This is more of an update to our last post than a stand-alone item, but TV Tonight has picked up on the news that Nine is considering a couple of comedies:
Nine is developing two new comedies: a half-hour and a one-hour show.
Andy Ryan, co-head of drama, recently told Fairfax, “Comedy is back on the table in a way that it wasn’t probably five years ago.”
Which is very good news. These appear to be in addition to Stan’s upcoming improvisation comedy, No Activity featuring Patrick Brammall. It feels like a long time since Nine was burnt by Live from Planet Earth, directing much of its comedy into travel shows such as Hamish and Andy’s Gap Year.
As we said in our last post, we’re not all that excited by this news. That’s because we don’t really think it is news. In much the same way that Seven seemed to be continually developing various late-night talk shows throughout the late 00s without ever putting one to air, comedy is currently the kind of format plenty of people (clearly including David Knox at TV Tonight) would love to see come back to commercial television. But the numbers never quite stack up.
That’s not to say they never will again, but it’s hard to see them doing so any time soon. Comedy only works on commercial networks when they can make fun of a topic everyone (or a close to a million people) knows about. Which rules out pop culture (quick, name five current musicians everyone in Australia knows about), which rules out the kind of comedy most of these articles are angling for: remakes of Fast Forward and The Comedy Company.
Seven’s Kinne is the future of commercial sketch comedy: a cheaply made, tightly focused show aimed at a narrow audience and therefore shown on a speciality channel in an out-of-the-way timeslot. As for mainstream sitcoms, the commercial networks already have them – only they wack in a bunch of drama as well and call them House Husbands or Offspring.
We’d love to see comedy make a big return to commercial television, but some vague promises from Nine and an improv show on Stan aren’t the second coming. Presumably Knox knows this:
More than any other genre, Comedy is about throwing a few darts at the target -some will land close to the bull’s eye.
Now, we just need to live in a world where the commercial networks are willing to gamble consistently on comedy over, say, reality shows where the product placement means the show costs them nothing to make,
Or drama series with just enough comedy mixed in to cover all the bases.
Or… hang on, that’s all that the commercial networks make these days.