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Hey Hey it’s Saturday isn’t dead yet, but it’s sure coughing up blood (from The Age)

Having already come back from the dead once, Hey Hey It’s Saturday will go into suspended animation in a fortnight fervently hoping that no one accidentally flicks the switch while it’s off air.

Nine today confirmed that the July 21 episode of the variety show hosted by Daryl Somers will be the last for the first half of the year. Kylie Minogue will be the special musical guest on that episode, and is slated to perform a couple of songs with the full array of costumes and back-up dancers.

In the understatement of the year, we then get this:

The news is not unexpected.

As we’ve been banging on about for weeks, Hey Hey‘s ratings are in a death dive. And watching tonight’s episode, it’s clear that Daryl continues to refuse to make even the smallest changes to his proven dud formula. Which is pretty bizarre, because – unlike just about every other comedy show in this country, which gets chopped off at the knees the second there’s a dud week in the ratings without being given even the slightest warning or time to change course – Hey Hey could easily make quite substantial changes if it wanted to stay on air. It’s a live show done on a weekly basis after all, not a pre-recorded series with a load of episodes already in the tank: once the ratings started to slip, they could change pretty much everything if they wanted to try and lure people back.

But they haven’t changed a thing. It’s exactly the same show with exactly the same guests every single week, even as the ratings fall through the floor. Rumour has it that, inbetween last year’s specials and now, at least some of Hey Hey‘s production staff moved on and the ones there now simply aren’t able to stand up to Daryl. As as I’ve said here before, Daryl has Hey Hey just the way he likes it and he doesn’t give a shit what anyone else thinks. Remember all those promises Daryl made about “If we do come back there’ll be new people, new media, new segments but with the same Hey Hey flavour” and “It’s one of those shows that is always changing and morphing into something else.” 10 episodes in and BULLSHIT. BULL-FUCKING-FLAMING-SQUIRRELS-SHIT.

Show me the new segments – not moments, not jokes, not retreads of old ideas: NEW SEGEMENTS. Show me the new regular, high-profile, allowed to say two sentences in a row castmembers. Show me one single moment that doesn’t seem to be exhumed from the glory days of 1996. I’ll be out the back starting up the hearse.

Hey Hey‘s been frozen in ice like a Captain America made entirely out of turds since the early 90s, and defrosting it in 2009 only proved that some smells don’t fade with time. Why won’t they make changes to keep it on air if that’s what they want? Why doesn’t someone tell Daryl that his holding the hand of the Chooklotto girl is the most amazingly creepy thing shown on Australian television this year – yes, even worse than all those smug sweaty fat tools on The Gruen Transfer? Why doesn’t someone just say STOP instead of giving us vague “it’ll be back after the Commonwealth Games” lines? This is car crash television at its finest: Nine really should hire the voice-over guy from NZ TV’s classic Police Ten-Seven to voice the promos.

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6 Comments

  • Glenstar says:

    Don’t like it? Cool. Just DON’T FUCKING WATCH IT. Watch Masterchef or something else.

  • Matt F says:

    New people: Suze Raymond, Danny Clayton
    New media: heyhey.tv web videos (Behind the scenes/sketches/extra performances), viewer produced video entries for competitions
    New segments: What Will They Say Next, Lost For Words

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    Thanks Matt F, but that’s just a drop in the ocean. What Will They Say Next and Lost For Words have been – when I’ve seen them, I haven’t watched all two hours each week – basically the same old Hey Hey formula, relying heavily on Daryl and the crew laughing it up. The new cast have minor roles at best – to be fair, everyone has to play second fiddle to Daryl, even the old-timers – and the viewer produced videos are always going to be hit-and-miss.

    It’s all tinkering around the edges, and with the ratings falling down a hole clearly it’s not working. It’s a shame: I’m not fan of the show (duh), but having a extended live variety show on in prime time should be both cause for celebration and a massive opportunity. Instead, it’s a long trip down the same short stretch of memory lane week after week.

  • Matt F says:

    They could always put it back on Saturday. It may not get the ratings to equal the cost of production, but:

    * It’ll be away from heavy competition (Doc Martin on ABC1 and AFHVS are the only things other than the news that rate over a million on Saturday)

    * 2 hours of locally produced content will help fill Channel 9’s quota

    * Employment for a semi-dying industry

    It’s that, or more overdose of Two & 1/2 Men. It’s probably the same cost as putting Hey Hey on (give or take), but paying for syndication rights is expensive when it’s all added up. Plus, we have enough US sitcom content on TV. Look at what they did with Nightline – replaced with Til Death. That’s dirty.

    Back to Hey Hey, Masterchef has a shelf life, just like their food. It’ll die out after a few seasons. It will never achieve what Hey Hey did over 28 years. Hey Hey – I agree – that the shelf life had expired 10 years ago, but at least they’ve given it a shot – which taking risks nowadays is nearly a no-go zone.

    I enjoy the stale and awkwardness that the show has. The show isn’t perfect, and neither are we. At least it feels real, instead of some over-produced “we’ll trick people with the editing” style reality show.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    The problem with putting Hey Hey back on Saturday’s is that while there isn’t much competition, there isn’t much of an audience either. The glory days when watching Hey Hey was your only pre-night out entertainment are long gone – even if it does win the ratings then (and it would easily), it’s not much of a victory.

    The shelf life for TV seems to be getting shorter and shorter (and I too like the awkwardness that comes with live TV – just not Daryl Somers’ smugness), but we would have all been much better served if Hey Hey had got the chop in the early 1990s back when variety wasn’t completely dead and it could have been replaced with another live variety show that could (maybe) still be going today.

    Nine really, really should have made sure Daryl really did spruce up the format before bringing Hey Hey back for 2010 – letting it go out unchanged doomed it to be nothing more than an exercise in nostalgia, and nostalgia alone isn’t going to bring variety back. Rove’s show was far, far from perfect, but at least it was a living thing, not a fossil preserved in amber.

    (as far as what I would like to see variety-wise… Ideally, Ten would have given Shaun Micallef a run of low profile specials a la his New Year’s Rave)

  • Pete Hill says:

    New female co-host auditioning for Hey Hey:-
    Director: “Just read the script please and lets see how you go”
    Blonde: “Hi Daryl. That’s so funny, Daryl. You’re wonderful, Daryl. And now lets go back to Daryl. Brought to you by…INSERT NAME OF AIRLINE OR QLD RESORT HERE….”
    Director: “Thank you, we’ll let you know but just quietly, you’re already in the top five”