We’re Bashing Our Heads Against a Brick Wall Over Here

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    48,000
Week 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.

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  • billy c says:

    Also interesting is that Agony Aunts is I believe rating slightly higher than Laid. It is extremely uncommon for a 9.30 show to rate higher than a 9.00pm show. People are really deliberately giving it a miss and then coming back. Gave Randling three minutes. I got bored of it before they’d even asked a question.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    Seems the decline continues apace:

    “Randling (491,000), Agony Aunts (332,000) and Laid letting down the team on just 262,000.”

    From here: http://www.tvtonight.com.au/2012/05/abc-struggling-on-wednesdays.html

  • Paul Westerfield says:

    Well I agree with the guys above, whoever they are.
    “Randling” is an embarrassment…as funny as ten year olds telling jokes.
    ABC used to have heaps of really funny comedies. I recall “Dad’s Army”, “Fawlty Towers”, our own “Aunty Jack”.
    Now all we get are promos telling us how the new show is REALLY FUNNY, yes REALLY FUNNY and that it gets “Funnerer” all the time.
    If it’s so funny, why the need to tell us over and over?

    ABC TV is shamefully inept. And all they do is congratulate themselves on how funny they are.

    More shows featuring women, yes, like “The Librarians”. More women, yes and why not some Muslim women, plus some really stupid men…it’s all so politically correct.

    Re-run “Dad’s Army” or show “Fawlty Towers” again. Or “Keeping Up Appearances” again.
    Just take these awful expensive new so-called comedies off. AND stop telling us how funny they are.
    It’s as funny as Uncle Arthur telling crude jokes at a wedding

  • Jane Pike says:

    Agree about Randling, the appalling Laid 2 and the rest.

    But… I must totally digress and defend Kate Langbroek. I would argue that Kate Langbroek does not deserve to be singled out as an example of an unfunny woman only supported because of her gender. In fact, I would argue it is the opposite. She has been used as a punching bag because of her gender.

    When The Panel aired I was mystified at how she landed a gig amongst those guys. She seemed annoying and unfunny. Then I became irritated after noticing how the men consistently mocked her, belittled her and spoke over the top of her. This happened not when she was saying anything particularly silly, and often when she was trying to make good points. But they all treated her as if she were a total fool. I was curious about what she was like in a different environment, but thought no more about it.

    So about a year ago while radio channel surfing I landed on the commercial morning show Langbroak co-hosts with Dave Hughes. Now, as a rule I don’t listen to commercial radio – that appalling music, the advertisements. But most mornings now I listen to Kate Langbroek, despite my aversion to Dave Hughes and commercial radio. She is funny, personable, clever, perceptive, outspoken, and gently but entertainingly calls out Dave Hughes on his misogynistic bullshit.

    I just wish she had been given a fair go on The Panel. She was outnumbered and positioned as the token idiotic female, and not given a chance to defend herself because every time she tried to speak out they howled her down. She was never given a chance to be herself because the men constantly undermined her. And it pains me to say this, but even Dave Hughes shows Kate Langbroek oceans more respect than The Panel guys ever did.

    So she was put on The Panel for what reason? So she could be humiliated every week? If they didn’t think her voice was valuable, why didn’t they put some other funny woman on the panel? Those guys have been in the industry a long time, have all the contacts, know what they are doing. The whole thing stinks.

  • PhilB says:

    Furiously funny it ain’t.

    Randling is only engaging when trying to understand how a quiz show of this format, that is so tried and true can fall over. Its lacking something, something that Letters and Numbers has.

    Giving everyone a few drinks would help it along. Maybe that is its origins, around the table, a bit tipsy, being clever, giggling. Why is it I sense everyone is terrified of Denton?

    When a quiz show isn’t working the questions seem contrary, nonsensical or impossible. For a show that loves language it’s infuriating to hear words like fun being effed with The guest team names, the team colours and all the other football fan inspirations and aspirations is phoney play.

    Stupid questions in a rather weird set with talented people should be funny, it should work. Yet it lacks the very ingredient that makes studio based banter such fun when funny people get together over some simple but testing quiz. It lacks a good host, a good lubricant that make everyone feel at ease and free to make a joke.

    Fry’s QI can be rough but it’s his show, he can dominate and be a toff and an elitist nerd but Denton has pitched his show into the suburban field of football and the land of Oi Oi Oi. There is a disconnect between Denton the ‘bloke’, his stars and the footy that drags this show down.

  • kym newman says:

    Lets face it, Randling has guests with egos almost as big as Alan Jones. As it happens, that is not the biggest downfall. The show is crap. Who really is interested in the meaning of the word Impoofo. See if you can resist the temptation to go to the dictionary. Andrew has been involved in some world class productions. He has either run out of ideas or is just getting lazy. Please just drag it and sell the remaining rubbish to channel 7 or 9.
    Kind Regards