The Crowd Goes Wild's zany presentation and affection do for sport what Top Gear does for car shows.

Seeking a change from all the seven o'clock current affairs tussling between TVs One and 3 every weeknight, I turned to The Crowd Goes Wild over on Prime.

It's a sports show, apparently. I didn't entirely realise this at first, being distracted by the winning and jocular style of the front blokes. Also, it took a little time for me to realise The Crowd Goes Wild is actually another sort of current affairs show in its way.

But that's okay. It's even okay that it's a sports show, though I wouldn't normally enjoy a show about such a thing. It is, in fact, jammed full of sport, starting with the sports news of the day, followed by sporty field items, sporty news clips and chunks of sports action.

But this show manages to do for sports what Top Gear does for cars. Again, I wouldn't normally watch a show about cars, but the jokey, blokey, up-for-anything presenters pulled me in. And as Top Gear has a perfectly imperfect three-chap frontline, so does The Crowd Goes Wild, each an oddball in his own right.


The show's presenters last week were various two-man combos of Mark Richardson, Andrew Mulligan and James McOnie - variously sarky, jokey and edgy.

Their sports news comes peppered with one-liners. "I'm dead inside," Richardson deadpanned at some unwanted result. Reporting from the upsy-downsy cricket at Eden Park, he declared the play was so exciting he'd had to go to the toilet four times.

They all seem to be rude about basketball and golf. Any footage of Tiger Woods competing last week - "back in his usual position, on top" - came with a welter of double meaning.

The presenters argue with each other, with their field reporters and even with the news. Richardson occasionally looks like he wants to punch something.

And out in the field, McOnie's just as likely to take a close interest in the state of the Black Caps' toes as in the game they just played.

But it's all done with huge affection, a lot of emotion and the sort of mad energy that one can only find elsewhere at seven o'clock, weeknights, with The Simpsons.

For something entirely more serious, The Nation is back in its Saturday morning slot on TV3 (9.30) fronted by the cool, calm and collected Rachel Smalley, who really is the best in her field right now.

Last Saturday, though, was pretty heavy going with a look at the Tiwai smelter issue and resources management reform aided by interviews with the inevitable Clayton Cosgrove on the former and the interminable Amy Adams on the latter.

The only relative relief was a bit of a beat-up story about whether new Speaker of the House David Carter was being too mean to Labour.

And in place of the show's often-lively panel, there was only that ancient mariner of political commentating, Colin James, who muttered something about dark clouds and declared the Government's "not reading the sky on power company sales".

Or was that the weather?

I think my attention was drifting by then.

More panel, less muttering please.