Let’s try this-
-from a slightly different angle for once: what’s good about The Weekly with Charlie Pickering?
Well, okay… let’s start with that it’s a show that takes advantage of its lengthy run and weekly schedule to change things up. Remember when Tom Gleeson’s fake travel segment Go Away was the only halfway decent thing about that one episode? The producers sure did, because it’s back! And with Gleeson asking for suggestions at the end of the segment, you just know it’s coming soon to a town near you. Probably more than one.
But what about his other popular segment, Hard Chat? Don’t worry, he also let us know that’ll be back next week because The Weekly is also a show that gives the viewers what they want. And it seems that what they want is a whole lot of Tom Gleeson; it’s not a new observation that Gleeson is the clear number two on The Weekly, with Kitty “not really in this episode, guys” Flanagan a distant third and Briggs not on the show at all.
That’s because Gleeson seems to be the only cast member who’s willing to try new things; Pickering is a smarmy host 4lyfe, and Flanagan is pretty much still plowing the same furrow she was when she came on board. While that often works great for her as far as laughs go, it does mean that, as The Weekly is clearly a show that’s never quite found its groove, it’s easy to file her under things that don’t quite work.
This is unfair, of course: she’s almost always the funniest thing on the episodes she appears on. But The Weekly, taken as a whole, clearly doesn’t work. It desperately needs to try new things. Hello Tom Gleeson.
Obviously there’s a few downsides to The Weekly’s willingness to try new things beyond giving Gleeson loads of air time: for one, a lot of this season seems to have been experimenting with the idea of having everyone act even smugger than usual, which is not a good look for a show with very little to be smug about. Worse, this willingness doesn’t go right down to the level where it would really make a difference: the comedy.
All too often on The Weekly the packaging is slightly different but the actual laugh-generating material remains the same: straight news delivered with smarm, followed by “check out this hilarious clip we got from breakfast television / pay TV”, followed by Tom Gleeson treating people like shit. Remember when we said Tom Gleeson was willing to try new things? What we meant to say was that he’s willing to do the exact same thing in a different setting. What is Go Away really but Hard Chat except he’s insulting regular people? Which is also Hard Quiz the game show. Can’t wait to see what he’ll do next!
If all Gleeson can do as a comedian is treat people like shit – seriously, point out something he’s done in the last five years that hasn’t been based on this dull as fuck idea – then the only way to keep it fresh is to keep putting him in new situations. Hard Chat worked briefly because it was him doing his usual crap in a different setting; same with Go Away. So keep finding different settings!
(of course, that costs money, so… no)
There’s a bunch of reasons why The Weekly has never settled into a comfortable rut. Going viral never really happened. Most of the early big plans never happened. But a big, big part of it is that it’s a show built around months and months of the same three people who just keep on doing the same thing. The few times The Weekly has worked have almost always been when they’ve found a new spin to put on things: remember when Pickering went out to interview Sam Neil at his farm? But they never seem to find enough new angles for the same old cast, and so they keep being dragged back to the same old place.
If someone ever put together a “best of breakfast television” weekly clip package they’d all be out of a job.