The ABC’s new Wednesday comedy line-up kicked off last night with the return of Adam Hills In Gordon Street Tonight and the long-awaited debut of the sitcom Outland.
In Gordon Street Tonight episode 2.1 gave us more of the same mix of live music, celebrity interviews, and larking about with members of the public in studio, on location and via social media. It was a fun show and had a good line-up of guests last night including Rob Sitch and Josh Lawson (Any Questions for Ben?) and Jonathan Lynn (Yes Minister).
Hannah Gadsby was also back as Hill’s sidekick, sending over the odd well-observed zinger from her side of the studio. Apart from being pretty funny, she adds a bit of much-needed edge to the show, although not really enough for our tastes. But with it’s lightweight mucking about, In Gordon Street Tonight has the sort of mainstream appeal that provides ABC-1’s Wednesday night line-up of entertainment and comedy with a rusted-on audience. And as an act of pure pragmatism or strategy that’s kind of necessary (remember the days when kinda decent new Australian comedies would be scheduled poorly and end up dying on their arses?). Helpfully, In Gordon Street Tonight is entertaining enough to be worthwhile pragmatism, although it’s casual audience, the one who only tunes in to see specific guests, must be fairly high.
Of more interest (to us) was the show which presumably benefited from In Gordon Street Tonight‘s appeal, Outland, a new sitcom about a gay science fiction club. It proved to be funny, feel good and a bit alternative, so, we feel compelled to ask, why did it get delayed for a year? Was it ABC pragmatism or strategy again? Get the bloated, mega-hyped mess that was Angry Boys to air when it suits the BBC and HBO? Or put the semi-topical At Home with Julia to air while it’s still “relevant”? Maybe someone at the ABC got shitscared about the science fiction aspect, or even the gay aspect?
Either way Outland is well worth a look, and judging from our preview copy of episode 2 it’s worth sticking with. It’s a long time since we’ve seen an Australian sitcom that goes hell for leather with the over-the-top characters and situations, and hey, guess what? That makes it funny! Time to ditch that tedious noughties realism and documentary-style camera work, kids. Just fill a room with zany characters and let them be funny.