Category Archives: Channel Ten

Review: Can of Worms Episode 2

The best thing I can say about this weeks “Worms” is that it definitely smoothed out the rough edges this week.

There was less jolting tone shifts, and while it is far from a “winner”, in terms of quality, it is sure finding its footing.

One of the only problems I have with the show lies right at the core of it- which is worrying-in the “worms” themselves.

First of all, how is the question about “burqas” opening a “Can of Worms”- surely that is one Can that has never been closed in recent memory.

So, doesn’t that actually preclude it from being an actual Can of Worms??

The only way I could excuse it is that it hasn’t actually been in the media for a couple of weeks- but then what does that say about the show? It’s got its finger horribly off the public pulse? What about something about the Carbon Tax, or would that be too current? Remember this show is only filmed one day before it airs, not two weeks.

So basically, if it’s going to use “current” issues as catalysts for debate, why not use current ones?

In the “Moral minefield” segment, there were also questions such as “Have You Ever Used a Disabled Toilet”… Yes, not “Is Using a Disabled Toilet Wrong”… If you get the distinction.

Meshel Laurie’s role in the show still puzzles me. She sits on the end, and sometimes explains how a game works, and sometimes doesn’t. And when she does, it is still something that could be largely covered by Dicko.

However, she really comes into her own when she is allowed to act as a kind of moderator who reacts to things said in the debate- which she started to become largely in the last “swearing” debate.

And the guests? Well, they were a vast improvement on last week’s as I predicted. They were all able to showcase their strong personalities as well as bring up examples from their lives to add to the debate. And the fact that there was only one comedian really worked- having two or more can really put pressure on the guests to make the show funny, when the focus should be on the debate.

And the “comedian” Tom Ballard tried very, very hard indeed. He made, by my count three callbacks- these included saying or was OK to use a disabled toilet because he was a “poofter” (this related to an earlier question asking whether it was acceptable to call someone a “poofter”). However, overall, he came off as intelligent and eloquent, and actually very opinionated.

Jessica Rowe was, well, nice. She isn’t really the type of person that goes out to upset anyone, but isn’t afraid to take a strong point of view. She also spent most of the show being outraged, or offended at comments made on either side of her. Hence, she was symbolically placed in the middle. But while Jessica was pretty good, surely the show can find a woman (or two) who might actually outrage or offend people (I’m talking people like Em Rusciano, Mia Freedman- NOT people like Catherine Deveny here).

Don Burke sat in the “controversial loud-mouth” seat, but strangely, he wasn’t nowhere near as irritating as Jason Akermanis was the week before. Sure, he was a bit cranky, a bit “Grumpy Old Man”, a bit deranged ex-TV personality… He was still an interesting spectacle to behold. Though he did go a bit overboard in some parts- staring at Jessica Rowe’s breasts, dropping F-bombs (because there was a worm about swearing, see)… He is probably the ideal type of guest for the show; unpredictable, uninhibited and slightly unstable. And though you may disagree with some things he says, at least he is never completely unreasonable- an important factor in a show like this; even when views are put forth that you don’t agree with, at least they could make you consider their point of view.

Most importantly, though, the guests actually interacted with each other, and actually debated.

This was also an aspect that was applied to other aspects of the show, with more audience interaction, and actual live tweets- what a novel idea…

Dicko was also better, and the few moments where he actually went off-the-cuff were some of his best moments on the show. But, until he appears more natural on the auto-cue, they need to cut the “witty” throws to ad-breaks and introductions to new worms. Seeing him pause awkwardly as he reads not only devalues a decent show, but stifles Dicko’s personality further (he already has to remain semi-impartial as a host).

Overall, a considerable improvement on the first episode, and at least it shows that producers are listening to viewer feedback. It focused the show on debating issues, and made for a less cluttered product. It still needs to focus its worms a bit more, but with some more good guest selection should more than make up for it.


Opinion: Can of Worms: Will Denton open a Can of Beast, Tench or Gruen??

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…

Read the rest of this entry

How Long will the Negus Project Last?

Yes, I am well aware it is not in fact called the “Negus Project”, but that is in fact what many people will see it as. An attempt by Channel Ten to reinvent the way news is brought to you of an evening. More significantly, it is an attempt to make lightning strike twice after the relative success of the 7pm Project.

As any average new show starting out in Australia, it was met with considerable derision when 7pm first premiered. And why not? It was easy enough to criticise virtually any aspect of the show; Dave Hughes is a comedian, not a newsreader/commentator (and not even a funny one at that), Charlie Pickering taps his pen on the desk too much, Carrie Bickmore is annoying, etc.

Then there were the inevitable changes as it was finding its feet, ie. the focus on fewer stories to allow more room for banter to fly, the apparent removal of James Mathieson and Ruby Rose (who were promoted as being core team members, but rarely made consecutive visits to the show- even once-a-month visits for Rose became rare).

This all led to viewer confusion, as well as an increased amount of target to level potshots at. Ratings took a nosedive rather quickly, with many shrugging it off as a confused mix of news and comedy… And if people wanted “comedy” they would turn to Two and a Half Men on Channel Nine, and if they wanted serious news they could turn to ABC News. Surely the whole gamut had been covered- there was no room for any newcomers.

But seemingly against the odds, it made a resurgence. Many people, even if they disliked the format, gained respect for Channel Ten for sticking with it, despite increasingly dire ratings. Here is a look at its first 17 weeks graphically.

As you can see, there was not much improvement at all, with its lowest weekly average coming in at 613,200. Yet the format was consistently tweaked in minor ways, including Charlie Pickering’s hair transformation which seemed to symbolise a more serious skew.

Now, in the week before ratings begins, its figures are more than respectable, with Monday night’s figure 901,000 trouncing Two and a Half Men on 801,000, and only trailing Home and Away and ABC News by around 100,000. Efforts like these are more than enough to keep it safe for a long, long time. Especially when you consider that Ten’s only successful show in the 7pm slot pre-7pm was Masterchef and to an extent, the Biggest Loser. Other attempts to fill the void such as Yasmin’s Getting Married and Taken Out were complete failures, to say the least. In comparison, 7pm’s success has been the best thing to happen to Ten since Masterchef.

Now, comes the new newcomer, 6pm with George Negus, which premiered two weeks ago.  However, it is not as clear-cut as 7pm.

Many people will attempt to parallel the two shows.

Both news programs trying to appear to be “different” to every other offering.

Both are trying to place less of an influence on the tabloid style gossip mongering of shows such as Today Tonight and A Current Affair.

However, critics have been more reticent in slamming Negus. One, because he is a respected journalist with bucket-loads of presenting and reporting experience. Two, because it’s a more conventional news program more similar in style to Dateline (which Negus previously fronted), and three, because he’s George Negus.

Many have shown restraint in saying something to the effect of “Let it find its feet first”.

However, it certainly isn’t that hard to highlight its fairly average to terrible ratings.

It debuted with 605,000 viewers on a Monday.

Tuesday it had 505,000

Wednesday 443,000

Thursday 429,000

and Friday 439,000

In Week 2, the Monday show drew 540,000, with 487,000 tuning in for the Ten Evening News

Tuesday 443,000 – 471,000

Wednesday 465,000 – 413,000

Thursday 398,000 – 362,000

Friday 411,000 – 384,000

Now, while 7pm had low ratings in the beginning, it only stooped to the 500,000s a handful of times; mostly on a Friday… let alone the 400,000s.

However, if you afford it some leeway because it’s in a 6pm timeslot- fine, 6pm slots tend to draw lower ratings than later in the night (less people home, etc.). However, Ten would be worried about the fact that the Simpsons, in the final week of ratings, in the same timeslot drew, from Monday to Friday;






This is almost the same as Negus’ Week 2 ratings. However, for a show that would cost considerably more to put to air, you would need to see an improvement to at least 500,000 to 600,000 a night to make it worth their while. An even bigger factor is the element of having a good lead-in to the Ten Evening News, which, as you can see, almost loses viewers. And that would need to be at least 550,000 to merely match what Neighbours was pulling in the final week of ratings;






Possibly 6pm’s ultimate failing will be its failure to stand out from the crowd. Now that 7pm has established itself it has become a show people can tune into to catch a snapshot of the days news, but also see the lighter side of things. It is also boasts a great rotating roster of experienced journalists such as Jennifer Byrne, Steve Price and Gorgi Coghlan.

Its Metro Whip-Around really hit the ground running and became one of the most successful segments on the show. It is now sure of itself and is significantly different from anything else on TV. Once again, Ten and Roving Enterprises need to be commended. While it isn’t perfect (Dave Hughes still doesn’t quite seem to be the right fit for a predominantly serious news-based show), it is now a fixture of many people’s daily viewing schedules.

It would be hard to imagine Ten pulling Negus (hmm) before the end of the year, as the 7pm Project is the best of example of good things coming to those who wait. However, it will be hard to justify (not to mention the embarrassment involved) when or if ratings regularly languish in the 400,000s… or God forbid, the deadly 300,000s…

One really has to wonder if the $20m news shake-up will have been worth it.