By MICHELE HEWITSON, FIONA RAE, LINDA HERRICK, GREG DIXON, FRANCES GRANT
No 1 Telly celeb with Class ... Matthew Ridge
Classic Classy Ridgey moments #1:
Celebrity Treasure Island — announcing that partner Nicky Watson was his luxury item and his contribution to the boy's team. "I thought I would bring Nicky and we could all share her."
#2: Having his bum examined for pimples by ex-wife Sally Ridge on Celebrity Wives.
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No 1 comedy moment
No contest. The rip-snortingly, rib-achingly funny comedy/melodrama moments on this year's Coro.
Oh Richard, how could you have not done it?
A serial killer hit the cobblestones. Well, he knocked off two: ex-wife Patricia, she went under the concrete foundations. And, give the man a sainthood, the whining, whinging hairdresser Maxine, he shut her up. The unkind critics (including us) said this was her finest hour. Except it was rather difficult to tell the difference between a dead Maxine and an alive one.
But Richard, Richard. Two missed opportunities: Gail, of course. That neck. How it called out to be held. Tightly.
And, oh, how we held our breath when you crept up behind Brian Edwards on the promo for Edwards at Large, crowbar in hand. That would have saved a bit of bother later on, wouldn't it? And NZ on Air could have saved a bit of our money by getting Rodney Hide in to do the deed.
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No 1 Tragic moment
The only reason the fall and fall of The Office's tragic figure, David Brent, didn't cause the mass suicide of officious, deluded middle managers across the country is that, of course, they didn't recognise themselves. That was the joke.
Still think you're funny? You with your email jokes and your stuffed monkey on the coat rack and your funny walk and the hollow laughter that echoes after you when you tell the jokes that people have to laugh at in the hope you'll give them a good performance review?
We'd rather watch a vivisection. Which is exactly what it was. And why we did.
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Bill brings back the biff
Oof! There goes Assignment. Bam! See ya later Richard. Pow! Goodbye April Bruce, Rod Vaughn, Rob Harley and Kerryanne Evans. Slice! Nigh-nighs Pam Corkery. All were the weakest links in Bill Ralston's universe — goodbye! Bill, the new news chief at TV One, had orders to kill, reportedly to the tune of $10 million, and 6 o'clock is the better for it.
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John and Kim
It was the moment respected author and campaigning journalist John Pilger became a pompous twonk; and he was doing it to Our Lady of the Interview, too. Kim's had some toughies, but Pilger telling her to "read ... just read" took the cake. We're sorry, but get over yourself, John.
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The home run
Watch out, 7pm slot, and the lazy dominance of Holmes. John "Little Creep" Campbell's Home Truths has proved a winner despite its late scheduling, and often overly gushy interviewing style. Now Campbell has admitted to the smell of blood ... Holmes' blood. If TV3 has the nous to put the two men head to head, this could produce some great television drama.
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In a year when there was a desperate dearth of good solid drama — look at the Sunday "Suspense" slot, for god's sake — The Sopranos was a beacon. Key moments: Adriana's projectile reaction to the news her new best friend is a Fed; Tony's tragic love for Pie-O-My; the squashing of Adriana's dawg and the hilarious "intervention" for nod-out Christopher; the inevitable fate of Ralphie, surely one of the finest scumbags ever seen on telly; and the marital meltdown between Tony and Carmela. Series five starts in the US in March. Where will Tony be living then?
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The pop star's annus horribilus. First the Martin Bashir documentary, which basically ensnared the singer's admission that he slept with male children, and revealed his profligate, tasteless lifestyle. But wait, there's more: the paedophile charges and ensuing self-defence "home movie" docos, interviews with Jackson's parents and doubtless much more in 2004 when/if the trial goes ahead.
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This is the News
Who would have thought a short series with "Media" in the title would turn out to be so sly, naughty and downright hilarious? Yes, Jeremy "Newsboy" Wells dared to fly solo, without his mate Mikey Havoc, and his Eating Media Lunch has been delicious, in patches. Who else would have asked those hobbits to rate New Zealand, er, feline?
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Those Were Our Mea Culpas, Tonight
How we thrilled as Little Paul walked to the televised gallows of his Holmes show to pronounce himself, sniff, truly sorry for calling United Nations boss Kofi Annan a "cheeky darkie" on the wireless. How we enjoyed hearing the rope snap and watching his little legs kick. Are public apologies the new public hangings?
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Match Losing Dropkicks
TV One rugby commentator Keith Quinn returns from the dead to call the Rugby World Cup and won't shut up while the game's on. All Black coach John Mitchell returns from losing the Rugby World Cup and won't shut up after the game's over. TV's rugby bores of year.
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Night Of the Living Dead
TVNZ robs the grave of the 70s variety show for the format and guests of The Big Night In, while host Pio Terei gets his gags from the Tomb Of The Unknown Bad Joke. Oddly, the network is surprised when critics and viewers demand reburials.
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As The Bishop Said To the Comedian
Mike "You #%@$ed with the wrong guy" King says he's a comedian. TVNZ, who hired him to do the chatshow Mike King Tonight, says he's a comedian. But when Jeremy Wells' new media show Eating Media Lunch suggested King wasn't funny, the alleged comedian let fly with a foul-mouthed phone message that sounded more like a punch down the line than a punchline. This year's Thin-Skinned Joker.
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Test the Nation
Just as telly gets dumber than ever, it sees fit to inquire into the brainpower of the rest of us on the gruelling, three-hour Test the Nation. The national IQ test was all bad news. First there was the shock win to celebs, who trounced even the teachers. Anyone who sat through the makeup versus food debates of Celebrity Treasure Island is asking how, but how, can that be? Otherwise all stereotypes were confirmed, with the blondes last, below the builders. Not a good experience for the national ego, with an overall result of average. Across the Tasman, the Kiwis did dismally in the Aussie version, too. Doh.
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Shortland Street murder
What a way to go. Poor old Geoff dumped in the restaurant fridge of the Dogs. By the Christmas cliffhanger all the evidence — well, the bootprint in the freezer — was pointing to Dom. Not only did he dispose of one of the show's more interesting characters and deprive the show of its gay representative, the physiotherapist with a devil's diploma in manipulation now has the show's teen heroine Delphi Greenlaw in his clutches.
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The American thriller really hit its stride in its second series, showing complete mastery of its awkward real-time format. The Kiefer Sutherland-led drama kept up an unflagging pace through all 24 episodes: a nuclear bomb exploding over the desert was just for starters in this tale of Middle Eastern terrorists and political game-playing. And just when you thought it was all nicely wrapped up, the series staged the seeming assassination of America's first black president in the final seconds of a very long day. All set up for a cracking series 3, then.
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Six Feet Under
Still the best drama on the box, although its most interesting character — the brilliant emotional disaster zone, Brenda — was missing in action for the better part of it. The Fisher family did their level best to make up for it, however, with Nate trapped in the wrong life with godawful new ager Lisa, David negotiating an excruciating relationship with angry ex-cop Keith and daughter Clare's bewildering trip through the seductions and pretensions of the art world. Highlights were a stellar turn by Kathy Bates as the mumsy subversive who introduced the repressed Ruth to the joys of shoplifting and Ruth's endlessly surreal journey towards California-style self-empowerment.