So on Wednesday while doing our usual browse through the lists of upcoming DVD releases in the desperate hope that someone will finally bring out a Newstopia collection – or more realistically considering our tastes, a Let Loose Live / Live From Planet Earth box set with cast & crew commentary – we noticed something a little odd: there’s no Clarke & Dawe DVD scheduled for Christmas 2012.
It’s only been since 2009 that Clarke & Dawe have been releasing DVD collections of their weekly segment on The 7.30 Report / 7.30, but since the bumper 2009 “best of the last twenty years or so” collection every year around Christmas they’ve released a collection of their year’s work. Before that they did script collections in print form and presumably they sold well because they kept doing them: considering they followed the 2010 DVD collection with a 2011 one, presumably they sold well enough too. And why wouldn’t they? They’re ideal Christmas gifts for dad, in that even if you don’t pay much attention to your dad’s tastes chances are he likes this kind of thing because it’s kind of funny and kind of about politics and looks slightly more thoughtful than socks.
So why no DVD announcement yet? The clock is ticking down towards Christmas DVDs pretty quickly (both The Hamster Wheel and The Unbelievable Truth have their DVDs announced and scheduled for December, for example) and to us at least this would seem like a no-brainer. Then yesterday we saw this:
John Clarke and Bryan Dawe have been satirical stalwarts of the ABC. Now they’re at risk of being boned, according to whispers in Aunty’s Sydney corridors.
For the past 12 years, John Clarke and Bryan Dawe’s mock interviews have been an ABC institution — an oasis of satire in a sea of oh-so-serious news and current affairs. Each Thursday night you can bank on them showing up, at around 7.55, to take the piss out of whichever politicians or other public figures have been in the news that week.
Well, you used to be able to. For the last two weeks, 7.30 watchers have been denied their weekly satirical fix — and there’s no guarantee the duo will be returning to our screens next year. Within the ABC there’s no topic more sensitive right now than what to do about Clarke and Dawe.
See this? This is our “not really that surprised” face. That’s because, after flailing about for a while after the departure of Kerry O’Brien, the former 7.30 Report seems to have found its stride. and once a show finds its stride, it’s hardly surprising that some of the people behind it’s “success” – oh, it’s not like anyone gives a shit about it in the real world, but in ABC terms it’s a big swinging dick – figure it’s time to display even more of the skills that have taken the show to the top. In management terms, if the new team can’t take credit for its success, what’s it still doing on the new team’s show?
[As for whether they’re still a success, why would the ABC have kept on releasing DVD collections of their segment if they weren’t popular? If management wants to ditch a popular segment to go in another direction, is “less popular” really a direction they want to be heading in? Get This fans may be having flashbacks at this point]
Now see this? This is our “not really that worried” face. That’s because this kind of thing often – not always, but often – works out roughly along these lines: the popular but no longer “fresh” segment / newspaper column / whatever gets the boot. There’s an outcry from the surprisingly large old audience, while someone else swoops in to offer the segment / column / whatever a new home (in this case it could be anything from The Project to Seven’s Sunday to 60 Minutes, not to mention all manner of radio options). The new home isn’t a perfect fit but it’s good enough to be a constant reminder of how the much-loved segment was cast aside by the bag of dicks who thought it was past its use-by date. And then the much-loved segment returns to its previous home, everyone’s happy apart from the dillweeds who thought it was a good idea to kick it to the curb in the first place.
Of course, this might not happen. This whole story could be a beat-up from someone noticing Clarke & Dawe have been bumped a bit recently, unaware that they’ve been bumped every now and again for as long as their segment has been running. Or maybe Clarke & Dawe really are now unpopular, out-of-touch old farts that no-one will miss, and 7.30 will be a much improved show with them.
But if the ABC does decide to ditch Clarke & Dawe, it seems likely (if they want to continue) that they could continue their segment somewhere else. And if they do, it’s only going to make 7.30 look bad for letting them go. No doubt there are a bunch of gun hotshots at the ABC annoyed that the all-new 7.30 features a holdover from the old regime; it’s just that anything they decide to replace it with is only going to be a whole lot worse.