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Pop CultureFebruary 13, 2017

Key learnings from the first episode of The AM Show


The Spinoff watched and listened to the first episode of The AM Show, Three’s new offering to the multi-platform breakfast news buffet. Here’s what we reckon. 

It’s bright. Maybe too bright. 

With the telly roaring to life at the fragile time of 5.58am to a visual feast of bright red dresses, searing hot pinks and scorching orange, my eyes simply had no chance at staying open unless I Clockwork Orange’d myself. Someone at Three has gone rogue in the graphics department, lathering on the neon hues and toggling the contrast bar up to 11. With both eyeballs now firmly in the dry and cloudy category of ‘Sultana’, I would like to start a petition for all television to be in black and white before 9am. Just like our forefathers enjoyed. / Alex Casey

How colours look before 9am
How colours look after 9am

The banter balance hangs with Mark

Whether The AM Show achieves anything like greatness hinges on Mark Richardson. Duncan Garner and Amanda Gillies are both proficient broadcasters; they’ll make for amiable breakfast companions. My sense is that Richardson, however, in his rapport with other two, will either be brilliant or terrible. And I base this preliminary conclusion on research: 20 minutes’ listening to the RadioLive simulcast, interrupted only by an argument with my son about whether or not his muesli tasted of peanut butter sandwiches.

When Richardson launched into a spiel offering a two-birds-one-stone remedy to the housing and refugee problems – billeting was his idea – you could smell the apprehension from his co-hosts. What was he going to say? That’s why he’s there: Richardson has a bit of the Paul-Henry-ish vainglorious blather; as with Henry you’re often unsure whether that’s his tongue in his cheek or something else altogether. Or, to put it another way, you’d never stick Richardson alongside Henry, but he offers a mischief foil for Garner, albeit an untypical cheeky-chappy: very-dull-cricketer-turned-excellent-commentator-turned-dad-guy-on-The-Block, Richardson is a seam-welded amalgam of smartarse teenager and cantankerous geriatric.

It’s probably only a matter of time until Richardson says something outrageous, and that’ll no doubt help with ratings. But whether or not the back-and-forth, the quips, the – yes, I’m going to say it – the banter can match the exchanges that Andrew Mulligan or Hayley Holt managed up against Richardson night after night on The Crowd Goes Wild is a whole lot trickier. / Toby Manhire

There were some truly amazing early-morning revelations

Aside from tackling big issues – housing, the Muslim ban, where to put all the dead whales – there were some incredible personal reveals this morning. Duncan Garner went to Beyonce but spent more time at the bar than in the concert. Mark Richardson owns a jet ski. Amanda Gillies can’t afford to buy a house. Sweet Jesus, we’re all fucked. / AC

Social media is out of the bunker, but not out of the woods

When Paul Henry debuted it was a pioneering product – on TV, on radio, on the internet. It also debuted ‘the social media bunker’, a little set which could be thrown to every day to keep up with what happens on Facebook and that. And, despite good and able talent staffing it, the segment has never really worked. Social media became the place where everyone hung out, what was popular on social media long ago became the same as what was making the news. Even more so after the news started taking many of its stories from social media. 

The fusing of social media with traditional media has meant that the throws to Perlina/Verity/Aziz/whoever have felt increasingly forced and desperate. It’s often a lame mix of celebrity stories, viral vids and memes which both misrepresent what social media has become and also posits social media as this strange world which is somehow different from real life. It’s a bummer with all that’s been changed about The AM Show, the social media role (if not the bunker itself) has also come across too. / Duncan Greive

Fancy guests get the BIG MUGS

Celebrity guest Rick Hoffman from Suits came in for an interview, and his big ol plain mug was… truly Litt. / AC

The NZ Herald changed its mind

There are still quite a lot of questions to be answered

Questions pondered while listening to a little bit of The AM Show, the first commercial radio morning show I’ve listened to in many, many years:

After some probably award-winning journalism from this very publication about whether Duncan Garner is Norman Bates-ing Paul Henry with his half-buttoned pink shirt and summery blazer (can’t tell if it’s a suit if you can’t see his pants, though I assume he’s wearing light-blue Seersucker shorts under the desk), I couldn’t help but wonder – is his voice becoming more Henry-esque too, or is that just the chatty cadence of non-RNZ morning radio, with its combination of journalist elitism and ratings-driven populism?

How do people sit through so many ads? Haven’t they heard of podcasts? Everyone’s got smartphones, right? Don’t they want to curate their own media environment/bubble?

And why do all the ads, no matter what they’re for, alternate between sounding like a huckster selling off-the-back-of-a-truck discount mattresses and escort services? Why did an ad for high-endish designer furniture sound like the massage parlour ads I used to hear on Radio Hauraki when I briefly worked as a labourer 10 years ago?

Did anyone else, while listening to Duncan Garner question whether abstinence is actually better than responsible moderation, think of this SteveBraunias profile of Garner*, wherein the two drunk numerous bottles of red wine while Garner talked shit about people?

To what extent – and I asked myself this question with painful earnestness – is The AM Show a reflection of “Middle New Zealand” or “Real New Zealand”? Are these the actual concerns and interests of most (or even many) New Zealanders? Do people give a shit about this shit or is this just a soundtrack to people checking their phones and putting on makeup while sitting in traffic? / Henry Oliver

Don Rowe has had enough already

It was bitching vs banter and beersies vs boring in the last 20 minutes of The AM Show this morning. Garner ripped Richardson, some lady talked about not boozing in front of the kids, and Amanda said pretty much nothing. “See you in the AM, tomorrow,” quipped Garner. See you never, say I. / Don Rowe

*It’s real funny and good and you should read it if the Jan/Feb 2014 issue of Metro is on your dentist’s waiting room coffee table.

The AM Show premieres 6am on +HR=E and simulcast online and on RadioLIVE

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