I couldn’t help it. I saw the promo for the TV One sports quiz show Game of Two Halves [GoTH] on Friday evening and decided to tune in. I thought I should take a look at the programme that was previously hosted/moderated by suspended presenter Tony Veitch.
The promos were a big tease.
In the first promo, fronted by the show’s star performers, Marc Ellis and Matthew Ridge, was the promise to tackle the big question of the week in sport – but it wasn’t “Does Tony Veitch have a future?”, it was a lame joke about the All Blacks test against the Springboks. It ended with a female v/o: “The lads go wild about sports.”
The second promo in the next ad break was worse (in a sense). It was a similar format, but this time the “question” was about netball. Who would win he weekend semi-final between the Swifts and in Marc Ellis’s words: “those other birds” . The tag line voice over had been changed: “The lads go nutty about sport.”
indeed, the lads are “nutty”. they’re also reasonably offensive, childish, violent, sexist, homophobic and totally not funny.
Honestly, I can’t believe that TVNZ would tolerate the inane and loutish behaviour of these so-called stars, but that’s not the real issue here [I'll come back to it though].
Given the controversy around the Tony Veitch’s alleged assault on his former girlfriend and his suspension from TVNZ and the Radio Network, It was obvious he wouldn’t front GoTH, but how would the programme deal with the biggest story of the week – the suspension of their mate and co-host from his high-flying media career?
It was a legitimate question given the fact that Veitch’s mate and GoTH sidekick Matthew Ridge had come out in the Dominion Post condemning the assault that morning (Friday).
Matthew Ridge says Tony Veitch’s assault of a former partner is despicable and he may not want to appear on Game of Two Halves with him.
Ridge, who appears on the sports quiz show alongside Veitch, said the assault on Kristin Dunne-Powell sounded “pretty horrific” and inexcusable.
“It’s despicable. I’ve never been one to condone violence, especially violence against women.
“In my book it’s a no-no.”
This is a pretty strong statement, but the whole situation was totally ignored by Ridge and Ellis for the entire GoTH smutfest. The boys clowned around as if there was nothing unusual about the Veitch stand-in Martin Devlin being in the middle.
The biggest story of the week, one that Ridge had already involved himself in and “zip, nada, nothing”. Not a word. Instead the studio audience (perhaps the show is pre-recorded) was treated to the usual crotch-grabbing, fake mincing, sexist and infantile humour that the show is (I guess) “famous” for.
The first five minutes is some crazy free-for-all of button-pressing, interrupting, shouting mayhem that left me confused. I’m not sure that even the studio audience – predisposed to like this mush – could even follow the goings on.
In the second segment, called “Paper, scissors, rock”, two of the guest contestants – a rotating coterie of footy players past and present – had to play the kid’s game and then spell a word or name given to them by Devlin. On a table in front of the pair were two plastic hard hats and two wooden spoons. If the contestant failed to spell the word correctly their “opponent” got to bash them on the scone with the wooden spoon. Preferably on the plastic hat.
The whole thing was childish and the contestants basically appeared to be illiterate. One even resorted to spelling with his hands, mouthing the letters silently to himself as he tried to work out the spelling of a player’s name.
The whacks on the head weren’t gentle either. One guy broke his spoon over the other’s head to a round of guffaws from everyone else. If these guys are role models then the violent behaviour they’re modelling on GoTH is disgusting.
The next challenge was “Charades”. The players are given the name of a sports star and without speaking they have to portray that name to their team mates to win points. At one stage Matthew Ridge had to imitate cheesecake dancer and reality TV “personality” Hayley Holt. Ridge pulled on the front of shirt to imitate breasts. To convey the image of another female, Ridge started dry-humping the desk in front of him. The boys got the references every time.
Again the behaviours “modelled” in this segment were, at the least distasteful. I could argue they were worse, but sh*t, it’s only a game show.
In a segment where the teams had to watch a quick selection of shots on a video and then answer questions there was another crude sexual moment. One team was asked how many balls a featured tennis player in his shorts, the answer had to be three – of course.
In a segment where the players had to identify a male sports figure from a semi-naked torso shot there was a “disturbing” comment from one of the players I couldn’t identify because they were out of shot.
He implied that only a gay man would have any knowledge of the bodies of other men as a reason why he couldn’t identify the players.
One of the images was a photo of Ridge holding his crotch, dressed only in budgie smugglers. Marc Ellis knew exactly who it was and jumped up, hand on crotch, yelling “How you doing ladies?”
An inappropriate comment, I would think, in a week where the adult relations between rugby players and their adoring female fans was again in the news.
As I understand the format – and I’m not a regular viewer – the losing captain has to take a “punishment” each week. This is another violent section involving pain and sexual humiliation.
Losing captain Marc Ellis was put into a standing stocks while two others held his arms to stop him moving. The winning captain Matthew Ridge then smeared his face with a huge plateful of wasabi. Ridge then ran off the set as if anticipating some form of retaliation from Ellis.
Towards the end of the show Matthew Ridge made the off-hand comment that it had been a “tumultuous week”. Yeah Matthew, what better way for the lads to let off steam than to beat and humiliate each other, and crack some weak laddish jokes laced with sexism and homophobia.
A top night boys?
To his credit Monty Beetham looked out of place, the rest were a disgrace.
TVNZ should be as embarrassed about this travesty of a program as they appear to be about Tony Veitch’s off-air behaviour.