So this explains at least something:
It’s taken a while but TV Tonight can reveal ABC2 is proceeding with Aaron Chen Tonight as a replacement for John Conway Tonight.
Chen, who was a sidekick to Conway, steps into the hosting role due to the show being pulled because of illness.
Long time readers of this blog might remember our repeated head-scratching over what exactly was going on with John Conway Tonight – not so much the show being dropped because of Conway’s illness (ill host = no show wasn’t exactly a surprise when the show is a small-scale personality-driven production), but the off-and-on nature of attempts to bring Chen in to host. Long story short: there was supposedly a pilot with Chen as host filmed, it was lined up to go to air, and then… nothing.
So looked at from the position of ABC executives, this makes sense:
GNW TV, which has been rehearsing and recording with Chen, will complete production before ABC2 announces a return date.
They’ve already tried it once with this team, and three weeks in the show went off the air with no return date in sight: no wonder they want to make sure everything is exactly right before Take Two.
Looked at from the position of home viewers though, and we’re seeing Take Two all right – Take Two of one of the ABC’s biggest comedy flops in years *comedy record scratch*.
No prizes for guessing we’re talking about Randling, AKA “the word-based game show”: while that show had a lot of problems that we really don’t have the time or space to list here, one of the biggest ones was that it was recorded and finished up before a single episode went to air.
No doubt pre-recording the entire series of Randling made sense from a budget perspective (it’s unlikely the ABC were worried host Andrew Denton was going to bail on his own show three weeks in). Plus it was a fucking comedy game show: what possible changes would they want to make mid-series?
Then three weeks in it became clear that (among other things) the heavy focus on keeping score was total comedy death but it was impossible to change anything and even though it was obvious the show was going off the rails they still had twenty-four episodes to go and… well, you haven’t heard anyone talking about Randling lately. Or Andrew Denton, as it basically killed his television career.
Seven episodes of a pre-recorded tonight show could work. There’d just be no topical jokes and no topical guests, which seems like something of a hurdle for a tonight show. Fortunately, John Conway Tonight was more about making fun of the tonight show format than replying on topicality, and Chen seems like a pretty funny guy so this just might work.
Fingers crossed: the last thing anyone needs is another Randling.