As far as Australian television goes, any way you slice it Working Dog is our number one success story. Santo Cilauro, Rob Sitch, Jane Kennedy, Tom Gleisner and (behind the scenes) Michael Hirsh have been making television for twenty years – longer if you count their work as part of The Late Show and The D-Generation – and they’ve been making a lot of different television at that, from the sitcom Frontline to the panel show The Panel to game show Thank God You’re Here…
Sometimes you get to be a success just by sticking around long enough. Josh Thomas’s first series of Please Like Me took a long time to make it on air – it was initially announced for 2012 but didn’t arrive until 2013 – and moved around a bit on the way (it’s the only show to date to be announced for the main ABC free-to-air channel which eventually debuted on ABC2 instead), and even then it wasn’t exactly what anyone would have called a smash hit, pulling in only average ratings on the digital-only network.
Remember the time when sketch comedy was meant to be the kind of comedy Australia did well? We may never have had a Golden Age of sitcoms in this country, but there was a long, long stretch – from the late ’80s through to the early 21st century – when sketch comedy was a permanent part of our television diet.
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.