Hamish & Andy’s new TV show Gap Year gets started in a couple of weeks. It’ll be interesting to see what the nice guy radio favourites will come up with. Information is fairly sparse but judging by the videos they’ve been posting to their website Gap Yearwill be the duo’s usual mix of pranks, stunts and special guests.
The good news for fans of Ryan Shelton is that Ryan Shelton will also be part of the show. He tweeted the news recently but gave no further details. Shelton was a bit player in Hamish & Andy’s first commercial TV series (made for Channel 7), and the trio also worked together on the Channel 10 sketch show Real Stories. With Shelton on board sketches look likely to be part of Gap Year‘s mix too. And with Rove McManus in the US it seems likely he’ll drop by at some point too.
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Airing next week is a new documentary for the ABC’s Artscape series by John Safran, Jedis & Juggalos: Your Census Guide. The show looks at young people who find spiritual meaning in popular culture. Artscape seems to increasingly feature programs made by comedians; Tony Martin’s A Quiet Word With was originally part of Artscape, and Hannah Gadsby and Eddie Perfect have also made shows for the series.
With John Safran taking time off from his radio show Sunday Night Safran in a couple of weeks to spend time on a “secret assignment” in Mississippi, it’s hard not wonder if he’s going there to film another documentary. In recent editions of Sunday Night Safran he’s discussed reading a lot of True Crime books – can we expect a Safran show about True Crime later in the year?
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Replacing Sunday Night Safran will be Restoring The Balance with Julian Schiller and Tony Moclair, reprising their roles as young National Tom Tomlinson and young Liberal Stirling Addison. Restoring The Balance was last on air in 2007 (filling in for Sunday Night Safran which went off the air whilst Safran filmed a US pilot), but in that series Schiller was replaced by Richard Marsland as Family First member Spencer Penrose. Schiller and Moclair are already tweeting in character (@ThomlinsonTom and @StirlingAddison) and hopefully the series will be pretty good.
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Also coming back soon is The Gruen Transfer, along with a new series called Gruen Planet “that will look at the news of the week through the prism of spin, branding and image control”. Zapruder’s Other Films have set themselves a challenging task, working on the two new Gruen series and Can of Worms.
A recent opinion piece by Michael Scammel had some interesting things to say about both Can of Worms and The Gruen Transfer (and The 7PM Project):
Can of Worms is part of a trend towards faux serious television programs that pretend to deal with the serious but in fact are lightweight and delivered with little substantial content at all.
The 7PM Project, which poses as a serious news program while delivering some seriously underwhelming commentary, is another example.
But perhaps the best example is the ABC’s Gruen Transfer, which with its populist and trendy view of the advertising industry (presented by pro-advertising industry insiders) is something of a groovy apologia for what is often a cynical and insidious industry.
Given advertising’s dubious influence on modern society, you would think an advertising version of Media Watch might be more apt.
The article continues:
Defenders of these programs will argue that they are performing a positive service by engaging the public on serious issues that might otherwise be ignored, making then accessible by presenting them in a light, entertaining fashion. But in reality what is being created is a sort of nihilist paradise where it is implicit that no issues are really to be taken seriously.
The piece concludes:
No doubt this is some sort of media nod to America’s great television political satirist Jon Stewart and his highly successful Daily Show. But sadly, Australia’s own comedic commentariat is hardly as cogent.
Scammel’s piece has attracted criticism, notably from Tony Martin who described it as “pompous”. Pompous it may be, but we feel the argument stands. Shows like The Gruen Transfer and Can of Worms don’t work as either comedies or serious discussion shows, nor do they provide an intelligent – or even interesting – critique of the issues under discussion. The Gruen Transfer is particularly flawed given that almost everyone on the show works in advertising, and no critic of advertising has ever appeared on the show.
As Scammel points out, Jon Stewart’s Daily Show is what many of these programs are emulating, yet none of them ever manage to achieve their goal of combining comedy and discussion in an entertaining way. If Gruen Planet cracks the formula we’ll each eat a hat.
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And finally, it has been announced that S.mouse from Angry Boys will be performing live in Melbourne this Sunday. If you want tickets you need to watch the show tonight for details on how to obtain them. Also available to pre-order is an Angry Boys CD soundtrack. We suspect both the concert and the CD were planned well in advance of the show going to air, with the ABC assuming they’d have another hit on their hands. Given the still falling ratings for the series, the CD soundtrack looks set to clog up branches of the ABC Shop for months come. If you want one why not save a few dollars by waiting a couple of months until it’s discounted.
Re: Scammel’s article – I have no problem at all with stand-ups getting work on television. They’re at least experienced at one actual job, which is more than can be said for 7pm Project regulars Andrew Bolt or Steven Price. But the Gruen franchise is a wall-to-wall disgrace, coating a topic that should be treated with suspicion and disdain in a heavy layer of smarm. Comedy shouldn’t be about cosying up to the powerful ,no matter how many wisecracks Wil Anderson gets in.