In our new feature A Week Of It, a Spinoff writer watches a show every day for a week and reports back with their findings. This week, Alex Casey watches a week of Seven Sharp – and finds a meta twist at the end of the viral video tunnel.
I normally like to spend 7pm with a heavy dose of social awkwardness and sexual innuendo in the packet-soup reality format Come Dine With Me. But this week, I thought I would change my channel, and my tune. With Toni Street back from maternity leave, and Mike Hosking back from doing some weird biking in Tahiti, I checked in to see how they were settling back into TV One’s current affairs show Seven Sharp.
What a reunion. Mike Hosking is back from his holiday, looking tanned and/or sallow. Toni Street is back from maternity leave, looking jovial and exhausted. The old team, back together. We’re talking about health care tonight. Toni feels passionate on the matter, having just come from a menagerie of health issues and hospital time. “She’s keeps banging on about it,” Mike spits, eyes essentially closed.
There’s a brief attack of images that I think is supposed to be news – something about Phil Rudd, some stock imagery representing heart disease, some footage of a reporter getting punched at a riot. Hosko cracks the hell up at the man getting punched, so chuffed to have to never go anywhere outside a production studio or Tahitian resort again.
The big story of the night, much to Mike’s chagrin, is ‘healthcare’. The Oamaru Hospital is getting a 5% cut from the Southern DHB, which will mean the closing of the essential after hours emergency unit. People will now have to drive over an hour to the nearest centre. We hear from a brain haemorrhage victim who would have been dead had it not been for the centre. Shit, this is intense! Someone do something! People could literally die! Call Campbell Live!
Back in the studio, Toni is visibly moved. Talking about her long hospital waits and various treatments before she was discharged, Mike can’t help but get bored and interrupt. “When you say ‘discharge’, do you mean ‘left the hospital’? Or… discharge?” All your vaginal fluid needs, every night, at 7 o’clock.
Time to talk shark attacks after Mick Fanning’s near miss during a surf competition earlier that day. A shark expert comes in to talk about sharks. I’m assuming he’s an expert, he’s got at least two pieces of shark-themed clothing on which feels like more than enough:
Hosking wonders if you should punch a shark. He saw some small sharks on holiday that concerned him. That’s about the ninth time he’s talked about Tahiti already.
Prank alert: Mike has mocked up a fake magazine cover for Toni called Cut & Tuck Magazine. That’s someone’s afternoon in the newsroom put to very, very good use:
With Mike punching the desk with laughter, it’s time for a lovely human interest story about a few of the 24 elderly people who currently live in the CBD. They play Tiddlywinks, they drive to the waterfront, they love life in their high rise apartments. It’s a good story, showing the calm faces and voices of an absolute minority on the hellishly bustling streets of Auckland. Shout out to those oldies.
To round off the episode, Tim WIlson provides a quick faux-infomercial about downsizing property in Auckland – complete with Max Key video snippets and viral screaming goats. It’s loud and exceptionally weird, a sliver of news mashed up with the images that filter through from internet land to telly land. Never a comfortable migration.
We open talking about aliens, thank god. The news in New Zealand is boring enough, let alone the whole of planet Earth. Hosking is excited by the idea of extraterrestrial life, Street is scared. We have our daily Fail Army mash-up of internet nonsense, with none of the self-aware irony and all of the genuine laughs. A kid falls asleep whilst playing the piano. “That’s you after a few wines” – Mike roars with laughter in Toni’s face.
Our human interest story tonight is the story of the Love Soup kitchen in Tokoroa. The council want to relocate the kitchen, currently operating from a bowling club, out of town. Founder Julie King is effervescent in her positivity, between infectious laughs she explains that they need $20,000 to save the centre. A heartwarming, searingly optimistic piece.
But Mike’s mind is on other things.
“WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THE ALIENS” Mike bellows back in the studio. He jumps on Skype with some space man to talk about the possibilities of alien life. Mike is very focussed on whether or not there could be a martian chap out there a bit like himself. “What if I’m a miracle… what if there’s no-one out there like me?”
‘Turn Down For What’ rings through the studio for little-to-no reason as we enjoy a video of some baby otters and a wedding photographer falling into a lake. I’ve lost count of the viral videos already, do Seven Sharp viewers not know about YouTube? Toni mentions the debate for gender neutral toilets. Hosko looks at her like she is speaking Marquesan – one of the native language of Tahiti. Did I mention he’s been in Tahiti recently?
Time for Tim Wilson’s kooky piece of the day – today he’s got some chicken masquerading as kereru and is going to challenge members of the public to eat it. Tim Wilson pouring supermarket Tegel into this tupperware container on the bonnet of a car is maybe the grimmest thing I’ve seen this year:
Hosking doesn’t like food trickery. He was recently swindled on holiday when an “amuse-bouche” in Tahiti turned out to be a snail. It’s relatable content for sure.
There are people dying due to obscene unreported instances of violence in our prisons – but first – a mislabelled viral vid of a baby dancing to get us all in the mood:
After that amuse bouche of entertainment, we get into the gritty stuff. Hosking grills Sam Lotu-Iiga over his sources and their credibility. He’s shifting around uncomfortably, Hosking is as still and steely as a shark after Fanning. Is Serco going to get pinged for this? Why did you vote down the select committee meeting with Serco? Surely you want to hear from them? These are all good, necessary questions and I can’t fault Hosking’s unwavering insistence here.
Onto an inspirational tale about a man “getting on with it” after a quad bike accident left him paraplegic. He got back on the bike, has written a book and now lives by the mantra “if you see it, seize it”. It’s heartwarming, a true local legend story. Toni mentions that she lost a family member in a quad bike accident. “There’s something magical about a quad bike isn’t there?” Mike replies, possibly asleep.
From magical, life-destroying quad bikes to Scrabble savants – there’s some beardy bloke who can win Scrabble in French or something.
Hosking has a bone to pick with this one, mostly that Monopoly is better than Scrabble. He shares his Monopoly tips (buy one set and mortgage the rest, don’t buy utilities and stay away from Park Lane). “It’s all about talking the talk really” Hosko says about nothing, and everything, at the same time.
Continuing to “talk the talk” Hosking is now onto what can only be described as a furious pie rant. He’s overjoyed that a potato top has won the national pie awards, but still steamed about “culinary posers” making “naff, arty” pies. And that’s the news today. Down with arty pies.
Hosking is sick today, so it’s girl power central. Nadine Chalmers-Ross joins Toni in the studio, and they band together in an episode jam-packed with Hosko ownages. “I didn’t know you could get food poisoning from chia seeds…” Street says gleefully, practically clapping her hands like a seal in delight at her coworkers misfortune. I’ll admit, I’ve been charmed by their childish back and forth. Whether it deserves so much screen-time every day, that’s another story.
Our first story is to look at an organisation taking free hot meals to kids in primary schools and asking “is it good?” Seems good to me. We go to the UK correspondent who confirms that it is also good. Nadine reckons it’s good.
In crucial viral vid news, Seven Sharp’s favourite kind of news, a Kapiti college student has done a speech about the importance of Maori pronunciation. “Ka pai” says Nadine. They could have left it there, but that’s not the Seven Sharp way. Just in time for Maori language week, it’s time to have a laugh at the longest place name in the world:
Does that undermine the whole point of the story we just watched? Before I have time to gather a critical response, I am assaulted with an intense a montage of pigs set to the dulcet tones of Ed Sheeran. “Coming up: what do these pigs have in common with Renee Zellweger?” I don’t want to know the answer.
Oh, it’s plastic surgery. The pigs are getting plastic surgery.
Before we finish for the evening, we must remember what we all came here for – to laugh at Mike Hosking on his sickbed. Toni wheels out yet ANOTHER printed placard from under the desk – this time Mike has a fake magazine cover of his own. Spare a bloody moment for the poor codger in the graphics department who has been painstakingly assembling these joke magazines all week:
Hosking is back, triumphant as ever after allegedly beating gastro in less than 24 hours. But he’s still mad – particularly about security passwords and dirty kitchens. No need to elaborate there Mike, I’m sure that’s fine. He doesn’t. From gastro to Serco, we return to the biggest news story of the week. They have declined an interview for the third day in a row.
How will we ever fill this giant current affairs gap? Mike to the rescue. He explains that he is groggy and cranky after not drinking for the past few days. “Katie says I run on alcohol” he says, of his wife Kate Hawkseby. He’s annoyed that people aren’t allowed to drink as much, claiming that “back in the Robin Hood days” they were drinking all the time. A great social message for a broadcaster to be pushing during prime time.
There’s a story about fast cars – I think so that Hosko could chat about his Ferrari some more – but I’m more distracted by this white anomaly next to Toni:
As it turns out, it is a cardboard cut-out of Gerry Brownlee in his underpants much like the ones they have been handing out in a cafe in Christchurch. Should have guessed. They are talking about whether or not it is bad taste, all the while adorning him with a princess dress and matching crown. People off camera laugh uncontrollably. Hosko looks peeved, but we’ll get to that later.
Today’s local legend is a young netballer called Nikola, still recovering from brain injuries after being in a car accident as a baby. She goes to a Silver Ferns game, and delivers the ball in front of a huge crowd. There’s a lovely scene with netballer Katrina Grant, who promises that they will be “friends for life”.
Back in the studio, they delve into some surprising reflective discussion about how different sportspeople carry themselves when on TV. It’s interesting analysis – Mike explains that motorsports representatives know how to conduct themselves professionally from very early in their career due to the importance of securing sponsorship to their sport. Toni explains that netballers have to fight tooth and nail for coverage on television, so always bring their expressive A-game in any soundbyte they can get. It’s intelligent and insightful, and I wish I had seen a lot more of it throughout the week.
Crazy Tim Wilson is super crazy tonight via wearing a bow tie, and he’s off into the wops to see what those country kooks can offer a city slicker. He stands outside a rural four square and asks for people to “take him home”. I’m reminded of Jesse Peach’s great ‘Pick a Path’ work for Newsworthy, but this is lacking a certain charm. There’s a stark difference in foraging delightedly through the local treasure, and standing on a street corner yelling for someone to talk to you. Tim has an air of entitlement – but that might just be the bow tie.
Tim finally does get taken home by a nice woman called Ra, who gives him a tour around her farm that “smells like poos” (T. Wilson, 2015). He does a lot of manly pellet work, and I don’t really understand the point.
Someone who does understand the point of everything, exactly, all the time, is Mike Hosking. And his monologue tonight is about people taking offence, talking specifically about “Chrystal whatsername” Ah shit, this is it. He’s ripping apart the social media reaction and opinion pieces written by “the bored, bewildered and lonely”. That’s me! He’s talking about me!
My Seven Sharp journey has become a meta-conversation, Hosking is now addressing me directly through the barrel of the camera, and essentially telling me to shut up and worry about Gerry Brownlee instead. I get stressed out and cue up nine videos of otters tap dancing to get me through till Seven Sharp starts again next week.
Seven Sharp is on TV One at 7pm Weeknights
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