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101 Ways to Kill a TV Show: The Nine Way

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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-mania

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.

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Winners and Losers S01E01 Review

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.

Rake? Tick!

Packed to the Rafters? Tick!

Rush? Tick!

Offspring? 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

(Temptation)

Francis Greenslade

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;

Virginia Gay

Zoe Tuckwell-Smith

Melissa Bergland

Melanie Vallejo

their partners and family, played by;

Francis Greenslade

Jack Pearson (Jenny’s brother)

Sarah Grace (Jenny’s sister)

Denise Scott

Blair McDonough

friends:

Damien Bodie (Frances’ assistant)

Tom Wren

the antagonist

Michala Banas

… 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?

“Rafters” replaced by “Losers”: What are Seven thinking?

Packed to the Rafters, now in its fourth season, has been killing it in the ratings. As usual.

Here are its ratings for its first five episodes of its fourth season.

Week 1: 1,943,000

Week 2: 1,815,000

Week 3: 1,796,000

Week 4: 1,748,000

Week 5: 1,806,000

So obviously many people are watching it.

However, Seven have made the bold move to replace it with new Australian drama Winners and Losers.

This has obviously been a planned strategy, as there’s no way Packed to the Rafters has been replaced for ratings reasons.

Seven has begun the year with a bang, with six strong episodes of Rafters, and hopes that by replacing it with another drama which is similar in tone, the audience will stick around to get their Tuesday night feel-good hit.

However, in this case, it is the wrong way to go about it.

Any Australian drama automatically begins with its back against the wall. Before it has even aired. Viewers have always been skeptical of new Australian drama, especially when compared to their shiny US counterparts.

In this case, it is a big ask from Seven to ask viewers to commit to a new drama, especially when they are so invested in the trials and tribulations of the Rafters.

It’s difficult to say it was a wrong decision to commission with the same sort of warm yet quirky undertones.

However, will people make the big switch next week when 8:30 comes around?

Will people turn off because it will be viewed as an imitation of Packed to the Rafters? Probably not, as it is on the same channel.

However, what did Seven think the media would say about this?

Take a look at these recent articles, trying to whip people up into a frenzy over their beloved Rafters being yanked, pulled and shoved off air.

Seven to replace Packed to the Rafters with new drama Winners & Losers

“Australia’s favourite drama is being pulled off air for at least the next three months.”

Packed to the Rafters season cut short

Packed away for now

Rafters’ cut halfway through series

Ouch.

Colin Vickery even states it has “little chance of getting the whopping (ratings)” of Packed to the Rafters. Well maybe, but this kind of prediction could lead viewers to switch off. Who wants to watch an unpopular show? Again, this is Seven’s fault.

Is it succeeding, though? Well, it certainly has the potential to.

Here are some select quotes from commenters on the Herald Sun article.

Amy of Melbourne Posted at 3:59 PM March 09, 2011

This sucks

Comment 2 of 57

Sandra Barratt of Hampton park Posted at 4:16 PM March 09, 2011

I give it 3 episodes before it gets the chop and Rafters is back on!

Comment 5 of 57

nicole Posted at 4:17 PM March 09, 2011

Why can’t they just put it on another night when there is nothing on don’t take Rafters off ……

Comment 6 of 57

noni from country Vic Posted at 4:29 PM March 09, 2011

Why!

Comment 9 of 57

Em of Melbourne Posted at 4:30 PM March 09, 2011

This little David will flop because of the Goliath of a show it’s replacing. It cannot ride the coattails of PttR. Viewers will switch off in droves after the 2nd episode, when they realise it’s not the show they thought they were going to watch.

Comment 10 of 57

Lisa of Tas Posted at 4:31 PM March 09, 2011

Why cant channel 7 choose another time slot and just kick b*m with 2 good shows, why get rid of packed!!! Unbelievable.

Comment 12 of 57

Bring back PTTR of Melbourne Posted at 4:41 PM March 09, 2011

I was planning on watching Winners & Losers but now I won’t be. Channel 7 what are you thinking??

Comment 19 of 57

Always Right of West Melbourne Posted at 4:40 PM March 09, 2011

What a pack of dumbys! Im not watching the new show out of protest.

Comment 15 of 57

For a show with quite a lot going for it, in terms of bright and bubbly cast, different focus and decidedly different plot, it has generated a lot of negative publicity- and of no fault of the show’s writing or acting.

Obviously “Bring back PTTR” and “Always Right” are the most stinging of all the comments.

Unfortunately for Seven, not many media outlets have reported the fact that Rafters has not actually had many more episodes filmed, so even if they wanted to screen more episodes, there might only be a couple more in the can.

The other problem is, is that these articles keep referring to Rafters as being pulled off air, instead of being replaced in a deliberate strategy. “Pulled” connotes a rash decision, while Seven have probably had this up their sleeves for a while.

As for the fact that Seven didn’t tell anyone until recently, well they wouldn’t have exactly wanted to advertise Packed to the Rafters as being “Back for a (six episode) fourth season!”, would they? Why get viewers riled up then and risk losing the Rafters audience- they’re instead risking not getting a big audience for Winners and Losers.

All I’m saying is that Seven knew the papers would become so alarmist, so why create this opportunity?

Is it the most important issue facing the premiere of this new show? Probably not. Wait for the first newspaper reviews to come out. However, having people looking upon this show as the “show that forced the Rafters off the air” isn’t the best label you want for a new show. Especially when its an Australian show.

Will you be watching Winners and Losers? And if not, will your decision in any way be based on this move?

Shows on Australian TV: Seven – X Factor gets a 2nd chance

Private Practice (US 4th Season *renewed for a 5th*, AU 4th Season)

My Kitchen Rules (Currently in SECOND SEASON) Renewed for a third on 02/03/2011.

The X Factor (ONE SEASON has aired) – Mediocre ratings for its first season, but it has still been renewed for a 2nd season (or third if you include the season that aired on Ten) on 14/03/2011. This year will presumably feature a more prominent youth focus.

Packed to the Rafters (Currently in FOURTH SEASON)

It has been ratings its socks off- well, as much as a show does these days. Here are its ratings from Week 5 onwards.

Monday: 1,461,000 (1st in Time slot, 1st for the night)

Home and Away (Currently in TWENTY-FOURTH SEASON)

Better Homes and Gardens (Currently in FOURTEENTH SEASON – SEVENTH in new format with Joanna Griggs in Friday 7:30pm slot)

Deal or No Deal – (Currently in NINTH SEASON)

Border Security – (Currently in SEVENTH SEASON)

Sunday Night- (Currently in THIRD SEASON) – It is a real asset for Seven, and if it can maintain good ratings, boosts its news credibility- even though it has been criticised in recent times.

Castle

Cougar Town – Seven (US 2nd season – hiatus -, AU 2nd season)

Desperate Housewives – Seven (US 7th season, AU 7th season)

Grey’s Anatomy – Seven (US 7th season, AU 7th season)

Kath and Kim (FOUR SEASONS have aired) – Technically waiting for the Gina Riley and Jane Turner to decide whether they want to do any more series, yet with constant rumours and no new projects on the horizon, I believe at least a “Final Season” is inevitable.

The Matty Johns Show (Currently in SECOND SEASON)

Minute to Win It (SECOND SEASON yet to air)

Dancing with the Stars (ELEVENTH SEASON yet to air) – There’s only so much life in this show, and is the last remnant of the singing/dancing competition obsession of the 2000s.

Australia’s Got Talent (FOURTH SEASON yet to air) – Just a matter of waiting until the “talent” pool dries up, à la Australian Idol 2009.

The Amazing Race Australia (FIRST SEASON yet to air) – If it can generate enough buzz, Seven will have a juggernaut on its hands.

Brothers and Sisters

Thank God You’re Here (FOUR SEASONS have aired)- Unlikely that Working Dog would film a fifth season, as there are not many more avenues to explore in creative terms.

Iron Chef Australia (ONE SEASON has aired) – Average ratings coupled with a different tone and pace might make Seven think twice about renewing it. It also operated around a central gimmick of being based on the original Iron Chef- something that Masterchef purposely steered away from- and for good reason.

Winners and Losers (FIRST SEASON yet to air) – I know that you shouldn’t judge a show’s prospects before you know the figures it will pull, but I just don’t have a good feeling about this. It’s a big ask from Seven to make Australia fall in love with another group of people (in addition to the Rafters, of course), and while they couldn’t adopt the same tone, their decision to opt for a more quirky and humorous tone doesn’t bode well. Australians don’t tend to go for quirky over real emotion too readily, as was demonstrated with Offspring’s first few episodes. It also isn’t based around cops or doctors, and there almost certainly won’t be any gratuitous nudity, so it will be really swimming against the tide.

(Nearly) CANCELLED

City Homicide* (Currently in FOURTH SEASON, a miniseries to come)

*No official word on cancellation, but unless the miniseries rates spectacularly, and Winners and Losers is a dismal failure, it is as good as cancelled.

Packed to the Rafters: S04E02 Review

The episode begins in a fairly conventional way- Rachel decides to clean up Jake and Coby’s pad- because, you know, men are messy and women love to clean. However, she does discover that Coby is actually a
– gasp! – closet painter. Obviously an attempt to add another layer to his character. Not a bad one, but I’d rather see layers added by actions (such as Rachel’s boyfriend’s quite noble ones).

Nathan is also back from wherever he was.

Carbo’s mother is also living with Carbo and Retta, so it’ll be awkward situations ahoy. The kind not seen since Seasons 1, 2 and 3 of Rafters.

It’s always interesting to see a bit of tension between siblings, particularly between Nathan and Ben.

There’s also the added edge of having Ben with a beard, and the intrigue of Ben having spent a month away from Nathan.

It is clear to everyone that there is lingering resentment between the pair, and scars that still haven’t healed. It then becomes clear that Ben still hasn’t recovered from Mel’s death- and why wouldn’t he have? It turns out he had put his own life in danger by jumping off a cliff into water and needing to be brought into hospital.

It is a novel way to structure an episode, with the main focus being on the aftermath of the event, with only a quick flashback to the precarious moment. Normally, Ben jumping off a cliff would be the climax of an episode (and the promos certainly framed it that way), yet the climax was instead Ben almost being hit by a car trying to run away from ‘fessing up. It was a nice little metaphor which still proves that Ben still has a bit to work through.

I wonder how the show’s writers will resolve his grief, as opposed to his father’s depression issues. After all, this was meant to be a happier season.

Well, at least we’re guaranteed to see at least a few different plot-lines involving Ben chasing tail of various kinds, with a fling with a mystery woman signalling a new “beginning” for him.

But certainly the best storyline involved Coby and. After a boozy night in which Coby loses a girl he was interested in to another group of blokes, Jake then wakes up in the middle of the night to them “partying” quite hard with this girl.

There are some obvious signs of these guys taking advantage of this obviously liquored-up girl.

This is where Rafters really comes into its own- putting real societal issues on screen. And this week it’s obviously the question: Would you intervene if you saw someone who was off their face being taken advantage of? Even if they said “yes” to going back to the room?

Especially if you are putting yourself in harm’s way, or, in this episode’s case, make the girl think it is you who is indeed the perpetrator.

In the end, it was certainly a more enriching plotline, and one which will have dramatic ramifications in the coming weeks, than the Ben-Nathan one, which was seemingly resolved with some cardboard-box jumping.

At least for the moment, it doesn’t quite seem that the show is shark-jumping.

Trouble at the Rafters’

In a year that was meant to be a happier year for the Rafters mob after the tragic death of Melissa Rafter (and the earlier exit of Sammy Rafter) in 2010, there is to be at least one Rafters leaving the fold in 2011.

Jessica Marais, who plays Rachel Rafter in Seven’s astronomically popular Packed to the Rafters, has signalled her intention to leave the show to try her luck in the US.

And who can really blame her, with Zoe Ventoura and Jessica McNamee leaving to do the same. It also seems to be as good a time as ever for Aussies to audition in the US, just take a look at this incomplete list of the current crop of young Aussies kicking big goals at the moment.

However, the team at Channel Seven must be getting slightly concerned at these exits.

Let’s compare Packed to the Rafters with McLeods Daughters for a second.

McLeod’s Daughters, like Packed to the Rafters, based itself around a family. It began with Lisa Chappell (who played Claire McLeod) and Bride Carter (as Tess McLeod) as the two “daughters”. They shared the same father, but not the same mother.

However, at the end of Season 3, Claire died in a car accident, however , her baby daughter, Charlotte, was left behind with Tess, technically still making the title true.

Then followed a number of exits including Tess herself, as well as a number of “daughters” seemingly appearing out of nowhere. For example, Jodi Fountain, the daughter of Meg Rivers-Dodge, Jack McLeod’s Housekeeper, later became Jodi Fountain-McLeod after discovering that her mother had a relationship with Jack. (She even later became Jodi Fountain McLeod-Bosnich).

To cope with the exit of even Jodi, Regan McLeod (Zoe Naylor), Grace McLeod (Abi Tucker) and Jasmine McLeod (played by Anna Torv and Edwina Ritchard), all cousins of Tess McLeod.

However, with these introductions and exits, ratings declined- first a minimal decline after Claire’s death, then a sharper drop after Season five, until it petered out in Seasons seven and eight.

Packed to the Rafters, similarly has had very strong ratings in its first three season with ratings rarely dropping blow 1.6 million viewers, and regularly hovering around the 1.8 million mark.

McLeod’s ratings for its first three seasons stayed around 1.85 million, 1.84 million and 1.82 million.

Rafters have had to endure the losses of characters including Sammy Rafter and Melissa Rafter- both core characters there from episode 1. And, both Rafters.

Though, what makes Marais’ exit all the more significant is that she is one of the three Rafters daughters.

And now just wait for the criticism to start.

And this season, and particularly some of last season, Rafters has suffered some less than positive reviews, or at least, less than what is was used to.

It has copped flak for its one-dimension character Nick “Carbo” Karandonis, played by George Houvardas, for its stereotypical portrait of a Greek man- the only ethnic character in the cast- by a mile.

Some have even expressed disappointment at its over-focus on more depressing storylines, namely, Dave Rafter’s bout of depression, as well as Melissa’s death.

Ryan Corr, who plays the rough-around-the-edges Coby Jennings, has joined the recurring cast this season, however, his character, while not terrible, has not exactly rejuvenated the show.

Then there’s Loretta “Retta” Schembri, Carbo’s girlfriend, who- perhaps fittingly – is as one-dimensional as Carbo.

John Howard’s inclusion as the fierce Tom Jennings could be a great source of conflict- if he was released from jail.

However, back to Marais’ exit. James Stewart, who plays her boyfriend, Jake Barton, has stated he will stay on the show. However, what they will do with his character is anyone’s guess.

One would think the ideal situation is for the couple to ride off into the sunset after a 2 million viewer grabbing wedding, but it seems not to be the case.

And producers have stated that Marais’ character will not be killed off, so either a nasty break-up is on the cards (unlikely, because why would Rachel leave her family and a similar exit was executed with Sammy Rafter) or Rachel gets a huge promotion- more likely, given that she is the high-flyer in the family.

Rebecca Gibney also may exit the show, what with her developing a show of her own. TV Tonight also states that it will “advance following a fifth series“.

This would leave the Rafters’ household very empty, and the media to keep thinking up headlines like “Not so Packed as Jess quits Rafters“, which could lead viewers to switch off in droves- as we all know that viewers watch TV for the characters.

However, this is not to say that it is a bad show, or even a mediocre one, by any stretch. It still has quite intriguing storylines at times, and especially when it aims to combine many elements together.

Melissa’s death was also well executed and very tactful, without being too soppy or over-the-top.

And Channel Seven isn’t likely to axe it any time soon, especially with the ratings it is getting. It is now up to producers to keep the show interesting, and viewers watching.

Aussies in the US

Jessica Marais is about to leave Packed to the Rafters to pursue a US career. And why wouldn’t she? Take a look at this incomplete list of the current crop of Aussie actors kicking big goals on TV and the big screen.

Darren McMullen

Originally born in Scotland, McMullen rose to prominence on MTV before making the jump to Channel Nine where he hosted Commercial Breakdown, and then to Channel Seven where he hosted Minute to Win It (the Australian version). He is now hosting NBC’s new reality show Love in the Wild.

Simon Baker

Currently starring in the very successful CBS show, The Mentalist, which is currently in its 3rd Season. There’s also this little story which states that Baker is guaranteed more than $30 million, adding one more year to his six-year contract.

Matt Passmore

The lead actor in A&E drama The Glades, which has been renewed for a second season.

Yvonne Strahovski

Actress in Chuck, which has developed a strong cult following. It is now in its fourth season, and a fifth season is a probably a coin-toss away.

Emilie de Ravin

Has starred in Lost and the movie, Remember Me.

 

Source: fanpop.com

Rose Byrne

Currently popping up all over the place in movies such as Get Him to the Greek, Knowing, Sunshine, 28 Weeks Later and the upcoming blockbusters Bridesmaids and X-Men: First Class. She is also starring in the 101 Network’s Damages, which is soon to have its fourth season premiere.

Emily Browning

Shot to fame with her role in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events in 2004, with roles in Sleeping Beauty and Sucker Punch in 2011.

Rachael Carpani

Former star of Mcleod’s Daughters, she has had a few small roles in NCIS: Los Angeles and the failed Cane, however, will soon be seen in Against the Wall, an upcoming family drama.

Tammin Sursok

The former Home and Away star has been making a name for herself in various teen-aimed shows such as Hannah Montana Forever, Flicka 2 and Sleepaway Camp Reunion. She has also starred in CW show Pretty Little Liars in a smaller role. She was also nominated for a Daytime Emmy for her 273 episode stint on the Young and the Restless.

Josh Lawson

Has starred in the CBS sitcom Accidentally on Purpose with Alyssa Milano, which was cancelled.

More promisingly, he has just had a show picked up by Showtime, House of Lies, which also stars Kristen Bell and Don Cheadle.

Brett Tucker


Former star of McLeods Daughters and Neighbours, he has recently been cast in the US remake of Wonder Woman.

Jesse Spencer


Former star of Neighbours, he now stars in the Fox series House.

Ryan Kwanten

Rose to fame after starring in the US series Summerland, and has now gone on to star in the very popular True Blood on HBO.

And of course, there’s the old guard in Russell Crowe, Naomi Watts, Alan Dale, Nicole Kidman, Geoffrey Rush, Hugh Jackman, Eric Bana, Toni Collette (United States of Tara will have its third season premiere in 2011), most in the peak of their careers.

Review: Adam Hills In Gordon Street Tonight

Wow. That’s all I can say.

Oh, and: why? Why have the ABC held off for so long on producing this gem of a show?

Has there ever been an Australian personality so ready-made for a talk-show than Adam Hills?

Affable, friendly and most importantly… funny.

And it couldn’t have a better home: 8:30 PM on a Wednesday night. A family-friendly timeslot which is usually home to a little show called Spicks and Specks.

It is also coming off the back of one of the worst debuts in Australian history- Ben Elton’s Live From Planet Earth premiered to reviews mostly slamming it as a turgid mess, which was only emphasised by its lacklustre rating of 455,000.

Anything would’ve been a relief. But this wasn’t just “anything”.

Hills single-handedly (see how I didn’t joke about his artificial foot) restored faith in not just Australian comedy, but Australian TV in general.

Yes, we have good shows- ie. Packed to the Rafters, Underbelly, Masterchef, but we’ve seen it all before, haven’t we?

And while the audience will know exactly what to expect from Hills- and that’s not necessarily a bad thing- we have on our hands not only a fresh, exciting new show, but a new format- or at least a new twist on an old one.

It fuses together many elements, but does the show allow Hills to fly into the stratosphere- a place many believe was his rightful and deserved one?

Well, for the sake of formality, let’s run through them.

First, there’s Hills’ laconic chat with his guests- an extended style of his usually more rapid-fire Spicks questions. The chat with Arj was funny- as to be expected. There was a reason that Arj was one of the only bright-spots of Planet Earth last night.

Not doing what you think he's doing

 

Then there was a mostly serious chat with Simon McKeon- not sure if it was the best opportunity to showcase Hills’ humour- McKeon chosen really because he is the man of the moment than anything else.

Bit of a change from the usual Talk Show mugs

However, the chat with Melissa George was the real test- and boy, did it succeed, with at least one YouTube moment that George will still blush about. That’s when the show evolved into everything everyone thought it would be, with off-the-cuff lines flying around and Gadsby spreading her wings.

Ross Noble’s chat was typically weird and as brilliant as always. Now there’s a Brit we can get to host a comedy program.

Then, there’s the side-kick, the Andy Richter, the Paul Schaffer: Hannah Gadsby. The perfect foil to Hills, though that goes without saying. Her humour is deadpan while his is sparky.

An obvious criticism is that there wasn’t enough of her in the first show, aside from a few hilarious facial expressions and the odd one-liner, though I’m sure that will change.

Yes, she actually has mannerisms. Say that for me slowly, Channel Nine, man-ner-i...

I’m confident that her inclusion will prove to be an absolute masterstroke- even if Hills isn’t for you, you simply can’t miss Gadsby.

Hannah Gadsby: "They've called themselves five guys and there's six of them."

In terms of being a talk-show, any show which allows the guests to hang around becomes instantly better. In fact, it was one of the elements which made Rove better when it relaunched in 2006.

Oh, it's just ROSS NOBLE... on a MOTHER-FLIPPIN' iPHONE

Hopefully we’ll get a Julian Clary/Rex Mossop moment in the not too distant future.

Then there’s the audience interaction- something Andrew Denton proved could be genuinely interesting, sometimes audience members even upstaged celebrities on Enough Rope.

And of course Hills’ show “Mess Around” took it to new heights. And it would only work with a handful of comedians, too, as an overly aggressive comedian would alienate audience members and make home viewers squirm.

So basically if you like Hills, you’ll absolutely love this show.

One thing’s for sure; there is absolutely nothing wrong with this show. The first show was definitely funny and it was definitely entertaining. Did you expect it to be anything else?

But a talk-show is one of the hardest formats to pull off, so the fact that it seems like a show in its tenth season is really testament to Hills.

It isn’t often that we know a show will be good, and this definitely delivered. It didn’t necessarily exceed my expectations, but then again, they were fairly lofty to begin with.

It might not be as outrageous as Craig Ferguson, as smooth as Letterman or as cool as Conan, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s Hills at his best and he’s comfortable and charming.

People sometimes say that we shouldn’t go hard on Australian shows that aren’t funny; at least they’re employing Aussies… Right?

Well, sort of.

I believe that we need to give shows a fair go, but if they simply aren’t that funny, it represents a tendency to settle for less. And it isn’t truly indicative of what we are capable of as Australians.

This show is all that we are capable of… And then some. It not only showcases one of our greatest talents, but exhibits everyday Australians as laid-back, funny people with great stories to tell.

Stuff Oprah*, this would be the best advert for Australia. And if not that, jus a damn entertaining show for British telly (Neighbours-style).

Simply put, we needed this show a long, long time ago. It won’t be must-see viewing for everyone as Hills’ comedy isn’t exactly explosive drop-everything-laugh-a-lung-up humour, but no other show can guarantee such a consistently friendly and most importantly, funny show week-in, week-out.

*Sorry Oprah, nothing against you. Please don’t smite me.

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.