When you think back over the best sitcoms of all time, what tends to come to mind: wacky comedy situations or wacky comedy characters? Sadly my mind reading powers aren’t what they used to be, but it’s a fairly safe guess that characters came first.
One of the bigger shifts in Australian television over the last decade or so has been the rise of local drama. History time: it wasn’t all that long ago when “Australian drama” was such a low-rating joke that Channel Nine – the biggest network in the country – was only meeting its required quota of Australian drama [part of the requirement for holding a television licence is a certain number of hours of locally produced drama each year] by running 20 hours or so a year of late night sketch comedy show Comedy Inc.
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.