopped tooting in the Victoria Tunnel.

Henry got the PM to play a game called "Nine in Ten", challenging him to name nine native birds in 10 seconds in a bid to win a car. He got four.

In "Who Hates Me Today", Henry looked at who was saying what sort of rotten things about him on the internet, followed swiftly by the weather and a piece about the mad sad rise of online eating among the world's home alones.

The only thing wrong with The Paul Henry Show is the timeslot and perhaps even the channel. In a dream in an alternative universe, this show deserves the seven o'clock slot of TV One, replacing the still-limping Seven Sharp, which might have gained a sharp interviewer with Mike Hosking, but with it the smug, sour tone of the man himself.


TV Review

What: Paul Henry Show
When: 10.30pm weekdays
Where: TV3

- NZ Herald

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