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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…

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Between the Lines Review: A Nice Surprise, but can it Join the Ranks of “Specks”, GNW, TAYG?

I was pleasantly surprised by Nine’s latest foray into the panel/quiz show formula. Ten has its pop culture quiz show in Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation, its news quiz show in Good News Week. ABC has its music quiz show in Spicks and Specks and its sports quiz show in The Trophy Room. So how does this stack up?

Well, first off Eddie McGuire as host : he did the job just fine, there was never any question of that. As always, it always comes down to whether you are a fan of his or not, or rather, if you can tolerate him or not. But whether you like him or not, he knows when to let the guests crack their jokes or tell their stories, and when to keep the show moving (though it was not live).
But at the end of the day, even if you don’t like Eddie, he doesn’t dominate the show, so it would be tolerable at worst.

The two team captains were Mick Molloy and Ryan Fitzgerald, who were both quite funny. Molloy came with a few succinct one-liners that he’s used to delivering on Before the Game while Fitzgerald was quite good at responding to situations and making jokes up on the spot.

The comedians were Peter Berner and Ed Kavalee, and they were predictably brilliant, however, I couldn’t help feeling a pang of nostalgia and excitement for the two shows these two were/are involved in (The Einstein Factor and The Joy of Sets).

The stars Lauren Burns and James Tomkins didn’t really have a lot to offer except for a couple of amusing anecdotes, but I guess you need them on there given it is a sports show. And having 6 comedians on a show can sometimes be too chaotic.

So it’s really no different to most panel-type shows- it will live and die by the quality of its guests. For example, I would watch if people like Ed Kavalee were on, but not if someone like Ruby Rose were on.

Also, speaking of female guests, many have remarked that there is not a strong female presence, which opens it up to a barrage of criticism. Here’s a suggestion for another female guest- Mieke Buchan. She is also on Eddie’s Triple M breakfast show, and has good chemistry with him. Also, and most importantly, she knows her sport- she is also associated with Channel Nine as she does voiceovers for the AFL Footy Show.

And speaking of chaos, if you stack it up against GNW, Eddie keeps his show under control. Which isn’t to say that the chaos doesn’t work for GNW.

It is also a bit more structured than Talkin Bout Your Generation, as that show requires a looser format to allow Shaun Micallef room to weave his magic, the elaborate games to play out and allow the guests to have some good ol’ fashioned fun.

However, it is not as structured as Spicks and Specks. It does borrow heavily from its games such as the “pick a subject” questions, and the “true or false” anecdotes. However, I for one couldn’t care less. If a show is good, I don’t care if it borrows elements from other shows. After all, we’re all friends here….

There was, however, one part I disliked was the segment in which the contestants had to pick the “real” Gary Cosier. It isn’t really the fault of the comedians, as they are there to make jokes, but they proceeded to take potshots at the five “Garys” based on their physical appearance. It only served to demonstrate the sort of blokey ribbing with more than a hint of nastiness that would cause many to switch off. For example, Molloy kicked it off by saying one of the “Garys” “is clearly on day release”. Ed Kavalee’s were less malicious, saying one looked like he wants to “go (him)”, while another looked like “Con the Fruiterer”. Molloy, though, finished by saying one looked like he was born in “1896”. On the other side, Berner said “Get two Kerry Bousteads and tape them together” to get one of the “Kerry Bousteads” in the line-up.

I just hope five women aren’t put up next week or else it could get very ugly…

So in the end, it turned out to be a decent show. Not exactly a rip-snorter, but it has the capacity to turn out some decent laughs every week. However, it all comes down to the ratings tomorrow…