Between the Lines: The Crappy Art of Replicating a Formula
Here’s one for ya, how big a failure will Nine’s “new” “TV show” be?
A. A “Let Loose Live” failure
B. A “Ben Elton” failure
Too harsh? Possibly. But I’m usually all for giving new Australian shows a go. But I’m less “forgiving” when it comes to Australian shows that are slapped together and thrown into viewers lounge rooms which try to capitalise on the success of another show.
Take the Todd McKenney abomination, You May Be Right. It tried to capitalise on the success of Dancing With the Stars, of which Todd McKenney was the nasty, yet intelligently catty judge, as well as the runaway success that was (and continues to be) Spicks and Specks. With these two elements together, surely Seven was on to a winner? All it needed now was to plug the rest of the panel holes with “celebrities” and other such “funny-funny makers”, as they’re known in the industry. It also, laughably, centred around not only music, but also TV shows and movies, because, you see, this automatically made it better (and different) to Spicks and Specks.
However, it was an unabashed failure. Incidentally, in 2010, a similar attempt was made to presumably relaunch You May Be Right, or at least the concept of it. This time, it came in the form of The White Room. Yes, there were games, a panel, celebs… but, get this: there were TWO hosts this time. Thus, it was better, etc.
Anyway, the point remains, replicating a winning idea remains a difficult, and mostly scorned tactic, especially in the mind of the viewer.
However, it can be done, as was proven in 2010 with the success of My Kitchen Rules, or in other words, MasterChef @ Home But With That French Chef That Was On MasterChef Once Or Twice But Is Now On This Show. And although it’s basically the same show (people put food on a plate to be judged, rinse, repeat), Channel Seven managed to successfully make it look different to MasterChef (though its lower production values may have just been a budget issue). They also didn’t try to top MasterChef (and this was subsequently reflects in its ratings), and hence why many people have commented that it has served as an entree to the main course of MasterChef.
The problem with Ed’s new show, however, comes in the fact that they are trying to throw together all manner of formats and pass it off as a fun new show.
Let’s break it apart: it’s a sports quiz show. But wait, there’s more! From TV website TV Tonight comes the press release:
“Competitors will take part in Q&A segments with pictures, video clips, guessing games, special guest rounds, performance rounds and sporting challenges.”
I sincerely hope Q&A was not slipped in there gratuitously, given the success of the ABC program… actually, I wouldn’t put it past Nine.
And “guessing games” really sound like they will be the winner amongst that group.
Each episode will feature guest appearances from sporting identities who will provide anecdotes from their careers. The teams will then be required to say whether the stories they’ve just heard are true or false.”
Surely it goes without saying for Spicks and Specks viewers, but it sounds eerily similar to a certain game on that show, where contestants must pick the correct anecdote from a choice of three.
“Between The Lines will also include a special segment that gives viewers a rare peek into the locker room to hear never-before-told tales from Australian sporting heroes.”
Soooo, a sports quiz show. There hasn’t been one of them since The Squiz on SBS, and H2H on the ABC. And, of course, we all know where we have seen the “quiz” aspect.
It is also trying to recreate the jokey, blokey atmosphere of the Footy Show by bringing in Dermott Brereton and Billy Brownless, while also bringing in the “new generation” of comics in Mick Molloy and Ryan “Fitzy” Fitzgerald (who are a part of the team on Ten’s Before the Game- one can only guess how this conflict will play out).
It is also combining the “winning” chemistry of Mick Molloy and Eddie McGuire, who have seemingly hit it off big-time after spending mornings together on the Hot Breakfast on Triple M.
There is also the light-hearted panel vibe which has seemingly been pioneered by the folk on The 7pm Project.
They have also had previous form together on TV – fun times.
We all know about Nine’s track-record in 2011. Let’s just say it hasn’t been fantastic.
And Eddie McGuire has had somewhat of a hit with his Million Dollar Drop, as well as Hot Seat, yet it is well known that interstate viewers don’t respond well to him in many other roles.
This isn’t to say I won’t give it a go… but these days, trying to replicate a formula almost invariably sets a show up for failure.
Note: I am aware that Spicks and Specks bares many a similarity to “Never Mind the Buzzcocks”, and the TV Guru has very perceptively alluded to this fact, but I am talking about trying to replicate the often intangible nuances of successful shows in Australia, for example, the chemistry between stars on the show.