Channel Seven took a risk with Roy and HG for the Olympics and it worked so they tried it again with the election coverage and it worked again.

In the event, “The Nation Dumps” worked surprisingly well. One key may have been that all egos seem to have been checked at the door.

Highlight of the night was undoubtedly Roy’s 10pm launch of the Seven dirigible a helium filled 1.5 metre toy airship which was sent sailing across the tally room in the direction of rival broadcasters. Sure enough, a quick channel change revealed the dirigible floating ominously behind Kerry O’Brien’s oblivious head to the accompaniment of uproarious and unexplained tally room laughter which appeared to leave ABC electoral analyst Antony Green quite rattled.

The dirigible lasted just ten minutes before a roving sound recordist used the sharp end of a microphone boom pole to deliver a Hindenburg-style end to the venture.

Other dirigibles spotted in the tally room during the election telecast included Nine’s Sphere of Influence, Laurie Oakes, and Amanda Vanstone.

The latter spent much of the evening on HG & Roy’s panel, and distinguished herself with a completely brainless defence of Peter Reith’s role in the Telecard Affair, which basically revolved around what a good bloke Wreathie was to actually repay the 50k considering the fraud hadn’t been brought to his attention for five years. Incredible.

Speaking of Wreathie, his impending retirement afforded him a carefree aura and the latitude to gleefully needle less fortunate former colleagues from the other side of politics. His contribution was hard not to enjoy. His playful demeanour was tested only twice first, as the Coalition surged toward victory, when someone asked him whether his decision to get out of politics was now looking, in hindsight, a little hasty; then second when his Seven panel colleague Lindsay Tanner raised the spectre of the asylum seekers, hissing, “Tell us about the video!”

The overall quality of the Seven telecast was patchy. Play-ons from commercial breaks comprised the pollies’ most embarrassing and inept televisual moments of the campaign. This was good. The tally room content was broken up with short, pre-recorded (and poorly edited) studio interviews conducted by 7’s Sydney sports poppet Kylie Gillies. These were not good. They were meant to be amusing but turned out to be irrelevant, puzzling, and embarrassing comedy spots devised by a writer devoid of humour.

When it came to graphics, Seven’s were less fancy but far more comprehensible than Nine’s. Nine’s stats screens were way too busy, changed too quickly, and their numerical tally of “Seats Won” rose, then dropped, then rose again appearing to indicate that seats were won, then lost, then won again in the space of minutes.

HG & Roy’s examination of individual seats included a “Bludger Rating” calculated according to the perceived industriousness of the incumbent. And their “State Of The House” analysis was instead dubbed “Bums On Seats.”

Other highlights:

– HG’s claim that the Tasmanian seat of Bass was “named after the bloody big fish that lurks down there.”

– The bizarre live crosses to Mad Bob Katter and Cheryl Kernot, both of whom appeared to be delirious, but for different reasons.

– Roy’s description of the Nationals’ loss of Tim Fischer’s former seat of Farrer to the Libs as “a boot to the date of John Anderson.”

– Beazley’s concession the best, most statesmanlike political speech I’ve heard in years

– Howard’s victory speech: fine, if somewhat familiar by now but we could have done without the revolting Lady Hyacinth grinning like a split watermelon at his elbow

– Glenn Milne’s greying thatch, and spectacles, perched on the end of his nose, which combined to give him the appearance of a schoolmasterly Pepe Le Pew.

– The total absence, as far as I’m aware, of Pauline Hanson

– Roy’s early prediction of Labor by 27 seats

– North Qld MP De-Anne Kelly’s criticism of “political elites” from “down south” and HG’s endorsement of her comments: “Those ELITES! They’re writing letters to newspapers, they’re speaking out of turn. Anyone with a high school education should be weeded out and SHOT! They’re BAGGAGE!”

The telecast overall: 7 out of 10.

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