Colin Hogg on television
Our reviewer's look at television's best and worst

Colin Hogg: Breakfast serves up cheesy bites

It can be like cholesterol for the brain, with occasional meaty bits in an attempt to balance the diet.

Toni Street and Rawdon Christie deliver Breakfast, while  Penguins: Spy in the Huddle  is a unique reality show.
Toni Street and Rawdon Christie deliver Breakfast, while Penguins: Spy in the Huddle is a unique reality show.

'Why don't you write something about Breakfast?" I've been asked a few times lately by people who seem quite exercised about the show's awfulness.

Some are even quite rude about it. A couple of them suggested Toni Street, one of the show's presenters, was thick. But so's the audience, I said in the show's defence. It's a perfect match, a winning combination.

Unable to resist the temptation, on Friday I caught all three hours of Breakfast on TV One from 6am, when even the best of us might be feeling a bit thick.

Watching it wasn't as challenging as I thought it might be. And though I wouldn't use the word "thick", I could see why those Breakfast haters might say that about Toni Street, whose default position is a slightly disconcerting 1000m stare.

On the plus side, the sporty bombshell-next-door is a good fit for a show that likes to layer plenty of cheese between the occasional meaty bits, often involving news, weather and sport of the day.

The cheese, though, is laid on pretty thick at times - like cholesterol for the brain. Though sometimes, without perhaps meaning to, that cheese really works.

Friday's show, for instance, featured what turned out to be an inspired piece of sadistic running comedy involving Chris Chang doing the weather every half hour live from Puhoi, the Bohemian village north of Auckland, which was celebrating its 150th anniversary.

The idea of mixing isotherms and interviews with locals dressed up in their traditional outfits took on a slightly hysterical Groundhog Day vibe as the show cut back time and time again to the increasingly desperate weather man dancing a Polka, gazing in wonder at the Puhoi pub's collection of ancient undies or watching a granny in a bonnet making toast on a fire.

If Breakfast could promise that sort of existential nuttery every weekday morning I'd keep watching. Tormenting weather presenters seems a fine sport.

Meanwhile, Street's co-presenter, haughty Rawdon Christie, still seems slightly vexed by the show's cheery lowbrow tack, though he loosened up enough on Friday for an enthusiastic manure-shovelling race with her during a jolly visit to Auckland Zoo.

But life's not easy on a show that floats on an ice floe amid the seas of infomercials that fill morning TV.

Though for a truly outstanding show on an ice floe, TV One has something much better available and at a much more sensible viewing time - the astonishing Penguins: Spy in the Huddle (Tuesday, 8.30pm).

This BBC series gleefully takes wildlife TV to a new level as it tracks the lives of three very different groups of penguins in various parts of the penguin world - Emperor penguins in Antarctica, Rockhoppers in the Falklands and Humboldt penguins in Peru.

It might be the world's first penguin reality show, employing an almost cartoonish array of hidden cameras to get, as the show's title suggests, right in there and personal with these most telegenic of birds.

There are cameras in fake rocks, fake eggs, fake fully-automated penguins (chicks and adults) and even a swimming robot Rockhopper to catch the underwater action.

Here's a show that has it all. There was the drama of an attempted kidnapping by crazed childless Emperors and the fearless Rockhoppers fighting off vultures and cormorants as they raided their nests. And, being about penguins, the show was often also funny - perhaps because they look so much like us, but tidier.

- NZ Herald

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