If you like comedy and didn’t have reason to dislike the inordinately smug Andrew Denton before now, thanks to a recent interview he gave to Fairfax, now you do:
In a perfect world, Denton says, Randling would have been a companion piece to the popular music-trivia show Spicks and Specks.
But two weeks after pitching Randling to the ABC, the producers of Spicks and Specks announced their intention to wind it up at the end of last year. Randling now has Spicks’ ”Broadway” slot on Wednesday night.
”It’s not ideal to come after Spicks and Specks, which has been so loved,” Denton says. ”We’ll have to find our way through the clouds of comparison … with every show, it takes a while for the audience to find its feet as much as the show.
”I’d prefer Spicks was still on, though I understand why they made that decision.”
We’ve gone on here before about how important Spicks & Specks has been to the last few years of Australian comedy. Short version: by ratings its arse off at 8.30pm then finishing at 9 while every other network was screening hour-long shows from 8.30 to 9.30, it meant anything running after it got a all-but-guaranteed ratings boost that made it – and Australian comedy in general – look more popular that it probably really was.
We bang on and on about this because ratings are important in television: without the security of that solid Spicks & Specks lead-in, many of the ABC comedy hits of the mid 2000s would have been flops, and therefore many of the ABC comedies of the late 2000s would never have happened. So of course Denton wanted his word-based game-show to have that hit-making slot. It’s only fair really…. until you realise that while most Australian comedy series on the ABC run six weeks (eight at most), according to the preview information we’ve seen Randling is scheduled to run for 27 weeks.
Basically, Denton wanted to fuck over every other Australian comedy on the ABC in 2012 (okay, apart from Woodley, which aired at 8pm, and Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell, which will air Friday’s at 8pm) by locking up the only decent comedy timeslot for his word-based game-show from now until November; that is to say, the end of ratings season 2012. That’s his right, of course. He’s only doing the best by his word-based game-show to wish it the best possible timeslot.
We, on the other hand, are well within our rights to find the fact that his word-based game-show will now have to win viewers based entirely on its’ word-based merits pretty darn funny. And the ABC are well within their rights to be quietly shitting themselves that they’ve given a 27 week commitment to a game show that is, above all else, word-based. After all, we all know how much Australians love their words.