At Last, the 2017 Show(s)

Press release time!

ABC reveals strong Australian slate for 2017 & announces unprecedented investment in digital programming

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Stellar Australian actors and presenters, including Claudia Karvan, Hugo Weaving, Miranda Tapsell, Xavier Samuel, Ian Thorpe, Anh Do and Rob Collins are just a few of the stars that will grace the screens of ABC in 2017. They join an equally impressive lineup of new and emerging Australian talent, including actor Hunter Page-Lochard and comedian Anne Edmonds. Plus, a raft of returning landmark favourites across comedy, entertainment, news and current affairs. The slate includes over 20 new Australian shows, in addition to the range of new seasons for established titles. More shows – both new and returning – will be announced in February 2017.

This one’s a big one so we won’t bother with the whole thing, but here’s the important stuff for comedy fans:

The Entertainers

In 2017 viewers will meet some fresh new Australian comedic talent and continue their love affair with our ever-enjoyable (if often caustic!) seasoned entertainers. The slate includes both long laughs on ABC TV and short, snappy titles for ABC iview.

Emerging from ABC’s recent pilot programs like Fresh Blood and Comedy Showroom are a number of exciting new shorts series, including comedian Anne Edmonds’ original noir comedy The Edge of the Bush and new autobiographical comedy Ronny Chieng:International Student.

Other great new six-part short form projects for ABC iview include Lost in Pronunciation, from award-winning stand up comedian Ivan Aristeguieta, Goober (featuring Shane Jacobson), a series following an autistic Uber driver on an hilarious and heart-breaking search for a new best friend, and a coming of age romantic comedy set over six years of New Year’s Eves, titled Almost Midnight.

These complement some much loved returning shows, including Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell, Utopia, Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery, and The Weekly with Charlie Pickering.

A few more tidbits before we start openly weeping at the grim future that lies before us:

    • Comedy documentary series Stop Laughing, This Is Serious is also coming back (as we were told at the end of 2015).
    • The Warriors – you remember, that “no-holds barred comedy” about a bunch of footy players – is now listed as a drama.
    • Anh’s Brush with Fame is listed under “change makers”, presumably because all the shows are so cheap to make the ABC has change left over.


And now, back to the weeping. Because c’mon, is there anything here to get excited about? Yes, Ronnie Chieng: International Student is here – as part of a series of “exciting new shorts”, so what, not full-length episodes? – but “original noir comedy” has alarm bells ringing at Tumblies HQ because in Australia the second you add another word to comedy you’re admitting that being funny is the last thing on your mind. See also, “coming of age romantic comedy”.

Look, Goober might be funny, even if it sounds horrible and Shane Jacobson is pretty much a rock-solid guarantee that sentimentality will rule the day. And having Utopia back for a third series seems to make it official that three series is now the go for ABC sitcoms – geez, bad news for anyone hoping to get a new sitcom into the schedule, seems like all those new talent initiatives really were a massive waste of time for anyone without the contacts to bring in overseas funding. But the real problem is one that’s plagued Australian comedy for years now: none of this stuff is exciting.

We’ve said it before but whatever: every other genre on Australian television knows that you need two forms of content to keep a genre alive – the steady, regular fare and the flashy, big ticket items that get people excited. Drama has your long-running shows about city types moving to the country, but it also has mini-series (usually biopics) with big names doing exciting stuff. Sport plugs along with the regular matches, but occasionally there’s a Grand Final that brings in the occasional viewers. You have one lot of shows for the die-hards, then you have the other, flashier stuff to bring in the occasional viewers to show them what they’re missing.

But not comedy. These days, comedy can barely put together shows that even comedy fans want to watch. Heck, Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery isn’t even comedy. And no-one’s been excited about The Weekly since episode two of The Weekly. How is anyone supposed to get worked up about the idea of Australian comedy when all the shows on offer sound like homework?

Obviously in the current funding climate the desire to take risks just isn’t there. But sometimes not taking risks is the real risk and why are we bothering with this blog when clearly we could be making a fortunate as motivational speakers. If “Australian Comedy” continually serves up shows that sound like the usual pissweak dramas with a few jokes crammed in, then eventually people are going to give up on Australian Comedy.

Looking at this 2017 line-up, it’s kind of hard to blame them.



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