The best part and the worst part of the final episode of the current run of The Weekly both happened at the very end of the episode. The best part was obviously a crazed Shaun Micallef turning up to demolish the set with an axe; the worst part was Charlie Pickering
not fleeing in terror letting us know that yes, The Weekly would be back in 2020. Will the ABC even exist in 2020? Or will he be taking his crapshack door-to-door like a slightly less amusing solar hot water salesman not even slightly embarrassed by his naked scam?
The Micallef moment was fun because it was a surprise, something that came out of left-field with no other purpose than to be amusing. Pickering’s announcement that don’t worry, The Weekly will keep on coming back until all the stars are cold and dead and Cthulhu arises from his eternal slumber was equally pointless, only in a somewhat more grim way. Both moments were answers to questions no-one was asking. One one was an answer anyone was looking for.
The Weekly should be one of the ABC’s flagship programs and yet nobody gives a fuck about it. We watch it each week and even we don’t care. It rates only slightly worse than Micallef’s Mad as Hell, yet Mad as Hell actually seems to exist in the general consciousness (guess those extra 100,000 viewers are people actually in front of the television). People occasionally mention Mad as Hell in conversation, segments on it occasionally have an impact in the wider world, and “is Shaun Micallef funny?” is a question that people occasionally ask even though the answer is clearly “uh, yes”. The Weekly? The silence of the grave – the grave this shithouse show should have been tipped into three years ago.
Pickering’s regular end-of-season, sealed-in-smugness-to-keep-the-flavour-in announcement that yes, The Weekly will be back sticks in the craw because it sums up everything that’s wrong with The Weekly. It’s not so much a show that wants to be liked as a show that smugly assumes everyone watching is already 100% on board so why bother with stuff like “being funny”. Of course you want to be reassured that it’ll be coming back – the hosts certainly want to know they’ll have steady work next year and you’re interested in the same things they are, right? Quick, lets do another “joke” about how a fall in housing prices is really, really bad because daddy’s investment properties might become harder to rent out to decent people.
Mad as Hell is a show that doesn’t take anything for granted. They’ll make a joke, then make a joke running against the first joke, then do a third about how nobody laughed at the first two jokes. It’s not an approach that appeals to everyone, but there’s definitely enough going on to keep most people amused. The Weekly? Tom Gleeson gets a third of the show each week and all he’s got to offer is “fuck, I’m a bit of a prick aren’t I?”
At least Judith Lucy was around this year, but her appearances were parachuted in like she was from another show entirely. Even Briggs popped up in the final episode, which was a nice proof of life moment. Remember when it was announced he was going to be a regular? Why did they even bother announcing that? It’s hard to think of another ensemble comedy show with such a small cast, which makes Tom Gleeson’s continued appearance almost impressive; if the producers had any sense at all they’d axe all the regulars but Pickering and just have occasional comedy guests on a slow news week – at least then the show might seem different enough to make an impression somewhere.
Because as it stands The Weekly is nothing but a pay check for a bunch of people happy doing nothing to deserve it. It doesn’t deserve to come back; it doesn’t deserve to be on the air now. Whatever appeal to commercial audiences Pickering once had is long gone and everyone else on the show is more famous outside of it. It doesn’t even rate as well as Mad as Hell – the show it was introduced to replace – which means the only reason to keep it around is because someone is worried that any replacement for it would only rate worse.
Fucked if we can see how.