Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

Pop CultureAugust 25, 2021

The 1pm Daily Update is back, and the IMDB reviews are in

Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

One of the biggest local series of 2020 returned unexpectedly last week, and early reviews suggest the 2021 season might be the most popular yet.

Lockdown is back, and where should we turn amid all the chaos and worry? Why, IMDB of course, the online database that lets viewers write reviews of their favourite television shows and movies, including the 1pm daily Beehive press conference.

Just as in 2020, viewers have taken to IMDB to review 1pm Daily Update like it’s the latest blockbuster television series. The afternoon press conference is no longer just a delivery of information about the government response to the Covid-19 outbreak, but a must-see thriller that pulsates with unexpected cliffhangers and emotional moments. It’s the drama we all need in our lives, despite it already being very much in our lives.

I mean, can you imagine what David E. Kelley and Nicole Kidman could do with a synopsis like this:

“Set in a dystopian world where autocratic and populist leaders are in charge of the USA, China, UK, Brazil and many other nations. 1pm Daily Update takes place in the imaginary island nation of New Zealand, a utopian society where science, facts, strong leadership and a genuine care for its people and environment take precedence over money and big business.”

As of 24 August, 1pm Daily Update has 246 viewer reviews on IMDB, and while only 22 episodes are listed on the site, the most recent ‘Genome Sequencing’ episode sounds like an absolute cracker.  “A potential genomic source is revealed – but there is still no firm link to the border for the expanding cluster. Meanwhile, a new group becomes eligible for the vaccine as calls grow for the South Island lockdown to end.”

Alert the Emmys, the Tonys, the Ashleys and the Carolines. Based on these IMDB reviews, 1pm Daily Update is destined to win every award, and why not, with stars like The Team of 5 Million and someone called Jacinda Ardern? It may leave a one o’clock-shaped hole in our hearts when the season eventually ends, but fear not. IMDB also has suggestions for similar shows to watch after lockdown, like New Zealand Today, Creamerie, and of course, James Acaster: Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999.

Whatever your meat emotion this lockdown, The 1pm Daily Briefing is the show that traverses genres, boundaries and surfaces. The newest season might be the tensest yet, but the reviews are rolling in.

“The introduction of the new villian, Delta, really revived the franchise,” said this reviewer. Ten stars is an outstanding rating for such a low budget production, so we tip our face shields to this brave underdog of daytime television.

“As usual, the latest season started with a hiss and a roar, gripping viewers in an incredibly taut thriller (no spoilers),” says this reviewer, who goes on to praise the “increased comedic banter” between Ashley Bloomfield and Chris Hipkins. “Their sometimes saucy and amusing dialogue adds soem real hilarity to what could have been a grim season. The entire series actually benefits from a lighter tone all round.” Good to know an accidental “leg spread” gag never goes out of style.

“I’ve totally caught the 1pm Update bug,” this reviewer proudly declared. “At work, everyone stops at 1pm and we gather around a computer monitor or mobile screen to watch.” They reckon it’s better than the Olympics, a bold claim given nobody on screen is wearing lycra or crying during the national anthem.

But it does seem the 1pm Daily Update is the latest show to unite the nation, bringing us together at a time and place like no other TV show this year. It’s the modern-day equivalent of Telethon, but with fewer whistling tummies and nobody but me singing ‘Thank You Very Much For Your Kind Vaccination” in a conga line of one around the lounge. Introverts around the country can feel vindicated by the show’s popularity, proving once and for all that you don’t need to leave the house to have a lovely time.

“Season 3 has it all, I especially love the detective-style twists and plots we’ve had so far. Hopefully this will be a short and sweet season,” said this reviewer. Just like I don’t know if I’m on my second breakfast or my fifth lunch during lockdown, many reviewers are unsure if this is the second, third or fourth season of the 1pm Daily Update. It’s fine, details aren’t important with this show, unless you’re the director general of health.

“I watched season one of the UK version, which was pretty tense and mostly just horror, with no story lines which made no sense at all,” said this mystified reviewer. “I love how the NZ version has a very clear path, and has a bit of a CSI feel to it.” Often when New Zealand adapts an international reality TV series the result is markedly inferior, so yay us, bloody smashing it on the government televised communication strategy front. Never been prouder.

Not all reviewers have enjoyed the revival of 1pm Daily Update. “Borderline unwatchable drivel headed by two increasingly irritating leads,” says one, referring to the show’s “awful” pacing and suggesting viewer time would be better spent “mastering the arts of self-pleasure”.  “Much of the plot lines are the same as the first season,” complains another. Perhaps the series should have taken a leaf out of the Melody Rules handbook and finished after a single season, but when has a virus ever listened to common sense? Almost never, Dr Watson for Windows 2000.

“Most emotional show I’ve seen all year. A must see,” said this reviewer. The results are in, so grab a tissue for your issue and see you at 1pm, New Zealand.


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