Last week Rove McManus did a bunch of media for his new show Saturday Night Rove, arguing that there’s potential for something on TV on Saturday nights that isn’t sport. Maybe, but if Saturday Night Rove is going to be that show, it’s going to have to become a whole lot funnier really, really soon or it won’t be with us for long.
And it’s not like they weren’t trying. The cast is a good mix of established talent (McManus, Judith Lucy, Justin Hamilton, Aunty Donna, Andrew Hansen) and rising stars (Alex Lee and Alex Jae), the writer’s room is led by The Chaser’s Chris Taylor and Executive Producer Jo Long used to work on The Weekly…
Hang on, shall we wind back that last bit… the writer’s room is led by The Chaser’s Chris Taylor and Executive Producer Jo Long used to work on The Weekly. Ah. Guess that explains the shithouse pre-recorded sketches and the dull linking material.
Or should we blame Rove for that last one? This is meant to be his show, but he was by far the weakest link in it. Part of the problem: we don’t know who he is or what he’s trying to be. Is he the nice guy, blandly chuckling his way through celebrity interviews and live crosses to confused kids, or is he the slightly edgy guy who notices that hidden in the word “Saturday” painted on the set is the word “turd”.
Another problem: dotted throughout the show are panel segments featuring members of the cast and some of the guests…except nothing much happens in them. We hate to invoke Hey! Hey! It’s Saturday at this point, but at least when it did a panel segment, the segment was solid, had a point and was generally entertaining.
We know it’s early days, but the cast and crew of Saturday Night Rove haven’t defined what their show is, which isn’t a great way to start…and doesn’t bode well for the show’s future.
Still, it wasn’t all bad. Aunty Donna were their usual enjoyable selves, performing in a sketch about a dinner party which rapidly becomes ridiculous. Judith Lucy’s (seemingly) drunken voiceover work was an absolute treat, as always, and Luke McGregor’s appearances in a series of All About Eve-esque sketches was brilliantly done. We also enjoyed Alex Lee’s stand-up/jazz duet with Anthony Callea – entertaining, different and a bit weird.
Even if Saturday Night Rove is a bit of a mish-mash of whatever the team managed to pull together, there’s clearly some potential here. Problem is, without a clear direction of travel, and with the first episode getting a solidly mixed reaction from the public, the remaining five weeks of this series may not be enough time for this show to build up an audience and thus avoid the axe.