Nick Grant wanders down memory lane in comedy.

Tis the time we're most prone to reflecting on the past 365 days and resolving to make positive life changes for the next 12-month stretch, which must be the rationale for screening the latest instalment of The Year That Was this week.

It's the fourth episode of the occasional series of comedy specials, each of which is fronted by a stand-up comedian performing material about a year of personal significance, along with clips and comic commentary on important and/or idiotic events from the period.

In the latest one, 2011 Billy T Award winner Nick Gibb recalls 2005 when, as a new uni graduate, he made a short-lived foray into stripping, inadvertently appeared on Police Ten 7, and took a road trip across the US.

It was also the year that John Cleese dissed Gibb's hometown of Palmerston North by saying a few days in the provincial centre would give anyone contemplating suicide the motivation to finally end it all; Hilary Swank won an Oscar for Million Dollar Baby and was fined for bringing an apple into New Zealand; and Russell Crowe was arrested for throwing a fit and a phone.


In addition, 2005 saw the advent of the Civil Union Bill, Charles marry Camilla, and Chris Warner and Toni Thompson get hitched on Shortland Street.

As the list above indicates, the events highlighted tend towards the trivial, but some of the material is surprisingly timely. The show demonstrates that anyone surprised by John Tamihere's recent Roast Buster remarks shouldn't have been, as 2005 was when the then-Labour MP managed to come across as a misogynistic, homophobic simpleton in an interview with Investigate magazine.

It's a varied mix, aided by some sharp writing and juxtapositions (the election of new Pope Benedict XVI is contrasted with Brian Tamaki ordaining himself a bishop).

Gibb's personal anecdotes are more entertaining than the response from the often inert audience suggests. Gibb's stand-up tends towards the subtle, generally eschewing the easy "F-bomb" approach in favour of more sophisticated verbiage. I enjoyed the style, even if it sometimes results in punchlines being strangled by a surfeit of sub-clauses.

That quibble aside, I enjoyed this hour-long exercise in memory jogging, at least partly because other than the birth of my youngest daughter, 2005 is a bit of a blur.

Speaking of babies, season five of city council comedy Parks and Recreation ended on a cliff-hanger that strongly hinted Lucy Lawless' character is pregnant to magnificently unreconstructed man's man Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), a question that's speedily resolved when the season six starts tomorrow. As the troubles of John Banks and Len Brown prove, the conduct of local politicians is often laughable. Parks and Recreation's laughs, however, don't leave a bad taste in your mouth.

* The Year That Was - 2005 screens Wednesday, 9.40pm, on TV2; Parks and Recreation returns tomorrow, 8pm, on Four.