One Weekend Only, Everything Must Go

Press release time!


Australia’s leading internet TV service, ABC iview, is giving superfans the chance to watch puckloads of Chris Lilley’s new series JONAH FROM TONGA online, before it hits TV screens.

Every pucking episode of the six-part series will premiere in a not-to-be-missed weekend iview binge, available from 6pm Friday May 2 until 6pm Sunday May 4 AEST.

With more than 15 million monthly program plays*, iview is Australia’s most accessible TV on demand service, available on 15 connected platforms including computers, tablets, smart phones, internet-enabled TVs, gaming consoles and set top boxes – so you’ll never miss a moment of JONAH FROM TONGA, wherever you are.

Last time we caught up with Jonah Takalua he was expelled from Summer Heights High. JONAH FROM TONGA sees Jonah now in a new school but still up to his old tricks. The Tongan rebel finds himself in hot water with plenty of fights, frenemies, break-dancing & law-breaking.

“ABC iview was the first in the Australian market with an online streaming catch-up service and we continue to deliver ‘firsts’ five years on,” said Arul Baskaran, ABC Head of Online and Multiplatform.

“We’re firm believers in innovation and improving how technology can deliver outstanding Australian content to audiences no matter where they’re watching, and we’re thrilled to now offer binge viewing of a highly-anticipated show from one of Australia’s most respected comedic talents.” he added.

Princess Pictures’ Laura Waters, who produced the series with Lilley said: “Jonah From Tonga is a thrilling series, coming out in the most thrilling era of television,

“Chris and I will always put the fan’s experience first. We’re so excited that people can choose their own way of getting involved with Jonah!” Laura added.

Companion broadcaster BBC Three will follow suit with their own binge weekend with the entire series available on the popular BBC iPlayer.

JONAH FROM TONGA will also screen Wednesday nights from May 7 at 9pm on ABC1, with each episode being made available again on iview after broadcast.

 Okay, let’s just make this plain: Chris Lilley’s last two series – Angry Boys and Ja’mie: Private School Girl – started out strong in the ratings, only to see those figures drop off sharply as viewers realised they were being served the same old same old. So what this binge session really is – sorry “superfans” – is a naked attempt to rig the ratings: by releasing the whole series in one blurt, they can then claim the initial high ratings figures (that Lilley hopefully still manages to get in week one) are the figures for the entire series*.

Obviously this is bullshit, a blatant attempt to rig the system to artificially boost the ratings for the ABC’s fading golden child. But good news: by showing so little confidence in the finished product the ABC have done much of our work for us. If Lilley had come up with a show that improved week after week – or even just had a halfway decent story that would keep viewers tuning in – the ABC wouldn’t be resorting to this kind of crap.

No, it seems clear without having seen a second of the finished show that Lilley has yet again served up even more of the same “hilarious” quasi-racism, dubious sex jokes and bland unfocused “offensiveness”. Now the ABC are bricking it at the realisation that they’re stuck with six weeks of this turd smeared across their schedules. We’ll still be tuning in because, as the Romans put it, “haters gotta hate”. But after this stunt? You’re going to need diamond-tipped drilling equipment to dig down to where our expectations have sunk.



*they can also claim when the ratings fall off week after week for the ABC1 broadcast that the drop in viewers is because everyone watched the series on the first weekend. Pretty sneaky, ABC.

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  • Billy C says:


    They only ever trot out the iview figures to justify Lilley’s ratings and the never in any detail or context. They’ll say millions of plays but won’t tell you how many people hung around until ep 6.

    Lets be honest not one single person who watched it on iview is really going to then watch it on tv. So if it does drop remarkably then it’s still for the same reason as always. Spicks and Specks will get the same numbers during ratings period it’s been getting. Q.I will give the same type of lead in Mad As Hell gave it. This time around Lilley will end up at 500k if he’s lucky by the end of it.

    I imagine after Angry Boys they did a deal for two season rather than another long one. BBC3 paid for this one and HBO for Ja’mie. I wonder where he will go from here. It’s not like he’s ever done anything else. He should have used Summer Heights to get some acting credits to his name.

  • Er says:

    “If Lilley had come up with a show that improved week after week… the ABC wouldn’t be resorting to this sort of crap.”

    Conversely – bulk releasing it could be a good strategy if it starts poorly but improves during its run. So you can tell your friends that it’s worth sticking with.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    Good point. Though a bad first episode is still bad whether you have to wait a week or 30 seconds for the next episode.

  • UnSubject says:

    It’s an interesting strategy, reminiscient of “Arrested Development” launching its fourth season with Netflix.

    However… is Lilley the kind of comedian you can binge on? Some people like the idea of show binging since there’s no time to stop and think between episodes – the flaws can be papered over since the next episode is just around the corner. But imo, Lilley’s comedy is at its weakest where he forces you to stay with his unlikable characters for too long. “Australian of the Year” is his best work imo, mainly because it flipped quickly between characters – if you didn’t like one, you weren’t forced to stick with them for long.

    This particular strategy does give the ABC a lot of plausible deniability when it comes to “Jonah” and its ratings though. It also lets the ABC know (at least in ways it couldn’t really know before) about how the audience will react to the show. If the last episode goes basically unwatched, “Jonah” might easily see its time on air compressed.

  • Billy C says:

    Someone once told me that with We Can Be Heroes it was originally intended that each episode be a different character however some of the characters were just too weak to sustain an episode so they cut it all together in the edit. It would make sense to have 5 characters then a final episode where they are all together. That could just not be true I have no idea. I think the ABC are also pretty worried about Spicks and Specks. It may not be back next year. It’s certainly not going to provide a strong lead in to Jonah abut like Ja’mie it will probably get a big first and second week. There’s a lot of love amongst the young ones for Summer Heights High.

  • Urinal Cake says:

    Spicks & Specks is relatively cheap to make though and they don’t seem to have any other ideas. I can see them making a change to the host however.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    Spicks and Specks is hardly going gangbusters, and a strong lead-in from Mad as Hell has helped it a lot, but still: it’s ratings seems to have improved over its run to date (442,000 Feb 12th, 540,000 April 16th). And any kind of improvement is pretty rare for an ABC comedy product these days.

  • Billy C says:

    It’s often losing 200k from it’s lead in and has at least once been beaten by the show that comes after it. I think it needs to be at 600,000 plus most weeks to be safe. It’s in the line up to provide a stable weekly strong lead in for other shows. If it’s not doing that it’s better off running for 12 weeks a year at the most. We’ll see how it does tonight with Q.I.
    Lilley’s show’s have really provided some poor lead ins in recent years so we’ll see how he goes with a poor lead in.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    At this stage it really should be judged as a new show rather than a continuation of the previous series, and in that light improving ratings are a good sign. While it’s there to be “a stable strong weekly lead in for other shows”, it’s also there to be cheap local content the ABC can run for extended periods of the year. The only reason Tractor Monkeys didn’t get a 27 week order after the first series was because it rated so badly even the ABC realised it couldn’t become a regular.

    Basically, unless the revived S&S becomes a total car crash rating 200,000 or less, it’s going to be “safe” for a while yet. And it’s highly unlikely it’ll ever be a short-run series; it’ll either run for half the year or not at all (because it’s been replaced by something else running half a year).

  • BIlly C says:

    I don’t disagree with you. It should be judged as a new series and given every chance. I don’t watch it but I would like to see it succeed. They are still shooting it but one would think they will need to make decisions towards the end of the year about the following year. I hope it picks up as the cast have been given pretty difficult job to step into the previous cast shoes, especially while the ABC is still running the old show on ABC2 to remind everyone what it was like. Perhaps 500k will be enough if it can stay there. It does have stronger competition than the original version often had.