Let’s get one thing straight: the main thing that kept us watching the first episode of the newly returned Weekly was to find out if Briggs was going to be in more than the opening pre-recorded segment. And he wasn’t! Way to start the way you mean to go on, The Weekly. Briggswatch 2019 is go!
Otherwise it was just the same old same old “say things loudly and throw in the occasional pause and hey presto, a regular news story becomes comedy” from host Charlie Pickering. Who knew that saying “There, I said it!” after a news story made it hilarious? Or that repeatedly reminding us that we were watching the start of “Series five” of The Weekly would make us think he was desperately trying to reassure viewers they weren’t watching a repeat because every episode has been basically interchangable since Pickering gave up doing outside segments in week four of series one?
But it was when they showed the #eggboy clip that we really remembered the big problem The Weekly faces above and beyond being shit: unless you have something new to bring to the news cycle, a “week in review” show is completely pointless in 2019. And 2018. And 2017. And pretty much from the day The Weekly began, so we don’t really know what we’re complaining about here.
What’s constantly bizarre about The Weekly is that if there has to be a show with nothing more to it than someone re-reading news stories and slapping a bit of comedy outrage on at the end, why would you put Charlie Pickering in charge of it? Back in the days when Mick Molloy used to go nuts, or even when Dave Hughes used to lose it, there was some comedy value in seeing someone get all worked up. But Pickering? Yeah, nah. Though his head does seem to be gradually turning into a basketball, so that’s a reason to keep coming back.
At least they knew enough to get exciting new correspondent Judith Lucy on board early to let us know she was the show’s new “wellness warrior”, so we’re probably not going to be seeing a lot of Scott Morrison slams during her occasional segments. But hey, there’s booze jokes, references to having fat injected up her clacker, and wellness porn, which all seemed a whole lot fresher when it was followed by a segment titled “The Pedo Files” because that pun was past its use-by date 20 years ago. Mind you, ending a segment on sex offenders with “Moving on, Tom Gleeson is still to come” was definitely not what we expected.
And of course, Gleeson was back, making it two shows in a row in prime time on the National Broadcaster featuring Tom Gleeson, which really does feel like some kind of terrible mistake. Like Pickering, it’s not that he’s rubbish – though basing an entire comedy career on “hey, I’m really committed to acting like a prick” is the kind of thing that definitely edges you towards the rubbish bin after the first decade or so – as it is that he’s just very deeply average.
This is the fifth year of The Weekly, and if you’re the kind of person who gets annoyed when Get Krack!n keeps on making jokes about shitty men here’s a tip: every time the Kates complain about how crappy dudes have it easy, think of Charlie Pickering and Tom Gleeson. Pickering has a show with his name in the title: Gleeson is appearing in two shows back-to-back. And if you think either of them are so good at their jobs that they deserve that kind of free ride after five years of churning out the same utterly disposable pap, we hope you enjoy your position in the senior levels of ABC management.
Aunty Donna’s new YouTube series Glennridge Secondary College is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Aunty Donna: a series of high-energy sketches riffing on a theme, in this case, life at a typical suburban secondary school.
If the sketches look highly polished, that’s because many of them come from the trio’s live tour from last year, also called Glenridge Secondary College, which we haven’t seen. Another thing that’s notable about this series of sketches is that there’s no narrative or consistent characters across them, which led us to wonder whether that was also the case in the live show.
A quick Google later, and we came across this review of the live show:
Glennridge Secondary College sees the Aunty Donna boys take on a more structured approach than ever before. Instead of their usual brand of nonsensical and disconnected sketches, they’ve reinvented themselves with some nonsensical, connected sketches.
So, there was some sort of storyline or narrative arc in the live show. Perhaps that will become clearer as more sketches are released online (or not).
What’s not in doubt, though, is that this is another good series of sketches from Aunty Donna. Some, like Roll Call, are brilliantly done. School roll calls have been the inspiration for many great sketches over the years (Rowan Atkinson did several hilarious versions of a roll call sketch) but this one is classic Aunty Donna – relentless repetition of a comic idea until it becomes even funnier, plus a hefty dose of comic violence.
Don’t Get In The Kiln, which is equally relentless and violent, works along similar lines, while How To Be Cool takes the relentless repetition and comic violence and throws in a bit of surrealism – oh, and it’s a song.
Less successful, because the three Donnas take the idea of relentless repetition a bit too far, is Ball Games At Lunch, which at more than six minutes outstayed its welcome. Although we enjoyed the teenage extras in the background trying desperately not to laugh as various members of the trio screamed in each other’s faces.
Overall, Glennridge Secondary College is worth seeking out on YouTube. Sure, there’s no story, but that’s not really the point. Aunty Donna are at their best when they’re just focused on making us laugh. And there are far worse comic approaches out there than going for laughs – see the rest of this blog for details.
After McCallum Real Estate accidentally prevented the local council from creating a much-wanted new park, Daniel (Luke McGregor) and Emma (Celia Pacquola) are now town pariahs. Will they be able to ride it out and win back the locals, or is some kind of murder-suicide pact the only way out?
For a show that’s basically the Australian version of those cosy twee rural murder shows the UK pumps out twice a week only with no murder, it’s strange how unconcerned or unable Rosehaven is to deliver the pleasures people expect from this kind of show. For starters, instead of some much-loved but aging out of sexy roles personality playing the lead to appeal to the oldies, we get McGregor and Pacquola, who…
Okay, look: they’re easily the best things in this show, but this never feels like the show they should be in. Obviously the whole idea is a vague “fish out of water” thing – or it was back in season one – but their style of comedy never quite clicks with the rest of the show. Put another way, their banter is pretty good and they have decent chemistry, while the rest of the show’s humour is based around nutty locals and the kind of unfunny business that usually takes place in cosy twee rural murder shows.
The obvious answer there is “be more funny”, but it’s been clear pretty much from the start that this isn’t that kind of show. The setting is meant to be – like we’ve mentioned before – cosy and twee, rather than actually funny. And that’s fine: it’s just that usually in a comedy if you want the setting to be a bland backdrop that’s because you’re getting laughs from somewhere else. But if Daniel and Emma were actual comedy characters rather than pleasant types you’d happily have as neighbours it would wreck the show: this is Seachange, not The League of Gentlemen.
The other thing these kind of shows usually have to keep the audience awake is the occasional feeling that the leads might have sex. Obviously this isn’t going to happen here – remember when McGregor did that show about how he’d never had sex and couldn’t figure out how it worked? – but usually with a show as low stakes as this some kind of sexual tension is vital as far as convincing audiences they haven’t accidentally tuned into a vision of the afterlife.
(yes, Daniel has a girlfriend and he’s got doubts that they’re right for each other and who cares?)
Basically, the real problem with Rosehaven is that you have a low-drama pair of leads in a low-drama setting. This kind of dull setting needs some actual excitement to provide contrast and interest, which is why this kind of dull setting is usually where cosy rural murders take place: meanwhile, these kind of comedy leads need to be put in a place where stuff actually happens to generate some contrast between them and their situation, which is why they’re called “sitcoms” and not “did I just fall asleep?”
That’s not to say nice shows where nothing happens don’t have their place on our televisions, and Rosehaven certainly does make Tasmania look like an enticing holiday destination so job well done there everybody funding this show. But the producers never got the memo that “nice” doesn’t have to mean “boring”; unless you’re unnaturally engaged in the characters of Daniel and Emma there’s just not enough going on in Rosehaven to make regular visits worthwhile.
So of course, this season ended with a happy ending that restored the status quo in every direction and made a fourth season all but inevitable*. On the up side, at least we might get more Anthony Morgan; any chance of a spin-off there?
*especially once the ABC announces at the end of 2019 that it was their most watched comedy on iView this year. You do the math.
Well, this took us by surprise…
…and yet, in a lot of ways, it makes perfect sense.
Look, we’ll be honest: Team Tumbleweeds is divided on this. Not on whether Judith Lucy is any good, of course: she is, end of story there, no further correspondence will be entered into.
Judith Lucy has always been a divisive figure (go check out the more misogynist comments on the above announcement for more on that) but if she’s not quite in the “Much Loved” category then she’s unquestionably a “Much Loved Cult Figure”, with a sizable and dedicated fanbase. Also she’s funny, so like we say, end of story there.
And we’re not even divided on whether this is a good move for The Weekly – assuming there is anyone out there who thinks The Weekly is doing a good job just as it is. Given that her predecessor Kitty Flanagan was very much following in Lucy’s footsteps when she started out in stand-up in the mid-90s, this isn’t much of a departure. You could even argue that clearly The Weekly has enough nouse to realise their show’s a bit of a blokefest, so who better to change that than Judith Lucy?
As much as Judith Lucy is well above announcing her appointment in crap parody of Married at First Sight, we like her style in calling them out for it, mid-parody. It suggests she won’t be taking Pickering and Gleeson’s smug crap, anyway.
Where we’re divided is on how much of an impact Lucy’s arrival will have on the show. Some say Lucy is such a strong charismatic performer she’s bound to carry the show with her simply by being a regular; others point out that hey, there’s Briggs getting a grand total of zero lines in that promo, guess they’ll keep on having him on once every seven episodes so they can defuse the argument that the show is just a fucking boys club where Pickering and Gleeson glad-hand each other each week.
Lucy isn’t some kind of loose cannon here to blow up the system: she’s a safe pair of hands who’s been a regular on shows like Rove, Hughsey We Have a Problem, The Project and Studio 10, so being funny in short segment form isn’t a big leap for her. And does anyone really think The Weekly in 2019 is going to make her a fully fledged co-host? She’s replacing Kitty Flanagan, so it seems reasonable to assume she’ll be getting the Flanagan slot: five minutes or so two weeks out of three while Tom Gleeson gets two segments every week and Pickering’s name is on the masthead.
Our other big hope for Flanagan’s replacement going into 2019 was that they’d find someone with an explicitly political approach, considering there’s an election coming up and the ABC don’t seem to be interested in lining up any other prime time political comedy. Much as we love Lucy, overtly political comedy isn’t usually her bag and we doubt she’s going to start now. Hopefully they’ll figure out some other way to get more obvious political commentary on the show, because their coverage last year of the Liberal’s leadership spill was embarrassingly shithouse.
And that’s why we’re mixed about this announcement. Lucy is a great performer and anything that puts her on our screens more is to be applauded, but Lucy is also a skilled professional who can and will slot into an established show without rocking the boat. And rocking the boat is something the predictable, boring, and increasingly irrelevant The Weekly desperately needs.
Still, who knows? At least they didn’t hire Kate Langebroek. So, let’s file this under “cautiously optimistic”. Clearly The Weekly can’t be relied on to improve itself this far into proceedings, but hiring the best possible replacement for Kitty Flanagan – and one of the best stand-ups in this country – is a move in the right direction.
This week’s Get Krack!n was a little different to previous episodes: it was a re-cap show. Forced to come in on a Saturday morning to present a “best bits” package for weekend viewers, the Kates reluctantly took us through the highlights of their past week of environment-themed shows. And if you’ve been watching the past couple of weeks of Get Krack!n and thinking “this could be better”, then this is an episode worth watching, as it was a definite return to form.
Why was it an improvement? Well, we think the highlights format made for a funnier program than the format used in previous episodes of Get Krack!n, where the Get Krack!n show was presented in real time. Sure, with the real time format there’s plenty of comic potential coming from the tension of the Kates having to skip from awful segment to ill-advised segment to downright disastrous segment. But on the flipside, the real time format means that each segment has to be shown in its entirety, whereas with a highlights format only the really funny bits of each segment needs to be shown.
There were also some extra opportunities for gags in the highlights show, by having the weekend crew consisting of film school dudes all keen on doing something a bit artistic – and the Kates having their weekends, nay their lives, ruined by having to do an extra day’s work. And with McLennan now down to zero friends and both McLennan and McCartney’s husbands fairly cheesed off with them, oh, and with the studio carpark flooded, it can’t be long before we find the Kates presenting their final episode from a cardboard box under a railway bridge to an audience of homeless drunks, meth addicts and diseased rodents.
Oh, and speaking of bleak, the usual bleak/woke gags worked particularly well in this episode, it being about an actual real-life disaster that we’re all careering towards and are seemingly powerless to do anything about. We also enjoyed the Kash Kock’s visit to a house with some rather interesting contents, the New Zealanders who’d been “rescued” at sea, and the segment in which various right-wing nut jobs (played by the actor John Howard, Debra Lawrence – is it now mandatory to have her in everything? – and David Quirk) got to have their say on a trivial but potentially flammable social issue.
And with Mark Humphries and Sammy J being not great, and Tonightly still axed, Get Krack!n is proving to be the best satire on TV right now. Not something you’d necessarily expect from a show which is meant to be a parody of morning programs.
Get Krack!n this week tackled the hard-hitting issue of… hang on a sec, we’ll get back to Get Krack!n eventually, but did you see the promo the ABC ran just before (and after) it this week? Let’s hit the big notes:
1): The Weekly will be back March 20th
2): It’s going to have a new “correspondent”
3): They didn’t announce who, and
4): They obviously didn’t announce it in a Married At First Sight parody because that would be pretty demeaning to the mystery new host and… oh hang on a second.
Where to begin with this shit? To get the obvious out of the way first: either they don’t actually have a new correspondent yet or (more likely) whoever they do have is someone we probably haven’t heard of, because otherwise they would be shouting it from the high heavens.
This almost certainly means that our hopes and dreams regarding The Weekly have once again been dashed – instead of hiring someone who could shake up the place, or even just work as a counterbalance to the imperial smugness of Pickering and Gleeson, there’ll be some occasional guest appearances from someone who’s clearly a distant third in the scheme of things. Which was always going to be the case, but we like to keep our hopes alive for recreational purposes.
After all, if you needed any more of a reminder of how much of a boy’s club The Weekly is, just rewatch that promo.
Married At First Sight might be the hottest thing on television right now, but is this really the way the two male hosts of a semi-serious news program want to announce the hiring of their new workmate? No wonder Briggs was nowhere to be seen.
(if it turns out that the new correspondent is a dude, then this promo suddenly becomes a lot better… though The Weekly itself would become much worse)
It’s been a long running sign of just how kak-handed The Weekly is in general that they’ve never really managed to figure out a way to promote it accurately. This promo would work fine for a show that specialised in pop culture parodies and sketch comedy, or even to peddle some kind of doofus panel show where wacky hijinks are the norm. But if you’ve ever watched The Weekly you know that around 70% of it is pretty much straight news with its tie slightly loosened – and yet every single promo for it is trying to flog it as the funniest thing since Fast Forward. Come for the comedy, stay for the seven minute lecture on plastic in the environment.
But the juicy filling in this particular shit sandwich is that air date. Here’s all you need to know:
The 2019 Australian federal election will elect members of the 46th Parliament of Australia. The election will be called following the dissolution or expiry of the 45th Parliament as elected at the 2016 double dissolution federal election.
The next election must be held by 18 May 2019 blah blah blah
It seems the ABC, in their boundless wisdom, has decided that the satirical news program they want to cover the 2019 Federal Election is the toothless sack of used nappies that is, and has consistently been for the last few years, The Weekly. When the nation turns to the ABC for comedy to cut through the waffle flowing freely from this election campaign, they’re going to find Hard Chat working its hardest to make our pollies seem like funny buggers in on the gag and Pickering trying his best to pretend he’s not going to be voting whatever way Daddy’s accountant advises him to.
(our current best guess for the new correspondent? Julie Bishop)
Baseless personal attacks aside, over the last few months there’s been a lot of discussion about the way the ABC board and management have been pandering to the current government. Is giving the prime election comedy slot to their most provably pissweak “satire” program yet another example of this? That’s not for us to say.
What we can say is that if you were an organisation desperately, palms-sweatingly, pants-wetingly afraid of doing anything to annoy your current or future political masters, and you had two satirical news programs to choose from when it came to election coverage, choosing The Weekly would make you look pretty gutless whatever your publicly stated reasons (if any) for doing so.
Having people paying attention to The Weekly for once isn’t exactly good news for anybody either.
The appointment of a new senior member of staff to an existing TV program can tell you a lot about where that program might be heading. This week, the ABC released information about a new appointment to the soon-to-return The Weekly with Charlie Pickering:
Jules Holmes has started as Senior Producer of The Weekly with Charlie Pickering after working as Head of Field of Tomorrow Tonight (ABC). She previously worked on The Project as Field Producer for five-and-a-half years and had also been Creative Director for a number of brand integration campaigns on Network 10.
So, not exactly a comedy appointment, then.
Or is it? From what we can figure out, a field producer typically works on longer pieces, like interviewing someone about a tragedy or a location report covering the aftermath of a disaster, which isn’t exactly comedy material. And Holmes is very highly regarded in that area.
So, The Weekly have hired themselves a very good Senior Producer with experience of producing high-quality, serious, longform pieces. Which is a good thing, as The Weekly‘s previous serious longform pieces have been pretty snooze-worthy. But what is the show going to do to improve its comedy? Are there any plans to hire someone good to work on those? And now that Christopher Pyne’s resigned, they can’t do any more of that Pyne Watch segment (which is a shame, as it was often the funniest thing in the show).
And how’s the hiring a replacement for Kitty Flanagan coming along? Or are we just going to be stuck with these two this series?
Week four of Get Krack!n and the hosts have news: they may (or may not) be pregnant! As you’d expect, they have very different ways of dealing with this and the harsh media spotlight that it brings. Kate McCartney – the one who doesn’t really give a shit – announces it, says she’ll never mention it again and moves on; Kate McLennan – the one who’s way too invested in all this “being on TV stuff” – has absolutely nothing to announce. How’s this going to pan out?
One of the slightly strange things about Get Krack!n is that after a season and a half the characters of the Kates haven’t really developed beyond what was served up in episode one. In fact, at times it’s gone backwards: they’re not good at their job (apart from when they are), they’re not at home on television (unless they’re so comfortable they’re happy to make smart-arse comments live on air), they’re socially concerned and aware (except when they’re not), and they’re women and mothers struggling under the burdens of both roles (at least some of the time).
This isn’t automatically a negative. The Kates’ interests clearly lie more in making fun of the media and society in general, and keeping their characters somewhat loosely-defined definitely helps there. But it does mean that when they do a slightly more character-focused episode like this one, it takes a little while for the audience to get their bearings. So this week McCartney is the one who’s going along with what the show requires and McLennan is fighting against it? Gotcha.
(obviously the flip side is that it’s almost always funnier for McLennan to be the one freaking out, and whatever set-up is the one that gets her freaking out is the best set-up)
Strangely, this slightly ill-defined character situation wasn’t a problem at all with The Katering Show. Thanks to its shorter length and more plausible scenario, the Kates were able to make the same basic characters seem a lot more rounded and realistic.
But with Get Krack!n they don’t seem to have been able to come up with (or aren’t interested in exploring – McCartney’s love of creepy wildlife is a promising vein largely untapped) any consistent character traits to fill the space in half hour episodes, and while both Kates are definitely strong performers who never really feel “out of character”, there’s just not enough consistent character there to develop that particular kind of comedy.
(the kind of character comedy that leads to rants against the patriarchy, on the other hand, is fully supported)
But hey, this episode also featured a totally gratuitous but hilarious Wake in Fright tribute and a reminder that those “oh Mr Hart, what a mess!” commercials really did happen, so once again our nit-picking remains just that. It’s a show that’s all over the place, but so long as one of those places features haunted dolls, we’re still on board.
Rosehaven. It rates well, it’ll probably come back from a fourth series, and it’s made in a part of Australia we haven’t had any sitcoms about ever and where not much TV is made. What’s not to like?
Well, as comedy fans – you’ve heard of us, we think sitcoms should focus first and foremost on being consistently funny throughout – we have a few issues with this show…
First thing: it’s not consistently funny throughout. There are numerous decent lines and comic back-and-forths, particularly between Emma (Celia Pacquola) and Daniel (Luke McGregor), but most of the time it’s about the plot. And what charming plots they are…
…in the hands other comedians, these would probably be a lot funnier. But in the post-Please Like Me world, that seems to be an unfashionable approach. Laughs are few and far between, and often confined to the banter between Emma and Daniel, rather than coming from the plot or secondary characters.
Rosehaven is more interested in being quirky and kitsch than it is in making people laugh. Those mourning neighbours? They were largely played by ex-Home & Away actors of a certain era. And while Norman Coborn (AKA Donald ‘Flathead’ Fisher) and Debra Lawrence (AKA the second Pippa) are fine choices for elderly neighbours, it’s also very on-brand for Rosehaven to engineer an 80s/90s Home & Away reunion for no reason.
SIDEBAR: At least the Prisoner reunion on Neighbours sort of makes sense in that both shows are made by the same production company and at the same studios.
ANOTHER SIDEBAR: If you’re going to cast some 80s/90s soap actors as neighbours, why not get some 80s/90s actors from Neighbours? At least that’s a pun.
Speaking of soap operas, it’s increasingly clear that Rosehaven is basically a soap opera in comedy’s clothing. A sort of SeaChange about people in their 30s, complete with on-trend tropes such as the comedy of awkwardness and anxiety. It’s a pleasant enough and easy watch, but it’s almost never funny. Which for a show written by stand-up comedians, who are all good at being consistently funny, is pretty odd.
So, of course, after we spent last week going on about how the Kates often seem to be slightly loosely-defined as comedy characters on Get Krack!n, this week’s episode once again proved us wrong by having them firmly positioned on the wrong side of the comedy topic from start to finish. Who knows about comedy? Not us.
And that topic? “International Day of People Living With a Disability Day”, which provided them with plenty of opportunity to be condescending and awkward while the people they invited on the show to exploit stared at them wondering exactly what the hell they were going on about.
The line “you’re disabled, but you’re not inspiring?” pretty much summed up the comedy, largely based around the sadly still surprising idea that disabled people are people first and inspirational slogans pretty much never. Get Krack!n tends to roam far and wide with its comedy targets, but this week’s episode returned to the idea of sending up breakfast television – and the Australian mainstream media it embodies – and got in a bunch of good punches to the dismissive and disposable attitude said media has towards anything not firmly mainstream.
All of which meant the Kates were the butt of the jokes this week (aside from the Auslan interpreters, whose growing dislike of each other and – we assume – occasionally inaccurate translations of what was going on eventually boiled over), which is probably the best angle of attack for the show in general. Put another way, “Everyone on twitter is saying disabled people should be hosting the disability show” might have been 100% correct, but the whole point of Get Krack!n at its best is that pretty much anyone else should be hosting the show – it’s the segments where the Kates are the voices of reason that sometimes fall flat.
A big part of having comedy on television from people who aren’t white men fresh out of an inner Sydney private school is to expose people to, and then get laughs from, a whole new range of subjects. So while Adam Hills isn’t quite as funny as Adam Hills sometimes seems to think he is, having him deliver pretty much a straight lecture about the NDIS being under funded and therefore replaced by a “US meets Hunger Games style ‘fend for yourself’ model” was both welcome and not exactly something you’d see pop up on The Weekly. Mostly because while The Weekly works hard to be worthy and important, it also works hard to make sure it doesn’t give serious airtime to anyone who isn’t Charlie Pickering and Tom Gleeson, which undermines its authority when it comes to discussing just about anything not firmly mainstream.
So while this episode had serious issues on its mind, for the most part it struck the right balance between treating the issues seriously and making fun of the Kates’ disinterest and misunderstanding of those issues. The guest stars all got to make valid points (even if they were just “this show is shit”), the Kates got to steal the show by being comically ignorant before reminding us that this was basically a “very special episode” and they’d never be dealing with any of these issues ever again, and the crawl made a joke about the pointlessness of jazz. The season’s still uneven, but the hits are outnumbering the misses.