Whatever happened to Hamish & Andy? Obviously they’re still around; they have a prime-time television series on Channel Nine as you read this (so long as you’re reading this on a Tuesday night), which pretty much puts them in the very top tier of Australian comedians working on television – even The Chaser or Chris Lilley in his prime never managed to make the leap to commercial television, let alone had a long-running series of successful shows. And yet… what happened to them?
A funny thing happened a month or so ago: we had a week where no new movies were released. Well, there were new movies out there somewhere, if you were willing to travel to Melbourne to one of the smaller or arthouse cinemas, but as far as big new releases at the mainstream cinemas? Nothing. The plan had been for the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Sabotage to be released that week, but after a lacklustre box office performance in the USA distributor Roadshow decided to cut their losses and send it direct to DVD.
So it looks like the ABC’s attempt to revive Spicks and Specks is over. According to various reports, not only will the ABC be pulling the show after airing 20 of the 26 episodes – the remaining six will air later in the year, which is usually code for “the non-ratings period” – but the ABC has also confirmed that “there aren’t plans for the show in 2015”. While this is slightly sadder news than the usual demise of an ABC panel show – unlike both Randling and Tractor Monkeys, the revived Spicks and Specks was occasionally actually entertaining – this wasn’t exactly difficult to see coming.
When exactly did television stop being the low man on the entertainment totem pole? We’ve been talking for the last decade or more about how television is currently in a golden age, but part of the reason why television – the high-end drama side of things, at least – has been so golden lately is that people just aren’t going to bother watching anything that isn’t up to the gold standard.
The future doesn’t just happen. Well, it kind of does – it’s going to be 2020 one day no matter what we do – but the specific kind of future we get is the result of decisions people make. Remember the NBN? That was going to be the future once, an Australia of high-speed downloads […]
Chris Lilley’s back, and going by the ABC’s latest attempt to promote his upcoming new series, they’re not all that confident he’s served up a winner. For this weekend only (assuming you’ve grabbed this copy of Forte as soon as it hits the streets), the entirety of his new show Jonah from Tonga will be available to watch on the ABC’s iView streaming service – from 6 p.m. Friday, May 2 until 6 p.m.
It’s no secret – well, it’s no secret if you’ve been reading this column – that movies have seasons. Over the course of a year, what’s available at the cinema changes; not just individual movies, but what kind of movies. On one level, this is obvious.This issue of Forte is out at the end of school holidays, and so over the last few weeks we’ve had a couple of hard-core kids’ movies on in cinemas – Sherman & Mr Peabody and The Lego Movie.
One of the ABC’s more overlooked success stories of the last few years has been the Agony series of programs. Kicking off with the six-part Agony Uncles in 2012, writer/director/creator/host Adam Zwar went around to a bunch of his comedian mates – with a few wild cards mixed in, like former businessman John Elliot and his son – and asked them for their relationship advice.
So, is Australian television drama dead or what? The news last week that the premiere of Ten’s big hope for early 2014, Secrets & Lies, had failed to draw anything like a decent audience – 404,000 according to the ratings; which is not enough to keep it on the air – coupled with the long-awaited return of Puberty Blues also getting its lowest ratings ever (538,000) suggests that it might be time to get out the shovels.
Underbelly’s back! Only it’s not called Underbelly anymore. It would be both unfair and inaccurate to suggest the name-change came about because of a slow but steady trashing of the brand thanks to a long line of sub-par series over the years. (Reportedly the real reason why they changed the name was to do with claiming the Federal Government’s 20% Producer Offset tax rebate. The money-back offer cuts out after 65 episodes of a series and they couldn’t persuade the Tax Office that each Underbelly series was its own stand-alone show, so no money back for them unless they made a different series.) But the fact that it seems reasonable to assume they changed the name for promotional reasons underlines just how far the Underbelly brand has fallen.