Come and Have a Go If You Think You’re Hard Enough

Well, this is pretty much the funniest thing we’ve seen all week:

TEN has announced a new live panel chat show, This Week Live featuring Dave Thornton, Tommy Little, Tom Gleeson and Meshel Laurie.

Including special guests, live crosses and sketches, the show will look at the week’s news in front of a live audience in TEN’s Melbourne studios.

Not because it sounds funny, of course. No no no no no. It just sounds like yet another misfire in Australian television’s seemingly never-ending quest to make a show as cheaply as possible by hiring a collection of allegedly “funny” people and getting them to talk shit for as long as they can. No, the funny bit is this:

The show will air Wednesdays at 9:30pm, the same timeslot where TEN had great success The Panel produced by Working Dog.

Guess what else airs at 9.30pm on a Wednesday? Here’s a clue: it’s even more shithouse than we thought.

Ten has been pushing to break the ABC’s ownership of the Wednesday night comedy slot for years now. And why not? It’s not like they have any chance of taking down Seven or Nine. First they pushed Talkin’ ’bout Your Generation to Wednesdays at 8.30, then Offspring, then Shaun Micallef’s Mr & Mrs Murder – at a time when he was on the ABC that night at 8pm too, so they clearly care more about winning the night than pissing off the talent.

Presumably the execs at Ten waited until, oh, maybe five minutes tops into the very first episode of Wednesday Night Fever before thinking “yeah, we can totally do better than this shit” and ringing around to see if anyone had any ideas. And they’re almost certainly right, because six more weeks of what we got on the ABC Wednesday night is six solid weeks where viewers will be looking for something else to watch. Say goodbye to any rusted-on viewers that 9.30pm slot might have had, ABC; whatever you try next is going to have to start from scratch.

Meanwhile, Tom Gleeson is going around saying “ I can say whatever I want, and then a million people hear it.” So he must be expecting a whole lot of rubberneckers coming to gawk at this particular train wreck. But for once, this is a win-win situation for viewers: both shows look awful, so if one beats the other we’re not going to have lost anything. Hurrah!

Oh, unless you’re worried that the more shit Australian comedy we get on our screens, the more likely it is that audiences will turn away from local comedy forever. Then this news – like pretty much all the news when it comes to Australian television comedy in 2013 – is nothing but yet another slice of premium arse.

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  • BIlly C says:

    So basically a show made by an artist manager to give his clients jobs. They can all tell a joke, but when the casting process is looking at your own website you’d have to wonder if they’ve gotten the most qualified and appropriate mix of people.

  • Tristan says:

    Wait… what’s this about WNF and blackface? I tried the above link but the the Crikey article seems to have been removed.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    How interesting. We did have a few suspicions that the “leaked” script that Crikey piece was based on may have been a fake… presumably they’ll fill us in in due course.

    The article was based on a “leaked” script for the first edition of WNF that had Gillard calling Rudd a cunt, a sketch involving Prince Phillip in blackface, another fake ad sketch where Gina Rinehart pushed an aborigine off his land because the risk of skin cancer out there was too great (thus freeing the land up for mining) and so on. It seemed a little unlikely that all the material mentioned could fit in one half hour show, but hey, it’s not like Crikey would go nuts at the smell of a scoop…

    If you’re still interested, it seems to be available here:

  • Billy C says:

    I don’t think it was leaked at all. I think that someone tweeted a link to a google group for writers that wasn’t password protected. Google Groups are often used by teams of writers so they can see drafts of other people’s works (i.e don’t duplicate ideas) and collaborate etc. I wonder if accessing this material and printing it when it is clearly owned by the ABC cause Crikey legal problems? Still judging something on what didn’t go to air is a bit pointless. Just because you got access to something you aren’t supposed to have doesn’t mean they got a story worth publishing.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    Did they tweet the link? It’s also linked to in the very first comment on the Crikey review of WNF, which is why we’re a little suspicious – unless the link came from a disgruntled staff member, how would someone have found it (and so quickly)? Not that we’re experts at searching for such things, it could be really easy.

    But yeah, if it is real then linking to internal ABC working documents could have been the problem there. If the sketches turn up in coming weeks we’ll know for sure.

    And agreed, linking to unused scripts and damning them for it is a little over the top. Shouldn’t the WNF team be credited for not going with the clearly racist material?

  • Billy C says:

    Someone found the group and linked to it:
    Not sure which came first. Didn’t see it linked. Hilarious. Google groups are easy to password protect. If you’ve ever used one it’s actually a pain to get invited in by a moderator.
    I’m assuming that’s where they got them. So not leaked I’d suggest. Can we get a cache of the group!

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    We’d guess the Crikey link came first – that was dated the 4th. but whoever found it first, a cache would be most welcome.

  • Urinal Cake says:

    That is on some Janoskians level type of humour.

  • Andore Jr. says:

    The networks are so lost at this point, I’m surprised no one’s shrugged and said, “fuck it, let’s bring The Panel back”?

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    The big problem the networks are currently facing is that in their rush to make the cheapest possible shows – that is, shows with close to no format as possible past having people sitting behind a desk and talking – they’ve handed all the power over to the talent. They’ve all been trying to bring the Panel back for a decade or more now, but without Working Dog (who spent years doing breakfast radio successfully before moving to television, so they actually knew how to make sitting around talking crap work), what they’ve served up has been more like The Project or Tractor Monkeys.

  • BIlly C says:

    No they aren’t giving the power to the talent. They are throwing the talent in the deep end with live or live to tape shows and hoping it works. I don’t think it’s the talent creating the formats. They are getting cast to be funny in difficult circumstances. Tractor Monkey’s like The White Room seems pretty hard to me to make work. Here’s some footage from the archives. Make it funny. How many rehearsals or input do you think people who make people laugh for a living are getting? I’d say very little.

    Over a million people will tune in for A Place to Call Home. Close to a million for House Husbands and over half a million for Time of Our Lives on a Sunday night on different networks. If you put on something that tells Australian stories people will watch. But people joking about the news? That’s what Twitter and Facebook are for. If you’re going to do a show you better not be repeating the jokes from morning and drive radio and you better be really good at it.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    By “giving the power to the talent”, we mean “giving the talent the ability to make or break the show” – while the talent have no power over the format or timeslot or their rehearsal time, in the end with these formats it boils down to the talent’s ability to make it work (under no doubt difficult circumstances).

    Put another way, on the rare occasions when these shows really do work – Spicks and Specks is the most recent / most obvious one – the talent can write their own ticket. The talent are certainly being thrown in the deep end, but if they can make it work it’s definitely worth their while. And if they can’t, there’s nothing the networks can do to change that with these bare bones formats.

  • Pete Hill says:

    Given that Working Dog blew more than 8 million bucks on Any Questions for Ben?, I am surprised they aren’t rushing to offer the Panel franchise back to one of the networks.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    When The Panel was up and running there was a lot of talk about how “difficult” (read: cared about the end result) Working Dog were to work with. So even if they were to offer it back there’d be a very good chance that the networks would just say “people talking around a desk? Yeah, we’re fine for that stuff”.

  • J says:

    I’d be curious to read about that. Maybe Tumbleweeds should run Tales From The Australian Comedy Vault?

  • BIlly C says:

    I’d like to add the WNF was advertising on twitter audience tickets as late as the morning of the record. When you can’t get people to go for free to your taping then I think that’s an indication of how it’s going.