Too blunt around the edges

TV TIMES

GORDON BROWN
Last updated 11:55 09/02/2013

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A television programme can be judged much the same as a holiday destination - would you go back?

Sadly, the much-anticipated Seven Sharp (TV One, 7pm weekdays) failed that test.

It was OK, had its moments, but really, if you didn't watch it again, you wouldn't feel as if you were missing out on much.

One of the secrets of Holmes was that if some prominent politician made an ass of him or herself, you could be pretty sure Paul Holmes would be grilling them at 7 o'clock that night.

You didn't want to miss it, because you wanted to see the subject squirm and Holmes invariably obliged.

When he left, and it became Close Up with Mark Sainsbury, that was no longer guaranteed.

With Sainsbury's departure, TVNZ wanted to do something different with this vital time slot and came up with Seven Blunt, sorry, Seven Sharp. Jesse Mulligan was to provide the humour, Alison Mau the female hosting role and Greg Boyed the male equivalent.

All were encouraged to have a say as they "bounced off each other".

Trouble was, it was flat and there was little bouncing. Aiming to be light-hearted, satirical and tabloid in nature, it appeared to be confused, crowded and sent out so many mixed messages as to what it actually was, viewers have no idea what it's all about.

There were lots of one-liners on the opening night and some worked.

But just when you thought it was going to be a series of quick quips, along came a comparatively lengthy segment on a former New Zealand Army officer's battle with depression after serving in Afghanistan. He was conquering his fears by doing a parachute jump and seemed to be well on the road to recovery.

And good for him. But for us at home, it was a case of stop laughing, be thoughtful and sad, then go back to laughing.

Maybe one of the presenters could have done the jump, without the chute!

Now for something completely different. In the age of modern technology and fancy keyboards you can put all wonder of things on a save key.

You type in a phrase or a sentence, save it using some tricky technology, and you just press a button and out it comes - regurgitated word perfect so you don't have to type it.

Let me point out at this stage that I don't actually use save keys, but my Director of Technology, Mrs Brown, does. She may appear to be my child bride but she is of the same vintage and when it comes to new tech, she is more advanced than moi. However, I am now going to give her a brief, to put in a save key which has the following sentence: "There was a new New Zealand series making its debut on television last week and, while I would love to say it was really good, I can't."

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And I couldn't, even with my fingers crossed, which would make it difficult to type.

I like Robyn Malcolm. She's a good actress and in her portrayal of Cheryl West in Outrageous Fortune she created one of the most memorable characters in New Zealand television history.

I really wanted to like Agent Anna (Thursdays, 8.30pm TV One) but, almost from the start, the cringe factor was there. It's not a case of cultural cringe either. Not liking our own programmes, that would be a copout of Novopay proportions that couldn't disguise the number of flaws in this series, judging by its first offering.

The basic plot is a good one.

Recently separated Anna (Malcolm) has to sell up the family house to pay off hubbie's debts because he's done a runner to Oz.

The network's marketing team provide this gem of a description: "A down-on-her-luck single mum has no other choice but to sell real estate for a living." Jeez, one step up from prostitution if you believe that.

So let's go through the problems, with brevity and compassion.

In episode one we met the following characters. Anna, who continually drops pamphlets and business cards, gets drunk too quickly and has a flair for getting her hand stuck in a letterbox while trying to extract her cellphone.

There's Leon, the smarmy real estate agent who continually hits on anyone female with a pulse and cheats his workmates. There's Sandi, the bitchy female agent who walks around yelling at everyone; Anna's two daughters who are thoroughly unlikeable little snobs played by two girls who should still be at drama school learning how to act and articulate clearly, and Anna's overbearing mum and dad.

The dialogue is wooden, the acting of some of the support cast limited, and the plot is just plain silly.

Now for the downside . . .

- © Fairfax NZ News

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