The Project: Yeah or Nah?

Current Affairs shows have been a huge subject of change over the last few years at Mediaworks. After the end of long-running Campbell Live and the quick dismissal of Story, I thought I’d go take a look at the new 7pm show on Three, The Project.

With a comedian, a weathergirl, and a fairly lousy anchor-man, I did not know what to expect from the exported show from Australia. The Project is meant to be a serious, yet funny take on the news of the day. But I felt it was more a news show with a few dry jokes put in there to try fulfil the show’s hollow potential. Maybe it’s the format, maybe it’s the presenters, and maybe it’s just new territory for everyone involved. With these questions in mind, I did a bit of research.

The Project is an Australian show originally, beginning in 2009, and as I found out, it too had a slow and rough beginning. Its viewer figures were well under expected for the first few years of the show, but in the last few seasons, they have reached figures of up to 700,000 viewers in a night. This does give some hope to the New Zealand show, but with the omen of the other 7pm shows behind them, they should be worried.

So, what was it that made the show unimpressive for me? First of all, it just was not funny. Josh Thompson, who I generally love watching as a comedian in his natural habitat (not the news), just wasn’t the right fit for the show. He is awesome with satire, but being the laugh The Project needs, well, he just wasn’t right. Kanoa Lloyd, the weathergirl, struggled to present the news, and the conversation aspect was just not her thing. Many of the ‘scripting’ blunders were caused by her too, which could be nerves because of the new surroundings, but still, live TV should be a lot better, especially when you have the words right in front of you on a teleprompter. And Jesse Mulligan really is just a pretty face, let’s be honest. He wasn’t great on Seven Sharp, but he was a good image for the TVNZ ads he has done. Then again, who knows, new show — new place — it could all change within a few months and the show might be amazing.

One other thing that really bothered me was how much they were trying to pack into an hour. They had lots of little segments, not giving the guests the time they deserved to talk. I had listened to one of the guests, a music producer, earlier in the day on the afternoon radio show put on by Mediaworks, and he was fascinating. The Project didn’t give him the time of day, and his story and message was bland and fell flat on many who were watching. The guests, interviews and segments all seemed like time fillers, when really, a show like this should try and flesh out the interviews and actually make something of them, like Story and Campbell Live did.

Even though The Project might not have been the best ‘new song and dance’ first time round, I wouldn’t mind seeing how it is going in, say, three months. I believe it has real potential to be a great show, but cold feet is holding it back right now. Hopefully the producers pick up on their mistakes of the first couple of weeks, and find that winning formula to captivate the audiences, because adding a twist of comedy to the news is always going to win minds of the public when done right.