If Seven Sharp had an episode like the debut of 3rd Degree it would be an unqualified triumph. Hidden cameras! Spitting grannies! Cops acting like jerks! Anna Guy! Anna Guy’s kids! Anna Guy has a new love! Anna Guy interviews her own parents! Completely brilliant light entertainment journalism.
Unfortunately 3rd Degree wasn’t marketed like that. Here’s the promo ad again. The premise was that Garner and Espiner – two of our most celebrated political journalists – were going to ask the tough questions and chase the real stories that other journalists were afraid to touch. They were going to dig deep. They were going to take flak. They weren’t going to let anyone off the hook!
Instead we got an amusing but confusing story about Daniel Clout, a wheel clamper in New Plymouth who filmed himself getting abused and assaulted by his victims, and who had an adversarial relationship with the New Plymouth police. But the story didn’t adequately explain where Clout took his mandate from to run around putting his clamps on cars and charging $150 dollars to remove them. Searching for Clout’s name reveals stories like this one, in which we learn that he’s contracted by the owner of the car-park, but that said car-park has a forty-minute time limit for public parking, and Clout clamps people who exceed that and charges them $150, which goes a long way towards explaining why people abuse him and spit on him and why the local police are less than sympathetic towards him.
This was followed by Anna Guy, whose estranged husband was accused of murdering her brother, who is also now a ‘journalist’ for 3rd Degree. The dubious ethics of the piece seemed like a clumsy attempt to generate controversy, and maybe it would have been controversial if it wasn’t awesomely boring. The show ended with Anna Guy spending about ninety seconds ‘in the hot seat’ getting ‘the third degree’ from Garner and Espiner, who elicited nothing from her. Hopefully future episodes figure out what to do with the show’s hosts.