Friday, December 12, 2008

Summer Viewing Guide: Seven

This summer, seven has gone with some unexciting British dramas, failed American dramas as well as some new ones which weren't even tried out during the year with a sprinkling of some Australian documentaries.


Scrubs: Now in its 7th Season, this quirky comedy is looking very weary and is a shadow of its former self but there are at least a couple of good moments in each episode.

Kath and Kim: American Series- Yes, it is terrible... not just in comparison to the Aussie version, but just as a TV show. But it is like a car-crash... you know the rest... And it's fun to see how they copy some parts almost scene for scene.

Eli Stone: Slightly different US drama series in which the main character sees visions involving George Michael songs. On twice a week.

Dance Machine: Fairly OK show involving "everyday" people dancing shamelessly... all for $$$.
Serves as some light-entertainment of a Saturday night.

The Rich List: Hosted by Andrew O'Keefe, this show has been dragged out again after tanking in the Ratings season. Viewers grew sick of the drawn-out and repetitive process just to get to the "Rich List" stage... Oh, and those obscure lists... and the cross promotion lists such as Competitive Styles of Dance on Australia's Dancing with the Stars and Money Amounts in the Deal or No Deal cases.


Holby Blue, Seven Wonders of the Industrial World: The Brooklyn Bridge, A Touch of Frost, Bones,
Watch only if over 50 and/or have trouble getting to sleep.

Dirty Sexy Money, Ugly Betty, Las Vegas: Over the top and unneccesary dramas which are nowhere near as popular as they once were.

Prison Break: I know people who still like this show... but know of many who have given up.

The Amazing Race: I just get sick of seeing everyone rushing around while they get agitated at foreigners.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Summer Viewing Guide: Nine

Here are some recommendations for Channel Nine's Summer schedule.

As opposed to ten's repeats and some failed American dramas, Nine has a number of sitcoms, including Two and a Half Men, The New Adventures of Old Christine and The Big Bang Theory. It also has a raft of unaired Australian content including the final season of Mcleod's Daughters, Australian Geographic specials, Temptation, The Waiting Room, Emergency, 10 to One, Deadly Surf, Sudden Impact and You Are What You Eat.

It still has many US drama favourites such as CSI Miami, Cold Case, CSI (all repeats of course), new Fringe, ER, The Closer, Close to Home and Gossip Girl and of course US reality such as Wife Swap and Survivor: Micronesia


Big Bang Theory- Great new nerdy comedy series

Old Christine- Not a bad show for some light viewing. The show that unofficially broke the "Seinfeld curse" for Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

10 to One- Nothing really new or groundbreaking here but often it's a good for those "remember when..." moments.

You Are What You Eat- If you're feeling bad about yourself, watch this.

Mcleod's Daughters- It has well and truly descended into soap territory, but this rural drama, now in its eighth season could be a lot worse.

Temptation- This family friendly quiz show is a reliable and entertaining choice.... unfortunately it has been axed so don't get too attached.


The Waiting Room, Emergency, Deadly Surf, Sudden Impact

I don't know how anyone manages to tell these shows apart from each other, but there's obviously an audience for these types of reality docu-drama shows. Not for me.

Nine hasn't done too bad a job putting together a schedule for summer. There's pretty much something for most people there, and there's a fairly even balance between Australian and American content.

Summer Viewing Guide: Ten

Now that the "Silly Season" of TV in Australia is well underway, there's only a select group of shows which are worth watching. Amongst all of the channels, Network Ten has the least to offer, serving up viewers mostly repeats of shows seen earlier in the year.



The Office: Pushed way into the depths of a Sunday Night, this show was tried by Ten a couple of years ago and was removed due to poor ratings. But don't be fooled by the lack-lustre First Season, most of the episodes of the Second season and currently airing Third Season are absolute gold. It may take some getting used to, as it has no laugh track it is filmed in a mockumentary style, but it is just as good, if not better than the highly acclaimed UK version. The best thing on TV at the moment by a mile.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Global Edition: I only recently rediscovered this show and realised how sharp not only the writers are, but also Jon Stewart. It is a highlights package of Jon Stewart's show, so you only get the best bits, which are very good. Also on a Sunday night.


Don't Forget the Lyrics: American gameshow featuring Americans unafraid to embarass themselves on National TV.

Rush RPT.: Great Cop show with a difference, but they are repeats of episodes seen only months ago. Watch only if you missed it earlier.

America's Next Top Model: I can understand if you like this type of show but women encouraged to be naasty to each other (and be stick-thin) is not really my idea of entertainment.

The Simpsons RPT.: What's new?

The Bold and the Beautiful: Again, not really my thing but can be a guilty pleasure for some. Doing OK in its new 6:00 timeslot, hovering around 500k.

How to Look Good Naked: Hmm. A show solely aimed at women and making them feel better about their bodies, which is never a bad thing. If you enjoy seeing Carson Kressley poke at women's bodies... then I'm sure you'll love this show. Not rating too well.

Out of the Blue: Banished to a 10:30 PM timeslot without even given a chance at 6:00 or 7:00 this is really just your average Aussie soap with a hint of murder mixed in. I'm sure if you like Home and Away or Neighbours you'll like it... but I don't. Not rating too badly considering the timeslot, about the same as Bold, if not a touch less.

Friends RPT.: Replaying episodes from the sixth season. It wasn't bad watching repeats of the sixth seaosn when they were aired earlier this year, but who wants to watch repeats or repeats? Obviously 600,000 or so people.

Rules of Engagement RPT.: Mostly a rubbish sitcom, of the same ilk as Two and a Half Men. Stars David Spade and that guy who you recognise from some other show (Patrick Warburton who played David Puddy on Seinfeld).

NCIS RPT.: A show growing in popularity every week, but not for everyone, including me.

Law and Order CI, SVU RPT.: More of the same from Dick Wolf. Not rating as well as it once did.

Ice Road Truckers and Orange Roughies: Why would anyone bother to watch this show, let alone make it? Two of those shows that I didn't watch solely based on their titles.

Going off with a Bang

If you manage to turn on the TV and not see Charlie Sheen's grinning mug, you may just catch a sort-of new show called The Big Bang Theory. It premiered last summer but was taken off due to poor ratings. Now, Nine, keen to find another Sitcom hit, has brought it back.

It stars Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons as Leonard Hofstadter and Sheldon Cooper respectively, who are two braniac physicits, who find themselves living across from a TOTALLY HOT lady, Penny, played by Kaley Cuoco (who you will recognise from "8 simple rules"). Of course, awkard situations and geeky banter ensue. Penny is portrayed as a simple, but strong-willed woman, in contrast to the intelligent, but incredibly annoying Sheldon. Of course, there's the unresolved sexual tension between Leonard and Penny... which is interesting to watch, if not a bit sad to see this "nerdy" guy drool over waitress Penny.
The secondary guys include an Indian stereotype called Rajesh, who mutters things about curry and Bollywood (ie. his naming of a planetary object, PlanetBollywood) and my favourite character, Howard Wolowitz, who fancies himself as a ladies man, but of course is anything but.

It doesn't matter that most of the cast is relatively unknown, as they portray their characters very well, and all of the characters are unique in their own way. Many people have mentioned the fact that you can see the jokes coming a mile away, which is true, but the jokes aren't too bad... well, at least not as bad as Two and a Half's juvenile humour.
Even though I don't understand half of the scientific babble coming out of their mounths half the time it is amusing to watch them interact with an often confused Penny.

The set is small and pathetic but you are forced to get used to it.

The latest ratings in Australia haven't been fantastic, but they have been OK, hovering around the 1m mark sometimes, which Nine should be reasonably happy with, considering it is summer, at it is an improvement on last summer. Here they are;


Wedesday- 983,000 (3rd in timeslot)
Wednesday- 1,008,000 (3rd in timeslot)
Sunday- 1,046,000 (2nd in timeslot)
Monday-970,000 (2nd in timeslot)
Sunday- 912,000 (1st in timeslot)
Monday- 816,000 (3rd in timeslot)

The Big Bang Theory can be seen on Nine at 8:00 on Sunday and Monday.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ten: What Went Wrong?

I can really only think of one medium threat ten has for 2009... So You Think You Can Dance. Yep. That's it. Of course, there are also other shows that do OK, like NCIS, Rove, Good News Week and Rush, but none of them are great, like some shows on other networks, ie. Packed to the Rafters, Underbelly, etc.

Ten has been infamous, of late, for shuffling programs around, axing them and taking them out of schedule, frustrating viewers to no end. To name a few, 90210 was recently brought back for one week, and now has vanished without a trace (even though they have a HD channel). The 7:00 timeslot has been shuffled from Taken Out to repeats of Friends to repeats of Will and Grace and back to Friends. The Bold and the Beautiful has been pushed into prime-time, frustrating some people who prefer it in the afternoon (AdelaideNow). Ten has to realise that this builds up resentment against the network, and cannot expect people to come back for new shows if they are not happy with the way they are treating old favourites... They especially do not need this resentment when they have lost their highest rating Australian show in a long time.

It can be argued that this resentment is beginning to show, with Ten's once most popular show House, severely weakened- all of its recent new episodes but one failed to crack the 1m mark. Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader was also weakened, as was Rove. Ten's attempts to revive the Sitcom failed in Back to You and Rules of Engagement. The embarrasing Download was axed as viewers realised that there's this new website that everyone's talking about called "YouTV or TubeMe or something".

All I have to say is that ten has a long way to go to claw itself back to where it was at the end of 2007.

They're Not Here Anymore

I don't blame Thank God You're Here, or Working Dog to be specific, for jumping ship.

Let's face it. When a large object is sinking... what is the best thing to do?
That large thing is Channel Ten... oooh sorry, Network Ten. Channel Seven apparently offered the "Dog" a million dollar deal to come to their network... and who wouldn't?
Especially in this financial crisis, who would rather have loyalty, integrity, blah blah blah, over a huge wad of cash?

Seven has just won its second consecutive ratings here. I won't bore you with statistics but Seven has well and truly snatched the crown from nine.
And Seven isn't afraid to splash a bit of cash around. Last year it poached Kash and Kim from the ABC, to great success. A year before that it still had Dicko, who it had tempted with another multi-million dollar deal... to not so great success- after a gig hosting the ill-suited My Restaurant Rules, he was shoved in lycra and dance to the Muppet Show theme on Dancing with the Stars, and in the next series he found himself judging for one week on the same show... the only non-proffesional dancer to sit on the panel.
Even though this was mostly a failure, it was during the years building up to seven's big win in 2007. However, the message is still clear, if you spend money, you make money.
Thank God You're Here is sure to be a success. All of the ingredients are there, Shane Bourne has already been at Seven for two years now, it would be no problem to get the supporting cast back- as two of them (Nicola Parry and Toby Truslove) are already on This is Your Laugh with Andrew O'Keefe, and it wouldn't be too much of a problem to get the rest back together, including the very cool Ed Kavalee.
The only problem I see is that of one H. Blake. He is arguably the stand-out performer on TGYH. His ability to think on his feet is exceptional and mirrors the idea of the show. Of course, I am not forgetting about Shaun Micallef, who could also be argued as being another stand-out. Anyway, I don't think Hamish would be allowed to appear on another commercial network just for a couple of appearances on TGYH, as he is contracted to Ten. Hamish and Andy have been rumoured to be in talks for their own show for quite a while, and I wouldn't think that he would leave Ten.
Nevertheless, with Working Dog still at the helm, I have no doubt that the show will be just as good, if not better, than before.

Stone Cold Success

Just when you think we've had enough legal dramas (Law and Order SVU, CI, Boston Legal, Ally Mcbeal, The Practice), along comes another one. In many ways, it is the same as most others, but it also has one major point of difference- George Michael.
Yes, George Michael in a legal drama. That is, if it is entirely a "drama" in the first place.

Jonny Lee Miller, a 36 year old English actor, plays the main role of big-time lawyer Eli Stone. This seems to be the trend of late in America; rope in British actors such as Hugh Laurie in House and that what's-his-name from Life, Damian Lewis. Anyway, he was apparently married to Angelina Jolie for a couple of years, not that it makes any difference to the show.

But what makes this lawyer so special, is that he has a brain aneurysm, which seems to cause him to have visions of people singing George Michael songs... and other TOTALLY RANDOM things like aeroplanes flying at him... BUT DON'T WORRY- It all means something, trust me.

It all links back to his father and the case he is working on at the time. He also goes to see this Chinese guy who tells him he is a prophet and mentors him.

Somehow though, it is addicting TV, with the musical sequences breaking the monotony of normally boring legal procedures. He also aims to represent less fortunate people such as immigrants and autistic children's parents... aaaawwwww. Yes, so there are messages, etc. in the show... so at times it does verge on sappiness.

But overall, it is well worth a try, just to try something different. Oh, and don't get too attached to it. It was axed in America halfway through its 2nd season. THe ratings in Australia haven't been too crash-hot either.

ELI STONE- Tuesdays and Thursdays 8:30 PM - Channel Seven