Paul Little at large
Paul Little is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Paul Little: A hapless half hour

We know who's presenting - Jesse Mulligan, Ali Mau and Greg Boyed - but details on the content are scant. Photo / Supplied
We know who's presenting - Jesse Mulligan, Ali Mau and Greg Boyed - but details on the content are scant. Photo / Supplied

I've just realised that if I want to pass an opinion on Seven Sharp before seeing it, as every other commentator, I'm going to have to get a wriggle on. It's beginning any day now.

This is the TV One show, you'll be aware, that will replace the Mark Sainsbury Close Up - as if such a thing were possible, let alone desirable.

It will feature three hosts and a revolving panel of smart-arses. I don't expect to be asked to join them and wouldn't if I were - I can't stand crowds. So my opinion is as objective as it is possible to be.

Ever since the show and its cutesy name were announced there has been a sneering vein of commentary about it. From the loftiest heights, media commentators have hurled thunderbolts of invective at the hapless half hour.

Their theme is that the barbarians have not just breached the gates, but locked them behind themselves and hidden the remote.

They predict a trivia-packed compendium of banality, almost certainly featuring spot prizes, a Twitter feed across the bottom of the screen, and Lucky the studio cat picking the Lotto numbers.

To hear them tell it, the most appropriate sponsor would be an ADHD medication. All this surmised with few details of what the show's content - if there is any - will be.

The lack of detail itself has been used as a stick with which to beat Seven Sharp, which tells you how little the commentators understand the medium. No brand-new show ever takes final form until the last minute.

A further irony is that Seven Sharp is being compared unfavourably to the Holmes show, which in its heyday was itself lambasted for being a downmarket infotainment travesty. Quality, it's clear, is a flexible concept.

And TVNZ has realised that when it comes to presenting quality current affairs for half an hour every night, Campbell Live is as good as it gets.

Over the past year, in particular, John Campbell and his team have surpassed the competition in every criteria by which current affairs TV can be judged.

TVNZ has taken the approach that if you can't beat 'em, you should do something else.

There is no law that dictates that at 7pm from Monday to Friday, a free-to-air television network shall broadcast quality current affairs.

The laments for the good old days are like the complaints about commercialisation of sport. Once sport became professional, it was no longer a game; it was a business. The size of the logo on the jersey is directly proportional to the amount the sponsor is willing to pay.

If TVNZ thinks it can find an audience for a melange of one-liners, factoids and Lucky the studio cat, then it has a commercial imperative to do so. Just who that audience is remains to be seen.

In the course of writing this column my typewriter suddenly clammed up and refused to answer any more questions.

Obliged to undertake some research, I sought out Seven Sharp on Facebook, where I was sure it would have set up an early beachhead. But the only Seven Sharps I could find were two eponyms: a cat in Japan with 26 friends and a barber in Newark, Delaware, who does $2 haircuts on Mondays.

Expect to see him turn up on the show quite early in its run to marvel at the amazing coincidence of a shared name.

Eventually, I did find a page for the show - begun on January 8, it had six likes by January 16.

It would be a good look for the show if everyone working on it could be bothered liking it on Facebook sooner rather than later.

- Herald on Sunday

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