Category Archives: Opinion
So, we all know there’s been a small but ever-expanding chorus of people calling for Ten’s new, controversial program Can of Worms to be broadcast live.
I happen to be one of them, and think that not only would this make for a more edge-of-your seat viewing experience, but would also alleviate the need to make such jarring edits (in order to adjust the show to run the appropriate time).
And today, I got a mini-taste of what this would look like when Ten released this segmentyoutu.be/ffdB6hDIOQk featuring the Wrong-O-Meter which didn’t make the cut.
Take a look at it, and tell me that the show wouldn’t be made instantly better if it was all more like this. You might notice a couple of things; you actually see guests thinking about their responses (making it seem less constrictive and more organic), Dicko actually gets out of his seat and- gasp- speaks without the aid of an autocue. And yes, though pauses and stumbles over his words a bit, it seems instantly more natural and engaging.
So Ten, just bite the bullet and make it live! But what do I know…
The competition is heating up… etc. etc.
But we all know who the favourite is: Manu Feildel. We all know who the best dancer is: Haley Bracken.
They would obviously be the final two, and the only question was: who would make up the final 3 that would go into the Grand Final?
It turned out that Samantha Armytage couldn’t garner enough viewer support to lift her off last place in the ratings.
The final 3 next week will be Damien Leith, Manu Feildel and Haley Bracken.
While Samantha Armytage proved to be a good sport, for her sake, it was good to see her eliminated. The process of the judges tearing strips off her week-in, week-out became not only a bloodsport but also an unwatchable cringe-fest.
Helen tried to be as desperately optimistic and constructive as possible while Todd ranged from savaging her one minute to stating that it was not “personal”.
And criticism of her ranged from the bizarre to the just plain unfair.
Last week she was criticised for putting a George Clooney mask on her partner Brendan during rehearsals. McKenney said this was “insulting” to her partner, presumably because it implied she didn’t find him appealing enough. And while I agree somewhat with this sentiment (think what would happen if he or another man did the same to a woman and tacked an Angelina Jolie face on her head), it was clear that Brendan was not offended in the slightest – and Armytage even alluded to this in the pre-dance package- if he wasn’t insulted, where is the issue?
And also, most of those stunts are cooked up by producers- do they think the couples have enough time in between 9 hour rehearsals to organise stupid stunts like that?
And it was only a couple of weeks before that that her and Lara Bingle were accused of not working hard enough.
Now I can’t speak for Lara Bingle, but we all know that Samantha Armytage has a job most weekends working on Weekend Sunrise. And when you’re being battered from pillar to post no matter what you do, where is the motivation meant to come from to start working hard?
And anyway, when did this stop being a dancing celebrity competition and start being a celebrity dancing competition?
Seemingly, the judges, namely Todd McKenney now demand celebrities to work themselves to the bone in order to become good dancers, so that they can judge them at the level of professional dancers, rather than celebrities just having a bit of fun.
And you may say that the judges know that scathing criticism is more of a ratings-puller that fawning adoration, but you could argue now that the judges are getting just a little bit too caught up in the competition, and less about the fun of dancing.
I found it contradictory that one week, they would tell people to relax and enjoy themselves, and the next, pick apart their dancing, clothing, work-rate, effort, facial expression and pre-dance package comments (see Lara Bingle’s swipe at McKenney for criticising her hair arrangement). How could anyone relax under those conditions?
But in saying all that, the final should be at least decent viewing because the playing field is the most equal it has been all season.
And there are still a couple of interesting questions still to be answered;
Will Manu be able to topple Hayley?
Will Todd McKenney and Joshua Horner’s simmering tension boil over?
Yes… just a couple of questions.
Another month, another “Zapruder’s Other Films” program premieres.
In recent times, Andrew Denton and Anita Jacoby’s production company has churned out shows including Hungry Beast, AFP, The Gruen Transfer and Gruen Nation, all to varying degrees of success.
On the whole, there is a consensus that shows that they formulate are new and inventive, if nothing else. Before their respective premieres, they are also shrouded in secrecy, with man of the key talent kept under wraps, as well as the format, premise and general feel of the show.
This is one of the reasons why it is difficult to predict the success of the show. Their policy of secrecy is a double-edged sword, as obviously not knowing anything about the show builds up a sort of mystique, and of course builds the curiosity factor. It also encourages people to watch the show for the central premise, rather than fob it off after seeing a personality one dislikes on the promo (Dicko is nowhere to be seen on the talking-head promos, despite the fact that he is the host).
On the other hand, the vague “Australia, we need to talk” tagline is not quite explicit enough for some people to feel an urge to tune in.
The “talking heads” that appear to discuss various issues which touch on “porn”, religion and the internet. So its clear that we’re in line for some modern, frank discussion. Presumably there is a newfound market for this kind of discussion, what with these type of discussions being brought up frequently on Q and A.
Obviously the show wants “Australia” to start talking. It wants families to start these type of discussions in their own house. This will create further word-of-mouth between friends, etc. etc.
Whether the show is aiming to set the agenda on new issues or rather react to issues in the news is unknown.
So, what do we know we can expect?
Read on to find out…
Channel Nine is currently undergoing a resurgence of sorts, after a very lacklustre start to the year.
After heavily promoting the fourth series of The Block in its new 7PM timeslot, it has proven a decent new alternative in its first week on air.
Of course, its strong first week figures will be slightly inflated due to the massive publicity push, but it has arguably begun to turn around Nine’s fortunes.
And let’s face it, any old show that can pull half-decent figures for Nine (we’re talking over a million) will be more than welcome on its schedule, as its first half of the year has certainly been one to forget for the network.
After starting the year touting itself as the “Home of Comedy” it put forth its first offering in the form of Ben Elton Live From Planet Earth. And we all know how that one ended:
Low ratings combined with the worst critical reception to a show in recent memory made for a genuine, out-and-out stinker of a show.
Faced with failure, Nine felt it had no choice but to flog the hell out of its imports in Two and a Half Men and Top Gear, two programs that had done very well for the network in 2010.
However, repeating these “hit shows” ad nauseam led to viewer fatigue, and pretty soon they began turning off in droves.
Today, Top Gear is nowhere to be seen on Nine’s main channel, with Two and a Half Men pushed late into the night. You can find it now at 10:30PM on a Tuesday night.
Continue reading after the jump…
It’s easy to see why Offspring isn’t pulling huge numbers.
Not bad numbers, by any stretch, as anything which can consistently pull figures around the 1m mark is valuable to any network.
And this dramatic shift has only been validated by its recent third season renewal after its first five episodes have scored 927,000, 760,000 (in a later timeslot), 905,000 and 953,000 and 954,000, 982,000 and 995,000 respectively.
However, while these seem to be decent numbers, they pale in comparison to the ratings juggernaut that is Packed to the Rafters (its last six episodes rated 1.943, 1.815, 1.796, 1.748, 1.806, 1.709 million repsectively)- a show waiting to burst back on to the scene in the second half of the year.
Offspring in many ways deserves to be up there with Packed to the Rafters, however many still regard it as a “chick show”, possibly because of its female lead, as well as its flowery title font, as well as the underlying motifs of pregancy, relationships and commitment… who knows. But the fact is, it’s anything but a Sex and the City clone, for want of a better example, and it deserves much more praise than it gets.
But possibly the reason for that is, is that it has suffered from a particularly average first season. Let me refresh your memory;
The first episode of the first season opened to Asher Keddie swimming in a pool, an actress that would have been known for her work on acclaimed Australian drama Love My Way, but possibly better known for her more recent work on the second series of Underbelly, given its run on Free to Air rather than Pay TV.
However, many remarked on the striking similarities between the pool shot and The Secret Life of Us’ frequent activity around similar places.
Then came the inner monologue voice over while Keddie was swimming.
Then came the clumsy bump into the wall at the end of the pool lane.
So that presumably was to tell viewers everything they needed to know about Nina’s personality; words like “awkward”, “clumsy”, “obsessive” and “frazzled” were meant to spring to mind.
And that was just her personality- from then on it wasn’t that hard to guess how the rest of her life was structured.
Hectic yet rewarding job? Check – she’s an obstetrician.
Sibling who is the polar opposite? Check – her sister Billie is seen tearing the clothes off a gardner (this was also used in the promo) soon after we meet her.
Other siblings to add some spice? Check – meet unemployed brother Jimmy.
Separated parents symbolising her fractured personality? Check.
And then there was the work situation, which has also been fused with her love-life and friendships.
There were the somewhat flirty somewhat bitchy somewhat playful nurses.
And then there was the love interest, played by Don Hany, a character which seemed would haunt every one of Nina’s dreams for the entire series.
And it did to some extent, with the “will-they won’t-they” dynamic being well established from the first episode.
There was also a parallel relationship established with her sister Billie and Mick, with a similar dynamic.
Yes, it was one of “those” shows- leaving gender out of it, it was one of those “Oh, isn’t life hard in this day and age? You know, trying to balance our jobs with our personal life, etc. etc.”
But this is not to say that it was a bad show. It was a perfectly fine, even a good Australian drama.
And it burst on to the scene as a fresh new Australian drama with a focus that wasn’t directly on a family, nor was it on a bunch of cops, nor a bunch of crooks, or people “rescuing” other people.
But it just couldn’t match the ease with which Packed to the Rafters churned out breezy, yet addictive storytelling. However, it was still head and shoulders above the likes of Rescue: Special Ops, Sea Patrol and even Rush.
So what did Packed to the Rafters have that Offspring didn’t?
Yes, it’s early days; MasterChef is just commencing its fourth week and Dancing has only just had its fourth instalment.
MasterChef is now in its third series, and Dancing with the Stars is in its eleventh, however for the sake of comparison, let’s call it its fourth series in its newest iteration under new host Daniel McPherson.
On Sunday nights of late, viewers are seemingly spoilt for choice when it comes to reality competitions. Dancing kicks off at 6:30PM and MasterChef at 7:30PM, and this is accurately represented in the ratings figures.
Week 1: Dancing (1,505,000) beat MasterChef (1,503,000)
Week 2: Dancing (1,613,000) beat MasterChef (1,409,000)
Week 3: MasterChef (1,511,000) beat Dancing (1,429,000)
Source: TV Tonight
Due to this close ratings tussle, it would seem as if both shows are churning out more quality addictive content; more drama, more competitiveness, new twists, etc.
And to some extent this is true.
We have seen criticism of personal jibes at contestants (Dancing), controversy over cheating claims (Masterchef), professionals and judges spats (Dancing), spectacular triumphs and cringeworthy train-wrecks (both).
However, haven’t we seen it all before?
Right now, Channel Nine is currently in the middle of a full frontal military assault.
It’s called Operation Big Bang.
It involves bombarding viewers with as many Big Bang Theory episodes as possible.
And why? You may ask, surely too much of a good thing is, well, too much… But that isn’t the same way programming execs think.
Especially ones at Channel Nine.
You see, Nine are a desperate network. A network desperate to reclaim their number one title off Seven. They don’t have a massive stable of popular shows like Seven do. Seven have their Border Security type shows, which always pull decent ratings, they have a dominant news element- Today Tonight and Sunrise almost always beat their Channel Nine counterparts nationally; they have a hit Australian drama in Packed to the Rafters, and a promising show in Winners and Losers, they also have solid year-round staple shows such as Better Homes and Gardens.
In comparison, Nine has Underbelly, and the closest things it has to a staple show are 60 Minutes (which is usually trounced whenever a show like Dancing With the Star or MasterChef is up against it) and Australia’s Funniest Home Videos (which is given a good run for its money in Melbourne when it is up against Before the Game).
Yes, Nine is struggling, still. So, you might say, who could blame it for scheduling excessive amounts of hit shows? I’m certainly not, but if they want to extract any sort of longevity out of their popular shows, they need to adopt a different method.
And its not as of they haven’t had the chance to learn from their mistakes;
Year of the Ramsay
Back before MasterChef became popular in Australia, there was one AngryChef that took Australia by storm. His name was Gordon Ramsay. In 2008, after Nine had been scheduling episodes of his “Kitchen Nightmares” UK series without much fanfare, it noticed that it was receiving a bit of attention. Before long, it was receiving pretty good ratings, and also had half of Australian radio talk about it.
Nine, sniffing some ratings blood in the water, went in for the kill, and before long had scheduled three hour long Ramsay episodes a week. And luckily for Nine, there was plenty of Ramsay in the tank (he was, by that time, very successful in the UK). Every week from then on, viewers received, from Tuesday to Thursday, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, Hell’s Kitchen and The F Word. Of the three, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares remained the most popular. At one stage, he was even interviewed on 60 Minutes.
However, after many weeks of F-bombs, abusive rants and a bit of trouble with ACMA (which may or may not have been related) viewers grew tired of the foul language… Or just Ramsay’s whole “act”, and began switching off.
Eventually, Ramsay was removed from the schedule altogether (though there is the occasional Nightmare on Tuesday nights, possibly in the hope that Ramsay-fever ignites again?).
And as all shows like this follow a pattern, the death knell finally sounded after Gordon Ramsay appeared on A Current Affair in 2009 and was interviewed by Tracey Grimshaw. He subsequently likened her to a pig at a cooking demonstration. He then received a barrage of criticism, which only served to expose him as a bully (for the few who hadn’t realised it yet).
Two and a Half Thousand Men
Channel Nine had acquired Two and a Half Men many years ago, however it was not until 2009 that it started airing episodes by the dozen- well, ten episodes a week. This included the Monday-Friday 7PM slot, where it really gave Home and Away a scare after its 2008 dominance; new episodes in various timeslots; “Adults Only” episodes and repeats aplenty on GO!. However in the latter half of 2010, ratings began to wane, for no particular reason. Well, no reason apparent to Nine execs. It was simply because viewers were sick of it.
Then came 2011. The year of Charlie Sheen, for all the wrong reasons. Without wanting to go into all of the detail (You can go to any other site right now and read about it – ANY other site).
It may have been a combination of Nine’s oversaturation with the world covering Sheen’s “antics” mercilessly that led to it’s demise, but it was a long time coming.
The prophecy once again was fulfilled, with the death knell being Sheen getting the chop from the sitcom.
Nine bizarrely attempted to revive the flagging show’s ratings by advertising the show by playing up how insane Sheen apparently is. They have recently advertised a new episode as being possibly Sheen’s last ever episode (it was the last one filmed before the meltdown and insults thrown at the show’s creator, Chuck Lorre). They were signs of a desperate network, on the brink of losing a former powerhouse.
And the proof that it is dead (or close to it) is no more evident than the fact that its position in the primetime-heading 7PM slot has been stripped from it, to be replaced by The Big Bang Theory.
Top Gear used to be cool. It used to be a little show on SBS that only a few people seemed to know about (even though it was attracting upwards of 600k viewers regularly).
Which was why Nine was so bloody happy with themselves after yanking Top Gear off SBS in 2010, that they decided to play it to death.
And why wouldn’t they, with early figures for Top Gear attracting very healthy figures. However, they started plugging holes all over the schedule with repeat after repeat- initially to great success. At its peak, Nine was airing 1 episode on Sunday on GO!, 1 episode on Tuesday on Nine, 1 on Thursday on GO! and another on Fridays on Nine.
But now, in 2011, somewhat amusingly, now that they finally have been able to show new episodes, absolutely no one has been interested (no one in TV terms = around 600k).
The death knell hasn’t sounded as yet, but it’s coming.
Basically, the lesson is, Nine, don’t make the same mistake with The Big Bang Theory, a show which still has the respect of viewers.
However, Operation BB is already well underway, so brace yourselves.