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…
Masterchef Season 3
The story so far…
While Season 1 of MasterChef was a great success, somehow, Season 2 managed to surpass it in terms of ratings. Of course there was the inevitable criticism, such as a small whimper from three or four people that wanted Sarah Wilson back as host (the three judges became hosts as well). There was also a bit of an outcry when favourite to win, Marion, was eliminated because of an inferior satay sauce (it was deemed too thick).
However, the series only became grander in scale, more polished and managed to hold viewers attention for the entirety of the series.
Matt Moran will join as a regular guest judge.
There will be a guest appearance by UK chef, Nigella Lawson, who was recently in Australia.
The first challenge will take place on Cockatoo Island.
What’s the same?
The three judges are the same: Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan.
The first season premiered to 1,428,000 viewers.
The second season premiered to 1,695,000 viewers.
Ten will be hoping for a slight rise, yet viewing figures have been down across the board this year. Given the over-saturation of My Kitchen Rules, there will still be a slight cooking hangover. There will also be competition with a little show called “The Logies” to factor in. I would expect something in the range of
1,400,000 – 1,500,000
Anything over that would be excellent for Ten.
Generally good, but very little as yet.
Nothing much in the Australian press as yet, but it doesn’t hurt to have some glowing compliments paid to it in the UK press in recent times:
“It seems strange, really, that MasterChef Australia, from which the new UK show borrows heavily, can combine many of the same elements and come up trumps. But then it also does everything the British show does, just 50 times bigger. So the judges are more flamboyant, more ridiculous; the contestants live in a house together and vote each other off; they have cook-offs against real chefs; they cater amazing weddings on boats. Against that background, setting the whole thing in a vast, sunlit warehouse feels vaguely reasonable. On BBC1, it doesn’t.”
Ten would be acutely aware of the fact that viewers have just been watching My Kitchen Rules on Seven. If they want to maintain their dominant position, they also have to make it sufficiently different from the previous two series. They could get away with serving up a fairly similar Season 2 to season 1, as viewers know what they will get. It was also a chance to capture the attention of those that hadn’t seen the first series, with the same winning formula.
However, for Season 3, they will have to straddle the line between the familiar (so as to not to risk tampering with a winning formula) and the new (to keep viewers interested).
One would hope they have spent the break ironing out a few creases (or what I saw as creases);
The amount of bloody crying; I don’t mind a bit of emotion being expressed through the tear glands, but when contestants cry over other contestants leaving, when contestants cry over one bad comment, etc., it just becomes a melodrama. And especially when the producers go to lengths to make contestants cry, such as the “cook something your dead grandmother used to cook so that you will be reminded of her and cry” episode.
But apart from that, Masterchef Season 3 should be another stellar season. And that’s looking at it without the contestants; if there are some fiery/wacky/quirky personalities it will propel it into the stratosphere once again.
I am about to undertake the massive task of compiling a list of Australian Twits.
The list is, and will probably remain, incomplete.
Mark Scott – Managing Director of ABC
Penny Wright – iView Programmer
Bruce Collier – “iView person”
Justine Langford – “Senior Producer / Project Manager, ABC TV Multiplatform”
Bruce Belsham – Editor of abc.net.au
At the Movies
Kerrin Binnie – Journalist
Alan Sunderland – “Head of Policy & Staff Development,ABC News Australia”
Antony Green – Political analyst
Kieran Ricketts – ABC News24 Producer
Zoe Daniel – South East Asia Correspondent
Matt Wordsworth – Political Reporter (NSW)
Nick Grimm – Journalist
Leigh Sales – Co-host of the newly revamped 7:30
Chris Uhlmann – Co-host of the newly revamped 7:30
Justin Stevens – Producer
Review with Myles Barlow
Fenella Kernebone – Host
Can We Help
First Tuesday Book Club
Dan Ilic – Co-host
Kirsten Drysdale – Co-host and reporter
Marc Fennell – Co-host
Elmo Keep – Writer
Chris Leben (Not a cast member for season 3)
Marieke Hardy – Writer
Karen Barlow – Producer
Steven Bajo O’Donnell – Presenter and producer
Stephanie Bendixsen – Presenter
Spicks and Specks
Myf Warhurst – Panellist
Alan Brough – No known account
Adam Hills – Host
Adam Hills in Gordon Street Tonight
Q and A
Peter McEvoy – Executive Producer
John Safran’s Race Relations
Triple J TV
Dominic Knight – Writer
Chas Licciardello – Cast member
Craig Reucassel – Cast member
Andrew Hansen – Cast member
Chris Taylor(possibly) – Cast member
Julian Morrow – Cast member and producer
Annabel Crabb – Occasional guest
Steve Cannane – Host
Annabel Crabb – Occasional guest
Jonathon Holmes – Host
The Urban Monkey with Murray Foote
Sam Simmons – Comedian
Lawrence Leung’s Choose Your Own Adventure
The Gruen Transfer
Wil Anderson – Host
The New Inventors
ABC News Breakfast
Virginia Trioli – Co-host
AFL Game Day
Australia’s Got Talent
Kyle Sandilands – No Known Account
Better Homes and Gardens
Johanna Griggs – No Known Account
Jason Hodges – No Known Account
Rob Palmer – No Known Account
Tara Dennis – No Known Account
Home and Away
Ray Meagher (Alf Stewart) – No Known Account
Georgie Parker (Roo Stewart) – No Known Account
Lyn Collingwood (Colleen Smart) – No Known Account
Emily Symons (Marilyn Chambers)- No Known Account
Lynne McGranger (Irene Roberts)
Ada Nicodemou (Leah Patterson-Baker)
Josh Quong Tart (Miles Copeland)- No Known Account
Esther Anderson (Charlie Buckton) – No Known Account
Rebecca Breeds (Ruby Buckton)- No Known Account
David Jones-Roberts (Xavier Austin)
Sonia Todd (Gina Austin)- No Known Account
Axle Whitehead (Liam Murphy)
Shane Withington (John Palmer)- No Known Account
Robert Mammone (Sid Walker)- No Known Account
Samara Weaving (Indigo Walker) – Unconfirmed Account
Charles Cottier (Dexter Walker)- No Known Account
Luke Mitchell (Romeo Smith)
Jay Laga’aia (Elijah Johnson)- No Known Account
Rhiannon Fish (April Scott)
Lisa Gormley (Bianca Scott)
Steve Peacocke (Darryl Braxton)- No Known Account
Lincoln Younes (Casey Braxton)- No Known Account
Packed to the Rafters
Hugh Sheridan (Ben Rafter)
Rebecca Gibney – No Known Account
Eric Thompson – No Known Account
Andrew O’Keefe – No Known Account
The Morning Show
The Amazing Race Australia
The X Factor Australia
Winners and Losers
Virginia Gay – No Known Account
Zoe Tuckwell-Smith – (Rebecca Gilbert)
Melissa Bergland (Jenny Gross)
Rob Mills (Sean)
Melissa Vallejo (Sophie Wong) – No Known Account
Damien Bodie (Jonathan Kurtiss) – No Known Account
Blair McDonough (Matt O’Connor)
Tom Wren (Dr. Doug Graham) – No Known Account
Denise Scott (Trish Gross) – No Known Account
Stephen Phillips (Zach Armstrong) – No Known Account
Jack Pearson (Patrick Gross) – No Known Account
Francis Greenslade (Brian Gross) – No Known Account
Sarah Grace (Bridget Gross) – No Known Account
Mike Smith (Callum Gilbert) – No Known Account
Nick Simpson-Deeks (Rhys Mitchell)
6:30 with George Negus
Ross Scheepers – Producer
Before The Game
Mick Molloy – No Known Account
Andrew Maher – No Known Account
Can of Worms
Ian “Dicko” Dickson – No Known Account
Meet The Press
Ready Steady Cook
Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation
Shaun Micallef – No Known Account
The Biggest Loser
Dave Hughes – Co-host
Emily Rusciano – Occasional reporter
Sandra Sully – Ten Evening News host (Sydney)
David Speers – Political Editor
Note: In most cases, “Renewal” refers to a show being granted another season in 2012, or later in the year, depending on the show.
The 7PM Project
Once a basket-case in terms of ratings, format and style, it would now be difficult to picture a Ten schedule without “7pm”. It doesn’t exactly set the world on fire every night, but at least it has a natural rhythm and to have a live program on TV every night that isn’t a straight news broadcast is a real novelty that we shouldn’t take for granted.
The Biggest Loser
You’d have to think the Biggest Loser has at least one more season left in it. Especially given Ten’s ability to constantly reinvent it. It isn’t performing terribly and fills a decent amount of Ten’s schedule.
However, Ten would be wise to give it a “rest” after 2012, just like it did with So You Think You Can Dance and Australian Idol.
But at the end of the day, the decision will be made based on ratings. And here are its ratings starting from Week 5 of TBL.
Sunday: 1,076,000 (FIRST in timeslot)
Ten pretty much lurves Chris Brown, as demonstrated by his constant appearances on The 7pm Project. They will find a spot for him in the schedule, no matter what.
Undercover Boss Australia
Ready Steady Cook
Good News Week
The Fifth Quarter
Before the Game
One Week at a Time
Junior MasterChef Australia
It would seem a shoo-in for a third season in 2012, however, Ten would be wary of exhausting a more limited brand than MasterChef, given the whole show operates around a central gimmick: “Wow, those kids can actually COOK.”
In addition, if there is indeed another iteration of Masterchef waiting in the wings (possibly a Masterchef: The Professionals series, such as the one which aired in the UK), you would imagine it would be logical to swap the old for the new to avoid it becoming… stale.
Talkin’ Bout Your Generation
The only uncertainty surrounding this show being renewed for 2012 arises due to Shaun Micallef’s potential piloting of a new show. If this show were to be picked up by Network Ten, it would be hard to envisage 26 episodes of “Your Gen” as well as another 10 episode Micallef show (hypothetically), unless:
The Your Gen quota was lowered to one 13 episode run, or, Micallef were to be replaced as host of the show (unlikely, because he IS the show).
6PM with George Negus
Everyone knows about George’s ratings woes, and on any other network it probably would’ve got the boot by now. It would also be nervous with new interim boss Lachlan Murdoch in charge.
However, it has garnered no shortage of positive remarks in recent times, and Ten would be desperately hoping this translates into at least mediocre ratings soon.
It probably belongs somewhere in the middle of “Low” and “50/50”, but chances of renewal for a fifth season in 2012 at this stage seem shaky. It was lucky to be granted a fourth- to air in 2011- as it drew mediocre ratings for much of its third season. Plot-lines also seem tired.
The fact that Ten was willing to burn off the extra episodes of season three in the TV off-season just demonstrates how little value it is to the network anymore- apart from helping to fill their Australian content quota.
It has only been given a 13 episode run in season four, and you’d have to think, if it didn’t achieve any sort of increase ratings-wise, and Inside Out is renewed for a second season, there will be no need- or value- for Rush in the 2012 schedule.
Don’t Stop Believing
Can of Worms
In a rarely seen occurence in modern day Australian TV, a non-Underbelly, non-Rafters program has returned for another season.
Yes, Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation has returned for 2011.
Tuesday night’s episode returned with Leisel Jones, Julia Zemiro and Kevin Harrington in their respective generational teams.
Now in its 3rd season, it remains quirky quiz show which is, essentially, a vehicle for Shaun Micallef. And let’s face it- and it’s been said before- Josh is annoying in his ignorance and constant squirming, Charlie is annoying in his smugness and his eyeball-vessel bursting laughing at Shaun and Amanda, well, never comes across as side-splittingly funny.
But it’s Australian after all, and still not a bad way to pass the time. However, as we all know, no Shaun = no show. Well, at least not a good show.
Well, after 44 episodes and a celebrity list boasting nearly every network personality (well, almost) and most B-grade Australian celebrities, what’s changed?
Well, there’s a new chair.
Yup, on with 2011.
Coming to TEN later this year is FOX sitcom Traffic Light.
On the outset, the set-up seems awfully similar- two couples plus a charismatic womaniser seems awfully similar to every other romantic sitcom on TV at the moment. Have a look at these plot summaries from wikipedia and see if you can spot the difference.
“Perfect Couples revolves around three unique couples at various stages in their relationships, yet who face similar problems.”
Better with You: “The series revolves around three different relationships that are tightly intertwined in one family”
Rules of Engagement: “Two couples and their single friend deal with the complications of dating, commitment and marriage. It looks at different relationships in various stages.”
Now let’s see if Traffic Light is any different…
“Mike, Adam and Ethan have been friends since college, and the trio has seen each other through highs and lows.
Wow, this seems interesting…
“Now in their 30s, these men find themselves at very different stages in their lives.
“Mike is a married lawyer…
“Adam recently moved in with his girlfriend…
“Ethan is the perpetual bachelor.
Yup… sounds the same. However, the title lends it a kind of uniqueness, in the way that it’s like a metaphor for where they’re at in their lives… yeah?
The only problem is, this means we have to endure a very crappy title.
Originally titled Mixed Signals, critics have also criticised (who woulda thought?) its bland title. It is also the latest in a long line of comedies trying to re-emulate the success of ABC’s Modern Family, a show which, really, has reinvented The Office’s mockumentary style to make a more accessible, more sitcom-styled show. However, it has been said to be better than some other current sitcoms, with Eric Deggans from the St Petersburg Times saying
“NBC’sPerfect Couples and ABC’s Better With You are much, much worse.”
Paige Wiser from Chicago Sun Times goes further to say
“The first episode’s a little stiff as the guys mark their territory, but by the fourth the show feels sweatpants-comfortable. “Traffic Light” deals mainly with trivialities, so the stakes are low. It’s easy to watch.”
And there’s no shortage of familiar faces, with David Denman, best known from his role as Roy in The Office (Seasons 1-3, with a guest appearance in an upcoming episode of Season 7!); Nelson Franklin also stars, who also found mainstream fame on the Office as the short-lived character, IT guy, Nick. Interestingly, he also joins the ranks of actors who have played two different characters on the same show (he first appeared as “Graphic Design Guy” in Season 4’s Job Fair).
You would recognise Liza Lapira from NCIS, and Aya Cash is a relative newcomer on the scene.
Kris Marshall also stars, who starred in 2003’s Love Actually. He joins the ranks of Jane Leeves of Frasier fame among others as English actors playing English characters in American sitcoms.
In Australia, it will be a good fit for Channel Ten, with its style matching Modern Family. However, don’t expect any fast-tracking, unless it is a certified hit in the US.