In news that might have stunned the nation if anyone had actually cared, Australia Versus has been pulled. We outlined a bunch of objections to its very existence here, but why not throw a few more into the ring – for one, how did everyone at Seven completely fail to notice that pretty much the only thing that makes 20 to 1 work is the fact that it’s a friggin’ list? On the rare occasions where I’ve been trapped in a 20 to 1 viewing situation, it’s been painfully obvious that the viewing dynamic that prevents people from changing the channel is “gee, I wonder where [my fave example of whatever the hell Bert is going on about tonight] will come? They just mentioned [slightly less impressive example of tonight’s brainwipe subject] – surely it’ll rank higher than that…”
Not that that was Australia Versus‘ only flaw, mind you. For a show that was supposedly a battle between Australia and the UK, the format was more like a shopping list that had gone through the wash, as random examples of… stuff were pulled out of nowhere and compared on the basis that, er, they were being compared with each other. “Which song has the better videoclip: Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’ or INXS’s ‘Need You Tonight’?” doesn’t make people go “Oh My Fucking God I have to stay tuned to see who wins this!!”, it makes people go “hey, why don’t they instead compare the clip for Morris Minor and the Major’s ‘Stutter Rap’ with The Meanies cover version of ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top (if you want to rock and roll)’?” because they bear just about as much relationship to each other. And how do you get a “winner” out of this kind of competition anyway? You might as well have host Tim “Rosso” Ross end every competition with “and the winner is… CHEESE!” Or Sydney. Or Satan. Not the home viewers though, don’t make that mistake.
It’s easy to slag this latest FAIL by the brains trust over at Seven – what is it now, five failed “comedy” shows in the last nine months? Yeah, thanks for trying – for being yet another unwrapped chokito bar floating in the swimming pool that is Australian television. The real worry here is that… well, usually this kind of limp “mainstream” time-filler does passably well. Just look at 20 to 1 – like you can avoid it, Nine’s showing it every second Two and a Half Men is taking a teeth whitening break. But Seven in 2010 can’t even get something as mind-numbingly simple as a clip show right, and they’re the only major commercial network with any interest in trying anything new comedy-wise-
[Remember all that talk about Ten giving Shaun Micallef a talk show in the wake of his excellent New Year’s Rave? Well, TAYG‘s back in a fortnight, and he’s hardly going to have two shows on Ten at once… so, is 2011 good for you?]
-which means that while they’re stinking up the place with this record string of duds, they’re doing their level best to educate the Australian viewing public that comedy (or at least, comedy on a commercial network, which has to exist if we’re ever going to have any chance of Chris Lilley moving on from the ABC) is a complete and total waste of their time.
It’s seriously at the stage now where the best possible result for comedy in this country is that Seven stops trying to be funny for the next decade. You can’t even give them an “A” for effort, because all they’re currently doing is throwing frisbees made out of frozen vomit out into the viewing audience and wondering why no-one wants to catch them.