Okay, so we were too busy being distracted by Greg Fleet’s latest twitter ruckus to see this coming:
CHANNEL 10 is turning to people power with a Pilot Week of eight new programs set to screen from August 19.
The revolutionary event, to be hosted by Grant Denyer and Angela Bishop, will give Aussie television viewers their biggest say ever in the shows they want to see on air.
And who could resist these winners?
“Nothing is safe from a Skit Happens parody, when the nations up-and-coming comedians join forces for Network Ten’s first sketch comedy in 12 years. Starring Heath Franklin! Seriously”
“Funny-man Dave O’Neil opens the doors to his crazy life in a half-hour narrative comedy. Expect laughter, tears and the appreciation of not being Dave.”
“Comedian Troy Kinne ditches the stress of modern life, bringing hard-working Australians a fast-paced half-hour of laughter.”
“Rhys Darby and Stephen Curry pour themselves a drink in the international hit comedy format that takes Australia’s rich, and often surprising history and re-tells it through the words of our most loved comedians and entertainers.”
“Taboo has broken audience records in its country of origin, Belgium. The premise is as confronting as it is simple. The very funny Harley Breen spends five days and nights with members of a disadvantaged group in society and uses the experience to perform a stand-up routine about them – with the subjects sitting in the front row.”
Trial By Kyle
“The toughest cases, biggest celebrities and genuine disputes can only be settled by one man, radio shock jock Kyle Sandilands. As Kyle carefully unravels each case, former The Bachelor Australia star and criminal lawyer Anna Heinrich is on hand to assist in forensically analysing the evidence.”
“The world is full of disgrace and outrage. Shunned politician Sam Dastyari and the team behind Gruen and The Chaser manage the latest outbreak of outrage in a half-hour of opinion, insight and laughs.”
Bring Back… Saturday Night
“Rove McManus is on a mission to bring back Saturday night entertainment. A chance to reflect on what Saturday night means to Australia–then and now. Young performers will bring back the best of the past and performers of the past are challenged with reinvention. Sketches, guests, music and nothing but feel good moments as Rove finds the comedy and laughs by breaking down the conventions of entertainment and variety television. Join his quest to reunite Australia’s greatest acts, bands, and television faces in a generation bending live television show.”
Look at all that comedy! Cheap, shoddy, disposable comedy! Kind of strange there’s no drama pilots being aired in pilot week but hey, guess drama is something Ten still takes semi-seriously. And let’s be honest: at least half of these pilots are one-off ideas either thrown out there to get some buzz or just making up the numbers. “Dave O’Neill’s half hour comedy Dave“? How is that even a real show?
(sure, O’Neill has been a comedy trooper for decades now, but what’s he been publicly attached to that’s been even remotely a hit since he was the one who didn’t become a nationally famous millionaire out of Hughsy, Kate and Dave?)
And it’s a good thing this is almost certainly just a PR stunt rather than a serious attempt to try and widen their program base, because just look at that line-up: half the time if you’re not a worn-out retread then you’re someone flailing around the shallow end and if you’re neither there’s a good chance you’ve leap-frogged ahead of around a hundred vastly more qualified people to get your head on air. Who the hell wants to see Sam Dastyari anywhere ever again?
Also: where’s the women? It’s 2018 – if you’re airing eight pilots and they’re all fronted by men, you’ve made a conscious decision to exclude women. And it’s clearly not on that old chestnut of “we couldn’t find any good enough”, because going by what’s being served up a sock puppet would be over qualified for some of these jobs.
If any of these ideas were really that good, Ten would have given them the green light without making them jump through these attention-seeking hoops. Because that’s all this kind of “event” is – a stunt that has bugger-all to do with deciding which shows make it to air. Remember the ABC’s 2016 Comedy Showroom? The Herald Sun did:
The only other comparable event is ABC’s anthology series Comedy Showroom in 2016, trialling six pilots including The Letdown and Ronny Chieng: International Student.
Remember how success there was based on audience votes? Like fuck it was: Both The Letdown and Ronny Chieng: International Student made it to series because overseas networks stumped up cash to make them, not because of some local online poll. So forget about getting your “biggest say ever”: if the votes go the way of what the programmers want to air, it’ll be hailed as a win for people power, and if the audience somehow votes for that Heath Franklin show the ballots’ll get lost in a warehouse fire by November.
Sure, we’ll be watching them, because we’re idiots who like Australian comedy. The Drunk History knock-off might work, though it’s probably going to just be a Hamish & Andy’s True Story knock off (because that’s kinda just Drunk History without the booze). But the rest? Even if they’re great shows, there’s absolutely nothing about them – apart from maybe nostalgia – to make people tune in (since when have viewers wanted “nothing but feel good moments”?). Which is why they’re being aired as part of “Pilot Week”: without a gimmick they’d sink without trace.
Which doesn’t really suggest they’ve got a future once the gimmick’s over.