Blog Archives

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

Advertisements

Opinion: Can Nine Reclaim Some Glory?

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…

Read the rest of this entry

Show Preview: MasterChef Australia: Season 3

20110415-124250.jpg

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.

What’s different?

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.

Trailer/Preview clips

Predicted Ratings

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.

The Buzz

Generally good, but very little as yet.

Good buzz

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.”

http://guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2011/apr/14/masterchef-bbc-gregg-wallace?cat=tv-and-radio&type=article

Opinion

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.

Australian TV, Radio and Podcast Twits

I am about to undertake the massive task of compiling a list of Australian Twits.

The list is, and will probably remain, incomplete.

Here goes;

Television

Official Account

Official Account

Official Account (Mobile)

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

Official Show Account

ABC News

Kerrin Binnie – Journalist

Alan Sunderland – “Head of Policy & Staff Development,ABC News Australia”

Official Account (Melbourne)

ABC News on 3

ABC Elections

ABC Investigations

Behind the News

Antony Green – Political analyst

Kieran Ricketts – ABC News24 Producer

Zoe Daniel – South East Asia Correspondent

Matt Wordsworth – Political Reporter (NSW)

Nick Grimm – Journalist

7:30

Official Show Account

Leigh Sales – Co-host of the newly revamped 7:30

Chris Uhlmann – Co-host of the newly revamped 7:30

Justin Stevens – Producer

Big Ideas

Official Show Account

Review with Myles Barlow

Myles Barlow

Art Nation

Fenella Kernebone – Host

Can We Help

Official Show Account

Catalyst

Official Show Account

4 Corners

Official Show Account

First Tuesday Book Club

Official Show Account

Marieke Hardy

Gardening Australia

Official Show Account

Hungry Beast

Official Show Account

Dan Ilic – Co-host

Kirsten Drysdale – Co-host and reporter

Marc Fennell – Co-host

Elmo Keep – Writer

Monique Schafter

Nick Hayden

Aaron Smith

Lewis Hobba

Ali Russell

Veronica Milsom

Nick McDougall

Kirk Docker

Patrick Clair

Chris Leben (Not a cast member for season 3)

LAID

Marieke Hardy – Writer

Lateline

Official Show Account

Karen Barlow – Producer

Good Game

Official Show Account

Steven Bajo O’Donnell – Presenter and producer

Stephanie Bendixsen – Presenter

Spicks and Specks

Official Show Account

Myf Warhurst – Panellist

Alan Brough – No known account

Adam Hills – Host

Adam Hills in Gordon Street Tonight

Official Account

Q and A

Official Account

Peter McEvoy – Executive Producer

John Safran’s Race Relations

John Safran

Triple J TV

Lindsay McDougall

The Chaser

Official Account

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

Insiders

Annabel Crabb – Occasional guest

The Drum

Official Account

Steve Cannane – Host

Annabel Crabb – Occasional guest

Media Watch

Official Show Account

Jonathon Holmes – Host

Foreign Correspondent

Official Show Account

Landline

Official Show Account

Rage

Official Show Account

Countdown

Official Show Account

The Urban Monkey with Murray Foote

Sam Simmons – Comedian

Daniel Keogh – ABC Science Show reporter, famous for becoming broke because of his own goodwill… and Twitter.

Lawrence Leung’s Choose Your Own Adventure

Lawrence Leung

The Gruen Transfer

Official Show Account

Wil Anderson – Host

Todd Sampson

The New Inventors

Official Account

ABC News Breakfast

Official Show Account

Virginia Trioli – Co-host

Michael Rowland


AFL Game Day

Hamish McLachlan

Mark Robinson

Tim Watson

Australia’s Got Talent

Brian McFadden

Grant Denyer

Dannii Minogue

Kyle Sandilands – No Known Account

Better Homes and Gardens

Johanna Griggs – No Known Account

Karen Martini

Jason Hodges – No Known Account

Rob Palmer – No Known Account

Tara Dennis – No Known Account

Border Security

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

Saturday Disney

Sunrise

Official Show Account

David Koch

Melissa Doyle

Natalie Barr

Mark Beretta

Grant Denyer

Fifi Box

Weekend Sunrise

Andrew O’Keefe – No Known Account

Samantha Armytage

The Morning Show

Larry Emdur

The Amazing Race Australia

The X Factor Australia

Luke Jacobz

Today Tonight

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

Hugh Riminton

 

Emma Dallimore

 

Eddy Meyer

Emily Rice

Ross Scheepers – Producer

AFL

Before The Game

Dave Hughes

 

Anthony “Lehmo” Lehmann

Mick Molloy – No Known Account

Samantha Lane

 

Andrew Maher – No Known Account

Bondi Rescue

Lifeguards

 

Bruce “Hoppo” Hopkins

 

Ryan “Whippet” Clark

 

Andrew “Reidy” Reid

Trent “Maxi” Maxwell

Rod “Kerrbox” Kerr

Adriel “Bacon” Young

 

Anthony “Harries” Carroll

Dean “Deano” Gladstone

Ben “Benny” Sutherland

Troy “Gonzo” Quinlan

Terry “Tezz” McDermott

Daniel “Beardy” McLaughlin

Jake Nolan

 

Corey Oliver

Bondi Vet

Dr Chris Brown

Can of Worms

Official Show Account

Meshel Laurie

Dan Ilic

Ian “Dicko” Dickson – No Known Account

 

Everyday Gourmet 

Official Show Account

Justine Schofield

Huey’s Kitchen

Junior MasterChef

Anna Gare

MasterChef Australia

Offical Show Account

Gary Mehigan

Matt Preston

George Calombaris

Matt Moran

Donna Hay

 

 

 

 

Luke Mangan

 

Adriano Zumbo

Previous Contestants

Series 1

Brent Parker Jones

Kate Rodrigues

Series 2

Adam Liaw

Marion Grasby

 

Alvin Quah

Callum Hann

Jimmy Seervai

Meet The Press

News

Offspring

Ready Steady Cook

Recruits

Rush

Sports Tonight

Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation

Shaun Micallef – No Known Account

Amanda Keller

Charlie Pickering

Josh Thomas

The Biggest Loser

Michelle Bridges

The Circle

The Renovators

Official Show Account

7pm Project

Official Account

Dave Hughes – Co-host

Emily Rusciano – Occasional reporter

Ten News

Sydney Official Account

Sandra Sully – Ten Evening News host (Sydney)

Angela Bishop

Sky

Sky News

Sky News Agenda

David Speers – Political Editor

Shows on Australian TV: Ten

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)

Bondi Rescue

Bondi Vet

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.

The Circle

Undercover Boss Australia

Huey’s Kitchen

Ready Steady Cook

Good News Week

The Fifth Quarter

Before the Game

One Week at a Time


Offspring

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.

Rush

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

COMING SOON

Can of Worms

Modern Family here for the Long Haul

Don’t expect to be saying goodbye to Modern Family anytime soon.

It has just hit a season and series-high 13.16 million for its Valentine’s Day episode in the US, smashing its previous record of 12.67 in its second season premiere.

This is its 13th episode of its second season (its 36th all up).

However, while Modern Family is going from strength-to-strength ratings-wise, critically, it has not been as successful as its first season, with the plot-lines of the various families becoming less intertwined than the first season.

Not that ABC (US) will care about that, of course, with Modern Family arguably propelling Cougar Town into its second season off the back of its great ratings.

This has also proved true for the recent debut of Mr. Sunshine starring Matthew Perry and Allison Janney, with its pilot netting a cool 10.524 million viewers (Cougar Town has been temporarily taken off air to accommodate it) despite luke warm to good reviews before it premiered.

There was no surprise when it was renewed for its third season on January 10th, 2011, and its hard to see it going anywhere anytime soon- something Channel Ten in Australia would be ecstatic about.

In Australia, Modern Family airs on Sunday nights, with the 11th episode, “Slow Down Your Neighbours” the latest to air.

Your Gen Returns for 2011

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.

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;

446,000

446,000

482,000

495,000

515,000

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;

565,000

581,000

587,000

523,000

467,000

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.

Preview: Signs good for Ten’s Traffic Light

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.

Oh, right…

“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.

WATCH/AVOID