Super Saturday recap: Patrick Gower doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do

paddydoesntknowfeatureIt was Aotearoa’s first national day of action in over ten years, the first since 2010, when Prime Minister John Key tried to inspire us to clean up our nation’s berms. It didn’t work. Today, New Zealand’s berms are worse than ever. But history is not destiny, and other cliches.

Today, we tried again, this time for a cause almost as important, and today, it was different. Up and down the country, New Zealanders rallied to their largest local car parks to sit in queues and acquire free food for doing something they were probably going to do another day anyway.

Communities organized and executed, and as of writing, over 125,000 New Zealanders were vaccinated today, nearly 40,000 for the first time. A further 60,000 needles were dumped in letterboxes, and in tall grass and on pavement in parks and public spaces, in hopes of a further cohort inadvertently vaccinating themselves.

All in all, it appears to have been a success.

But over at TV +HR=E, a different story was playing out, a catastrophe in slow motion, as Super Saturday’s companion TV Vaxathon lurched from disaster to disaster, falling apart at the seams as presenters desperately tried to figure out what they were supposed to be doing.

As royalty free music blared over the studio’s stereos, it soon became apparent to the vaxathon’s hosts that, absent any plans, they were just some people standing around in a mostly empty studio with a makeshift chalkboard.

There was no interactive screen, no live numbers, no ticker, no non-musical acts, and no prepared questions for the often-confused guests who, without prompts, didn’t really have anything to say. For those not smart enough to pre-record a message like Lorde or Ross Taylor, deafening silence and a thinly-veiled desire to leave awaited.

“I’m prepared to answer anything,” said Dr. Bloomfield, who was asked nothing.

After just an hour and a half, the DJ began to run out of free music from premiumbeats.com. It was discussed whether +HR=E should pay a ransom of a $12 monthly subscription, but it was decided against, and the previously ubiquitous background beats were no more.

With hours to go, the hurriedly pieced together cast of the Super Saturday Vaxathon were lost, and most confused of all was +HR=E’s flagship personality, Patrick Gower, who, while deeply convicted that he ought be there, didn’t really seem to have any idea of why.

And from the start, he was set adrift like a cork in the ocean, wandering around the studio, waving his hands about, repeating words to fill time, practicing dances (with which he apparently believes “Tiktoks” are synonymous), and repeatedly reminding everyone that he smoked weed that one time.

Paddy professed that he “loves” getting double vaxxed, and that his local medical centre has asked him to please stop doing it. He very much enjoyed saying “left deltoid”, quipping “I didn’t even know I had a deltoid!”

He repeated this again, and again, for hours.

“Do you have a deltoid?” he asked in every second interaction. “I didn’t even know I had a deltoid.”

At one point, producers gathered to tell Paddy he had to figure out something to do, and reminded him he’d already told the deltoid story. After intense negotiations, it was agreed he’d tell it just one more time. He told it three more.

The guests weren’t helping either. Chris Hipkins took no more than ten seconds to begin checking his phone during his interview, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made things especially awkward when she declined to incentivize higher numbers by eating a fistful of bees, hanging upside down with her head in a bucket, or even to briefly act as the studio’s DJ.

“Clarke can do it,” she deferred, pointing to her reluctant partner, who tried to hide behind a stranger.

In the saddest moment of the day, Gayford was reluctantly dragged to the DJ equipment, where he scratched the record once, walked away, and said “that’s all you’re getting.”

All this served to highlight that, unlike most telethons, +HR=E declined to set any targets or incentives at which, if reached, something would happen. Not a single presenter or guest had promised to do anything at a certain number of vaccinations, and the only set target wasn’t even anything to do with vaccines: 10,000 Tiktok followers for Patrick Gower would unlock him “doing a Tiktok”, ie a dance.

Gower later attempted to resolve this by offering to undress, or to eat the bees himself, but both these ideas were quickly thwarted by cutting to other locations. A mostly naked Paddy was forced to spend the subsequent hour mostly off-screen as he nursed his wounds.

The Vaxathon wrapped up on +HR=E at around 6pm. It’s unclear whether it continued somewhere else, or whether it’s still going, or whether it will ever truly stop. Presenters seemed confused about whether it was six or eight hours, but before it left the screens of televisions nationwide, for a brief moment, the vaxathon found its footing, as Paddy declared that, despite getting only 3,000 followers, he would “do a Tiktok.”

And a Tiktok he did, and for just a brief moment, it all made sense. What else was a vaccine telethon ever going to be but six people awkwardly dancing in a room on national television? Perhaps it should’ve just been that all day. It felt like that was the only thing anyone ever really had in mind, and ultimately, it was just the right balance between saying ganja and deltoid a lot and eating a fistful of bees in a bucket. After six long hours, Paddy finally figured out what to do.