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 ...).
Thanks for feedback. Enjoyed the constructive stuff. Agree: should make the much discussed *social media* content less self conscious ...— Jesse Mulligan (@JesseMulligan) February 4, 2013
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 ...
They’re using the Internet and as a young person that appeals to me! #sevensharp— Guy Williams (@guywilliamsguy) February 4, 2013
... 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.
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:
Agree 'the hosts will warm up', but remember audiences take a few eps to warm up too. Predict we'll meet each other half way— Jesse Mulligan (@JesseMulligan) February 4, 2013
Will have to fwd concerns about 'pixellated logo', 'bad white balance', 'shaky camera'. Although we can't fire the camera guy, he's a robot.— Jesse Mulligan (@JesseMulligan) February 4, 2013