Something Something Something.

What is there to say about This Week Live that hasn’t already been said about The Panel fifteen years ago? Or Before the Game five years ago? Or The Project five hours ago? Yet again Channel Ten edges one step further towards becoming a 24 hour all-desk network: did they get bought out by a furniture barn when no-one was watching?

The big problem with these shows is that, unless you have someone keeping a firm hand on the wheel, you end up with a bunch of people talking all over each other trying to make each other laugh. The only firm hand in evidence on the first episode of This Week Live was, well, there’s a wank joke in there somewhere. And while the cast did a pretty solid job of punching out the jokes, the whole show did feel like a bit of a wank. We’re over here guys! We’re the people you’re meant to be trying to make laugh!

Otherwise it really was just The Panel, which makes sense for Ten because The Panel was a big hit for them back in the day, only The Panel was put together by a team who’d worked together on radio and television for well over a decade and even then it was kind of crap. This is just breakfast radio with pictures, and don’t we already have breakfast radio? It’s on during breakfast. On the radio.

Snark aside (briefly), this kind of show is a cheap way to fill in air time, a cheap way to cross-promote other programs on the network, a cheap way to get passing movie stars and celebrities on to add a bit of star power to the network, and a cheap way to… do whatever the first one was again. The big problem is that they actually look cheap, so unless you’re Network Ten they tend to lower the tone of the joint. And unless you have some really, really skilled comedy performers involved the end result tends to look like a crap talk show where you need four people to do the job of one decent host. Ahem.

Oh, alright; it did a better job of being what it was than Wednesday Night Fever does of being whatever the hell it’s meant to be. It was pacy, the sketches were brief which is a good thing when you don’t really have any jokes (it’s a clip pretending to be from the 80s! People are dancing!), it had running gags that were mostly rubbish but at least they came at the jokes from various angles (ie, that whole “schongs” thing was lame, but at least they had the fake on-the-street endorsements to mix it up) and while if they completely changed the cast by week two we wouldn’t complain, it’s not like any of them plumbed the depths the way Kate Langbroek did week after week on The Panel.

The question is, considering it has nothing going for it beyond having a bunch of marginally tolerable people talking random crap over the top of each other in a never-ending race to make each other laugh, is that going to be enough? Is this going to be able to survive in the current cut-throat climate of Australian television? Considering it’s currently up against Wednesday Night Fever for the all-important “news laffs” audience… eh, probably.

Mind you, if Ten was really in the entertainment business, they would have put to air the board meeting where they decided to screw over Working Dog by ripping off The Panel‘s format. Guess they never did get over Thank God You’re Here jumping to Seven…

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  • Blues says:

    I missed This Week Live, but did see a chunk of Wednesday Night Fever (I don’t want to know what that says about me) and it sounds like there’s at least some laughs in TWL. WNF continues to be ‘topical’ by having Sammy J talk sing about the royal baby and a sketch about the birth which was a low point even for them (although the blackface bit seemed to have been cut or just never filmed, I suspect it was only cut). Outside of that was a shitty Kevin Rudd bit where most of the material feels like they’ve been sitting on it for awhile in case they ran out of real material and a Julia Gillard skit where she talks about her book. It looks like the leadership spill really messed with their planned material to the point Sammy J mentions it sucked for shows that have a Julia Gillard impersonator and Julia was wheeled out to help kill time. Things got so bad they spent way too long on an interview with Malcolm Turnbull where Paul McCarthy looked more like he was impersonating Shane Bourne and pulled out Amanda Bishop as Annabel Crabb (you could tell it was Annabel because she was mixing food in a bowl, oh the hilarity) where Amanda can’t even to manage to not be able to impersonate a voice without it sounding kinda like her Julia Gillard.
    It looks like TWL will hopefully be the final nail in WNF coffin, when the people behind comedy inc and double take seem to have run out of material then you know things are dire. Next week it looks like I have a new show to check out.

  • Tony Coca-Cola says:

    It looks like WNF did indeed shoot, and cut, the blackface Prince Philip bit. Have a look at the final shot of the sketch – Philip has his back to camera but he turns slightly and you can see his face covered in the aforementioned “black”.
    Do I detect a sense of taste developing?

  • billy c says:

    I watched this week live. I thought the opening stand-up was a bit dodgy but it got better. They need to stop being so self referential. If a joke doesn’t work mentioning that it doesn’t work is only something you can do once. Just move on. Tom Gleeson was very good I thought. His fake ad and his interview with Katter were highlights. I didn’t bother watching all of it.
    Yeah it’s cheap to make. No it’s not ground breaking but it was better than a lot of stuff that’s been made recently.
    I don’t think the Panel is enough of a format to suggest it’s a rip. The Panel was just radio with pictures.

    Also I feel like none of them are under too much pressure to carry the show so they are all a bit more relaxed than they might be otherwise. It’s a bunch of people who know how to deal with a live audience who as used to making people laugh doing a lot of gags. The problem they have is ten is so low rating that people wont see the promos for it. Tom Gleeson has 30k twitter followers, Meshel Laurie 30k. They rated 338,000.
    It’s one of the few shows recently I’d happily watch again and that’s the first time I’ve said that about an Australian comedy show for a year or so.

  • Blues says:

    after everyone having a go at them for swearing any chance they could the first week they really dialed it back, since then it’s likely they’ve had to rethink how far they push for outrage, or maybe they thought having prince harry naked from the waist down and stoned would be enough to make us do a spit take.

    They seem to have either dropped their Gina Rinehart skit or saving it for a rainy day, from this story
    it looks like it was meant to air on the first week, maybe Gina being condescending to aboriginal people was deemed too risky.
    As godawful as the show is I would’ve loved to have been at the meetings that try and work out what material they use each week, “Shit! everyone hates Downton Abbot, now we have 5 minutes to kill, get Amanda out and use up whatever Gillard jokes we have before they get even staler”. The weirdest part of the night was Sammy J singing a lullaby for the prince that absolutely noone laughed at, they didn’t even bother to sweeten the laughs and they’ve been pretty generous with that in past weeks.

  • Tristan says:

    Yeah I spotted that haha. He was standing next to the African prince on the left side in the group shot and the editors cropped him out. I’d say they just got scared of causing another national controversy.

  • Ally says:

    Although most of you probably don’t care, I’m disappointed and annoyed that this crap (TWL rerun) has replaced an episode of Star Trek over on eleven. Really sick of all this TV with people yelling over one another trying to get laughs and often failing. It’s cringe-worthy and uncomfortable to watch, which is why I never do. *flips tables*

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    Yeah, to be fair to TWL it’s a solid example of a lightweight show. It’s really the kind of thing Australian television should always have on the air somewhere… preferably late night so they can piss-fart around a bit. The individual members of the team were all decent as well (well, Tom Gleeson remains Tom Gleeson, but there’s not much to be done there) so it’s possible if the show gets a decent run the whole thing will come together.

    But it’s just as likely the wheels will totally fall off in week two. With this kind of show it either comes together on the night or it doesn’t.

  • billy c says:

    That’s a shame because how else will you watch Star Trek? It’s not like they are on DVD or all over the internet. But yes they did yell over each other a bit.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    We’re glad to know it’s being repeated! Oddly, the ABC doesn’t seem to be repeating Wednesday Night Fever… guess they’re saving the gold for the special edition DVD. That they don’t seem to be doing either.

  • Blues says:

    that would be a short DVD

  • menagers says:

    Hey, I’m sporting a bit of theory that Working Dog may actually have a hand in This Week Live. Does anyone know who is producing this show? There were no credits, which I think is real sin of modern TV, Ch 10 is a real shit the way it loves to do this.
    That mystery aside, I think this has a bit of potential actually. While I’m still suspicious of Gleeson’s Panel show sluttiness, with his look-at-me loud voice and his moronic milking of dud jokes. I did think that Tommy Little and Dave Thornton have quite a lot of potential. Their opening was very reminiscent of the Martin & Molloy openings on The Late Show to me. Meshel Laurie & Mel Buttle are showing a bit of promise by actually using the cobweb covered costume department, being brave and fun by dressing up and doing an 80’s morning telly sketch just for the hell of it.
    While, I will always resent panel shows for robbing us of sketch comedy, I do accept that they were the antidote everyone needed after Skithouse and it’s eveil ilk. However, TWL actually looks to me like an attempt to bring the two concepts together. I’ll be giving it a go.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    According to an insider, This Week Live is “Created and produced by Craig Campbell (Executive Producer of The Project and Rove Live) and Kevin Whyte (Token/Guesswork Television)”. That’s the only credits we can dig up, but we’re guessing with access to Ten’s library of every single episode of The Panel ever it’d be pretty easy to build a show just from that.

    Strangely, there’s a link on the Ten website to a This Week Live site, but the site itself doesn’t seem to be, uh, live just yet.