At last, some real current affairs on our screens.
The long-awaited debut of The Paul Henry Show on TV3 at 10.40pm, and the revised Seven Sharp on TV One at 7pm finally took place on Monday and how welcome they were.
Seven Sharp was rightly canned for being a silly piece of fluff which could never make up its mind as to what it actually should be. Enough has been written and said about its faults, so it's time to concentrate on the 2014 version.
The change has been remarkable. Ignoring the opening night of both programmes, I focused on Tuesday's effort. That way you get a better feel of what it's really like. I liked what I saw. Gone were the irritating guests who vied for space with the troika of presenters. Now there are only the three permanent hosts, Mike Hosking, Toni Street and Jesse Mulligan.
Together they put together a form reversal worthy of the Black Caps. Hosking gives the show some much-needed intellect and interviewing ability. He displayed it on Tuesday with the opening piece on new rules to govern the attendance of members of Parliament and again with his interrogation of Hone Harawira.
It was good topical stuff, with the new laws coming into effect that day. An irreverent piece, quizzing various MPs on what their attendance record was like was followed by the Harawira interview. Hone was quite indignant when he got on screen, pointing out that his frequent absences from Parliament were all pre-approved by the Speaker of the House. Mike asked him why he was away so much and Hone said it was because of "important issues". "Name three," shot back Mike. A long list of protests he'd attended followed. Mike cut him off mid-sentence: "You like to wave the flag a bit, doesn't that just prove you should be a protester rather than an MP?"
After a bit of banter, Mike started to wrap the interview up by saying to Hone, "well you were on the committee that recommended the changes ..." For perhaps the only time in his life, Hone appeared embarrassed on television. Turns out he'd missed that committee meeting, when they came up with the changes.
"Where were you? Were you away at a protest?" quizzed Mike, scenting blood. "... um, not sure, but it must have been on Parliamentary business."
It was good stuff. Paul Holmes would have approved. There were no silly interjections from the other hosts. No annoying texts, tweets or Facebook messages being shown non-stop along the bottom of the screen, it was relevant, hard-nosed interviewing.
Jesse even got a good line in when he observed that it was hard to "name and shame" offenders when politicians had no shame.
There was a good piece by Heather du Plessis-Allen on the inequitable treatment of trans- Tasman immigrants, even if the irreverence was a little biased. There was more, and at the end of the show, the hosts got to have a say about what had happened and the only sour note came when uber-liberal Jesse, who's supposed to be a comedian of sorts, declared his feelings were with the sharks in West Australia, who were being culled "just for being sharks" he sighed. Toni shot him a quizzical look and declared the show shut.
It was good stuff! The end of an error and the beginning of an era. I really can't see any reason why Toni and Mike can't manage the show all by themselves, to be honest. As Mrs Brown rightly pointed out, they have enough humour to not need a resident one.
At 10.40pm on TV3 it was the return of so-called 'shock jock' Paul Henry. His show replaces the tired and rather earnest Nightline and he is just the injection of irreverence that timeslot demands.
Make no mistake, The Paul Henry Show is unashamedly about the man himself and he's very comfortable with that.
He always runs the risk of upsetting all sorts of people, generally those who take themselves too seriously, and it's great to see that sheer irreverence and quick wit back on our screens. He's a major talent and Mrs B and I are big fans. Sometimes he can try a bit hard though and on Tuesday he managed to scatter several naughty words through his show. There were at least five "bastards", "bloody" three times as well as a couple of "wankers". It is unnecessary, as Mrs B pointed out, for the simple reason that he has a superb vocabulary and doesn't need to resort to the language of the limited.
Putting that aside, it was a splendid show. The news, overseas news and the weather all broke up the show nicely and there was plenty of vintage Paul doing what he does best - taking on the world!
- The Timaru Herald