So regular commentator here Billy C alerted us to the good news: Greg Fleet’s self-funded sitcom Die on Your Feet is finally getting a public airing later this week!
We’ve mentioned this one before –
The most recent episode of Boxcutters concludes with a discussion of Greg Fleet’s Die On Your Feet, a dramedy featuring an all-star cast and directed by industry veteran Ted Robinson, which was filmed a couple of years ago but is most famous for not having made it to air. It was screened at MICF recently and Boxcutters presenter Josh Kinal went along to see it. “It wasn’t great”, he concluded, but the theories for it not airing are far more interesting. Cast member Adam Hills apparently reckons the ABC doesn’t want him, their flagship nice guy, playing a character who’s a “largely swearing arsehole”. There also seemed to be some hints that the show’s failure to make it to air was as much to do with politics as quality. For us, there are questions about whether a show with Alan Brough, Greg Fleet, Adam Hills, Steven Gates and Corinne Grant, and made by Ted Robinson, is likely to be worse than Please Like Me or Laid. If you’ve seen Die On Your Feet and have some thoughts on it please post a comment.
And the response wasn’t overwhelmingly positive, at least according to commentator Jumperpants:
I have seen Die on Your Feet. I didn’t stay for the whole thing. There are a lot of reasons why it will not be bought or aired unless for drama points. Here are some.
1. Very little story. Largely a group of comedians sitting round talking about the comedy industry and not being particularly entertaining.
2. Adam Hills and Corinne Grant cannot act.
3. Shot like a soapy. Terrible lighting, there are scenes where outdoor scenes look like they were shot in a studio.
4. Way way too much swearing to play it at a reasonable hour. Most of the swearing is pointless and boring.
5. The ‘story’ is intercut with to camera pieces where the characters talk about comedy. This is not really different from the other scenes and adds nothing.
6. All of the characters are all unlikeable and very similar.
7. The ‘drama’ is awful, Corinne Grant and Adam Hills have zero chemistry and you don’t believe for a second that they went out.
8. They admitted they started shooting without finishing the script and it shows.
9. Very poorly directed. Some scenes have documentary style shaky cam, some have traditional set shots but with weird cut aways to actors saying nothing and looking blanks, probably indicating a lack of coverage. Strange use of crane shots when actors a sitting in an empty theatre for no apparent reason other than GNW having the crane in place for the Gala.
9. The ‘plot’ in unbelievable. In episode one Brough’s character laments that he isn’t on at the gala and as such will not sell tickets to his show. The other characters act like this is the end of the world and he will never get on at such short notice. In the next scene a phone call has been made and he is performing at the gala.
10. There are strange music choices. i.e original music with lyrics by the boring one from the Gadflys playing in the background that make it hard to concentrate on the dialogue.
11. No actual comedy performing shown. So it’s a ‘comedy’ about characters who are comedians who talk about comedy but you don’t get to see the characters perform. This is fine if it was a traditional narrative show but it’s cut up like a sketch show where the same boring characters are drinking together in a different location in each scene. You have very little idea about what they are like either as people or comedians. You could swap their lines around for the most part and there would be little difference.
12. The insider machinations of the comedy industry appears much more interesting in theory than in practice.
I like most of the people involved as performers, some of them I’ve been watching for over 10 years as a live comedy fan. I also don’t mind GNW’s shows. They introduced me to a lot of live comedy. This is looks like something made by someone who has never directed or written anything before. It’s that bad. Really it’s an absolute car crash. The only thing I don’t understand is how they didn’t realise it and put it in a draw forever.
Compared to Laid and Please Like Me? Two shows I really didn’t think much of. This is bafflingly bad and ill conceived. It’s looks and sounds awful.
If it is ever released on DVD I would buy it in an absolute second, it has the potential to become like The Room. There’s a scene where Adam Hills picks up a cricket bat and throws it across the room. That’s the whole scene! Also for some reason they seem to shoot a lot of scenes in the dark. i.e people watching tv in the dark, playing video games in the dark.
Like we wouldn’t know it was night unless the lights were all off.
But then Anna came along with a different take:
I was at the screening of Die on your Feet too. I did stay to the end.
The first few minutes of the first episode did feel like it was shot for a cheap soap, but that disappeared quickly, and I have to say that I really liked it.
I just wish I could see the last episode. I found the episodes and story line funny, very real, beautiful, sometimes surprisingly subtle and also, hilarious. For a change, I felt like it was not written for the lowest common denominator, which is so often the case. Some people want instant gratification, be it comedy, TV, technology, etc. They want colour, punch, bang, NOW. I don’t. Subtlety is underutilised and underappreciated. It won’t be one for everyone (clearly, after reading the review above), but if you hold on for the ride, you’re in for a lovely journey. ABC management need to stop trying to be commercial television and they need to show this. The place it should be shown is on the ABC, and it really deserves to be seen.
All of which has us more than slightly excited to see it, even if it is tucked away on the graveyard shift on a digital channel on the deadest night of the week. Which suggests either Fleet may have given it away for free or the programmers at Ten (who deserve kudos simply for putting it on – thanks guys!) are hoping to somehow lure the Dirty Laundry Live audience across when that show finishes for the night on ABC2.
[actually, DLL really should have Fleet on as a guest that night and just let him tell people about his upcoming show – you know, the way Micallef used to promo Mr and Mrs Murder when that was on after Mad as Hell over on Ten.]
Why it’s not on ABC would usually be the kind of snarky “mystery” we’d wrap this up with, but the various questions as to its quality have solved that for us. Plus, c’mon: we all know that in television production it’s all about the shows you can take credit for, and ones that come from outside – or the ones your predecessor shepherded through – are a lose-lose proposition: if they succeed someone else (in this case, Greg Fleet) gets all the credit, and if they fail you get all the blame for not spotting it was a dud. Better to keep your powder dry for something you really want to support.
Unless, you know, this turns out to be really good.