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The Nation goes for the jugular with its combative political interviews while TV One rival is simply dull.

Entertainment show of the week, by at least two lengths, was Saturday morning's episode of The Nation. It was a scream from start to finish and I'd only dropped in to check how the TV3 political show handled the start of the election campaign.

I expected to wander off for a coffee halfway through and not come back. But the damned show wouldn't let go, starting out with the very sight of presenters Lisa Owen and Patrick Gower, both dark-haired, mad-eyed and chicken-bone thin.

They could be about to introduce a series of vampire movies, but they're not. Instead they feast on politics in a way that slips The Nation across into sheer entertainment.

With her edgy style, Owen brings back memories of once-upon-a-time political editor Linda Clark. With his crazy gaze, Gower makes you want to take cover behind the sofa.


Saturday's show was action packed, beginning with Owen battling to control a heavyweight bout between National's Stephen Joyce and Labour's Grant Robertson, the latter sporting a rather nice lilac shirt, the former plainly dressed for battle.

They furiously talked all over each other - Joyce the heavy hitter, shouting "absolute rubbish" at anything Robertson said, laughing him down and engaging the camera in a way no politician has since Robert Muldoon.

Nothing was learned, but it was terrific toe-to-toe combat, almost eligible for some sort of sports award.

And Saturday morning's show pretty much kept the entertainment coming. There was a nice analysis of the political parties' various marketing styles, with PM John Key judged best baby kisser.

And Gower interviewed that old oyster Winston Peters and managed to get a pearl out of him. He'd stop that land sale, he said. A comedy spot, "Politics in 60 Seconds", with Paul Ego and Jeremy Corbett was actually funny and not a minute too long. Ego arrived late.

There was the inevitable panel to chew on everything, but there's no getting away from the commentators on these sorts of shows.

Dullest show of the week was TV One's Sunday morning political show, Q+A, where they didn't seem very excited about the election campaign, preferring to interview two of the least interesting people in politics, David Shearer and Murray McCully, the former informative on Gaza, the latter puffed up and unhappy to be there, as usual.

Then there was a man with a brainy beard talking at length about wellness economics and a panel to tell us what to think. That show really needs to get a bit of, as Sinatra said, ring-a-ding-ding.

Which brings us to the strangest show of the week, a very odd World War I-themed local documentary called The Berry Boys (TV One, Sunday, 10.30pm).

Stuck in a late slot, outside of a series, this one felt like a grand failure of a sort, being a bold attempt at presenting an old tale in a modern and perhaps even groovy way.

At the documentary's heart was the simple task of telling the personal war stories of six Kiwi soldiers, linked by a series of old photographs taken before they left for the conflict by a Wellington photographer, William Berry, hence the title. But The Berry Boys served this up with an awful lot of creative sauce, being part-musical, with very serious modern pop songs performed live. If that wasn't enough, there was copious comic-style animation, a portentous voice-over and even subtitles.

All very strange, though, in the end, a triumph of content over style.