Seven’s new drama series Winners and Losers has today been renewed by Channel Seven for a second season!
While not exactly my cup of tea, it is great to see a network putting so much faith in Australian drama.
Its ratings have not quite been up there with the 1.8 million of Packed to the Rafters, but an average of 1.36 million viewers per episode is definitely nothing to sneeze at. In terms of being a TV show, those are great numbers, and in terms of being an Australian drama, those are fantastic numbers.
The press release today states:
From Seven’s in-house drama team of John Holmes and creator Bevan Lee, Winners & Losers
follows the lives of four friends navigating their way through everyday life after winning the lottery.
The current debut season has won legions of fans around the country, with an average audience of
1.36 million viewers tuning in each week.
Winners & Losers stars Melissa Bergland, Virginia Gay, Zoe Tuckwell-Smith and Melanie Vallejo,
with a supporting cast including Blair McDonough, Tom Wren, Damien Bodie, Stephen Phillips and
beloved comedienne Denise Scott.
Pre-production for the second series is commencing in Melbourne, with all the leading cast members
set to return.
Creator Bevan Lee said:
“I’m delighted we are able to continue exploring the lives of Bec, Frances, Jenny and Sophie in a
second series, thanks to the audience embracing our show so enthusiastically.”
“And with the Season One finale set to turn the girls’ world upside down, I’m sure viewers will be
eager to see whether the girls’ new relationships and challenges make winners of them – or losers.
If you are a fan of the show, are you as passionate about it as Packed to the Rafters? For people like me, who gave up on it after the first few episodes (it felt a bit uneven, and not compelling enough to keep watching), is it worth another shot?
Episode 15 of 22 will air tonight (Tuesday 8:30PM on Seven), with only 8 more episodes to go to run out the first season.
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…
I normally approach a new Australian drama or comedy with trepidation. As do most people. And who would disagree? It’s true that as of late, the track-record for Australian dramas and comedies hasn’t exactly been that shabby.
Packed to the Rafters? Tick!
The Librarians? Tick!
And so on…
However, when Australian shows fail, they fail badly. Think Canal Road, The Strip, Cops LAC…
But this new offering from Seven was interesting for a number of reasons…
1. Packed to the Rafters has been a monumental success, how would Winners and Losers fare (ratings and quality-wise)?
2. Would Seven commission a carbon copy of Packed to the Rafters?
Before I answer these questions, let’s take a look at the superficial aspect of the show.
It is interesting to observe any pilot, mainly for the techniques it employs to grab the viewers’ increasingly fleeting and fickle attention.
In this case, the lives of the four main characters were shown to us. And the character-types are fairly stock-standard, so not much exposition is needed. There’s the flirty (or slutty, depending on your point-of-view) one, Melanie Vallejo as Sophie, the nerdy one, Melissa Bergland as Jenny, Zoe Tuckwell-Smith as Rebecca, the career-driven one [SHE WORKS SO HARD SHE FALLS ASLEEP AT HER DESK], Virginia Gay as Frances James, and Zoe Tuckwell-Smith as Rebecca Gilbert, seemingly the one in a stable relationship.
Probably the most recognisable of the bunch would be Virginia Gay, of All Saints fame. And I guess observant viewers would recognise Vallejo as home-wrecker Mel from Packed to the Rafters.
[Just a side note, for fans of the US version of The Office and Parks and Recreation, Vallejo has kind of done a “Rashida Jones” here, if you get my drift]
I had a tiny problem with the way their names were plastered on screen as they went about their everyday business. It isn’t a big deal, and most likely will seem to be a novel way of introducing characters, but really it is just laziness.
Anyway, on to the meatier scenes… so to speak.
In relation to the question about being a copy of the Rafters, well… it ain’t.
This was pretty evident from the opening scenes- and it’s clear the writers wanted us to know.
Cue Melanie Vallejo… er, riding a bloke.
Then um, Melissa Bergland is cleaning up a woman’s lower regions…
Throughout the course of the episode we are also treated with an F-bomb, and a “BS”.
This isn’t a criticism, but it is certainly a touch surprising, as you’d imagine that families with children under 16 expecting another family-friendly dramedy like the Rafters would find this a squirmy experience, to say the least.
I’m surprised that Seven risked alienating a large proportion of Rafters viewers by airing such risqué scenes, yet it rated well (1.6m), so who am I to criticise?
This is not to say it’s Australia’s answer to Californication, or even as saucy as Underbelly, but I can say that we aren’t in Kansas anymore.
Another obvious difference to Packed to the Rafters was the amount of bloody characters (or actors) introduced in episode 1 compared to Packed to the Rafters. Now, I know that many extras pop up in TV shows, but when you have such recognisable faces as Scott McGregor (from Neighbours, Temptation), it implicitly demands viewers to sit up and take notice of them. Aside from Scott, there’s also
But despite all the differences, it seems as if the show will be somewhat centred around a family… that of Jenny Gross. However, with the dynamic of the four girls, it will be interesting to see which group will be the central, or base one.
Most likely it will be the four girls, yet I thought that Denise Scott and Francis Greenslade were particularly good as the Jenny’s parents.
So let’s have a look at all the characters introduced, and you can place your bets on who will stick around, and who won’t.
So there’s the four main actors;
their partners and family, played by;
Jack Pearson (Jenny’s brother)
Sarah Grace (Jenny’s sister)
Damien Bodie (Frances’ assistant)
… and once I work out who everyone else is they will be added too…
like Lawrence Mooney, who for some reason was in the show. Hopefully we see more of him but there isn’t a character page for him on the official site so who knows?
There has also been a lot of discussion about it being labelled by Seven as a comedy. Yes, it is true that there aren’t a great deal of gags, and some fairly weighty issues are brought up, such as bullying (which, incidentally, was a very prominent issue in the week), so a “dramedy” would be most fitting. SMH refers to it as a “light drama”, which is also not a bad little label.
Overall, would I watch it next week? Yes.
Is it as good as Packed to the Rafters? No, but no-one expected it to be (yet), surely.
Will it match this week’s ratings of 1.6m? No, because it isn’t Packed to the Rafters… yet.
Will it ever match Packed to the Rafters in terms of ratings? Probably not, but it is a worthy effort. For a first episode of an Australian show (well any show, these days), it is an achievement in itself to have dialogue which is natural and lines which don’t clunk, and it certainly did that.
As long as it keeps it natural; the characters and issues relatable, and the plots interesting, I will keep watching. But the real question is, will you?
We all know that the networks wouldn’t survive without the myriad US TV shows currently airing on TV. For many years, procedurals such as the CSI series and the Law and Order series have propped up Channels Nine and Ten respectively and filled programming holes after sudden axinsgs. The Desperate Housewives/Greys Anatomy duo has also been a reliable ratings puller for Channel Seven.
However, then there are other shows that come and go, partly because they have been axed in the US, but sometimes because they have been removed from Australian schedules do to insufficient ratings.
Some are also criminally left out of the schedule all together; critically acclaimed shows that aren’t even given a go based on programmers’ presumptions that they are too obscure or quirky to work on Australian TV.
But with this new era of multi-channeling, there are not really many excuses for yanking a show off air, and even less for not giving a show a chance.
Here is a list of recent shows, and if they have or haven’t been picked up by a FTA network in Australia, as well as how many seasons there have been.
With 30 Rock returning to Australian screens this Thursday, February 10 at 11:30pm on Channel Seven, there is no better time to wrap-up the past 4 stellar seasons.
The show could be seen as a vehicle for its two central actors; Tina Fey- arguably Hollywood’s funniest woman- and Alec Baldwin- whose deadpan delivery perfectly complements the beautifully frazzled Fey.
According to Wikipedia, its first 4 seasons have averaged 5.8, 6.4, 7.5 and 5.9 million viewers, respectively. So far, its fifth season has averaged 5.4 million viewers.
However, despite being its lowest rated season to-date, it seems to have regained its spark that was somewhat lacking during the fourth season.
This is despite both of the main characters (Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy) being in successful, stable relationships- usually classic shark-jumping material.
Most importantly, it has been renewed for a sixth season, which many speculate will be Baldwin’s last, due to his none-too-frank revelation in Playboy magazine;
“I’m done in 2012”