If you like comedy quiz shows, good news: doctors are reportedly close to finding a cure. Oh wait, we read that wrong: we meant to say Australian television is currently flooding the air waves with your favourite kind of show, and with the looming (seriously Nine, just announce the air date already) return of Talkin’ ’bout Your Generation things are only going to get more quizzy. So what better time to take a quick look at the four shows (count ’em) that make up our current boom? Don’t bother answering, we’ve already watched them.
Hughesy We Have a Problem (Ten). This should be garbage, but thanks to a tried and tested formula – it’s Beauty and the Beast only without the gender cliches – this delivers the goods more often than you’d expect. It’s basically just piss-farting around, which is our favourite kind of comedy, and while the standard of piss-farting around isn’t great it largely manages to avoid the usual panel problem of having everyone shouting over each other… unless it’s an episode featuring Hughesy’s long-time partner in crime, Kate Langbroek. There’s always a couple of dud segments too (they haven’t figured out how to incorporate the celebrity guests well) and at a full hour it outstays its welcome by at least ten minutes, but it’s easily the most entertaining program Hughesy’s been involved with since his “I’m angriiiiiii” days.
Hard Quiz (ABC). This is never going to be our favourite quiz show, because we hate quiz shows. But this at least seems to have finally figured out how to make its hook – that host Tom Gleeson is a prick – work. Strangely, the secret seems to be “just let him act like a prick”, as the most recent episode we saw had him acting somewhat nastier than we remembered. It didn’t really improve the show, which is just your basic ABC quiz show where people a little too convinced of their own smarts answer questions about their chosen field in a way designed to remind us of just how boring they must be at parties. But his bitchy comments did at least make it feel like a show with a reason for existing, which is nice.
Show Me The Movie (Ten). Part of the appeal of quiz shows is that they’re meant to educate as well as entertain. When you’re choosing a topic for your quiz show, you want an area that people are interested in but don’t already know everything about – music is perfect, as almost everyone knows something about it but there’s so much going on that there’s always going to be interesting facts on offer. You’d think movies would be the same, but no: music is made by individuals while films are huge industrial projects, so there are less colourful characters and wacky on-tour tales available to balance out the dry facts. Also, this show is rubbish.
Think Tank (ABC). Paul McDermott’s return to the ABC as some kind of frock-coat wearing bovva boy – seriously, this show is worth checking out entirely for his outfit, which is as follows:
(not pictured: his skinny jeans with rolled up cuffs)
– is about as traditional a quiz show as you can get these days. The only twist is that you can ask for help from the “think tank”, a bunch of average people who provide a range of answers that are moderately helpful in answering questions that could have come from just about any quiz show of the last decade. McDermott adds a little sparkle, but the days when a nation was shocked to see such a wild and crazy guy hosting a ballroom dancing contest are long gone and now his well-polished hosting act is barely a notch above Rove’s. A comedy this is not and we shan’t be mentioning it again.
Of course, if there was a halfway decent sketch show around we’d never have watched any of these shows in the first place.