2012: Asking the big questions

by Diana Wichtel / 14 December, 2012
It was a year of Dotcom-nesia, the start of the Shopping Channel, the end of TVNZ7, and an outbreak of pointy-eared, furry-footed <em>Hobbit</em> mania.
New Zealand's Got Talent judges
New Zealand's Got Talent judges, photo/supplied


This was the year that gave us the “God particle” and Gangnam Style, the sublime and the totally preposterous. 2012 was a year in which we spoke of many things – of Kim Dotcom and memory loss; of cabbage boats and prequels to The Lord of the Rings.

It was a year in which the Establishment tripped out as though it was Woodstock. The Queen skydived with James Bond during an Olympics opening ceremony in which, steroids notwithstanding, everyone seemed to be on something. Peter Jackson turned Wellington into a furry-footed, animistic cult for a day.

TVNZ 7, home of the last shreds of public broadcasting, ceased at midnight on June 30. The state broadcaster cut Sunday in half to make way for cooking competitions and the performing dogs, jugglers and warbling grannies of New Zealand’s Got Talent. Close Up is gone, to be replaced by what sounds like some fresh infotainment hell. It was the year The GC got funding on the basis of its cultural content.

In 2012, the words had it: omnishambles; Eurogeddon; and for students of the rolling lunacy at Fox News, Romneyshambles. It was a year of severe weather, severe fiscal pain and, in the case of royal baby news, severe morning sickness. It was the year that begged the big questions. John Banks couldn’t remember if he’d been in Kim Dotcom’s helicopter, so how can he be so sure he didn’t come up the river in a cabbage boat? The Ridges: for the love of God, why?

The Countdown family fell upon hard times. The threat of the return of Paul Henry hung over the land. They paved paradise and put up the Shopping Channel. Still, there are reasons to be cheerful.

The Shopping Channel
The Shopping Channel

As TVNZ devotes itself more or less fulltime to headless chookery, TV3 and Maori Television continue to show that you can have The Block and Homai Te Pakipaki and still remain committed to current affairs. Media7 survived as Media3. Comedy thrived, thanks to 7 Days, The Graham Norton Show, The Thick of It … Local satire was last seen emigrating to Australia.

Campbell Live refused to shut up about Christchurch, child poverty, Kim Dotcom and Lesley Longstone without relinquishing its right to arse around. It doesn’t all have to be a race to the bottom of the barrel. The Golden Age of television drama continues, though mostly you have to pay for it, with Breaking Bad, Boss, Mad Men, Treme

2012 rang with the sound of stable doors slamming after various horses had well and truly bolted. In the US, a black president reaffirmed same-sex marriage and won. “The white Establishment is now the minority,” said Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, waking up after the election to the demographics of a new world. The next royal baby will one day reign, whether it’s a boy or a girl. On Coronation Street, Hayley Cropper, previously Harold, got married to Roy. “We have remained still,” he said, “and the world has turned to meet us.”

Happy Holidays.

What they said

“Go seek mental guidance.” – Sound advice from Rosie to viewers of The GC.

“He grabs a first pair and sniffs and then a second pair!” – Carly Flynn’s play-by-play on Target’s inappropriate carpet cleaner.

“I know I’m a prick to deal with sometimes.” – Duncan Garner’s emotional confession at the Television Awards.

“He’s going through not one, not two but all three drawers!” – Carly.

“We’re British, it’s a mad day and it’s raining!” – Anneka Rice sums up the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Flotilla.

“I kept coming back to my core belief. I wasn’t there.” – David Bain shares his beliefs with Melanie Reid on the late 60 Minutes.

“I’m Odin. Don’t call me an egg.” – The crisis of masculinity continues on The Almighty Johnsons.

“Desperate Fishwives.” – Eileen suggests a name for the ongoing saga of the Platt family on Corrie.

“Look the part, be the part, motherf---er.” – Personal-growth advice courtesy of The Wire.

“Richard E Grant is wearing special loyal underpants.” – The tributes just kept flowing during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

“I can’t believe you can’t remember whether you were in a helicopter or not.” – Paul Holmes to John Banks on Q+A.

“Zip it, sweetie.” – Paula Bennett becomes the Morton Downey jnr of Parliament.

“You’ve been in a helicopter with me.” – John Banks on Q+A.

“We’ve screened it as a cautionary tale!” – Yeah right, Carly.

“I dunno.” – John Key on the Dotcom/GCSB omnishambles.

“Last time I got drunk, I ate all this brie and threw up on my cellphone.” – Modern life on Girls.

“Can’t remember.” – John Key.

“Disgusting!” – Carly.

“Am I not meant to give a shit?” – John Campbell on Media3.

“Look, I don’t know.” – John Key.

The 2012 Special Achievement Awards

Here, in the spirit of a mad, polarised, strangely heartening gay red shirt of a year, is the annual highly subjective trawl through the best and worst we saw:

The Cultural Content Award: Road Madness. Like The GC, it was car-wreck television but with actual cars.

Best Programme with Actual Cultural Content:
Bryan Bruce’s Inside Child Poverty. Canterbury film-maker Gerard Smyth’s extraordinary When a City Falls.


The Eyeballs of Mass Destruction Award:
To Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in Homeland, overacting the terrorists into submission.

Best New Uses for Rachel Hunter:
As the tall one on New Zealand’s Got Talent; Intrepid Journeys sent her to Sumatra.

Parody of the Year: The Shopping Channel.

Overused Expressions of the Year: “Singing from the same song sheet”, “If you like”, and in the case of Duncan Garner, “Singing from the same song sheet, if you like.”

Unconvincing Excuse of the Year: “Dunno”; “Can’t remember”; “I’m not going to go and characterise that”, etc.

Bad Sight of the Year: Target’s inappropriate carpet cleaner.

The “We Incinerated Our Underwear for This?” Award: Lena Dunham’s excellent scary Girls.

The Dad’s Army Award for Unbridled Machismo: John Key brandishes a Hobbit sword; Prince Charles is let loose with a tufting gun.

The Ridges
The Ridges

Possible New Product for the Shopping Channel: An inappropriate carpet cleaner.

The “Zip It, Sweetie” Award for Refusing to Shut Up: The battlers at Campbell Live. You did good.

Ill-Advised Blurt of the Year: Act backer Louis Crimp asks Campbell Live reporter, “Have you ever had sex against a tree?”; Romney’s “binders full of women”; anything to do with cabbage boats and David Beckham.

Animal of the Year: Hounds’ ill-fated Lundy Dixon Watson. Dirk the Australian penguin. It’s all fun and games until you wake up to find yourself stolen by two drunken Welshmen.

And (now requiring its own category) Rodent of the Year: Miss Tutu, Bella’s taxidermied mouse on Shortland Street; the petrified rat on The Block; the mouse that stole The Ridges.

Mentalist of the Year: Simon Baker’s Patrick Jane in those patronising ANZ bank ads; David Platt.

English as a Second Language Award: John Key. “I mean, it’s highly sceptical we could even sell KiwiRail,” he told 3 News. In America, talking to Hillary Clinton, his diction defied transcription. Funny, Warner Bros seemed to understand him perfectly.

The Mother of the Nation Memorial “And after the break, I’m toast” Award: Mark Sainsbury. Aw look, I mean, I may actually miss him.


The “Highly Sceptical” Award for Unexplained Memory Failure: John Key and John Banks develop Dotcom-nesia.

The Arrghh Award for the Howlingly Out of Order: Target’s inappropriate carpet cleaner. The Ashburton flasher on Road Madness. Any sex scene on Girls.

The “Lesbians, My Eye” Award: Sally on Coronation Street for responding to Sophie coming out by declaring her house a dungarees-free zone.
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