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.