The way we were

by Diana Wichtel / 22 December, 2014
Hedgehogs, heifers, Hope and Wire – didn’t we almost have it all?
Erebus: Operation Overdue.

Such a nice, round number, 2014; such a gruelling and grubby year. Politics were dirty. Rolf Harris went to jail. Pam Corkery went ballistic. Charlotte Dawson, troubled and beset by online bullies, took her own life. Blogger Cameron Slater threatened to “give back double”. It was a year when it seemed the trolls were overtaking the hobbits in the battle for Middle-earth.

It was a year that, like Campbell Live’s Mr McStuck, the hedgehog, the nation seemed to have its head jammed in a McDonald’s McFlurry cup. There was an election.

It was a sorry sort of year. David Cunliffe was sorry for being a man. Rachel Smalley was sorry for calling New Zealand women “heifers” and “lardos”. Even the SIS was sorry. John Key wasn’t sorry about anything, but then his memory isn’t so hot.

It was the year television went goo goo gaga over a royal baby. Well, it distracted from Dirty Politics and the sight of a seven-year-old in Syria holding a severed head.

Happier news: the state broadcaster came to its senses. Seven Sharp will witter meaninglessly into 2015 but quality returned to TV1: Broadchurch, Happy Valley, Our Big Blue Backyard; a season of cracking local drama, including Erebus: Operation Overdue.

Prime obliged with The Brokenwood Mysteries, Doctor Who, Anzac Girls. Maori Television – Media Take, Native Affairs, Drug Court – will remain, we hope, despite its upheavals, a treasure. TV3 had House of Cards, Hope and Wire and Campbell Live’s eccentric, indispensable brand of current affairs.

Still, things can’t be great when you find yourself turning to Doctor Who for moral guidance. It was left to Peter Capaldi’s Doctor to ask 2014’s biggest question, one not much bothered about in the public life of Aotearoa: “Am I a good man?”

John Campbell may not have a sonic screwdriver but he had some advice on election night: “Let’s be somebody we can admire.” Like the Doctor, flawed and beset by doubt, spinning through a cold and indifferent universe, we can try.

Meanwhile, here’s this column’s entirely subjective stab at the best and worst we watched. Happy holidays.

Rachel Smalley
Rachel Smalley.

The “Cow Very Dare You” Award: Rachel Smalley calls New Zealand women “heifers” and “lardos”; Pam Corkery’s immortal “You work in the news, you puffed up little shit!”

The “Puffed Up Little Shit” Award for Drama Queen: Paddy “Why no bollocking for Judith Collins?” Gower; Pam Corkery.

The Twitter Troll Pile-On Award for Courage Under Fire: Tania Billingsley on 3rd Degree, hammering the handling of the Malaysian diplomat case; Nicky Hager: say what you like, that’s stuff about our leaders we can never unknow.

The David Cunliffe Red Scarf for PR Fail: Pam Corkery’s media meltdown; Roger Sutton’s press conference mansplaining; Gerry Brownlee goes in the out door.

Local Drama: Apart from Dirty Politics? Out of a strong field, Erebus: Operation Overdue. Highly commended: Gaylene Preston’s heartfelt Hope and Wire.

Totally Timely Drama: Consent: The Louise Nicholas Story.

Best Comedy: Coverband and even Girls couldn’t quite overtake the black ops and bleak laughs of the election.

Best Blether: The Commonwealth Games opening ceremony beats election night by a Tunnock’s Teacake and a battalion of Scottish terriers.

The “History Repeats Like a Dodgy Kebab” Award: Kim Dotcom has a signed copy of Mein Kampf, Churchill’s cigar and “a pen of Stalin”.

Best Doco: On Maori Television’s Drug Court, TV1’s Pike River doco Dreams Lie Deeper and British reality series Benefits Street, real people ruled.

The Louis Theroux Award for Being Slightly Like Louis Theroux: Ali Ikram’s tender, elliptical Campbell Live pieces.

The “How About a Bungee Jumping Sheep?” Award: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’s host discovered John Key’s “flig” initiative.

Animal of the Year: Mr McStuck the hedgehog and Moonbeam the First Cat were edged out at the last moment by Captain Puffleface, the chook mothering Tiger the kitten on Campbell Live.

Flat 3
Flat 3.

Best Television Not for Television: The final season of web series Flat3: watch one, stay for the whole brilliant set. High Road: Piha-based ex rocker Terry gets a job on Christian radio!

Oxymoron (or is it Tautology?) of the Year: John Key accuses Dotcom of “politicising” the election.

Moron of the Year: That idiot who climbed onto a whale carcass in shark-infested water.

Facial Hair of the Year: Sam Neill’s Peaky Blinders moustache and Peter Capaldi’s eyebrows on Doctor Who must defer to extravagantly bearded Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst.

Guilty Pleasure: Downton Abbey; TV2’s Neighbours at War; Fox News; Game of Thrones.

Signs of the Apocalypse: Lorde is picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church; anything involving sex toys that look like Paul Henry; Fox News.

Signs the PM is Being … Ambiguous: “He goes, ‘No. Blink. Suck,’” according to some body language expert on Seven Sharp.

The “No. Blink. Suck” Award for Ambiguity:

Mike Hosking: “Doesn’t the buck stop at the top?”

John Key: “Well, it can do.”

Paul Henry
Paul Henry.

Alarming Paul Henry Complaint of the Year: “… we do not think the subject matter of ‘butt plugs’ was in itself sufficient to threaten current norms of good taste and decency, in context”, ruled the BSA.

The “My shards are wilting” Award for Best Cooking Competition Quote: “If our cake could speak it would say, ‘Kill me.’”

The Literally Literal Award for Literal-Mindedness: Cameron Slater told Campbell Live’s Tristram Clayton to “go fly a kite” – so he did.

The “Paint Us a Picture, Paddy” Award: Patrick Gower grapples with moving target John Key: “He became locked in some ugly kind of pirouette where he seemed to be spinning out of control and at times looked like he was talking gobbledegook!”

The Gower Award for Gobbledegook: “We’re not going to make off the knee cuff … er, no, off the knee jerk … Off the cuff decisions.” – Winston Peters attempts to speak off the knee cuff to Corin Dann; “We’ll be with you backly in a short moment.” – Corin Dann attempts to speak.

Best Reason to Yell at the Television: When I require a smug lecture from Mike Hosking, Toni Street or the cast of The Newsroom, I’ll be sure to let them know.

Best Offshore Performance by a Sweat-Stained T-shirt Containing a Beleaguered Kiwi Actor: Martin Henderson in Secrets & Lies; Antony Starr in Banshee.

Leak of the Year: Never mind all those emails – Paddy Gower left his mike on during a comfort stop.

Best Reason Not to Destroy Your 50" HD 3D Smart LED TV: HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge. The golden age of television is always right now.

And it’s goodbye to: Robin Williams; Joan Rivers; Bob Hoskins; Rik Mayall; Betty at t’Rovers and her secret hotpot recipe … Thanks and RIP.

What they said

“Shame: it went the way of honour, didn’t it?” – Christopher Walken’s character sums up the zeitgeist (and, inadvertently, our election campaign) on Turks & Caicos.

“The delightfully chubby Prince George!” – Mike Hosking.

“It gets made because it gets watched and it gets watched because it gets made.” – TVNZ’s Andrew Shaw explains reality television.

“Little chubster!” – Toni Street.

“I don’t look like a predator.” – Wishful thinking from Paul Henry.

Pam Corkery
Pam Corkery.

“When will you glove puppets of Cameron Slater just piss off?” – Wishful thinking from Pam Corkery.

“It’s bloody horrible!” – Paul Henry tells John Key he doesn’t like his flag design.

“How are you allowed to speak to your Prime Minister like that?!” – John Oliver discovers our current affairs beggars belief.

“Please tell that fascist Tory prick with the funny hair to stop putting down small-town New Zealand.” – Viewer feedback for Hosking.

“Caramel and chocolate all over the place like a mad woman’s piss.” – ToffeePops run afoul of Paul Henry’s Biscuit Watch.

“Well, it was a really ugly jacket.” – Judith Collins auditions for the late Joan Rivers’ spot on Fashion Police.

“I’ve gone too far, haven’t I?” – Paul Henry.

“Did you have sex with Richard Branson?” – Paul Henry goes too far.

“We’ll crush everyone in our path!” – Tracey on The Great Food Race should consider a career as Justice Minister.

“We have no idea why he doesn’t look at people when he talks to them.” – Even John Campbell is bewildered by Ali Ikram.

“Let’s talk about monkeys!” – Setting the agenda on Seven Sharp.

“Democracy is so overrated.” – Frank Underwood captures the zeitgeist on House of Cards.

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