Trump this - was The Don's win the TV viewing event of the year?

The Herald's TV critics weigh in on the viewing event of the year.

Karl Puschmann: Like all the TV greats last night's grand finale of Election 2016 was a budget busting spectacle that left viewers stunned in its wake.

You wanted entertainment? Here it was. It had high stakes drama, gripping tension, jaw dropping action and a villain you simply loved to hate.

And that plot twist at the end! Holy flippin' heck. Kudos, America, kudos. Because, honestly, I did not see that one coming.

There's no denying that this ending - which has already spurned thousands of think pieces around the world - was a giant risk. And I'm not entirely convinced they pulled it off.

President-elect Donald Trump gives his acceptance speech during his election night rally. Photo / AP
President-elect Donald Trump gives his acceptance speech during his election night rally. Photo / AP

In attempting to satisfy fans that had invested heavily and stuck with it throughout its interminably long season the producers are to be applauded.

It was a rollercoaster of emotions.

The problem is that by deviating so far from the script, from building up to a nail-bitingly triumphant ending and then pulling the rug out from underneath fans at the last moment, I couldn't help but feel a little.... shortchanged.

As the credits rolled I couldn't shake Johnny Rotten's infamous last words with the Sex Pistols; 'Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?'.

Still, you can't deny Election 2016 was a truly wild ride of up's and downs. Concluding on such a downer is a gamble but it does set things up beautifully for next season.

It's been a worldwide phenomenon with global viewing numbers that were - to borrow a catchphrase - tremendous, so you'd think a second season would be given.

It's not being ruled out, the working title is Election 2020. But there's still a very real chance that its breakout star and newly appointed showrunner Donald Trump could cancel it without wanring at anytime.

I really hope he doesn't.

Alex Casey: I spent a lot of yesterday searching for a person in the televised election coverage who I recognised.

Not like a celebrity, or a broadcaster, but someone who didn't seem like they were from that part in Mars Attacks where the aliens come down and try to disguise themselves as human beings.

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump react as they watch the election results during Trump's election. Photo / AP
Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump react as they watch the election results during Trump's election. Photo / AP

Be it the red-faced men in red trucker hats cheering and piling on top each other in joy, or the news presenters calmly hearing the words President Donald Trump roll off their own tongues without crying like a baby in a cartoon, these people were not humans that I had seen before.

That was until I saw a little boy named Baron Trump, slowly swaying, green-faced, behind the President elect. He did a yawn that somehow evolved gracefully into what looked like a small burp.


He looked shattered, despondent, barely summoning enough energy to blow his fringe out of his face. He was also the only person on television (perhaps because I was watching FOX) that was emoting anything close to how I felt.

Granted he probably wasn't fully comprehending what was happening in that exact moment but, to be honest, none of the rest of us were either.

Duncan Greive: Yesterday had that surreal quality of watching history happening in front of you. A shocking event with unknowable implications, unfolding slowly, then with irresistible pace.

I watched it on Twitter, as jokes slowly turned to despair. I watched it walking the streets around my house, exchanging furtive glances and sad smiles of recognition.

Mostly, I watched it on Fox News, at first for a hopelessly naive assumption that schadenfreude would be rolling through the afternoon, and later to see whether Karl Rove's head would pop like an over-ripe pimple from an overload of sheer pleasure.

The screen began with wide shots of two pundit-laden benches, then grew ever more crowded. By the climactic moments the anchor was reduced to a tiny box occupying less than a tenth of the screen's acreage, hemmed in on all sides by an expanding army of graphs, figures, results and exploding alerts.

Atop it all, a scene from Trump's victory celebrations, a sea of disturbingly young white men in 'Make America Great Again' caps which had a 'frat party celebrating end of the world'-vibe.

President-elect Donald Trump shakes hands during an election night rally. Photo / AP
President-elect Donald Trump shakes hands during an election night rally. Photo / AP

It was a lot to take in.

If Fox provided the maximum possible intensity, TVNZ swang hardest the other way.

While Newshub recognised the magnitude of what was happening and stayed with the story for most of the night, first extending Story, then giving way to a 90-minute election special by Tom McRae and Sam Hayes, TVNZ 1 looked history in the eye and turned on the oven. While Donald Trump was making that surprisingly magnanimous acceptance speech, Masterchef played on, blissfully ignorant of the future of civilisation roiling in the background.

It was another example of the state broadcaster's intense indifference to its role, and TV3 - weakened and in the midst of a nightmare week - gamely battling on to deliver the closest thing we got to public service television.

And thus more evidence - on a night when we truly didn't require it - of what a weird and ass-backwards era we're living through.

- NZ Herald

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