So Dirty Laundry Live wrapped up for 2015 last week, and the fact it’s taken us until now to mention it should give you some idea of how difficult we found it to have anything of note to say on the subject. And just because we’re saying something now, don’t think for a second we solved that problem.
To get the positive stuff out of the way first, it’s easily the best Australian panel show on the ABC at the… oh, it’s the only panel show on the ABC at the moment? Well, it’s still pretty good. It’s a weird fit for the ABC circa 2015, where pretty much all comedy programming aspires towards the bland, but that’s a plus for those of us who like their comedy to contain actual comedy.
It’s still too long, mind you, and while the panel banter remains more hit than miss thanks to a rock-solid core that work well together, a lot of the segments are increasingly chummy in a way that suggests new viewers aren’t all that welcome. But it’s at that stage of its lifespan where new viewers probably aren’t much of a possibility, so why not go for in-jokes and mates laughing at each other because they’re mates? And there’s still outside guests joining them on the panel often enough to bring people in that way.
Really, the only thing we’d add from our review at the start of the series is that it seems even more obvious now that it’s topped out as far as any kind of wider appeal goes. The quirky throwaway comedy on ABC2 has failed to become the next Spicks and Specks or Glasshouse on ABC1. No-one’s embedding DLL clips on their website saying “The Dirty Laundry Live crew just nailed it!”
Sure, that was obviously never their intention (and never all that likely either) but no doubt there’s a few people at the ABC who wouldn’t have minded in the slightest if that had somehow magically happened with the shift to the main network. It’s not like any of their other comedy panel shows have made any kind of impression on the nation since 2008.
The question now becomes: is there still space for a show like Dirty Laundry Live at the ABC, or will it be bumped for some sack of crap with “wider appeal”? Is being a funny panel show good enough these days, or is there only money in the kitty for shows that are (or have the potential to be in the eyes of the ABC) big hits? Guess that depends on what value ABC management puts on being funny over being popular.
Good luck with that.