Farewell to Spinoff, bound­ary-push­ing TV that should have been sup­ported

Taranaki Daily News - - Entertainment - Glenn McCon­nell

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.

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