Sometimes it’s good to take on board opinions diametrically opposed to yours to broaden your view on a subject. Other times you find yourself reading something that’s just plain wrong. Guess which is which with regards to The Sunday Age‘s Melinda Houston and her most recent write-up of Randling?
Everyone, including the audience at home, is settling into the rhythm of this new word quiz show, meaning it’s more “funerer” by the week.
Putting aside all right-thinking people’s instinctive violence towards a TV critic who uses a show’s made-up promotional words as a positive in their reviews, how to reconcile this with the actual ratings? According to fellow Fairfax writer David Dale, they show that Randling is “proceeding down the plughole of history“:
Week 1: 10 RANDLING ABC1 859,000 264,000 276,000 153,000 66,000 100,000
Week 2: 18 RANDLING ABC1 621,000 153,000 200,000 112,000 73,000 83,000
(the first figure is the national figure, followed by the ratings in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. We’ve attached the first week figures to show just how steep the drop-off from week one to week two was).
Just to rub it in: over 200,000 people didn’t come back after episode one. One quarter of the audience tuned in and went “nope”. Those aren’t people who might jump on board after hearing the show’s become more “funerer” – they tried it and didn’t like it. The only way to win them back now is by making radical changes, and considering the show has already been filmed (all 27 weeks worth), it’s not like Denton and the Randling crew can take on board any feedback they might be getting.
The most positive reading of Houston’s review is that while a quarter of “the audience at home” stopped watching after one episode, those left behind are getting into the swing of things. Presumably by week twenty there’ll be only a half dozen people watching Randling but they’ll be really, really into it. Though where Denton is going to find five other people who love him as much as he does remains a mystery.
The other Australian comedy Huston is big-upping is, of course, Laid 2. Again, it’s worth quoting her in full (because it doesn’t seem to be online):
It’s a little bit Keystone Cops on Laid this year as Roo maniacally chases down gruesome little Marcus in an effort to (a) sleep with him and (b) cure herself of her killer lady parts. In tonight’s ep, after a touching if less than perfect reunion with her beau Charlie, she’s stalking Marcus once more. But despite the rather circular nature of the action, this is still a fabulous night’s entertainment, largely thanks to the captivating performances from Alison Bell and Celia Pacquola. We don’t often get to see a couple of ladies holding the floor in Australian comedy; to see the two of them do it so well is particularly gratifying.
At least she’s not even pretending to claim it’s a ratings smash, probably because even by week one it was obvious that, to again quote Dale, “the second season of Laid turned out to be a ratings disaster.”
Week 1: 27 LAID ABC1 424,000 106,000 144,000 90,000 36,000 48,000Week 2: 32 LAID ABC1 336,000 69,000 128,000 57,000 36,000 47,000
Instead, Huston says that Laid is worth your time for the double act of Bell and Pacquola, because “we don’t often get to see a couple of ladies holding the floor in Australian comedy”. Two words, one ampersand: Kath & Kim. You know, the biggest Australian comedy hit of the 21st Century? To be fair, that was a while ago now, so… well, The Librarians had Robyn Butler interacting with all manner of women, Roz Hammond especially. And isn’t Laid currently followed by Agony Aunts, which is wall-to-wall ladies “holding the floor”?
It’s one thing to say Bell and Pacquola are a great double act – though then you’d have to address the fact that they don’t seem to be having all that many scenes together in this series of Laid – it’s another to pretend that seeing two women being funny together is so rare it alone makes the show “a fabulous night’s entertainment”. Yes, there are loads more men than women at pretty much every level of Australian comedy, but funny women aren’t so rare they should be supported on the basis of their gender alone. That way lies Kate Langbroek.
Slightly more interestingly, Laid is clearly so bad even Houston is forced to address at least one of its many faults: “the rather circular nature of the action”, AKA nothing ever fucking happens. Week one’s introduction of the sleazebag with the magic penis held out the hope that this second series might come up with a few fun twists and turns. But it seems Marieke Hardy thought “magic penis”, put down her pen, and decided she could write the rest of the series by transcribing chit-chat with her friends and sourcing comedy catchphrases from the internet. So just like everything else she’s written for TV then.
When it was first announced that Shaun Micallef’s new show Mad As Hell would be airing Friday nights at 8pm, we were worried this was the ABC dumping one of its brightest comedy prospects in a timeslot not exactly on the radar of most comedy fans. Now it looks like they’ve done Micallef a massive favour. Thanks to what can best be described as “fucking shit up”, the ABC have destroyed whatever value the Wednesday night comedy timeslot may have had as far as attracting an audience: from here on in, it’s every show for itself.