Pique Viewing

by Diana Wichtel / 25 December, 2004
It was a telly year that saw Prime pickings, Idol gossip, paua dressing and repeated makeover madness. Still, mustn't complain.

Yes, it was a grumpy old year in television, too. There was sniping and bitching galore, and that was just in our living-room, as we fought over what to watch when Sex and the City, Eating Media Lunch and Six Feet Under were on at the same time.

We squabbled our way through State of the Nation, bickered over State of the Family and took to each other with blunt objects after accidental exposure to Headliners.

Brian Tamaki and his black-shirted followers took to the streets, but in a caring, non-homophobic kind of way. In other words, it was a braying dunny of a year.

An increasingly curmudgeonly Paul Holmes finally tossed his toys out of the playpen altogether and decamped to Prime amid a chorus of name-calling.

Despite the best efforts of John Campbell's A Queen's Tour, rudeness swept through light ent like a rogue retrovirus, as the NZ Idol judges competed to be the mean one, reality television became a life-threatening disorder and Living the Dream played mean tricks on that nice Sam. Crikey.

On the bright side, Maori Television arrived with rare (see above) dignity, inclusiveness and good humour. Some excellent local shows (see below) became appointment viewing.

Of course, they've canned Serial Killers and there's no sign of a mooted second series of Insiders Guide, or much of any new drama, for that matter. But let's go against the trend and not be grumpy as we celebrate the best and worst we saw in 2004.

Best Drama: The Sopranos (still); Six Feet Under (just); but the winner for the first time ever in these pages is a local drama: Insiders Guide to Happiness. Death, dysfunctional characters, mad monks, metaphysics in a car wash ... it was our own little Angels in America.

Best Comedy: Eating Media Lunch, Holmes's last hooray and the earlybird bleatings of Destiny Television were fun, but there's no beating the side-splitting existential anguish of The Office Specials.

Surprise Hit of the Year: bro'Town. Our own browner, even more scatological version of South Park has the playgrounds of the nation ringing meaninglessly to cries of "Not even, ow!" Low laughs with heart.

Most Authorative News Readers: bro'Town's cartoon John and Carol. Maaarvellous.

The "Et tu Ali" Award: to Alison Mau for following Holmes to the wilds of Albany.

Maddest Costume Drama with Lots of Sex: Henry VIII; Charles II; The Private Life of Samuel Pepys.

Maddest Costume Drama with No Sex: Destiny Television.

The "Enough Is Enough" Award for Bad Sight of the Year: anything featuring Brian Tamaki; Marian Hobbs in fur-lined handcuffs; Eating Media Lunch's indigenous porn movie, Anal Mana. Tragically, only one of these three was a hoax.

Best Biffo: the girl-on-girl marital mayhem at Karen and Steve's wedding on Coronation Street; Holmes v Ralston; Hugh Grant v Oprah; Carrie getting her face slapped in the final of Sex and the City - we've been wanting to do it for years.

Best Insult: hard to go past Coro Street's "pie-faced slapper" and "pig's melt" (!?), but first place to Paul Holmes for "headlessly bechooked".

Best Hoax: the leggy beauty on the awful Something About Miriam turned out to be a bloke and everyone involved deserved every thing they got. Incredibly, some people actually believed that Eating Media Lunch killed Shrek and that an indigenous good time called Anal Mana would be coming to an adult section near you. Time for another of those shows where they test the IQ of the nation. Quick.

Soap Villain of the Year: Shortland Street's Dominator and Tracy Barlow come a poor second to Corrie's increasingly psycho Gail as Mommie Dearest. No wire coathangers!

The "When Reality Shows Go Bad" Award: The Resort got canned. A Going Straight contestant got a pay-out for burns received on the show. Lana Coc-Kroft got a mystery illness - is someone trying to tell Julie Christie something?

Best Animal: a tough year for our four-legged friends. As someone said on the corpse-littered City Girls, "Where you have livestock, you will always find dead stock." So Nip/Tuck's Frisky the gerbil got flushed down the loo. Hercules the "Bugger" dog passed away. Honey Boy the breastfed (!) puppy survived, though it may wish it hadn't.

National Symbol of the Year: Shrek the unfeasibly woolly sheep is second only to et al's braying dunny. Put them on the new flag.

"Arrrgghhh!" Award for Most Excruciating Moment: Jeremy Wells suckling a dog (see above); Jeremy Wells

cutting off his tongue; anything on Headliners.

Extreme Makeover Award: who needs five gay guys when you've got Mike Hosking?

The Fashion Emergency Award: giving frontrunner Kate Hawkesby a run for her money this year was Helen Clark dressed as a paua; anything from Fashion Week; the descent into 80s fashion hell that was The Golden Girls.

Improbable Couple: Tracy Barlow and Roy Cropper; Helen Clark and Shrek; Paul Holmes and Prime.

The "I'm Ready for My Close-Up, Mr De Mille" Award: to Susan Wood. Now she's got a real job, how we'll miss those women's mag updates on her latest boyfriend.

The Roy Cropper Award for Being ... Strange: to Don Brash for his Spock-like response - "The tie was not badly affected" - to Waitangi Day mud-slinging.

Best Sports Show for Viewers Who Know Nothing About Sport: Sports Café.

Best Car Show for Viewers Who Know Nothing About Cars: Top Gear.

Best News Show for Viewers Who Wouldn't Know Their Arse from Their Elbow: Headliners.

Underwear of the Year: John Campbell's Versace Y-fronts, which reporter Bob McNeil suggested he donate to Whakatane flood relief. Roy Cropper's sock, returned to him in a snaplock bag after his allegedly steamy night with Tracy.

And here's what they said:

• "You have no performance. You have no voice. You have no personality." - constructive criticism from NZ Idol judge Paul Ellis.

• "What I'd say to the first part of that answer is blah blah blah blah blah." - Holmes, ever the professional, interviewing children's campaigner Lesley Max.

• "You should be a florist in Blenheim." - career advice from Paul Ellis (could be useful for Holmes if the Prime thing doesn't work out).

• "Oh God. I really want to shut you up." - Hugh Grant takes on Oprah.

• "It's now official. There's no one left in New Zealand to thank." - Billy Crystal at "our" Oscars.

• "But let's get this straight. They do not have any job prospects at TVNZ ... because I do not rate them." - Ian Fraser gets grumpy about a TVNZ-baiting 3 News promo presented by John Campbell and Carol Hirschfeld in 2003.

• "When that [contract] lapses, I'm sure we can go and talk." - Bill Ralston has a different perspective on John Campbell in 2004.

• "You've got a funny attitude to sex all around, if you don't mind me saying so." - Holmes to Brian Tamaki.

• "Lesbians have come into your wardrobe, taken all your clothing and left nothing but fleece." - Queer Eye's Carson finds creative new ways to say, "Your taste sucks."

• "A small country with f----all going on." - a patriotic Jeremy Wells. Is there a national anthem in that?

• "Feel free to throw up." - Holmes acknowledges one of his late show's many emetic moments.

And in breaking makeover madness, Charlotte Dawson has a haircut and, with Prime on the rampage, the local television scene is set for a shake-up of historic proportions. Let the games begin.

Happy Holidays.

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