We don’t always talk up upcoming shows unless they fill us with a sense of dread but this one snuck up on us: Dirty Laundry Live is back! Yes, the only survivor (to date) from the 2013 round of panel shows returns tomorrow night on ABC2 to deliver the same mix of celebrity gossip and smutty jokes. Or at least, we assume so. The show’s broadcast live, it’s not like we could sneak a look early or anything.
With the ABC basically giving everything an automatic second series these days – except for the really good shows like Very Small Business and The Bazura Project – it’d be easy to undersell this particular return. So let’s say it again: the only survivor (to date) from the 2013 round of panel shows is back! Not quite as high profile as Tractor Monkeys! Not quite as strong a lead-in as the one This Week Live had!
Still, much as we’d like to think the show’s success is down to the ABC (for once) taking the right approach when it comes to panel shows – start them off small in a no-pressure timeslot and build them around people who are funny together, not big names who talk over each other to boost their profile – the ABC also gave Tractor Monkeys a second series. So it’s probably safe to say this season’s a gimme: if they want a third, they’re going to have to earn it.
Which may be a struggle. Extending the show to 45 minutes probably seemed a good idea at the time – hey, it’s live and the guys are having fun, why not let them ramble – but brevity, as they say, is the soul of laffs. Shorter is pretty much always better with this kind of thing, which is why we’re also a little concerned about the new series of Have You Been Paying Attention dragging out what was a perfectly decent half hour show into an hour.
Last year’s version of Dirty Laundry Live never quite nailed down the format either. It’s one thing to have a bunch of guys messing about on a panel, but even live (especially live?) the energy level is going to flag on occasion. The quiz doesn’t add much more than a loose format to make sure people keep talking, and the inventiveness and spontaneity that should make a live show something special rarely got a look in. As we said last year, if you can’t make a live show feel at least a little bit dangerous, why bother doing it live?
But overall, the pluses with this one outweigh the minuses. It’s an Australian panel show that’s funny more often than not, with a cast that work well together and a bunch of guests that actually add to proceedings. As we say all too often around these parts, it’s the bare minimum we should expect from this kind of show… which somehow means it ends up well above average. Which really means just better than Tractor Monkeys. We’ll stop talking now.