We’ve held off reviewing ABC2’s #7DaysLater for a few weeks, partly because we wanted to give the team a chance to get to grips with what was always going to be a difficult format, in that they have just seven days to make each show, and partly because the first episode had so much going on in it that we didn’t quite know what to say about it.
The key thing you need to know about #7DaysLater is this – “the story, dialogue and characters were developed by our audience” – something they state at the start of each episode like it’s a warning. And to a certain extent it is a warning because with the general public making all sorts of suggestions via the show’s Facebook page, Google+ hangouts and Triple J phone-ins, there’s a lot of ideas being generated. And to make a fairly obvious point, the kind of ideas the public are going to suggest in a radio phone-in or a Facebook page post might be amusing in a phone-in or Facebook context, where you have to get attention and laughs in two lines, but aren’t quite so funny when you try to turn them in to seven minutes of narrative television.
Hence you get plots like “Improv troupe try to save people held at gunpoint through improv” (Week 1) or “Zombies take over the country and debate the Prime Minister on Q&A” (Week 3), which sound like they should be funny but aren’t (unless you count the parody tweets on the zombie Q&A). More successful was Week 4, which took the idea of “Crack team keeps fucking up a heist” and presented it in a way which worked well on television, and was funny. We won’t spoil it for you. That’s not to say that Week 4 was brilliant, but it did at least feel like something which had been conceived for television.
Week 2 wasn’t bad either in that its “alien love triangle” plot, in which an alien Lord returns to earth to reunite with his now grown-up and married human best friend, seemed to have been conceived with 80’s teen heartthrob and #7DaysLater guest star Corey Feldman in mind. Again, it might not have been a non-stop cack but it worked as TV. And when you have to seven days to pull together crazy ideas from the public and make something watchable, that’s about the best you can hope for.
God, where to begin with this show?
1. Where’s the novelty, the appeal in generating material on a week-to-week basis?
Don’t most shows do that? Some even do it day-to-day. Really good shows do it day-to-day, and they have to fill 30/60 mins.
Not a worthwhile hook.
2. Having the topics generated by the public arguably makes production a lot easier.
Rules make writing, and writing comedy, much easier, as opposed to drowning in your own imagination.
What’s the difference between a public-generated topic (or choosing one from a whole list) and reading the paper for inspiration?
I don’t see the appeal in this hook either.
3. Semantics, but the promotion of the show – “YOU make the show” – really pisses me off.
No, we don’t make anything.
If you got everyone to send in actual filmed content, shot on their phones or something, then edited it together, THEN I’d agree.
Sad, I know. But it pisses me off.
4. Tropfest has a lot to answer for, most of it not good.
5. “May contain traces of nuts” – really?
Then again, on first hearing about this show, I thought of an exchange between Liz and Jack on 30 Rock:
Liz – “Cross promotional. Deal mechanics. Revenue streams. Jargon. Synergy.”
Jack – “That’s the best presentation I’ve ever seen.”
“Hipsters. Interactive. Hashtags. Multi-platform. Youth.”
ABC ate it up with a spoon.
A beautiful, beautiful pitch.
This is just funding box ticking.
Maybe Liley and Thomas could use some brainstorming from the Internet next time?