"All you need to know," says the blacked-out face, in a voice familiar from a thousand horror films, "is that behind [the door] is a scumbag which should probably be behind bars."

Soon, Duncan Garner is on screen, in a yellowy room with heavy velour curtains and an overstuffed, black leather couch. He looks troubled, yet determined. "Do you think the public is," he says, pausing a beat, "safe?"

In the nation's lounge, defending its people. The story is the central portion of Story, TV3's new current affairs vehicle, entering the hallowed 7pm slot and attempting to replace the irreplaceable Campbell Live.

Garner's segment is built around the testimony of a whistleblowing staffer from First Security, sub-contracted to respond when there's a bail breach.


The menacing voice and dark, hooded torso used to disguise their identity suggest the Grim Reaper has arrived in your living room.

He brings bad tidings from a world filled with criminals bent on our destruction. All that stands in their way is an electronic monitoring bracelet, which can be removed with a pair of $2 shop scissors. Not even the good scissors.

It's an efficient piece of scaremongering, which embodies all Garner's strengths as a broadcaster: his plain-spoken doggedness and his innate understanding of how an issue should be framed for maximum dramatic impact. Most of all, his location at the precise magnetic centre of middle New Zealand.

For all its concern for our welfare, particularly that of our least well-off, that's not something you could ever say about Campbell Live. With its host now back in the bosom of Radio New Zealand, is there any hope for current affairs on the telly? What's the Story?

It starts with dissonant guitar figures, which rumble ominously throughout the hosts' run-through of the night. Garner and co-host Heather du Plessis-Allan sit in front of a pair of tablets (modern!), and share a respectful warmth and chemistry from dot one.

They don't muck about though - too many stories for Story to tell. The first is a doozy. They've used actors to elicit some questionable behaviour from a pair of real estate agents. And who's that out doorstepping them? Du Plessis-Allan!

Instantly we're a world away from the set-bound lectures of Seven Sharp. Our hosts are out in the community, getting ordered off properties. And getting scalps. A real estate agent's resigned, after Story caught her on covert camera making statements implying she'd happily do a client out of a buck to make one for herself.

Back in the studio Du Plessis-Allen is steamed. She's got Carey Smith, the head of Ray White, on the line and is reeling him in. After he mumbles an attempt to defend the outrageous conduct of his employee, Du Plessis-Allen cuts him off. Smith's eyes are darting off camera, as if looking for an escape route.

"That's not really what's going on," she says bluntly, before efficiently knifing his argument.

It's a business leader being held to account. And a fresh angle on the dominant crisis story of the year. The housing bubble, during which real estate agents have somehow managed to portray themselves as helpless bystanders.

Brilliant, agenda-setting journalism. Garner's follow-up was less vital, but no less entertaining, and also featured a good boisterous interview with a person in power.

Afterwards, Garner read through a statement from First Security. He stopped for incredulous asides throughout, before pronouncing it "public service gobbledegook".

We closed out with a fun, informative piece on a live streamed gaming event which had brought hundreds to the Civic Theatre early on a Sunday morning. Oh, and a pointless viral video of a bullet being shot underwater, set to a grating EDM soundtrack.

It was lovelessly tacked on to the end of Story, a sour aftertaste to what was otherwise a feast of arresting, informative viewing.

One episode in, but I've a hunch fears that with Campbell Live's demise went the end of 7pm current affairs will prove greatly exaggerated.