Silly Season Television

by Diana Wichtel / 30 December, 2011
What kind of drooling family pet would you be? Oh, honestly.
The Silly Season. It’s a bit of a misnomer, really, because over summer many of the

silliest shows are off air.

Close Up’s Mark Sainsbury will be reduced to bellowing “Look!” and “I mean!” at startled fellow holidaymakers somewhere.

Breakfast’s Petra Bagust and Corin Dann will have to do their wittering at home

or risk a potentially dangerous build-up of banter.

So I decided to get a wittering fix over a couple of mornings to tide me over until what passes for normal transmission on breakfast television is resumed.

Fortunately, it was an auspicious week for humankind. Never mind that European nuclear scientists were closing in on the so-called “God particle” – a building block of the universe. Something far more momentous had occurred. We beat Australia at the cricket. On Australian soil. Or, as Corin explained the situation, “26 years of heartache is o-vah!”

The Black Caps were “still revelling”, apparently. Who can blame them? They haven’t had much to revel

about for some time. Cue footage of a revelling Daniel Vettori having his pants pulled down by fellow revellers, to expert analysis from Corin back in the studio: “Wa-ay! Whoopsie! Hello!


Where would the media be these days without the thrilling sporting wardrobe

malfunction? There has always been a bit of a homoerotic undertow to jock culture, but it seems no event is now complete until someone gets stuck in his jersey or parts company with his pants.

We’ve had Sonny Bill’s Rugby World Cup burlesque, front-page shots of Dan Carter kayaking in his jocks, and now the Vettori down-trou.

Even TV3’s considerably more restrained Firstline isn’t immune. Things got somewhat overexcited in the studio after sports guy Howard “Dobbo” Dobson interviewed ex-All Black Carlos

Spencer before his Fight for Life bout.

“Dobbo looked like he fell a little bit in love in that interview,” observed Rachel

Smalley. It seems Spencer has bulked up since his Toffee Pop days, if that’s what spins your wheels. They were certainly spinning on Firstline. Spencer was, gasped sports guy Sam Ackerman,

“an absolute monster that would chew up most forwards! Look at that!” We looked. “There’s a lot of things you could do with those abs. You could do your handwashing on them,” mused Rachel

alarmingly, miming scrubbing her smalls on … Carlos Spencer.

Still, Firstline will have to up its game if it wants to outdo Breakfast in the awkwardness stakes. Petra and Corin have the sort of chemistry that used to have them calling in the body-language

experts in the days of Paul Henry and Kay Gregory. Corin never quite looks at ease. When he tries to speak, Petra fixes him with a gimlet eye and a remorselessly expectant expression that seems to

sap his will to live.

Fortunately, there are always animals.

Or, as reporter Lucas de Jong threatened from Wellington, “It’s Tuesday. You know what that means.

We need a good old-fashioned cat story!” We didn’t, actually. This was the week when the babyseal-

on-a-couch was on media high-rotate. Nevertheless we got the travels of Jinx the feline


This was also the week of Sam the weather guy’s visit to the SPCA. He found a dancing

rooster called Jagger. Sam sang a song in an attempt to get Jagger to dance, but the fowl assumed an expression not unlike that of Corin when Petra has him in her sights, and fl ed. Still,

there was Wayne the one-eared sheep.

Corin suggested Wayne might make a good children’s book character. “Horrible

things could become good for Wayne!” he declared. “Which brings us to the

markets,” cried Petra, deploying perhaps the most desperate segue in the history

of tele vision. “Any horrible things become good, Nadine?”

Later in the morning talk turned to what breed each of the Breakfast team might be if they were drooling family pets instead of the authoritative news professionals they are. Corin fancied

being an irish wolf hound: “Strong, kind of big but a little bit shaggy!”

Up flashed a picture of a doberman, which Petra declared a dead ringer for newsreader Peter Williams. Petra seemed oblivious to some prominent problems with this scenario. “That is a female dog,

I take it,” quavered Corin. “I can see certain … attributes,” agreed Williams with what looked like mounting horror.

By now we were frozen, spoons suspended over muesli bowls, sure in the knowledge that if there was some way to turn the merely screamingly awkward into the actively excruciating, this was

the show to do it. “He would be a dog with six boobs!” blurted Petra wildly.


Dear Lord. The truly terrifying thing is I may actually miss the dancing roosters,

the underclad sportsmen, the general headless chookery of breakfast television

over the summer. Happily, there’s always Fox News, where crazy never takes a



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