Finally, that all-fantasy version of Q&A no-one’s been begging for. Or conversely, it’s a remake of Geoffery Robinson’s Hypotheticals made by a group of people who only heard about the original by listening into someone else’s conversation down the pub. Either way, Tomorrow Tonight and its “new reality” is here!
[insert lengthy gag about how the first episode really should have presented the panelists with the nightmare scenario of an ABC program where a bunch of mid-list chumps are forced to act out a rejected script from Black Mirror]
This week’s scenario involved a hacker stealing a secret archive of the world’s text messages and now, oh no, “trust has been destroyed”. Mostly our trust in the ABC’s ability to create entertaining programming, as after an opening that largely involved mocked up news footage on par with your average disaster movie starring The Rock we then cut back to a generic ABC panel set for yet another episode of Radio With Pictures.
The problem with this kind of programming is that there’s two things going on: there’s the useful information being given to the audiences – the importance of cyber-security and so on – and then there’s the “entertainment” being provided by the panelists. And as is almost always the case with these kind of shows, when you mix two things together you get the worst of both worlds.
There was nothing we learned from this show that we couldn’t have gotten from a five minute segment on not paying up when you get a ransomware email demanding cash or they’ll release photos of you jerking off to internet porn. Of the four panelists, a grand total of one – the cyber security guy – was interesting and informative. Otherwise, Luke McGregor did his job as “comedian” (and was the only one who seemed to be thinking through the ramifications of the scenarios Pickering was serving up, even if the result was “in person dick pics”), and then…
Let’s be blunt. Julie Bishop isn’t funny or entertaining: she’s a politician. Annabel Crabb is also not funny or entertaining: she’s a journalist. They’re not funny or entertaining because their day jobs require them to be hard-headed, self-serving, and ruthless in a way that most people find unpleasant. There’s a reason why “politician” and “journalist” are jobs at the bottom of the list when it comes to public trust, and watching these two tonight brought that reason to the fore.
So why the fuck are they both on a light entertainment panel show? When Bishop was asked “Who has more to hide – politicians or football players?” she said “Well, that’s line-ball, isn’t it?” And then there was yet another obvious edit and we never came close to finding out what she really thought. So why have her on if all she had to do was throw around a few quips and answer everything else with vague motherhood statements like privacy is good and the government should sort this out?
Crabb didn’t come off much better mind you, as like most journalists she was extremely concerned about her own privacy while not being particularly bothered about snooping on everyone else’s. That’s perfectly fine, of course – we want our journalists to dig up the good dirt – but as the bubbly friendly face of your girlish ABC, having her seem like someone who’d throw you under a bus if it got her a scoop was maybe not something the ABC PR department should have signed off on. Back to baking cakes with dog-whistling racists for you.
But the real problem was that in the end this was just an extremely average panel show focusing on an issue they just made up. The cut scenes designed to move the story forward were nothing special and nowhere near as weird or as funny (“I want to conduct some government business… IN YOUR PANTS”) as a regular news bulletin, while the non-specialist nature of the panel meant that even when they were on topic most of their answers were vague generalities or attempts to one-up each other.
And if this kind of shit topic is the weirdest subject they can find in the 21st Century they really need to sack their researchers. Next week’s episode is about the ethics of designer babies? Wow, what’s next: should footballers be allowed to do recreational drugs in the off season? Will driverless trucks cost jobs in the trucking industry? Is it okay for your son to announce she’s a girl? What if guns bad?
What we want to see is a scenario where an ABC panel show does an episode that suggests global warming and the mining industry are linked and the death of the Great Barrier Reef is only the beginning and then they get taken off air halfway through for “political bias”. Only maybe just skip straight to the “taken off air” part.