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I give round one to Campbell Live

Campbell Live spanked Seven Sharp tonight.

TV3's 7pm show began with a potent serious item (families still living in squalor in Christchurch) that made you feel positively guilty for clicking over to the razzmatazz on One.

It moved on to the sheer tabloid genius of a hidden camera catching drunken antics at the Sevens.

LATEST - Overnight ratings: Seven Sharp wins

Then there was an uplifting item that saw Tip Top donate 100,000 loaves to Kids Can - underlining the show's new-found crusading style - followed by something about a giant squid getting carved up (possibly so the starving school kids could score some calamari too).

As always, Campbell stitched the whole thing together smoothly.

Over on One, Seven Sharp opened with a behind-the-scenes tour of Parliament. It began with John Key having a cosy chat with Heather du Plessis-Allan as he showed her his office (including the inevitable reappearance of that sword). It was diverting for political junkies, with a couple of snippets of insider intel from Trevor Mallard and Paula Bennett along the way, but an odd choice as the show's first-ever story. Personally I don't mind a messing-around-in-the-office interview with Key (or Shearer). If someone runs the country, I'm interested in their personality and quirks. But this was establishing the tone of the whole series, and it was just too gentle.

I agree with the Twitterati that the viewer poll on Waitangi fell totally flat. A joke candidate to walk the PM onto the marae was included with the serious, but it was just awkward, and viewers' suggestions ("David Bain!". "Batman!") just awful.

It would have been nice to move on from Close Up's incessant, hectoring demands for your views. Instead, there seems to be an even bigger focus on the dreaded, self-selecting viewer poll - only now with the action moved to social media. So many shows try for one interactivity, but I've yet to see one get it right.

A serious item on a soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder felt out of place.

And a pre-recorded interview with singer Josh Groban felt rushed. When Greg Boyed asked him, "Are there any New Zealand acts you've heard of besides Crowded House?" it was hard to know who to feel more embarrassed for (luckily Groban weighed in with a line about Flight of the Conchords). It was okay, but it terms of first show memorability it was no Dennis Connor walkout (and speaking of the ugly American, an evil part of me wonders if Seven Sharp should have tried to arrange a satellite interview ...).

ABOVE: Co-host Jesse Mulligan was quick to jump on Twitter after the show - and concede some of the criticism.

Seven Sharp got slammed on social media as the show progressed.

And, yes, few MediaWorks folk helped egg things along. Guy Williams deadpanned ...

... while Media3's José Barbosa retweeted the earthier "7-Sharp should be rebranded immediately to 7-Sh*t!"

Tomorrow, things will look brighter.

Thanks to curiosity value, and New Zealanders' primeval urge to default to TV One, it will almost certainly win the first night ratings war [UPDATE: it did].

And of course, there are many nights to come.

The lack of a live interview was criticised, and it was a curious omission. Still, that element can be added later, and potentially be pretty lively in the panel format.. Each of the three Seven Sharp presenters is quite likeable, and there are some smart people behind the scenes. No doubt they'll be living in the hope that whoever the heck is named TVNZ's new head of news and current affairs will give them time and support as they face the Kiwi clobbering machine.

Going by tonight's online reaction, they'll need it.

Relive it on the intrawebs:

Seven Sharp has a pretty good website. The graphics are try-hard, but unlike most shows' sites it makes it each to locate an individual item, and its live chat feature integrates with Facebook. Watch tonight's show here.

Watch Campbell Live here.

Other takes:

Review: Seven good things and seven less good things about Seven Sharp’s debut: "Scanning Twitter tonight, it seemed that the first programme was, for many viewers, a long-awaited laxative; at last they could evacuate their bowels. Much of the vitriol seems to me overhasty, and in many cases unfair. As Russell Brown pointed out this morning, Holmes was a critical and popular flop at first." (Toby Manhire, Listener)

Seven Sharp: Good, for a rehearsal: "I actually really like Mulligan, Mau and Boyed; give them a few weeks to perfect their interactions with each other, and overcome the awkward silences and teleprompter shenanigans, and the show will start to come together ... the show itself [now] seems horribly out of step with TV One's aging core audience. For a start, viewers don't need social media foisted on them during every transition. 'What do you think?' was repeated so often that I can only assume it's a mantra for the show." (Chris Philpott, Stuff):

Seven Sharp off to dismal start: "What a mistake employing the Sharp word in the title, as Seven Flat was more fitting to the bewildering half-hour of non-news and asinine views." (Jane Bowron, Dominion Post)

Seven Sharp: "Well I have to say I liked it ... The three hosts had good rapport with each other and the items were interesting. No it wasn’t in-depth critical analysis of the day’s issues. It was never going to be that. There are other shows for that. A bit of humour isn’t a bad thing to get people watching." (David Farrar, Kiwiblog)

TV review: Seven Sharp "No live interviews, no hard-hitting current affairs and, certainly, no easy banter. Seven Sharp can only get better. And it had better and rather quickly. Because that was a pretty embarrassing start. Though with Mulligan, they may just have a star of some sort in the making. They just might have to eventually ditch the straight people sitting next to him." (Colin Hogg, NZ Herald)

Seven Sharp vs Campbell Live: "Much of what Sainsbury or Holmes established remains intact. There's Maori bashing, sucking up to the powerful, and cheesy, middle of the road music." (Paul Casserly, NZ Herald)

Diana Wichtel on the launch of Seven Sharp: Ali, Greg and Jesse lined up with all the animation and assurance of ducks at a fairground shooting range, intoned some over-scripted gags about Waitangi Day ... Breakfast now seems like meaningful adult viewing. (Diana Wichtel, NZ Listener)

BELOW: More from Mulligan:

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Comments and questions

And just when I thought the dumbing-down of NZ had already reached rock-bottom. God give me strength. What an absolute load of bollocks. Who on earth allowed this garbage to air? I hope the sponsers have an 'out 'clause. Rubbish programme - rubbish sponsor products by association. A show that was so pathetic it's almost sad.

Seven Sharp - the only thing sharp about it was the time it started. It went downhill every minute after the hour.

Pay peanuts and you get monkeys. TVNZ would be better paying top dollar to import a best in field overseas journalist and cover real stories, win the ratings battle, and stop insulting us with this tripe.

The sad fact is that NZers don't seem to want or appreciate real journalism - or the other option is that we don't have anything newsworthy. We have had years of once-over-lighlty journalism, so can't see it changing in a hurry.

It was so bad, it hurts. The death watch beetle is making its way over to the studio as I type this.

To clarify: that retweet was more because I found the original ludicrously unsutble. If you look at my other tweets during the night I fall more into the "wait and see" category.

Stop wrecking the narrative

New Zealand needs Will McAvoy!

Highlight of the show came at 6:59pm......the sickly smile on Simon Dallow's face when he did the handover. Priceless!!

happiest man in NZ at 7.30pm me thinks

I only watched 7Sharp so can't compare though Campbell did go with 3 of his big successes from last year being the Champion on Novopay, the Champion on Christchurch residents rights and the Champion of feeding poor kids - he really is a champion.

On 7 sharp:
Social media - They pushed the social media too much - If you have a quality show, you will get the tweets and feedback with time.
The poll - that flopped. It was a joke that wasn't funny and the voters punished them by proving it was a bad joke by voting for the shotputter.
Transitions - terrible. The lead into Parliament was ok but very serious PTSD story had my wife asking what the hell is this. Then afterwards they eventually got to their views but only after awkwardly asking for twitter comments.

Campbell is slick - he transitions into stories really well and then he revisits them later in the show with social media/email comment from fans.

Given TV1 ratings were nearly 2x TV3 before hand, they had better improve or it will switch and they may even start watching TV3 for news.

Let's face it, oldies don't know how to change the channel so if they manage to land on TV3, they may just stay there!

Mau doesn't have the voice or personality for this sort of show (and on top of that they should have picked a younger, more attractive female lead given what I assume the target demographic is).

Boyd needs to work on his posture and holding his head straight. This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine but I think it looks unprofessional rather than casual.

Mulligan needs to turn down the gay a bit. It was funny on seven days and he didn't get enough screen time for it to get annoying, but this is a different show (and this definitely means changing his hair).

Anything is better than the Karl Marx Live show.

Seven Sharp was great! I like all three of the presenters. I was expecting to dislike it but now I can see what they are trying to do and I reckon it will work. Campbell Live is too depressing and he does not always give the other side of the story - e.g., EQC were always the bad guys when there are thousands of Kiwis working for EQC doing this soul-destroying, thankless job and are hated for it. He never showed that side of it. And why couldn't the guy living in his car apply to be a flatmate in a house - there are thousands of flatmate ads. I will watch Seven Sharp again, for sure. Good work.

How ironic this tripe went to air while we mourn Paul Holmes. Three people behind a desk. Presumably this was designed by the brilliant mind that brought us motorway on-ramp lights.

Paul Holmes RIP. Be grateful you were spared from seeing what they have done to your bequest to the nation.....'replaced' by a ponce, a dandy and a gym dollie, with apologies to Dr Who.

Sad the hosts already on defensive mode so clearly. I know Kiwis like a fair go, but we paid for this sh*te.

TV3 had the live dissection of a giant squid. TV One had a tour of John Key's office. If TV2 had combined the ideas and had the live dissection of John Key, it would have topped the ratings, for sure.

Maybe they should have just replayed Breakfast from the morning.

Give me strength Television NZ, why on earth does it take 3 people with 3 huge saleries to present "THAT"

Never thought I'd say it but; "Come back Sainso! All is forgiven!!!!!!!!!"

Updated 100% rating on the stinkometer.

25- 54 Seven Sharp 6.8 Campbell Live 4.9...the winner was Shortland Street by a country mile 18.2.

So I watched Seven Sharp to give it a go. It's only the first show and was OK, but I question who its target audience is.

Is it Gen X and Gen Y? TV One has purposefully selected 'younger' people to host the show rather than a Sainsbury-esque baby boomer. Is this an attempt to capture Gen X and Gen Y viewers from Campbell Live on TV3? I would argue that this is out of touch with reality. Gen X & Y mainly get their news online in snippets, and let's face it, TV One is a channel for the older viewer so there may be a cultural block there.

Or is this show attempting to give the older viewer a format that is perceived as 'fresh and with-it'? It may be cynical on my part, but adding a bit social media to a TV show isn't exactly ground breaking. But maybe it is for the older viewers, though? In which case maybe it will work with some tweaking.

I think New Zealand doesn't have a large enough TV viewing population to support two shows of this format any more. The baby boomers loved it with Paul Holmes back in the 80s and 90s (when we only had 2 tv channels). But that's a very long time ago and we all have access to media of a much broader and higher standard now.

It will be interesting to see how this show and format can develop.

Seven sharp was an insult. It was like some high school kids doing an ad hoc presentation. It is dumbing tv down. The government doesn't want investigative journalism. A sad day and a sad show.