Colin Hogg on television

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Colin Hogg: Fair Go's Hansel finds his Gretel

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Veteran consumer affairs show's new front duo seem to have clicked, or at least squeaked ...

Gordon Harcourt and Pippa Wetzell. Photo / Supplied
Gordon Harcourt and Pippa Wetzell. Photo / Supplied

In the merciless world of New Zealand television, Fair Go is some sort of miracle - marked out to live forever apparently, like that other, more leathery, long-term survivor, Country Calendar.

Though, of course, Fair Go was a groundbreaking series when it launched way back in 1977 - a consumer show with a sense of humour fighting dodgy traders on behalf of viewers, naming names, enduring legal action, slammed doors, even violence.

And 36 years on, launching its 2013 series (7.30pm, Wednesday, TV One), dear old Fair Go appears to be sticking to the original recipe - and pretty compellingly with last week's first episode, which also introduced new co-host Pippa Wetzell.

TVNZ, for once, might have made a good choice with a presenter. If Judy Bailey was once labelled Mother of the Nation, then perhaps perky Pippa is the Girl Next Door of the Nation. She's certainly a perfect fit for Fair Go.

Paired up with co-star Gordon Harcourt, together they squeak, but in a good way. In fact, they feel like a classic match - less Bonnie and Clyde, more Hansel and Gretel. But that's just what this show needs.

Pippa's predecessor Ali Mau's darker demeanour wasn't a natural pairing with geeky Gordon - though I also mean geeky in a good way, of course.

To make things even better, Fair Go's first serving last week was full of decent, heart-warming horror stories.

First there was confessed gambling addict and fraudster Leicester Monk, last seen with his coat over his head, trying to scuttle out of camera shot, pursued by Gordon wielding his microphone like a righteous sword.

Last week's story followed Monk through court, pursued by his victims. It was powerful, emotional stuff, the judge - and the victims - unmoved by Monk's seemingly heartfelt confession and contrition.

Then Pippa went out reporting with a story concerning an upset old Auckland mother who felt short-changed by the pathetic posy her UK-based son sent for her birthday.

She knew he'd never send her anything that measly, and late too. Turns out her boy had been the victim of a so-called "relay florist" - an internet company that turns a $75 order into a $35 disappointment.

Fair Go isn't just the Pippa and Gordon show, though. Weathered veterans Mark Crysell and Hannah Wallis both made strong appearances - Crysell with an eye-opener on the very small print at the bottom of a very large toy sale sign and Wallis, very droll, on a country singer with a broken guitar and a difficult insurance issue.

Yes, TVNZ still gets it right now and then. They might also have it right about slashing TV One's Sunday show from an hour to 30 minutes and pulling it forward to the seven o'clock spot, where it's beginning to feel like a natural fit - and a bit of a fix of seriousness before five days of fatuousness with Seven Sharp.

This week's show was dominated by the disturbing story of a one-boy Christchurch crime wave called Andrej Schwaab, better known as Mr Cars after a rampage in 2010 when he stole five cars and was later caught by the Armed Offenders Squad.

He suffers "attachment disorder", the result of two years of neglect in a Russian orphanage before he was adopted by his long-suffering New Zealand mother.

The show petered out with a puff piece for a Julie Andrews tour, though even that had its moment of drama.

Julie's not going to let the fact that she can't sing like Julie Andrews anymore stop her.

- NZ Herald

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