Confession: I was quite enthusiastic about Randling when it started last year. I thought it looked like a show with potential that just needed a couple of tweaks; to bed down a little. Of course, having been recorded in one monster block earlier in the year, tweaking and bedding down were never an option
No, this isn’t Melinda Houston’s resignation note. It should be, because the fact that Randling was recorded in one monster block was a matter of public record. But of course it isn’t, because when it comes to writing about Australian television actually doing your job comes a distant second to making sure you “support the local industry”. Which is why we don’t trust this “review” for a second:
Now we have the national broadcaster’s latest foray into the panel game show and, once again, I’m quite enthusiastic but, once again, all eight episodes have already been recorded. What that means for how the show evolves, if at all, remains to be seen.
Seriously? You’ve just told us that the last panel / game show you liked turned out to be shithouse because it didn’t have the time to “bed down a little” then you jump straight into telling us you like this new game / panel show even though you have the exact same reservations and it was recorded in the exact same fashion? You know what this means for how the show evolves because you just told us that shows recorded in “one monster block” don’t evolve, correct? So you’re saying… umm…
Okay, let’s get this straight: this is exactly the same situation as Randling – a show you initially supported but now admit turned out to be crap – only this time you’re… doing the exact same thing? You’re telling us this is a good show but it needs to evolve only you’re saying it won’t evolve so… it’s not a good show? But you’re not saying that so… what are you saying here? Ouch.
[we pick things up after a Bex and a good lie-down]
The review that follows seems to say plenty of positive things about the show, only when you read closer it’s all “this seems like a more straightforward concept…” and “What I’m really waiting to see is…” and “I’d love to see more of that on display as the series progresses…”, all of which push the verdict of whether this is a good show off into the future. Tractor Monkeys only runs for eight weeks: it’d be nice to get some kind of firm ruling before winter.
The overwhelming impression here is of a glowing review – as you’d expect from the Australian media – but dig a little deeper and it’s all arse-covering pure and simple. Houston talked up Randling even though it was shit because that’s what she does with Australian shows. Unfortunately for her, Randling was so obviously shit – and more importantly, was on the air long enough for people to notice it was shit (most shit Australian shows vanish before the audience has time to notice) – that her support of it became, let’s say “problematic”. At least as far as her critical opinion being taken seriously goes.
Hence this new approach, in which she desperately tries to juggle “being supportive” with “not sticking her neck out in the slightest”. If it turns out to be great? Hey, she said it has a “free-wheeling vibe” and “really fires”! And if it’s shit? Don’t blame her, she was “waiting to see how Watts develops as a host”. But is the show any good? Who knows? In a review of a half hour of television that already exists and she has seen in full, Houston’s only willing to commit to “remains to be seen”. Gee, thanks for that.