On The Box
In August last year Mrs Brown and I went to Auckland to watch the rugby test between the All Blacks and the Australians.
I was keen to see the revamped Eden Park, and Mrs B was keen to see Sonny Bill Williams in action, praying that some nasty Australian player would rip his jersey and he would have to put on a new one, as happened the World Cup the year before.
That didn't happen, but the park looked great and the All Blacks beat the Wallabies, with SBW possibly playing his last match for us. So it was an auspicious occasion all round.
Earlier in the day, there was a bonus. We went to the Langham Hotel to meet some rich friends who were staying there, for a drink. As you can imagine it was pretty full, so we were sitting at a table virtually in a hallway when some familiar faces appeared. And there they were, the three MasterChef NZ judges, Ray McVinnie, Josh Emett and Simon Gault, staring fixedly straight ahead as they walked past. None of the three stopped to say hello, presumably piqued at being beaten by Downton Abbey in the Brownie annual TV Awards the year before. And they wonder why they didn't win it again . . . no matter, we could see they were busy. They continued to the lifts and that was the last we saw of them.
We soon worked it out. They had just finished filming an episode of MasterChef at the Langham. Who knew they did it all that time ago? Anyway, some time later all was confirmed when Mrs B found herself at a table in the smoking area outside (she doesn't inhale) surrounded by a group of animated contestants. She was particularly taken by the colourful character with the even more colourful hair, and there she was last Sunday (TV One, 7.30pm) as one of the 24 finalists.
To be honest, the first few episodes are the least enjoyable. Too many people, too little time with each, and we haven't got to know them yet. As always, however, there are those who sob, those with misplaced confidence, those with not enough and those who can actually cook. They parade their culinary skills, or lack of them, and the tears build up, with one poor lady sobbing uncontrollably throughout her ordeal with the judges.
We say goodbye to a third of them tomorrow night and then we start getting down to the nitty-gritty bitties. I can't wait. Mrs B says I can't cook either, and bursts out laughing. There's a joke there somewhere, I'm told.
Speaking of jokes, the ongoing one at TVNZ continues. You know the one - it's on 7pm on week-nights and they call it Seven Sharp. The rest of us call it Seven Silly or something similar and it seems we are turning off in our droves. This is not media inspired; it's all the work of hundreds of thousands of viewers pressing buttons on their remotes.
It all came to a head on Tuesday night, when Campbell Live on TV3 finally did the previously unthinkable - it outrated TV One!
For the first time since TV3 began in 1989, it beat TV One in the all-important 7pm slot. The overall audience for Campbell Live was 352,600 viewers compared with 296,700 for Seven Sharp.
That is a massive turnaround. While Campbell Live has shown a small increase, Seven Sharp's [SS] numbers are in freefall.
The following night, Wednesday, I watched SS again to check it out. It was awful, truly awful. The SS trio of hosts tackled the vexed issue of whether Coca Cola is addictive. To prove its point it brought in an addict, who turned out to be a TV cameraman who only drank three cans a day. "Maybe two litres a day sometimes?" ventured Ali, ever hopeful.
"Yep, sometimes maybe, but I've cut down a bit ..."
Then to prove the point, they brought a professor of nutrition into the studio, but she, too, didn't quite say what she was supposed to.
The best point came when the debate went from Coke's sugar content to caffeine content. Co-host Greg Boyed admitted he drank eight to 10 cups of black coffee a day, so wasn't he just as bad as the coke freaks?
The nutrition professor gave a roundabout answer but did mention matter-of-factly that consuming that amount of coffee did have some side-effects. "It could make you feel that you were performing better than you are."
Ah, she'd just identified the problem with Seven Sharp.