Someone Left Off the F

Press release time!

ABC celebrates and debates the Arts

Sarah Blasko, Hannah Gadsby and Chris Taylor lead a culture charge

Thursday, October 5, 2017 — New film and TV review show Screen Time heads up an exciting and diverse slate of arts programs, coming soon to the ABC.

Ranging from fine art and fashion, to music and movies, the line-up celebrates the best of art and culture across the spectrum.  We explore disparate worlds of music with Sarah Blasko and composer Nigel Westlake; and different approaches to art and life with Anh Do and comedian Hannah Gadsby. We look at the phenomenon of child prodigies, explore storytelling in its many forms, as well as cultural clashes playing out through film making and social issues. The centrepiece of the ABC’s upcoming arts programming is the multi-award-winning flagship documentary series, Artsville. This next season of beautifully crafted films includes a fascinating and funny look at the making of an Australian horror movie as well as a moving portrait of Australian band The Go-Betweens.

David Anderson, ABC Director of Television says, “At a time when arts coverage is fast losing space in the mainstream media, the ABC is proud to celebrate Australia’s cultural life and bring some great arts programs to all Australians.”

What follows is a big old list of “great arts programs”. Some of which are somewhat comedy-adjacent.

Screen Time, starts on Tuesday 17 October, 8pm on ABC and iview

Hosted by Chris Taylor, with an ensemble cast of regular panelists, Screen Time goes beyond the binge to bring you the latest from the world of TV, streaming, cinema and the web. From highbrow to lowbrow, prestige ‘golden age of television’ moments, to bedroom YouTube stars, it’s all worth talking about for our cast of screen timers. Entertaining, but rooted in cultural critique and analysis, Screen Time will be the go to show for anyone who likes to watch … just about anything!

Artsville, series starts Tuesday 31 October, 9.30pm on ABC and iview

Up first, two-parter Horror Movie – A Low-Budget Nightmare, follows actor-turned-filmmaker Craig Anderson, as he embarks on a rollercoaster – and at times – comedic journey to make his first super-low-budget horror feature film, Red Christmas. Tuesday 31 October & Part 2 – Tuesday 7 November, 9.30pm.

Production credit: Fridge Jam Productions. Screen Australia.

The Book Club Christmas Special, Tues 19 December, 9.30pm on ABC and iview

Jennifer Byrne along with cohorts Marieke Hardy and Jason Steger return for their annual Christmas Special “Five of the Best.”  Taking in their top five books of the year we will also open voting lines to the Book Club audience to nominate their 5 Best Books of the Year.

Underscore, Wednesday 1 November on iview

Acclaimed Australian composer Nigel Westlake has scored films like Babe and Paper Planes. In this iview original series he draws on his own deeply personal journey through grief and loss to create the soundtrack for a new film – Australia’s first Muslim rom-com, Ali’s Wedding. We follow the process from paper to recording with his many collaborators like singer Lior and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

HIVE, series of 3 films coming in 2018 to ABC and iview

An initiative between ABC Arts, the Adelaide Film Festival, Screen Australia and the Australia Council for the Arts, giving artists from many disciplines the chance to make their first film.

Guilty is a feature length film focusing on the last days of artist and executed Bali Nine prisoner Myuran Sukumaran. It is written and directed by visual artist Matthew Sleeth, who ran art workshops in prison with Myuran throughout his rehabilitation.

Remembering Agatha is a half-hour hybrid live-action whimsical drama overlaid with animation. Directed by artist and writer, Emma Magenta, it tells the story of a woman overwhelmed by family obligation and the domestication of her spirit, before she discovers a mysterious portal offering her the possibility of resolving her grief and saving her crumbling marriage.

Production credit: Create NSW.

Oddlands is a half-hour drama directed and co-written by Back To Back Theatre’s artistic director Bruce Gladwin. It tells the blackly humorous story of a team of people with intellectual disabilities from a supported employment service, who travel into a restricted zone to plug a hole in a deserted nuclear facility.

Hannah Gadsby’s Nakedy Nude, coming in 2018 to ABC and iview

Award-winning comedian Hannah Gadsby will apply her unique sensibility to the representation of the nude in art.  Part lampoon, part deconstruction, Gadsby will draw on her art history background to navigate between dry humour, irreverence and serious art critique.

Production credit: Barefoot Communications. Create NSW

Anh’s Brush With Fame season three, coming in 2018 to ABC and iview

Archibald People’s Choice award-winner, comedian and author Anh Do returns with the much-anticipated third season of Anh’s Brush With Fame, getting up close and personal with an exciting new line-up of Australian celebrities, to be announced soon.

Production credit: Screentime.

The Mix, continues in 2018, Saturdays, 6.30pm on ABC NEWS and iview

The Mix has had a fresh coat of paint and brings you more great arts content from around the country.  The new look weekly arts, entertainment and culture program features contributors including Zan Rowe, Myf Warhurst, and artists Eddie Sharp and Abdul Abdullah. Bringing audiences a unique look inside what’s happening in the arts and giving you a weekly culture fix!  The program is repeated on ABC TV on Sunday afternoons.

The ABC has been cutting back on arts coverage pretty much since its second week of existence, so on some level all this is good news. But that’s not our level. Our level is one filled with blaring alarms at the use of words like “comedic” and “whimsical” and “blackly humourous” and “Anh Do’s painting again”. Because whether you like arts coverage or comedy, there’s a lot here to actively dislike.

Call us crazy, but if we can have a schedule full of sports programs that take sport seriously, why is it seemingly impossible to have even a single arts program that doesn’t involve some kind of wacky prankster? Why is it assumed that sport is somehow intrinsically entertaining whereas the arts – which, it may surprise ABC programmers to learn, is often designed to be entertaining – can’t be allowed on television without assurances that we won’t be taking it seriously and “comedy” will somehow be involved.

We wouldn’t mind so much if the comedy was actually funny – fingers crossed for Gadsby’s show (her BBC radio show on art was pretty good) – but these shows are never made with comedy in mind. They’re lightweight pissweak explainers aimed at a seemingly disinterested audience, failing to appeal either to actual arts fans or people who couldn’t give a fuck while giving off the stench of a contractual obligation without even the marginal competence you’d usually expect from someone going through the motions. The ABC doesn’t put on arts coverage because it doesn’t rate, and the reason why it doesn’t rate is because they do a half-arsed job of it.

But hey, let’s take a closer look at what has to be one of the dumbest ideas for a television program in recent memory and we still remember The Agony of the Body:

Screen Time, starts on Tuesday 17 October, 8pm on ABC and iview

Hosted by Chris Taylor, with an ensemble cast of regular panelists,

(Word is these panellists are not so much movie and television experts as people like Benjamin Law – engaging wafflers who happen to watch television and movies. So… Gogglebox only without the charm?)

Screen Time goes beyond the binge to bring you the latest from the world of TV, streaming, cinema and the web. From highbrow to lowbrow, prestige ‘golden age of television’ moments, to bedroom YouTube stars, it’s all worth talking about for our cast of screen timers.

It’s a half hour show covering four areas, each of which could easily fill a half hour show on their own. At the Movies used to take half an hour just for movies. Meanwhile, there is so much new television being created just out of the USA it’s no longer humanly possible for anyone to watch it all. “And we’re covering the web!” This has zero chance of going in-depth on much of anything, which would be fine if they were, say, covering some obscure sport that nobody knew anything about. But this is a show about television. It’s on television. The people watching it already know about television.

Entertaining, but rooted in cultural critique and analysis, Screen Time will be the go to show for anyone who likes to watch … just about anything!

Don’t be worried ABC viewers, we put “entertaining” first so you don’t have to worry that the scary panel will start using big reviewer words like “boring”. What kind of analysis are we going to get from a panel of personalities on a show hosted by a television producer? Probably not going to be bad-mouthing a lot of local product, we’re guessing. Maybe not pointing out any trends that might be embarrassing to any of the local networks either.

You know, like how dumbing down arts coverage to appeal to people who don’t care while alienating those viewers who do is a pretty stupid way to attract viewers.

 

 

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1 Comment

  • Doyle says:

    I saw a clip of ScreenTime on the ABC Arts facebook. Seems like Chris Taylor trying to do the Victor Lewis-Smith/Charlie Brooker thing. Lots of cliche jokes like describing the contestants of a celebrity reality show as a “who’s that of Australian talent”. I must admit there was one good joke describing Marco Pierre White as looking like ‘a postwar washer woman”.

    I think this sort of thing has been done better over here with the short-lived the Joy of Sets.

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