How easy it is to get into an argument about the lack of sitcoms on commercial TV with one of Australia’s most respected TV writers… Meanwhile, the TV writer in question reports that Eleven will begin airing five-part web sitcom Plonk tonight.
Plonk began life as branded content funded by tourism body Destination NSW, and since its launch it’s been doing well on YouTube. Written by and featuring Nathan Earl and Josh Tyler, it stars Chris Taylor as Up-Himself-Chaser-Boy-Chris-Taylor as he and a miss-matched film crew travel around New South Wales making a wine show.
For branded content Plonk is relatively light-touch – there are cameos from wine makers, lots of wineries get a name check, and there are some gorgeously-inviting shots of tourist destinations – but the emphasis is on the comedy. The comedy itself is standard sitcom fare (cartoonish-characters, funny lines, a touch of slapstick) but with a Frontline feel (realistic shooting style and performances). It’s not super hilarious but is quite enjoyable.
One thing worth noting is the pace; with each episode lasting less than 15 minutes there’s no time for the sort of long pauses and moving bits that can cause 25-30 minute sitcoms to drag. And it’s interesting to ponder whether the decision to keep it pacey was to prevent notoriously fickle YouTubers from switching to a cat video. On broadcast TV you can kinda get away with a few slow and boring bits because viewers are less likely to switch off, but there’s no such luxury on YouTube. And that’s a good thing as far as we’re concerned because as a general rule comedy shouldn’t drag – even those gags which are funny because they drag get unfunny pretty quickly.
So, while we’re not exactly thrilled with the idea of sitcoms and other forms of comedy being funded purely to spruik a good or service, we think Plonk has quite a few good things going for it and we think you should check it out.