TV's best and worst of 2013

by Diana Wichtel / 16 December, 2013
This was a year when we glimpsed the country as it could be: diverse, eloquent, humorous and brave – with the odd dickhead to liven things up.


Dear oh dear. It was a year that couldn’t keep its mouth shut; a year that couldn’t keep its pants on. It was a year that was, according to various high-profile confessions, off its head. It was a year of stormy weather.

New Zealand First MP Richard Prosser set the generally deplorable tone, ranting about “Wogistan”. Former National Party MP Aaron Gilmore bowed out with a television apology for our times: “If there was a dickhead that night, it was me.”

Paul Holmes, by Murray Webb

It was the year of the dickhead. Even way too much information about Len Brown and the Ngati Whatua room couldn’t compete with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. “I drank too much, I smoked some crack some time,” he told CNN. I think I speak for many Canadians when I say thank God I’m from Vancouver.

It was a year with a bad moon rising, one on which man may never have stepped, according to Colin Craig. No sooner was Marmageddon over than bermageddon began. In other signs of the apocalypse, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa guested on Downton Abbey, and Campbell Live found a scone as old as Roger Douglas.

We lost Paul Holmes, Margaret Thatcher, James Gandolfini and Nelson Mandela. We lost the America’s Cup. The country was split by serious issues – the GCSB Bill, what to do about rape – at a time when television current affairs is increasingly out to lunch.

On the bright side: there were signs that we didn’t incinerate those bras for nothing, as Eleanor Catton, Lydia Ko and Ella Yelich-O’Connor took on the world.

The world was watching, too, when Parliament voted to legalise same-sex marriage and we caught a glimpse of New Zealand as it could be: diverse, tolerant, eloquent, humorous and brave. For a moment in this crazy year, there was a big gay rainbow over our turbulent times.

Time for the traditional, highly subjective trawl through the good, the bad and the mad from television 2013. Happy holidays.



The Game of Thrones Award for Gore on the Studio Floor: John Campbell vs John Key; John Campbell vs Simon Bridges.

The Aaron Gilmore Award for Being Temperamentally Unsuited to the Job: 3rd Degree’s wheel clamper; Aaron Gilmore; just about anyone in the Act Party.

The Cliff Clanger Award for Disrespecting Viewers: To TVNZ. Nothing Trivial has been canned. Is Catherine dead? We’ll never know.

Campbell Live

Baked Good of the Year: Campbell Live’s “heirloom” scone.

The Multitasking Award for Managing to Be Offensive While Making No Sense: Willie and JT; Shane Jones for his, “I’m going to tie a bungy cord around a sensitive spot, and then I’m going to get those callipers and cut them.”

Headline of the Year: “Nigella ‘off her head on drugs’”; and beating out last year’s eel, “X-rays reveal cellphone in inmate’s bottom”.

The “Our National Life Is a Comic Book” Award: Kim Dotcom; Luigi Wewege; Colin Craig.

The Gina Hardface Bitch Award for News Stalker of the Year: TV3’s Rebecca Wright has some Important Questions and she Wants Answers.

Unintentional Comedy of the Year: Winston Peters and John Palino try to shake off Rebecca Wright.


The Andy Warhol 15 Minutes of Pain Award: In the future, everyone will be required to host Seven Sharp.

Bromance of the Year: 3rd Degree’s Guyon Espiner and Duncan Garner, with matching Uriah Heep body language; John Key and Colin Craig.



Top of the Lake

The Nigella Award for Being Off Your Head: Duncan Garner smokes synthetic dope.

The “It’s Not Tiddlywinks, Rachel” Award: Blogger Cam Slater for his rant about politics: “a dirty, disgusting, despicable game” involving “dirty, disgusting, despicable people at all levels”.

The Paul Henry Award for Tiresome Jokes About Fat Ladies: Greg Boyed tweets about being elbowed by a “chunky” lady at Wellington Airport.

The Kamikaze Television Award for Excruciating Assignment: Martin Tasker at the America’s Cup; 3rd Degree’s Sarah Hall takes Stan Walker to meet Beyoncé; Samantha Hayes takes Paul Henry to the NZ Music Awards, where he spots a fat lady.

The Benny Hill Award for Tragically Outdated Humour: Mrs Brown’s Boys; Vicious; Paul Henry.

Current Affairs Show of the Year: Campbell Live; Native Affairs.

Current Affairs Presenter of the Year: John Campbell, for remembering what journalism is for. Commended: Native Affair’s Mihingarangi Forbes; The Nation’s Rachel Smalley – gone from television but surely not for long.


Breaking Bad

Actor of the Year: Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad; Idris Elba in Luther; Oscar Kightley in Harry.

The Judy Bailey Award for Wild Emoting on Our Behalf: Sunday’s Miriama Kamo for her reaction faces, especially her signature “Awww!”, “Tsk!” and “Tut tut tut!”


Disturbingly Brilliant Drama of the Year: Breaking Bad; Luther; Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake; Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror.

Tragicomedy of the Year: The Life and Times of Temuera Morrison; the life and times of Len Brown.

The “You Have to Laugh or You’d Emigrate” Award: Satire website The Civilian; those lunatics who make Auckland Daze: keeping one step ahead of the absurdity of life in Aotearoa.

The Auckland Daze Award for Keeping Life One Step Ahead of Satire: Len Brown.

The Full Moon Award: Colin Craig.

The Full Monty Award: Those naked ladies in Top of the Lake.

Television You Watch When You’re Not Watching Television: The Auckland Daze Halloween special; those wacky girls on Flat 3.

Animal of the Year: Oscar the three-legged dog, filmed shoplifting dog roll from an Invercargill supermarket. Shane Jones’ “50 million dollar gorilla”.


Black Mirror

Best Cameos: For some reason Martin Henderson and my old milkman, Alan “Jim from Neighbours” Dale, agreed to go on Auckland Daze.

Terrifyingly Meaningless Song of the Year: The Fox (What Does the Fox Say), especially when sung by John Key.

The “Zip It, Sweetie” Award: David Cunliffe for calling Judith Collins a trout; Willie and JT for … where to begin?

The Walt White Award for Improbable Secret Life: Len Brown.

The “We’ve Been Watching The Newsroom” Award for Histrionic Promo of the Year: Duncan Garner and Guyon Espiner yell at each other about journalism.

The Mitchell and Webb “Send Us Your Reckons” Award for Journalism Beyond Parody: Seven Sharp’s Jesse Mulligan: “I don’t know if this is true, I’m just passing it on from Heather on Facebook.”

What they said

“If we don’t get to the bottom of the story …” – Guyon Espiner.

“Then what’s the bloody point?” – Duncan Garner.

“If that’s a lasagne, then I’m the Pope.” – Gordon Ramsay considers a career change.

Dame Kiri in Downton Abbey

“I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist I used to be.” – the wit and eloquence of Barack Obama.

“Bugger.” – the wit and eloquence of John Key on the America’s Cup.

“We are live from an empty section in Burwood!” – John Campbell.

“I suppose we’re the Sartre and de Beauvoir of Weatherfield.” – Norris and Rita bring existentialism to t’Kabin.

“Screeching like a cat on a bonfire.”Downton’s Mr Green doesn’t appreciate Dame Kiri’s O Mio Babbino Caro.

“The letterbox junk that puts some people in a funk!”Seven Sharp guest host Matt Gibb attempts to lift the tone with poetry.

“A good whack of your bill is going somewhere that’s going to rip your undies!” – Jesse Mulligan lowers it again.

“Her honey-colour eyes!” – Stan Walker is excited about going Backstage with Beyoncé on 3rd Degree.

“Thank you, Jesus.” – Stan’s meeting with Beyoncé was arranged by God.

Rachel Hunter. Photo/NZH

“I might need to take a nappy in case I crap myself.” – Please stop now, Stan.

“I had dinner with Buzz Aldrin.” – John Key produces new evidence that man walked on the Moon.

“If they want to spend their time talking about parts of my anatomy, or my personality, they’re free to do so.” – John Key is relaxed about Shane Jones.

“I love that you collect teaspoons!”New Zealand’s Got Talent’s ever-encouraging Rachel Hunter.

“Who’s going to end up with botulism on their face?” – Mike McRoberts is across the Fonterra scandal.

“Ch-ch-ch-ch-chow!” – John Key knows what the fox says.

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