January isn’t exactly prime time when it comes to new shows on television. The non-ratings period fillers all turned up a month ago: if you’re after something new, you’re either out looking for downloads of UK Christmas specials (pro tip: this year’s Black Mirror special is well worth a look) or trying to tell yourself that sport is something you watch rather than something you do.
It’s a bit early for the networks to start axing shows for 2015, but we already know of one that won’t be coming back: long-running ABC2 daily satire show The Roast has been given the chop, wrapping up at the end of last week. It’s been a good run for The Roast, which first started as a two-minute fake news snippet in 2011, being expanded to a full ten minutes at the start of this year.
If there are two words guaranteed to send a chill down the spine, it’s “internet sensation”. We all love the internet, but that doesn’t mean we love everything on the internet, and with the democracy of social media pushing audiences towards the short and the punchy, the world on online comedy is… well, anyone remember Beached Az?
The Chaser are back! Well, some of them are back: their new show The Chaser’s Media Circus (Wednesday’s, ABC1, 8.30 p.m.) – which only started the night before this issue of Forte went to print, so it’s all press releases and speculation at the moment – doesn’t feature the full complement of the Chaser team.
Shaun Micallef gets a lot done in a year. Or at least he gets a lot done compared to the rest of Australia’s comedy industry, and it’s up to the individual to consider whether he’s really hard-working or the rest of the business is just full of slackers.
So Doctor Who has been back for a few weeks now and depending on your circle of friends either this new season has been a triumph or just more of the same … which makes it pretty much the same as every other season, or part-season, or Christmas Special of the last few years.
For over thirty years now, the Astor Cinema in St Kilda has been showing classic films. And by “classic” I mean “old”. The Astor is Melbourne’s last remaining repertory cinema (screening non first-run films) out of close to a dozen or more that flourished back in the days before DVDs or video tapes.
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.