Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged 'Seven Sharp'

Confessions of a victim of Hosking’s Disease

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 Mike Hosking is an opinionated chap. He’s paid an enormous sum of money to be opinionated, not only as a breakfast talk-back host on the ZB network, but as a Herald columnist and the co-host of TVNZ’s Seven Sharp. So you can’t really blame him for being opinionated. It’s his job after all.

It was only after the sacking of John Campbell as host of the programme named after him that I took a look at Seven Sharp, the shape-shifter of prime-time current-affairs programmes.

After watching the programme for a couple of weeks and reading his columns I’d had enough of Mike’s opinions and had reached that critical mass of the emotions where I was in danger of putting my foot through the screen and cancelling our subscription to the paper.

I was suffering from what I suspect may be a common complaint in this country: front-person-overload, the medical term for which is Hosking’s Disease. [Note: This can sometimes be confused with Pitt-Hopkins disease, a genetic disorder whose symptoms include developmental delay, a wide mouth, distinctive facial features and intermittent hyperventilation.]

It’s a real disease. Trust me, I’m a Doctor.

Mr Hosking’s role on Seven Sharp appears to be that of lecturer. His class currently comprises only one student, a bubbly and attractive young woman who hangs on his every word. The lectures are, however, telecast to a much larger group of students. The TVNZ calendar lists the lecture series as “Seven Sharp or Everything I Know About Everything – an enthralling series of 2,000 half-hour lectures by one of New Zealand’s most admired long-form interviewers and commentators.”

Having now watched Seven Sharp for two weeks and read several of Prof Hosking’s treatises in the Herald, I am now the trivia king at our local pub quiz. But Judy says I’ve changed – I’m arrogant, up-myself, a bad listener and a pretentious bore! And I speak warmly of John Key.

She’ll get over it!

Hey, by the way, did you know that the latest research on women’s menstrual cycles shows that the commonly held view that wome… CLICK!

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In this post I say the exact opposite of what I said in a post 48 hours ago. How embarrassing!

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Most of the time I try to be reasonable in my analysis of the the press, radio and television (which is my particular field of interest). I try to avoid dismissing other people’s work as rubbish or crap. I’ve had some bad reviews in my time and I know how it feels. Mostly people in this industry are doing their best.

So a day or so back on this site I wrote in praise of Seven Sharp. I said they were finally getting it right. It happened to be the same day that Campbell Live, for the first time since it came on air, won the 7pm slot.

And then there was last night, Thursday 14 February. I made my fourth attempt at spaghetti alla carbonara and finally got it right. So we had dinner and sat down late to watch Seven Sharp and later Campbell Live and, after that, maybe a movie. (Let us now give thanks for MySky.)

But I never got beyond Seven Sharp. Yes it was Valentine’s Day and you might be forgiven a little romantic frivolity, but, as JC has observed, this 22 minutes of air-time felt like an hour. And it was total and absolute, mindless, inane, gratuitous, viewer-insulting, indefensible crap. It was testament to the fact that, even with three talented presenters, the whole can be considerably less than the sum of its parts. With the best will in the world, it had no redeeming merit.

I’m not going to express a view for another month on whether Seven Sharp deserves to live or die. That’s partly to be fair to the programme and partly to avoid the embarrassment of saying one thing today and the exact opposite tomorrow. (Mainly the second part!)

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Better! Better! Better! (‘Seven Sharp’ last night)

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I am at this very moment preparing my invoice to send to Raewyn Rasch, the Executive Producer of Seven Sharp. You may recall that Raewyn wrote to me, unhappy with my early comments about her programme. Very early, come  to think of it – a week before the programme even went to air. The omens, I’d said, weren’t looking good.

Well, they still weren’t looking good a week into the show and I wrote another fairly lengthy post saying what I thought was wrong and, by implication, needed fixing.

And then came last night, Tuesday.  And Tuesday was different. Tuesday’s programme had a real edge to it, the very thing I’d said was missing from the earlier shows. The banter was sharper, more Paul Henry and less Play School. And the tag-team interviewing had been largely abandoned. There was Greg Boyed manfully attempting to do the impossible – get a straight answer from Winston Peters; and Ali Mau doing an interview with Investigate magazine publisher Ian Wishart, who had brought us NZ First MP Richard Prosser’s thoughtful views on ‘Wogistan’. The interview was a model of its type. And finally, a really interesting item on just how long you can survive in the open sea without a life-jacket.

All in all, a nice example of what you might call ‘palatable current affairs’. Which is ironic really when you consider that last night was also the first night that Campbell Live beat its opposition on One with 352,600 viewers against Seven Sharp’s 296,700.

My unsolicited advice to Raewyn Rash would be not to be discouraged by last night’s figures which are a reflection of viewers’ response to the previous eight days and not to last night’s show. Stick with it.

Though can I please make one suggestion to Greg Boyed. It isn’t necessary in a probing interview to look and sound so angry that you’d like to climb across the desk  and throttle your interviewee. Winston can be annoying, but not that annoying. And he has the sweetest smile.

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TVNZ exchanges current-affairs for a mess of pottage at 7pm

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[On the same day that this post was published TVNZ’s Head of News and Current Affairs, Ross Dagan, resigned. Spooky eh?]

I think it was my good friend Joe Atkinson who coined the term ‘morselisation’ to describe what began to happen to news and current affairs programmes in this country from around 1989 when real competition for viewers and the advertising dollar arrived with the launch of TV3. The term reflected the view of television executives that viewers had a limited appetite for serious current affairs programming and could only handle information if it was served up to them in bite-sized chunks. News items consequently got shorter; the 15-second sound-bite shrank to 5 seconds; and long-form interviews were relegated to the advertising-free viewer wasteland of Sunday morning.

If you were so ungenerous as to point any of this out, the executives would remind you of Holmes and later Close Up and Campbell Live, top-rating current-affairs programmes which they broadcast in prime time.

My own view was that these were actually magazine programmes with a heavy emphasis on ‘infotainment’, not least in the confrontational styles of their host/ interviewers.  Read the rest of this entry »

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