Vale Hamish & Andy’s Gap Year

So… they didn’t get axed.

Lasted the full ten weeks.

Yep.

Okay, while that’s hardly the best thing that can be said about Hamish & Andy’s Gap Year, the fact remains that they’re the first new comedy series screened on a commercial network in a prime-time slot to go the distance in a long time. And while the number of qualifications in that previous sentence might seem to downplay the level of their achievement, it remains a fact that prime-time comedy on the commercial networks usually runs for two weeks before vanishing or being yanked off air in a cloud of “twitter snark kills another comedy series” – as if the fact the show was complete shit had nothing to do with it.

So again, the big deal here is that Hamish & Andy put on a show in prime time – on Nine no less, who’d be the least comedy friendly commercial network by far if not for the way Seven axes every comedy show they air after a fortnight – and made it work. Sure, it wasn’t the ratings juggernaut Nine probably hoped for (considering how much money they spent on it and on luring the boys over from Ten and radio), but it still wasn’t a flop. Sometimes that’s worth celebrating.

As for the show itself, while it’s easy to be disappointed that they boys didn’t try anything all that new, with so much riding on the success of the show (we did mention how hard it is for comedy to work on commercial networks at the moment, didn’t we?) this was never going to be anything more than more of the same light-hearted good-natured prankery that has propelled them to the top of the Australian comedy tree. And so it proved to be.

While there’s no overlooking the essential sameness of much of what they were up to week after week – silly competitions between each other, trips to explore odd parts of the USA, various (often sporting) events they could take part in / make fun of – they did a pretty good job of keeping it fresh considering they were shouldering an hour-long TV show each week solo (100 seconds of Ryan Shelton aside). Their desk banter was serviceable; their interviews were hit & miss, but after week one they only seemed to do them when they had someone handy worth talking to. As the line goes, a man’s got to know his limitations.

More importantly considering this is Hamish & Andy we’re talking about, they always seemed like they were having fun. Unlike most of the comedy professionals around at the moment (contrast the arrogant and often annoying pranks of The Chaser with H&A’s antics, where they always make sure they’re the real butt of the joke), H&A get by largely on personal charm. This gets them off the hook to some extent when the jokes are weak; they don’t exactly make a traditional joke about how weak their jokes are so much as they just laugh it off and move on, which is a move that can be alienating (rather than laughing at home, you’re watching people laughing on TV) if there’s the slightest hint that you’re not including the audience. H&A never shut the home viewer out though, and it’s this warm inclusion- rather than their often fairly average material – that explains much of their success.

So while the final episode really was just more of the same, with a basketball match in silly outfits and a “who can fall asleep the fastest” contest, it didn’t exactly feel tired and the series itself hardly felt like a failure. When and if they return to television they’re really going to have to come up with something new, but in the never-ending battle between comedy and ratings they’ve managed to pull off a draw. Maybe there’s hope for The Joy of Sets yet…

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