The Dim-Post

March 7, 2013

First thoughts on 3rd Degree, the Fourth Estate’s second new current affairs show

Filed under: media — danylmc @ 9:29 am

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.

20 Comments »

  1. At least the follow up reporting on 3rd Degree focused on what was in the stories themselves – rather than how shit it was. To that end, it was clever production – because it forced you to take sides: wheel-clamper who is just doing his job verse put upon residents and cops who justifiably overreacted to him (although this story could’ve done with some editing down). Anna Guy – does she think he did it or not… Today people will be talking about that – rather than the important stuff, like whether Guyon should stand behind a table or if the 1 camera should be tighter in. Tune in next week.

    Comment by Bill Engrish — March 7, 2013 @ 9:45 am

  2. The fact that I didn’t even know TV3 was launching a new “current affairs” show indicates how little of my news I take seriously I now get from TV. I still find myself watching the 6pm news out of habit and the vain hope that one day they won’t run with a murder, a car crash, a sentencing and an unusual weather pattern in Nelson as their first four stories. But I don’t take TV news seriously anymore, lest of all the Gowers, Espiners, and Garners. Nowadays, I rely on the internet – everything from wired to the Atlantic Monthly via Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair for magazines, to the Guardian, SMH, latimes, and the good old daily mail and Torygraph.

    But NZ TV “news and current affairs?” Nah. If I wanted to watch a bunch of frantic C grade talent aping a US regional TV channel then these I can just cut out the middleman and stream the real thing direct from the internet.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 7, 2013 @ 9:48 am

  3. I caught bits and pieces of it. I agree it was a bit useless — although fortunately nothing like 7#.

    It would be good if they actually presented stories that *are* controversial rather than try to manufacture controversy about some non-issue. You’d think that Solid Energy hadn’t collapsed, that Mighty River wasn’t for sale, or even that the Pope hadn’t resigned, etc.

    Anna Guy, for example, is great fodder for a Greek Tragedy and will inevitably be a made-for-TV-movie. But her story is no longer news. And Stuff has stories relating to Daniel Clout dating back to 2011, and there doesn’t really seem to be any substantially new developments.

    Comment by RJL — March 7, 2013 @ 11:37 am

  4. So disappointing after some great stories on Campbell Live to which I’ve turned after leaving TVNZ in a huff because of Seven Sharp! Was the last segment when they “grilled” Anna Guy the nadir of New Zealand television? And the conclusions Garner and Espiner came to about the police in NP? Gawd.

    Comment by Maura — March 7, 2013 @ 11:54 am

  5. So “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.” He has a contract with a number of car parks, from owners of _private_ property where people have parked with impunity without permission, and he does the job he has been hired to do … and that justifies the abuse he gets? NO!

    And I happened to agree with G and E that IF he was acting illegally then he should have been charged. Instead, the police KNEW he wasn’t acting illegally but said he was so that people felt free to abuse him even more. Not good.

    That said, I was not impressed by 3rd Degree. It seemed like 60 Minutes warmed over. (And no I am not simply echoing the Herald review from today – I actually made that very comment to a friend who was over watching it last night.) And I agree that the Guy ‘item’ was another example of ‘fluff’ TV.

    Comment by David in Christchurch — March 7, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

  6. Sorry to be pedantic, but…

    “… accused of murdering her brother, who is also now a ‘journalist’ for 3rd Degree.”

    No, he’s not; he’s dead.

    Comment by fibby — March 7, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

  7. “The fact that I didn’t even know TV3 was launching a new “current affairs” show indicates how little of my news I take seriously I now get from TV.” Snap.

    I happened to be home the other day and watched the 6pm news for the first time in about three years. I couldn’t believe that a naval rating being court marshalled for peeping was a national news item. Due to the publicity, I suspect the guy (dirty little perv that he is) will end up topping himself. Well done TV3. All the decent stuff was on Campbell: prison labour replacing workers, real-dodgy lease-to-buy car loans.

    (Oh and Sanc: that “unusual weather pattern in Nelson ” is an important part of the CAGW narrative, get with the programme. Your Guardian is: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2011/nov/25/clues-climate-email-hackers-message don’t forget to read the comments, they’re priceless!)

    Comment by Clunking Fist — March 7, 2013 @ 1:14 pm

  8. Anna Guy was singing along to the radio in her car, we saw her from the side, then in the rear-view mirror, then from the rear seat, just like a you-go-girl scene from last week’s chick flick. The nation’s female audience was spell-bound.

    Next week, brave Jen kicks her new man to the curb.

    Comment by Aztec — March 7, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

  9. Anna Guy was singing along to the radio in her car…

    Was the show hard hitting enough to ensure that there was a 30s album tie-in slot and/or ad for next week’s chick flick during the next ad break?

    Comment by Gregor W — March 7, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

  10. How many words did Duncan utter? A few sentences? Radio NZ described the show (before it aired) as two top journalists debating either side of an issue. It certainly wasn’t that. But… the clamping story was golden huh. I loved every minute of it.

    Comment by Sittingbull — March 7, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

  11. but did anyone see the promo and go “oh good – some real current affairs – at last!” – it pretty much spelled out the show was going to be crap

    Loved the bit where duncan garner was criticizing the cop – and pointing at the camera at the same time. “See you mr policeman! Yes you! im pointing at you! Bad cop! Bad!”

    honestly – i was like charlie brooker had taken control and the whole thing was satire

    Comment by framu — March 7, 2013 @ 2:56 pm

  12. Surely no one believes that TV current affairs programmes and news broadcasts are created with any motive other than light entertainment. It isn’t news, it is how people FEEL about the news that counts. Endless interviews with victims of crime and their families ( “How do you FEEL about the sentence…?”), witnesses of traumatic events (“How did you feel when you saw the train coming…?”). There is a seriously up-himself parking Nazi in New Plymouth, but let’s not look into who owns the parking lot, who profits from this 40 minute parking scam etc. Instead if we could show some footage of an old lady spitting and swinging her handbag…that’s the money shot right there.

    I hesitate to recommend a right-wing author such as Theodore Dalrymple to this blog but “Spoilt Rotten: The Toxic Cult of Sentimentality” is well worth reading.

    Comment by PPCM — March 7, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

  13. Dalrymple is more conservative fuddy-duddy than modern right-wing really.

    Irrespective, he’s a terrific essayist.
    I always picture him seated in a wingback Churchill-like, scotch in hand, masticating a pipe, roaring out monographs to a harried secretary.

    Comment by Gregor W — March 7, 2013 @ 4:06 pm

  14. Loathe as I am to agree with Sanc, I agree. I divorced myself from TV news long ago, but I still read blogs, so the only way I ever hear about the new Current Affairs Show That Is Going To Revolutionise Political TV In New Zealand (it seems like there’s a new one every couple of years) is from disappointed reviews from bloggers.

    Seriously, I didn’t even know who Paul Henry was until people started to complain about him online.

    Comment by Hugh — March 7, 2013 @ 4:52 pm

  15. Garner and Espiner? Are they an aspiring “comedy” duo?

    Comment by peterlepaysan — March 7, 2013 @ 8:14 pm

  16. @Gregor W

    I am not sure either of us is right really. His pseudonym may suggest a “fuddy duddy” but as a retired psychiatrist and prison doctor his viewpoint on liberalism is always thought provoking.

    Mind you, visiting NZ as a guest on the Sensible Sentencing Trust is hardly a character reference, hence my hesitation to recommend him.

    Comment by PPCM — March 7, 2013 @ 8:51 pm

  17. Here’s a story – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10870637 – Clearly, John has had dinner with the relevant press secretary and is now dutifully prepping the public for the excuse making on why there will be no surplus before 2014 after all.

    Wonder if they’ll be sniffing around this story on 3rd degree, or just sniffing around Anna Guy’s undies?

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 12, 2013 @ 2:51 pm

  18. Do they reenact a murder on every show, or just on special occasions? I haven’t watched it yet, and I’d like to know.

    Comment by George D — March 12, 2013 @ 7:44 pm

  19. Thanks for the link, Danyl. That Tonu character sounds like a prize moron.He parks for 40 minutes (the limit) and then moves his car only to park in exactly the same spot a few minutes later! Yeah that will get you clamped every time.🙂 But you’d rather defend this idiot and attack the wheel clamper, at the same time ignoring police misconduct…

    Comment by Ross — March 13, 2013 @ 11:15 am

  20. > And the conclusions Garner and Espiner came to about the police in NP? Gawd.

    Maura, so when the top cop in NP said: “Let’s hope it’s not you that’s getting the life kicked out of him… let’s hope it’s not you getting the shit beaten out of him for clamping a car and we can’t turn up because somebody else is…”, you thought that was policing at its finest?🙂

    Comment by Ross — March 13, 2013 @ 11:20 am


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