The most recent series of Adam Zwar’s Agony wrapped up this week and… yeah. Don’t get us wrong, we watched it each week – ok, we had it on in the background each week, but we seriously meant to watch it. Apart from that one week we fell asleep during it. That counts as a review, right?
The ABC is well within every possible standard you can hold a television network to when it comes to airing shows like this. They can’t all be winners; they can’t all even be shows that are trying to be winners. Sometimes you have to go for “good enough”. Sometimes you have to go for “yeah, guess that’ll do”. Sometimes you even have to go for “we could probably make this by asking people to record clips on their phones and send them in.”
And that’s not to slight any of the many funny people and Kate Langbroek who appear on Agony whenever it turns up on our screens, as all of them have done very funny and interesting work in shows that don’t have Agony in the title. Because Agony just isn’t the series for that kind of thing: it’s the show for your B-material, the half-baked insight, the down-the-pub chat, the broad generalisation, the anecdote you’ve already told everyone else. The moderately embarrassing thing that happened to you that one time a decade ago? This is its last stop before it’s gone forever, your last chance to wring a final drop of amusement out of its ragged, shriveled carcass.
Sure, it’s sad and annoying and just a little pathetic as viewers that this series keeps on keeping on, and keeps on being shown in a “comedy” timeslot while it’s at it. It might contain laughs, it might be a pill that goes down smooth, it’s a solid payday and good exposure for people who deserve it, but for those playing at home? It’s really little more than a deconstructed panel show with the difficult bits sanded off. None of the guests interact with each other; they all have plenty of time to figure out what they’re going to say; they don’t even have to leave their houses to do it. Someone somewhere must have put some work in but it’s not anyone in front of the camera.
Perhaps if we’d paid more attention we’d be seriously riled up about the idea that we could possibly learn anything about modern life from the collection of c-list celebrities and disengaged comedians served up here. But we’re already kind of riled up that the ABC has already given us what – over 20 episodes now? – worth of a show that’s about as close to utterly pointless as it’s possible to be. It’s a show where the clip footage used in the cutaways is basically as interesting as the segments themselves. Over twenty episodes so far. It’ll probably be back next year.
Again and for the last time, we get it. Not every show gets the big budgets and the huge support crew. Not every show has to be a matter of life and death. Sometimes you’ve got to take it easy, throw something together, keep it light. Don’t bother telling us it takes a lot of hard work to make a show this casual. Whatever dude. Whatever.