Colin Hogg on television
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Colin Hogg: 3rd Degree burns bright in spots - but spare us Guy

Anna Guy played a double role as reporter and subject, which made for 'queasy viewing'.
Anna Guy played a double role as reporter and subject, which made for 'queasy viewing'.

Who knew current affairs would be free-to-air TV's new competitive sport?

And not only is everyone shouting about doing it, they're all promising to do something different with the old and once-honorable genre.

3rd Degree, which began on TV3 last night, promised "a new approach to current affairs", which isn't really saying much at all. What it delivered was actually quite old-fashioned - and, in the case of one item, quite awful.

Bit of a game of two halves, really. In a spartan studio, wearing serious grey suits, front men Guyon Espiner and Duncan Garner started out stiff, almost wary, like two dogs with one bone, and didn't really get a lot better.

And it is an odd set-up because the talents of the two former political editors pretty much overlap.

The only time last night they had any fun was arguing the credibility of the story they were introducing - Anna Guy reporting on ... well, herself.

But first came the redoubtable Melanie Reid, back in the field in full Shakespearian mode, with the lengthy and slightly unhinged tale of Taranaki's only, lonely and much-hated wheel clamper, an intense and battle-scarred chap called Daniel Clout.

"Arrests, assaults, abuse," Reid chanted at the camera, making me feel somehow that here was an important story, which it wasn't. It was highly entertaining, especially the vivid footage of the camera-covered clamper not only clamping an unmarked police car, but refusing to unclamp it till the cops coughed up the $150 penalty.

Then came the awkward second story involving the woman who famously used to be married to a man tried for murdering her brother.

It was odd and awkward and, as I said, quite awful, starring Anna Guy as reporter and subject as she moved to Auckland to start a new life with a "new love"- and chat a bit about the old one.

Guy simply appears to be trying to transform her tragic and challenging personal circumstances into a career opportunity, which made queasy viewing and made me doubt the sanity of the producers.

I couldn't decide if it was made worse by Espiner and Garner giving Guy a light grilling at the end in their interview spot.

There's promise here, though. Just no more Anna Guy please.

- NZ Herald

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