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Six Terrible Pitches for the Paul Henry Show Replacement

MediaWorks is racing into the future right now, crowd-sourcing ideas for its forthcoming soap and going multi-media with its new Paul Henry breakfast show. We couldn’t resist combining the two innovations and volunteering our own ideas to fill Henry’s soon-to-be vacant 10.30pm weeknights slot. As always, these bad, bad ideas remain © the authors, and are available for big $$$ to any curious media companies.

Side note: any similarities between these shows is purely coincidental. Each was written independently, and the fact most makes use of much of the same cast is a reflection of both New Zealand’s shallow talent pool and our own paucity of bad ideas. Enough preamble – to the pitches…

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Toby Manhire’s…

The Bella Henry Show

As anyone paying the flimsiest bit of attention will tell you, the broadcasting highlight of 2014 appeared like some heaven-sent apparition on the Paul Henry Show about midway through the election campaign. Suddenly there was Bella, the host’s daughter, reflecting on the impact of Whale Oil on the election.

“I don’t know if it’s the actual whale being killed for the whale oil or if it’s just oil in the sea that whales are around,” said Bella. “But, yeah, you know, don’t kill whales. But then you know we need our oil, so it’s kind of just like don’t kill the whales, but if it’s oil in the water, you know, scooch the whales over a little bit.”

By some distance, this was the definitive analysis of the campaign. Plainly, Bella must have her own show. The Bella Henry Show (her actual name is Bella Hopes but never mind that) will be hosted by Bella Henry-Show alongside her father and mentor, Paul Henry-Show, and his sidekick/mother Mrs Henry-Show.

The half-hour programme will open nightly with “It’s Bellamentary”, in which Bella, garnished with a Sherlock Holmes pipe and hunting cap, solves topical problems such as climate change and what to wear to your work Christmas Party.

She will be joined every evening by leading political commentators Paul Henry-Show and John Key to pundit the bejesus out of the day’s current affairs highlights (The Paul Henry-Show Multi-Platform Breakfast Engorgement) and lowlights (Campbell Live).

There will be no need for a news bulletin in The Bella Henry Show, but Janika ter Ellen will nevertheless be required to take her place in the studio for a weekly 10-minute item consisting solely of Paul Henry-Show saying creepy things to her.

A major new weekly feature, ‘Puffed Up Little Shits’, will see public figures strapped to public art around Wellington while aggressive freestyle accapella rap is performed right up in their stupid faces by the 3 News politics team, Tova-Tov, Sabinator-B and Puff Paddy.

Just before the weather, Bella will catch up with All Black legend Sean Fitzpatrick as he drives the length and breadth of the country in the pink fist car from those aborted Telecom rugby world cup commercials, dispensing chocolate milk to children in need.

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Alex Casey’s…

The Gower Witching Hour

Tagline: Who’s your Paddy?

A late-night debaucherous look at the underbelly of TV3, hosted by Patrick Gower and the cast and crew of Underbelly. It’s so racy that it has an 11.30pm timeslot, and will be live nightly from that flat opposite TV3 that has the cardboard Wayne’s World heads in the window.

It’s off the rails, it’s lo-fi, it’s edgy. Segments include ‘Olive the Nightlife’, where Paul Henry’s elderly mother reports Jesse Peach-style from the hottest Ponsonby bars. ‘Let’s get Seedy’ is a 15 minute long seed-tasting hosted by David Farrier’s bird Keith. ‘Shark Tank’ is a fast-paced pitching segment for new infomercial products, hosted by Suzanne Paul, and filmed entirely in a shark tank.

The opening episode is a giant rager held on the roof of TV3 and sponsored by the winning combo of Georgie Pie and Bunnings Warehouse. Dominic Bowden drunkenly host a limbo competition (he is the pole), Bella Henry gives free makeovers to stray cats and dogs and boy does Chopper do a lot of loud swearing! All the while John Campbell is curled up with some warm milk downstairs at Grano.

The first episode single-handedly eats up the entire Mediaworks budget, Bella Henry’s mascara-wearing stray cat eats David Farrier’s bird and Suzanne Paul gets eaten by a shark whilst demonstrating an underwater Roomba. Panic-stricken and cash poor, TV3 quickly resorts to a live feed of the night vision cameras at The Block in the style of Big Brother: Uncut. It’s a ratings smash. You won’t believe what Jo and Damo get up to in those costumes…

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Joseph Harper’s…

Paul Henry (After Dark)

It’s obvious, isn’t it? Paul Henry needs to be on in the morning and at night. Listen, I understand that since Big Paul is slipping into the Breakfast slot, instinctively it seems necessary to take him away from the late-night line-up. But honestly, I feel like in doing so you’re pissing away ratings and money and all the great shit that comes hand in hand with the greatest demographic of all: the demographic that gets a hard-on when when they come eye to eye with the sniggering overlord of our ‘fourth estate’.

The smart way to fill this vacuum is with the man who created it when he farted his way back from Australia. Paul Henry is the bookend this media outlet – and this nation – needs.

What I’m envisioning is a Big Brother type voyeurist spectacular. We get it all. Paul eating dinner! Paul taking showers! Paul reading books! Paul watching Paul on TV! Paul taking shits! Maybe even (god-willing) exclusive Paul Henry boudoir shots!

I get that Paulie will probably get a bit tired, and it’s a real possibility that he’ll burn out and have to retire from the airwaves completely. But let’s be honest – he’s easily replaceable. It’s not like there’s any shortage of mildly racist, middle-aged white dudes with nice diction and unbelievably round heads in this country.

What goes to air isn’t important. What’s important is that we squeeze the Henry teat until it’s all out of televisual money milk.

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Duncan Greive’s…

A Taste of Keywi

While holidaying in the benign dictatorship and futuristic free market paradise that is modern Singapore recently, I watched some pretty dynamite TV. The highlight was an episode of Insight, an Australian talkshow from SBS, called ‘Like a Virgin’. It consisted of 30 or so ‘ordinary Australians’ talking about their first root.

The ‘ordinary Australians’ were a public service broadcaster’s rainbow nation vision covering basically every conceivable ‘type’ the producers could wrangle: old virgin with a goatee, girl with braces, white Aborigine, super cool gay dude etc. They earnestly discussed how they lost theirs, why they were guarding theirs with a loaded shotgun, or how they surgically re-instated them for a sizeable fee.

It was pretty riveting stuff, especially watching an amazing Zimbabwean feminist academic slowly dismantle the upsettingly cheerful obstetrician Dr Wafa Samen, who specialises in certifying hymens intact ‘for religious and cultural reasons’.

Sadly Insight, for all its fine intentions, is a ratings dog. It only pulls only 200,000-odd viewers out of as potential 20m at the grand slam 8.30pm primetime slot. That’s not going rev the engines of the bosses at MediaWorks. Instead I’m proposing a New Zealand answer to the other show I watched on that clammy, overcast night in the tropics.

It consisted of an hour’s speech from Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsieng Loong. He’s been in power since 2004, and is the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, who ruled from 1959 through 1990.

The speech was a cracker – fiery, eloquent and gesticulative. It was heavy with the kind of immutable truths only a pol who Singapore’s bizarro ‘democracy’ ensures is extremely unlikely to ever be unseated could speak. He argued persuasively for the importance of continued tolerance for immigration and counselled against relying on social media for news, instead suggesting the BBC. His flow was interrupted periodically when an anchor doing a kind of director’s commentary, solemnly praising his wisdom.

It also had an exciting and batshit patsy interview section at the end where PM Lee voiced support for, amongst other things, continued censorship in movies. To do otherwise would be insulting to the memory of soldiers who died defeating the communists. Fun stuff – the sublime battling the ridiculous is what makes Singapore great.

The speech was on MediaCorp 5, a suitably dystopian name for a government owned monopoly TV broadcaster. It’s also handily similar to MediaWorks, who as we know have a vacancy in their late night news slot.

The last election result strongly implies that we’re settling in for our own dynasty, with John and Bronagh reigning until the country is ready for Max and Mona. This is where A Taste of Keywi comes in, replacing the Paul Henry Show with something slightly less brazen. Half an hour where we can all settle in with a cuppa and let our supernaturally popular PM entertain us with a variety show like no other.

There could be a section featuring JK’s dramatic retellings of great moments from New Zealand’s history, like the All Blacks’ 1924-25 ‘Invincibles’ tour, the ‘Baby Blacks’ 1987 World Cup victory, or Fitzy leading the ABs to their first series win on South African soil in ‘96.

Many of the other elements of Henry’s program can be carried over, with talent from within Key’s cabinet. The panel discussion could span the whole political spectrum, from Steven Joyce on the right to Paula Bennett on the left (any minister with ‘social’ in their portfolio’s name qualifies as a leftie, right?).

The arts can be covered by avid reader and sneaky good writer Chris Finlayson, the prickly Joe Bennett to Key’s Leigh Hart. Maggie Barry can do some late night gardening, illuminating the veggie patch with her auburn locks and the blinding clarity of her vision.

Judith Collins could even make a comeback with a subtle twist on the popular Kia ‘9 in 10’ segment, where if you don’t pass she’ll crush your car. Maybe we could even save the nation money by having elections decided by text poll ($1.50 per, kids ask your parents who to vote for first) every Friday? There are so many possibilities.

With a Herald/Digipoll preferred PM rating solidly in the 60s, MediaWorks is assured of an audience of between 2.5-3m viewers, finally giving it a weapon to wield against TVNZ’s legacy ratings base of the elderly, infirm and ‘lost the remote in the mid-’80s’.

The show’s slight bias will have its critics, but they could be placated by giving up the 11.30 slot to an reality show covering Labour’s endless leadership challenges called My Caucus Rules. Everyone wins!

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Henry Oliver’s…

The Henry Henry Show

Tagline: This’ll Do, Right?

Host: Me, Henry Oliver. Why? Because my name is Henry and Paul Henry’s name was Henry (get it?) and, well, just because…

Younger Female Co-Host That Casually and Hilariously Disagrees With Me: Pebbles Hooper

Band Leader Who Raps With Pebbles and Me (adding an innovative twist to the US late-night staple): Emily Littler (solo w/ drum machine)

Vox Pop Reporter: Roberta Stewart

Third Man: Revolving cast of U Live to keep them on low-cost but restrictive MediaWorks contracts

Millennials Commentator: To Be Frankie

Music Commentator: Simon Sweetman

Books Commentator: Cameron Slater

Media Commentator: Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury

Film Commentator: That guy that freaked out when New Zealand critics gave his New Zealand film bad reviews

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Joseph Moore’s…

YouTube House Party

A televised version of the part of every house party where someone puts on a YouTube video and then everyone stands around a small laptop screen half watching some videos from the last few years.

The show will be a panel format, co-hosted by David Farrier and a CGI talking computer. Like the penguin from Squirt. But a computer. They will be surrounded by a small semi-drunk rabble of Mediaworks demi-celebrities who crowd around one laptop and yell “ooh ooh have you seen this one” as they type furiously in the search bar between the videos. You’d think that the show would show these videos in full, but it doesn’t, a camera just films the screen from behind about 10 of the celebrities because that is as good a view as the camera can get. Farrier awards points to the contestants for choosing good videos that no one has seen and that justify hijacking the party’s iPod cable.

Points taken off the celebrities for:

– Wiggling the mouse during a video to see how much time is left.

– Watching the other people to see if they are laughing at the bit you think is funny.

– Something you made yourself.

– Spending about 5 minutes and 30 different search terms looking for a video whilst going “aargh, why can’t I find it, it’s so funny!”

At the end of every show, David Farrier chooses a winner and they get $1000 and a cameo on that week’s Jono and Ben at Ten, whilst Farrier sings the original theme song over the end credits: “TV, it’s just the Internet Now”.

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