Farewell to Spinoff, boundary-pushing TV that should have been supported
Here marks the end of The Spinoff TV. It was 15 weeks old. The show arrived on our televisions with much fanfare and little support on June 22.
The news story announcing the selfacknowledged hypocrites’ own television show read: ‘‘Two years ago, we declared ‘Good news: TV is dead’. It turns out we were perhaps premature.’’ Friday, October 5, marked the end of The Spinoff TV for
2018 – and probably forever. Its content, reasonable funding and general existence, now fodder for angry critics.
As for the funding: NZ On Air paid $698,947 for 16 of the shows, which cost about $107,606 per hour of television (plus onlineonly video).
By comparison, Design Junkies got $799,352 for six 44-minute shows – which meant taxpayers paid $181,670 for each hour of the junk-based game show. The heavily commercial Jono and Ben – which sometimes feels like one long primetime advert for Hallensteins – was given $1,717,042 for 26 shows ($90,055 an hour).
The difference being, The Spinoff TV served a purpose. It wasn’t just another game or talk show. It was an experimental programme that served a public good, and wouldn’t survive without funding. But if the state agency forks out for a second series, it will almost certainly face the full force of the court of public opinion.
I will miss The Spinoff TV .I will miss its genuinely funny segments, its hold-no-punches commentary and slapstick approach to late-night news.
Its main issues were horrid timing, a weird studio set up and the lingering aroma of arrogance that drew criticism early on. All of that can be fixed.
The Spinoff TV was certainly not the perfect show. That is why I loved it. It was exactly the type of content NZ On Air should be funding.
This was inventive, boundary-pushing television.
It took a while, but eventually the show started to find its groove.
Toby Manhire’s segment Good Week, Bad Week became a sure-fire hit to conclude the week. He wrapped all the previous week’s news, ridiculousness and classic Mike Hosking comments into a neat two-minute segment. Good, snackable content.
Likewise, Hayden Donnell’s
weekly reports hit the right mix of comedy, information and millennial despair. He posed questions such as: Is there a way to buy a house without being adopted by rich parents? Good, relatable questions.
The approach was so chaotic at first, it seemed the people at The Spinoff thought we would stay up late, or come home early, on a Friday night just to watch them.
That optimism would have been shortlived.
Hosking got his two cents in quickly, calling the show ‘‘crap’’ and ‘‘a waste of our money’’.
Lobbyist Jordan Williams, who formed The Taxpayers Union, said the show was ‘‘an abysmal failure’’ after it was moved from 9.45pm to 10.45pm on Fridays.
An hour difference on a Friday night... not a big deal really, especially for a digitally-focused show.
The show’s most vocal critics were those who clashed politically with the generally liberal, youth-centric, progressive voice of The Spinoff website, where reality television, feminism and the housing crisis are regular topics.
Nobody should have been surprised when Hosking and the Taxpayers Union declared they hated a show based on a website that this week published the headline: ‘‘Socialism is back, baby, and it doesn’t want your vote’’.
Still, that doesn’t mean it was bad television.
The Spinoff TV played an important and useful role in broadcasting, giving voice to an audience who laugh at the likes of Hosking, rather than nod along to his daily columns and radio rants.
That audience should be served on radio and television.
The Spinoff TV offered a counter-perspective to mainstream current affairs and television media. No other programme does this.
No other programme could do this – half of The Spinoff’s show was just laughing at the ridiculousness of broadcasters, like Hosking and his NewstalkZB mate Leighton Smith.
With the death of The Spinoff TV and the impending closure of RNZ website The Wireless, young New Zealanders are worse off.
NZ on Air has a duty to that audience – one that has proven to be hard to engage – like any other.
Just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean broadcasters and NZ On Air shouldn’t try.
They have a habit of funding projects for one season, and then cutting those shows when they’re starting to garner a following.
The fact we are even talking about a programme that aired in the dead of night on a Friday shows the potential of The Spinoff TV . Its ability to agitate alone is reason enough for it to be given another run.
Spinoff TV hosts Leonie Hayden and Alex Casey.