You're darn tootin'

by Diana Wichtel / 30 December, 2006
First, a big thank-you to all those folk in TV-land whose disgraceful behaviour and/or distinguished conduct during 2006 made the following awards possible. And now, the envelopes, please ...

Toot if you feel a general sense of unease," read a sign in an Eating Media Lunch rent-a-protester spoof. In 2006, we were tooting. It's been that sort of year - apprehensive, out of sorts, sometimes out of its mind. And not just at TVNZ. Politicians set the sleazy tone, accusing one another of sex, lies and consorting with "chinless scarf-wearers". After Nicky Hager's book, at least one of the Hollow Men was stuffed.

We swore at one another in record numbers, with Bill Ralston going all Deadwood at a Herald on Sunday reporter, Clint Brown sporting an iconic (thanks to Jeremy Wells) black eye after a fracas in Taupo and Lucy Lawless cussing her head off on Holmes.

Meanwhile, at home and abroad, the Television of Disquiet churned out its nervous 21st-century fare. As life becomes less nasty, brutal and short, we become more and more obsessed with what we still can't control: our children, our pets, our unruly appetites, the passage of time, the implacable certainty of death.

So primetime was full of such programmes as Honey, We're Killing the Kids and (when we're not killing them, they're killing us) My Teen Is a Nightmare - I'm Moving Out.

We feverishly made over our houses, pimped our rides and took advice on our psychopathic pomeranians from It's Me or the Dog. Who needs religion when mortality can be dealt to by any number of ridiculous shows featuring psychics, hypnotists and wise-cracking dead people?

In an age where we're more terrified than ever of what we put into our mouths, there's a whole Sky channel devoted to food.

All that pressure to be perfect. We took a certain comfort from watching our fellow New Zealanders sing badly, spell badly and drop their partners on their heads while doing the cha-cha.

We could always play "Spot the Charter Initiative" if we were able to stay up late or get up early enough. We marvelled as Nicky getting her nipple pierced was passed off as current affairs. We watched Dominic Bowden drink his own urine.

Still, there were reasons to be cheerful. Some nights there were so many good things on that you couldn't possibly watch them all. Especially after Prime started showing things like dope comedy Weeds and Shakespearean western Deadwood. Maori Television offered lively, refreshing, sometimes quite mad fare.

TV3's Outrageous Fortune and bro'Town (still) and TV2's Wayne Anderson, Singer of Songs and Eating Media Lunch showed that good-hearted, confident television that could only have been made here will find a devoted and delighted audience.

The coverage of the funeral of the Maori Queen, Dame Te Ata, broadcast live by Maori TV and TVNZ, doubled the state broadcaster's daytime audience.

So here it is - the good, the bad and whatever else I can remember from a year that demonstrated, once again, that with TV, the true Golden Age is always right now.

Most Gruelling Public Spectacle: the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony beamed live - "It's a flying tram!" - from Melbourne.

The Flying Tram Award for Making a Complete Spectacle of Yourself: Nicky Watson on 20/20.

The Divine Justice Award: to Ian Wishart for failing to spell "testosterone" on The Great New Zealand Spelling Bee.

Best Biffo: Clint Brown goes ballistic in Taupo; the Celebrity Death Match banter between Paul and Kay on Breakfast.

The "Icon Hardly Believe It" Award: All Black Jerry Collins got caught short on the field; Little Britain's gerontophiliac Jason sucked a granny's toes while wearing an image of John Walker at the 1976 Olympics on his T-shirt. The Dagg Sea Scrolls gave us a chance to catch up with the icon that got away.

Best Wildlife Series: Teen Species, Desperate Housewives.

Best Joke: the re-edited version of Annette Presley's already priceless About Now interview with Mark Sainsbury. Thirty-one eminent New Zealanders wanted to bring back Close to Home. No wait, that was real.

Scariest Women: apart from the PM, it's a tie between Coro_nation Street's Cilla, Joan Rivers and Annette Presley.

Animal of the Year: nominees in a strong year included Peter Jackson's King Kong, Pickles the Possum that was shipped to Ipswich in a container of onions, Edge the police dog who survived being stabbed in the line of duty and Shrek the unfeasibly woolly sheep. The winner: Jin the fugitive Auckland Zoo otter.

Best Celebrity Meltdown: Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic rant; Seinfeld's Michael Richards has a KKK moment in an LA comedy club; Clint Brown.

Best Distraction of the Year: stadium madness; iceberg madness. The two came together when someone suggested a stadium be built on the iceberg.

Born Again Award: Christian values and hot polygamous sex on Big Love.

Porn Again Award: Big Love, Nip/Tuck and our own Outrageous Fortune all required considerable viewer discretion.

Shorn Again Award: Shrek the sheep, who scored extra points for being clipped on the iceberg.

Insult of the Year: TVNZ pulling The Sopranos; the Aussies claiming our iceberg. Couldn't they claim Nicky Watson instead?

Unexpected Stars of the Year: Wayne Anderson, singer of songs. Three and a half octaves of pure entertainment. Perhaps he could perform on the iceberg. The ladies on Maori TV's Ask Your Auntie. Tim Wilson for his eccentric TV1 reports from the US.

Dipstick Lesbian Award: to Shortland Street's Jay and Maia and those wacky gals on The L Word.

Suburb of the Year: Manurewa, home of Wayne Anderson.

New Icon: Jin the runaway otter. Jin lived rough for 26 days (Otter Alone), evaded capture and eventually got sent to Christchurch where she found love. Forget the big monkey, Peter Jackson should make the movie.

Best Free Advertising by the Catholic Church for C4: last year it was Popetown. This year the South Park "Bloody Mary" fracas ensured a massive ratings leap for the show.

Interview High Points: Pita Sharples talks to Susan Wood on Close Up about the Kahui twins' tangi; John Campbell v Theresa Gattung on Campbell Live; Annette Presley on About Now.

Interview Low Points: Close Up doorstops Macsyne King at the police station; Annette Presley on About Now.

Bad Pun of the Year: "It's a dags to riches story. Sorry!" - John Campbell introduces something to do with sheep farming on Campbell Live.

"Let's make no bones about it." - one of the Dragons' Den judges talks straight to a maker of individualised coffins.

Anything featuring Jin: "Otter madness"; "Come home Jin, you really otter", etc.

The "One News, Your News" Award for Treating Viewers like Complete Morons: to TVNZ, for pulling off The Sopranos after six episodes.

The Sopranos Award for Sadistic Scheduling: this could take all day. But a brickbat (whatever that is) for screening excellent, local, grown-up shows like The Book Show and New Zealand at Home on Saturday afternoons.

Comings: Sky's Documentary channel; MTV.

Goings: Susan Wood; Clint Brown; the Yellow Wiggle; Steve Irwin.

Tearjerker of the Year: Steve Irwin's memorial service. Go on, you know you cried.

The Oops! Award: TV3 apologises for running the Peter Davis gossip. TVNZ and TV3 apologise for causing offence after showing the Muhammad cartoons; C4 apologises for causing offence after South Park's "Bloody Mary" episode.

Compulsively Appalling Television: Sugar Shack.

Compulsively Appalling Television in Bad German Accents: Alt TV's marathon that went on for 48 truly dreadful hours. "We'll put on what other stations won't." Now we know why.

The Lost Plot Award for Ridiculous Storyline of the Year: Lost; 24; Prison Break. Charlotte Dawson's hair extensions.

Best Final: the magnificently trippy, strangely uplifting last episode of Six Feet Under.

Comedy of the Year: We Can Be Heroes; Wayne Anderson: Singer of Songs; anything featuring Don Brash.

The "It's a Miracle" Award for Local Drama We Actually Liked: Outrageous Fortune.

The Endangered Fish and Fowl Award for Local Drama We Didn't: Orange Roughies; Doves of War.

Most Disturbing Character: Ja'mie on brilliant Australian mockumentary We Can Be Heroes; anyone on Nip/Tuck; Paul Henry.

Best Song: We Can Be Heroes' all-Asian tribute to Australia's indigenous people: "Aborigine me, Aborigine you; We're not just the people who eat kangaroo ..."; our own Wayne Anderson singing "Delilah".

Fresh Signs of the Apocalypse: Louise Wallace has an enema on Shock Treatment.

Most Improbable Best Chat-Up Line: "By the way, how is your diarrhoea?" - hunky actor to poor Maggie on Extras.

Product Placement Madness Award: everything from cars ("Oh my God, is that the new Porsche?") to Viagra to Dolmio spaghetti sauce featured on everything from The Sopranos to Big Love to bro'Town.

Bad Taste Award: Where to begin? Paul, Kay and cook Annabelle White discuss bowel movements on Breakfast. The horrifying gynaecological mishaps on Bodies. The morbidly obese woman fused to her couch on Nip/Tuck. Anything on Nip/Tuck. Everything on Eating Media Lunch.

Good Documentaries with Alarming Names: Million Dollar Tumour; My Penis and I.

Best Extended Mad Scene: Katy on Coronation Street. Auckland's stadium debate.

Murder of the Year: Katy deals to Tommy; Wayne Anderson deals to "Delilah".

Disturbing Pairings: Katy and Martin Platt on Coro Street; Paul Holmes and Hugh Hefner; Kay Gregory and Paul Henry; anyone and Paul Henry.

And when all else fails, we can always watch YouTube. Happy holidays.

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