The Verdict

"It's no use everyone talking over each other!" declared Karl Stefanovic. But his panel just ignored him.


“It’s no use everyone talking over each other!” Karl Stefanovic shouted at his panelists on Nine’s first episode of The Verdict.

While the audience applauded and social media had already dubbed it Q & A for bogans, the host’s advice fell on deaf ears.

The six panelists, seemingly inadequately briefed on the process, just carried on with their robust opinions. They had been hired to provoke reactions and that’s what they were here to do.

Former Labor Leader Mark Latham, reportedly one of the show’s regulars, linked the Muslim community in Western Sydney to welfare dependency before getting stuck into over-medication of mental illness patients. This at the same time as SBS was screening The Principal and ABC was screening Changing Minds. But bugger the context, The Verdict is in the former timeslot of The Footy Show.

Sandy Rea took issue with Latham’s gross generalisations and misinformation. Anne Henderson tried to get a word in -“Can I just say one thing?”- but was ignored. Another, counter-terrorism expert Dr. Anne Aly, vanished entirely (and not even during a commercial break).

Other opinions had a swipe at the entire state of Tasmania (“We’ll cut that bit out” joked Stefanovic), Donald Trump, domestic violence, and banning profile visitors from entering Australia.

At one stage the audience was even laughing at the stupidity of the panel shouting over one another. Stefanovic doubtless was getting directives in his earpiece to moderate, moderate, moderate when he could hear through the mire. Tony Jones was probably making a nice cup of tea somewhere.

The format of the show included a 1 on 1 interview with panelist Jacqui Lambie who, when not chest-thumping about her concept of patriotism, at least delivered some news about the measures her office has had to take following death threats. It was the first bit of “news” The Verdict had offered.

There was an editorial from Latham -as if we hadn’t had enough already- and a pre-recorded interview with US anti-abortion campaigner Troy Newman.

As if by way of some sort of footnote there were the sum total of two audience questions delivered at a podium. These were good questions but elicited a single response, with Stefanovic conceding one would be better addressed in subsequent episodes. Ahh the constraints of commercial TV…. this segment needs more time and more dialogue between panel and audience.

The final segment of The Verdict, in which panelists delivered their “verdict” on the night’s hot topics was confusing. After the host asked a question backdrop panels lit up in either red or green, suggesting affirmative or negative responses. It would benefit from a clear question super-imposed on the screen if this is continued.

While the show is obviously seeking to distance itself from comparisons with Q & A, other panel shows such as The Project, Studio 10, The Drum or just about anything on SKY TV manage to respect an exchange of opinions without it digressing into something between TV Ringside and Beauty & the Beast.

Heck, even many of the election nights that Karl has hosted allow for free-wheeling opinions that the viewer can follow.

The first episode struck me as the result of Nine’s desire to wave a red flag as quickly as possible. It needs more rehearsal, more respect and more time to work out what it is.

The Verdict airs 8:30pm Thursdays on Nine.


15 Responses

  1. I, for one, actually enjoyed it. It was great watching everybody get stuck in, and I found the absence of a moderator who silences all whom he disagrees with refreshing. Definitely had its flaws, but am hoping to see it become more polished in time…

  2. The funniest thing I saw all on TV this week was a promo for this show; ….. “great minds” ….. hosted by Karl! They couldn’t have written anything more funny if they had tried! But it still wasn’t enough to make me want to watch and by all accounts, I didn’t miss much.

  3. Stefanovic, get this into your head, you will never ever be a Mike Moore. Got it. Never ever.
    His control of Frontlines talk rants are now legendary.

  4. I’m just going to reiterate what everyone else said – the show was a near-complete mess. There were few moments of sanity and even when they happened, things quickly dissolved into a incomprehensible talk-fest. The fact it was pretty much a copy of Q&A (minus the audience questions) makes me question what Nine were thinking commissioning this. Making things even more awkward were the constant clapping from the tiny studio audience which was so small, the camera had to do closeups to make it look like more people were there than actually were. It sure makes you realise how slick and professional even the worst episodes of Q&A actually are.

  5. David, I am really very sorry that you felt that you had to sit thru the entire show. Usually, when people are given a sh!t sandwich, they don’t eat the whole thing.

  6. Thankfully I was on late shift this week and reading this article (thanks David) it doesn’t appear I’ve missed anything of relevance. As I see it, just more noise. My sympathies to David’s ears for having to endure it. Get well soon.

  7. Well Karl is known for his uneducated opinions, so the show followed suit. Mark Latham just proved that there is no connection between his mouth and brain. Listening to Lambie compares to getting a tooth drilled in enjoyment and apparently there were 5 other mouth horns which I didn’t hear much from before another commercial break broke any momentum of a discussion. I finished feeling the whole show is just to prove Karl’s ego.

  8. Just read review in SMH, the writer called it a ‘stinking mess’ and said it was as like Q and A as a goldfish is to a labradoddle. No chance I was ever going to watch it anyway given it has Stefanovic as host and Latham as a panel member.

  9. Watched it. Too much talking over the top of each other. The blonde woman annoyed me.
    Latham is a arrogant racist.
    The show tried to cover too many topics.
    And biggest criticism!! It needs to be Live! Not pretend live!

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