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A blog about television and radio with Paul Casserly

Paul Casserly: Seven Sharp vs Campbell Live

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Jesse Mulligan, Alison Mau and Greg Boyed host Seven Sharp. Photo/supplied
Jesse Mulligan, Alison Mau and Greg Boyed host Seven Sharp. Photo/supplied

I must admit to being excited in the lead up to Seven Sharp. Or was it fear?

What excited me was that the show would no doubt cause hand wringing in certain circles, there would be tut-tuting across the nation, twitter would "go off" and Brian Edwards would possibly explode.

Also, I've always liked Alison Mau, Jessie Mulligan is clearly a natural and Greg Boyed has yet to make me throw anything at the TV. I was also excited about the prospect of people trying new things on TV, of being surprised.

The fear came from my possibly unreasonable hatred of TV shows that profess to be interactive; the word is like an alarm bell to me and is usually said by the sort of people who want to do awful things like "connect with the youth."

Like the rest of the handwringers I also feared that the show would be too lightweight, without the upside of being truly risqué. It would be stuck in a dead-zone.

It would be like having rice bubbles for dinner.

You'd be mad to judge it on the first show, but as a TV blogger, you'd be mad not to. I scribbled some notes down as I watched.

1. The intro graphics say things like 'share this', 'skype me', 'global warming', 'tweet me'. Jesus.

2. Super bowl gag followed by Titewhai Harawira gag. They'd like to hear our thoughts.

3. The older viewers will hate that bloody music playing under the presenters. Luckily advertisers don't give a s*** about older viewers.

5. I like that Heather Du Plessis-Allen got John Key to sink some piss as part of the tour of his office. Most shocking news: He has plastic flowers and he bought them himself. That's just wrong.

5. Much of what Sainsbury or Holmes established remains intact.
There's Maori bashing, sucking up to the powerful, and cheesy, middle of the road music.

In tonight's episode that equated to making fun of Titewhai Hawawira, having the Prime minister show us around his office, and an interview with Josh Groban. Titewhai is of course tabloid gold and plays into the narrative that we all know so well. It can be summed up in two words: 'Bloody Maoris'.

Holmes would possibly have intro-ed the story with a "Be prepared to go ballistic."

Sainsbury would have had some talking heads on, possibly Titewhai or at least Willie Jackson.

Seven Sharp deployed Mulligan to create a wacky poll. Pointless polls have been the didymo of primetime current affairs for some time now and sadly they remain intact on Seven Sharp.

6. Sometimes I fell like I'm watching Breakfast then a flash of Fair Go, then it's 7Days, there's even a Gerry Brownlee fat-joke. Greg makes a Kim Dotcom fatty boomsticks quip.

7. If Greg keeps saying things like "What do you think? Let us know through social media?" I may begin to throw things.

8. Threw something to test my aim. There's now plum juice on the wall.

9. The chemistry is actually pretty good for a first show. They seem like they've been doing this for ages. But what are they doing?

10. There's a weird tonal change from the jolly japes to the 'serious' story about the guy with post-traumatic stress disorder. That's tricky. "What do you think?" asked Greg at the end of the story. I think the guy has post-traumatic stress disorder.

11. No mention of Saint Paul Holmes. Wise move.

12. And it's over. You can't say it dragged.

Meanwhile, Campbell Live has been preparing for the battle. John has a new suit and now does the show standing up, possibly in an effort to "connect with the youth." The camera seems to be moving around a bit.

How strange that he is now the old guy, the establishment.

In fact there's also been a weird role reversal where TV3 sometimes seems more like a state broadcaster than the state broadcaster.

Campbell Live has now been on air for a full month since Close Up closed down.

Tonight they're putting on a particularly good show. First up John Selwood has a great story about the housing crisis in Christchurch. We meet Tom, who's been living in his car for six months despite having a job and money to pay rent.

If there's any sign of desperation, it could be that we seem to be crossing live a lot. A giant dead squid is being dissected live as the show progresses.

It's not great TV, but it is weird. Then we cross live to a Tip Top bread factory for news that 100,000 loaves are being donated to the Kidscan charity. (Oh no it's WHITE DEATH!)

But it's a good reminder of the work the show has been doing in the past year. (Seven Sharp will no doubt develop its own campaigns in the days ahead.)

Then some spoilsport goes to the rugby sevens with hidden cameras to film pissed and chundering people. That's a great idea. We see people necking booze via a road cone. A girl has a technicolour yawn all over a security guard. They should include this stuff on the official broadcast. It's fricken gold.

So as expected, there's no contest. Campbell Live is hitting its straps while Seven Sharp is beginning the process of finding its rhythm, as well as it's rhyme and reason.

John may be serving us boring old meat and two vege, but Ali, Greg and Jesse have so far only offered Coco Pops. But then again, it's only day one.

Read more:

The best tweets on Seven Sharp.
Seven Sharp review
Seven Sharp 'all pastry and no pie'
Bank sponsors Seven Sharp

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