New Zealand's got...

by Diana Wichtel / 27 December, 2008
Diana Wichtel's annual TV review awards.

It was the end of an era, the end of the economic golden weather and, with such apocalyptic portents as Alt TV's Naked News Flash, the final shearing of Shrek the sheep and the return of Roger Douglas, possibly the end of Western civilisation.

The Olympics, the state funeral of Sir Ed, an election and a recession had television running around like more of a headless chook than usual. It was a bad year for evolution, with Prime's "All business considered, even from Jews" Mad Men billboard and Lockwood Smith's dissertation on the hand size and bathroom habits of various ethnicities.

It was a year made for television, as the US threw an election in which everyone seemed trucked in from central casting. The light relief, Sarah Palin, was supposed to electrify the Republicans' base. Well, she fried their asses. Back home, we could see the digital future, if not Alaska, from our living rooms, as TVNZ hid some good stuff -Talk Talk, Media7, etc - on Freeview.

Other channels challenged the state broadcaster. TV3 screened Californication and backed local laughs with A Thousand Apologies, The Millen Baird Show and The Jaquie Brown Diaries. C4 had Breaking Bad, Rocked the Nation and The Daily Show. Prime, home of Flight of the Conchords, had Mad Men and Wayne Anderson.

Meanwhile, TV1 did what it does best, screening quality shows - Bleak House, some terrific local documentaries - too late.

Television in 2008: it's a bit like MMP - slightly random, but at least the bit players and eccentrics get to have a go. It may not always look like it, but with a Jaquie Brown Diaries here and a Maori Television there, we're finally starting to grow up.

Ones to Watch: Jaquie Brown; Great Southern Film and Television, makers of Eating Media Lunch, Unauthorised History and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Pity about The Lion Man.

Unexpected Pleasures: British reality delight The Choir; Prime's scary, oddly touching New Zealand's Got Talent; Grand Designs.

Good Sport: TV3 let Jaquie Brown take the piss out of Campbell Live; Anika Moa, Helen Clark, Carol Hirschfeld, etc, for doing cameos on the show.

Best Impersonation: Tina Fey as Sarah Palin.

Worst Impersonation: TV1 as the quality channel.

Falls from Grace: Tony Veitch; Winston; the Lion Man.

Best Drama: Outrageous Fortune; Mad Men; Shortland Street's wacky serial-murderer saga.

Comedy of the Year: Summer Heights High; The Jaquie Brown Diaries; Extras Christmas Special; Toni Street's reports from the Beijing Olympics.

Best Biffo: Winston Peters told Barry Soper to "Get lost"; ex-National MP Brian Connell told Kris Faafoi to "Piss off"; Hannah Hodson and Pink.

The Helen Clark Memorial Girl-Power Award: to Mistresses, Desperate Housewives and our own Burying Brian, for demonstrating that a world run by women would be ludicrously dressed, bitchy and have too many bodies in the backyard.

The EML "Sensing Bullshit" Award: to television psychics, especially the skunk-haired one.

Bad Hair Award: to television psychics.

Helen Clark Slur of the Year: "Diddums."

The "Diddums" Award: to Winston Peters, for calling the media "brainless meerkats". Meerkats are smart and sweet. Lemmings, perhaps?

Unlikely Star: Breakfast's Mattie McLean, whose reports are pointless to the edge of genius; New Zealand's Got Talent's Neil Diamond impersonator, Peyton Jacinto; TVNZ sports reporter Toni Street; Sir Ed's Ferguson tractor.

The "You're Surrounded By Them" Award: to Toni Street in Beijing, for asking runner Paul Hession, "How do you psych yourself up mentally for a race like that when you're against so many quick black men?"

The Toni Street Award for Unfortunate Blurting: to Dancing with the Stars' Candy Lane, for "There's definitely a benefit in being a tall, straight, white guy in ballroom."

Pessimist of the Year: Kevin McLeod, Grand Designs' operatically gloomy presenter.

The Marquis de Sade Award for Sadistic Schedulers: to TV3 for messing about with Underbelly; to TV1 for giving Bleak House a late slot.

Services to Stupidity: to TV1 for cancelling Agenda.

Best Public Service Campaign: "It's Not OK", a phrase useful for expressing disapproval of the totally unacceptable.

The "It's Not OK" Award: to April in the Afternoon.

The Mad Magazine "What, Me Worry?" Award: to "Smiley" John Key and his fixed, Alfred E Neuman grin.

Animal of the Year: Moko the Mahia dolphin; Darwin the lost cat; Ricky the special needs monkey; Tigger the one-cat crime wave; that concerned citizen polar bear on the YouTube Election Debate ...

Dead Animal of the Year: Nigel, Paul Holmes' Intrepid Journeys goat, later eaten; that giant squid; the poor baby chicks gassed on Jamie's Fowl Dinners.

The Gordon Ramsay Award for Getting Caught: John Key gets pinged for his shares by Francesca Mold; John Campbell's hoodie interview; Tigger the cat burglar has to give back the gloves.

Sorry Moment: Tony Veitch apologises; the Pope apologises in Australia; Bill English apologises for "loose language"; John Campbell apologises for the hoodie interview.

Folk Hero: the Piddler on the Roof, caught on camera relieving himself.

Attention Seeker: Summer Heights High's Ja'mie; Winston; Paul Henry.

Best Use of Random Rock Lyrics: "Why wait until freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose?" - One News' Tim Wilson goes all Janis Joplin on the regulation of share sales.

Best Potential New Allyson Gofton: Gordon Ramsay, who may be looking to relocate. He's on our screens so much he might as well live here.

Bad Sight of the Year: the body dissolved in acid on Breaking Bad; the autopsy on that fat dude on Jamie's Eat to Live.

Word of the Year: Deteri-ate: what John Key says is going to happen to the economy. Recission: what John Key says is happening to the economy. Twilight - the zone Pete Montgomery was in when he called the Evers-Swindells third at the Olympics. Diddums.

2008. It was a year of busts and bailouts that illuminated the glaring omission in the market-driven philosophy, with its hollow, aspirational mantras - the need to take care of each other.

Happy holidays.

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