Time Keeps On Slipping Into The Future

It must be hard to know which way to turn sometimes when you work at the Melbourne Herald-Sun. One day you’re gleefully running columns calling the Prime Minister “Julia-in-wonderland” (Terry McCann, July 13th) and claiming “either we’re smarter than every other country [for installing a carbon tax] or Gillard is dumber than every other leader” (Andrew Bolt, July 11th), the next… well, you’re running this on the front page:

“LAUGH’S ON JULIA & TIM: The private lives of PM Julia Gillard and First Bloke Tim Mathieson will be sent up by lookalikes in an ABC series paid for by taxpayers”

In contrast to all those ABC series paid for by Rupert Murdoch, of course. The hilarity continues on page seven with the actual story on At Home With Julia, most notably this part:

The ABC has not released details of the show’s budget but it is believed to run to more than $500,000.

Which seems kind of out of place in a story about the launch of a political comedy, until you realise that one of the Herald-Sun‘s oh-so-many hidden agendas these days is that the ABC just takes taxpayers money and pisses it up against the wall when it should instead go out of business so News Limited can step in and… I don’t know, murder us all in our beds or something, they seem to have been doing whatever the hell they want this last decade.

Amongst all the head-spinning confusion that comes from seeing a newspaper basically saying “don’t you dare insult the Prime Minister, that’s our job” – while also managing to rope politicians into their long-standing tradition of slagging off “controversial” ABC comedies that no-one’s actually seen yet – we’ve got a question of our own: how can the ABC knock this somewhat unimpressive-sounding sucker up in a few months when there’s close to a half-dozen as-yet-unseen sitcoms they’ve been working away on for years?

For starters, whatever happened to the gay SF fanclub comedy Outland? It’s been on the “coming soon” list for over a year now (it was first announced around the same time as Laid). Rumour has it that it has a decent ABC1 timeslot lined up only other shows keep being slotted in ahead of it. Guess At Home With Julia just pushed it back yet another month then…

Then there’s this press release (dated Feb 8th 2010)

ABC TV is pleased to announce that three outstanding new TV comedy projects will receive development funding in 2010 as a result of the Film Victoria/ABC TV comedy initiative STITCH, designed to develop the skills of comedy performers in writing longer-form narrative.

Following an overwhelming response from more than 200 applicants, six successful teams were selected to attend a three-day workshop in 2009 to learn about comedy writing for the screen through lectures and one-on-one feedback. The following three teams get the opportunity to develop their projects and get them ready for potential production.

Next of Kin – (Josh Thomas (writer/performer and stand up comedian, currently on Talking ‘Bout Your Generation), and Todd Abbott (producer), a comedy about a boy who would like to be an adult and do adult things, like moving out and sleeping with girls. But his mum has other ideas.

Bruce – Warwick Holt, Mat Blackwell (established writers whose work you have laughed to on many shows including Good News Week ), Jason Byrne (producer), and Tony Rogers (director), a gritty black comedy about life in an ordinary Aussie share-house, that just happens to be a convict tent in 1788.

TwentySomething – Josh Schmidt (writer/performer), and Jess Harris (writer/performer), a comedy series about best mates, Jess and Josh, who never went to uni, never had a clear talent and never really had a drive to grow up.

ABC2 even ran ads featuring TwentySomething a few months back – and since then, nothing. Presumably it was actually made – we can’t even say that about the other two, so if you know something drop us a line – but what good does that do us if the ABC is too busy jamming in more repeats of Midsomer Murders to actually show us the damn thing?

Meanwhile, down the other end of the TV comedy lifecycle this exchange between Seven’s director of programming Tim Worner and host Arron Ryan on the TV Central podcast recently came to our attention:

Aaron: …TV Burp, they said was going to come back maybe this year but hasn’t, is that finished?

Worner: I personally love that show, I’d love to bring it back, I don’t have the budget to do it right now but one day that show will come back and it will work.

Which would be good news if it was in the slightest way plausible. How could TV Burp, a show that consisted entirely of one guy behind a desk introducing clips of other television shows – shows he’s technically “reviewing” so the fair use clause should apply (meaning the clips are free) – be any cheaper? It’s the kind of no-budget formula networks love so it’s hardly surprising Worner’s a fan, but when money concerns are cited as to why a show that just involves a host introducing clips isn’t coming back… well, the long, dark night Australian comedy is suffering through on the commercial networks doesn’t look like ending any time soon.

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  • The ABC sure has a lot of bodies in the backyard, looking at that list.

    Once At Home With Julia goes to air, the Herald Sun’s opinion columnists will be able to run the “It’s still biased because it attacks from a lefty position!” blogs they’re already preparing.

    Strange writing setup for a show, two people from Double Take plus Myles Barlow. And you can just feel it, something McCarthy this way comes…

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    Yeah, the list of other political figures they plan to send up is a giant warning light for those of us aware of the dearth of talent when it comes to impressions in this country.

    The whole thing feels like the ABC got worried that with The Chaser out to lunch (and Labor set for the boot) the Liberals would start complaining that the ABC didn’t run political “satire” when Labor was in in power, and so lunged for any old internet crap they could find.

    Speaking of announced shows that have since gone missing, whatever happened to Wil Anderson’s show for pay TV? Not that we’re clamouring to see it (was the title Wilosophy?), but you’d think it would have aired by now..