On Seven Sharp, they put cinnamon and turmeric root in their coffee. That might explain something, suggests Calum Henderson.

Every summer's the same. When the big 7 o'clock shows all go on hiatus, evenings suddenly feel dangerously unmoored. With no more TV appointments to keep, everyone just kind of stumbles out into the night and tries to remember what to do, fumbling with barbecues and hose fittings, losing all concept of time.

It's a thrilling freedom, but of course, it can never last. Like going back to school, you always know there will come a day when you're back in front of the television at 6.59pm, being led powerlessly back into the arms of Mike Hosking and Toni Street. Yes, Seven Sharp is back.

Where has Hosking been, what wonders has he seen since we saw him last? He looks like he's been dragged through a hedge backwards, but he sounds like he's just stepped out of a flotation tank. His words offer a third possibility: "I've been amped, I've been fizzing. I'm ready to go."

Street is perhaps the only person in New Zealand even more relentlessly upbeat than Hosking. But unlike her co-host, it doesn't always beget good fortune. The 5:2 diet she took up over the holidays - "it's meant to help with your eczema and asthma" - backfired. "Since I've started I've actually been more sick," she admits cheerfully. "Don't touch me," jokes Hosking.


The incredibly contentious TPPA is just days away from being signed, Waitangi Day - a subject on which Hosking's position is well known - is imminent, Labour have recently proposed a return to free tertiary education. It may still be summer but there's plenty for a current affairs show to sink their teeth into.

Or not. "What really lurks behind that summer stubble?" ponders Hosking, introducing an item in which Erin Conroy swabs the faces of men in the TVNZ office to test how dirty their beards are.

Are we barking up the wrong tree still expecting current affairs in the 7 o'clock slot? It's been that way for years, but as we know the TV times are changing.

Reporter Mike Thorpe meets the Greymouth skater who received shabby, probably discriminatory treatment when he presented at Grey Base Hospital with a broken face earlier in the month. It's a well-made slice of TV which proves the injured to be a good, hard-working lad who did in fact deserve to receive appropriate medical care.

Later, Tim Wilson fronts the big online news story of the day - a Lyttleton cafe which refuses to use trim milk. Close-up shots of milk being steamed reveal a subtle gesture of defiance by the barista, who has written "THE NEWS SUXXX" in marker pen on the back of his hand.

"Is the customer always... wrong?!"

Tonally, Seven Sharp's closest comparison may be the long-running mid-morning lifestyle show Good Morning, which was scrapped last year after TVNZ decided to "focus on prime-time programming." Viewed from this angle - as an upbeat magazine-style lifestyle show - you have to admit it's a raging success.

Hosking's lifestyle tips are revelatory, second-to-none. "Do you know what I have in my coffee?" he asks following the trim milk story. "I'm recommending this to everyone... cinnamon. Appetite suppressant. Very good for you."

But wait, there's more! "You know what I've discovered over the holiday break? Turmeric root. Now I put a bit of turmeric in there as well. Look at me. I'm a million bucks."

Where Good Morning would have likely hosted a Phil Collins impersonator, Seven Sharp gets the real thing in an interview with London correspondent Emma Keeling. She asks after his hit In the Air Tonight, famously rumoured to be about Collins watching a man drown and doing nothing to save him. What's it actually about? "I don't know. I made those lyrics up."

The show ends with a closing statement from each of its hosts. Street offers advice straight from the pages of That's Life! magazine to people returning to work ("have a wine!"), before Hosking reels off a list of tourism and immigration stats. "They are literally flooding into this country," he beams, cartoon dollar signs in his eyes.

The holidays may over for another year, but at least the spirit lives on in the carefree, Kiwi bach-themed world of Seven Sharp.

- nzherald.co.nz