The Weekly‘s been at least half a dozen shows over the years, each less successful than the last. So it shouldn’t really be a surprise the spinning contest wheel finally stopped on “year-in-review-but-it’s-a-week”. Not because it’s a good idea: a year-in-review works because 75% of the show is powered by “oh yeah, I remember that”, which isn’t really an option when you’re talking about the previous week no matter how many online articles you read about the ever increasing pace of everything oh God remember that Tik Tok video where the guy did the thing?
But wait, doesn’t The Weekly also feature “The Study”, that thrilling segment where they explain important things in a sarcastic voice thus creating news comedy? Sure, if the idea that making markets freer usually means the rich guys buy up everything else is news to you then you’re in luck pretty much every week, but it’s hard to shake the feeling it’s a segment produced by
a crack team of researchers an algorithm trawling the shoutier sections of twitter.
Ha! Had you fooled: they’re all shouty sections on twitter. For this kind of thing to work it really needs to come up with behind-the-scenes news that’s actually news, not just something already discussed online. Today’s world is so
fast paced we’ve already forgotten what happened last week complicated there are interesting and surprising news stories out there about just about everything: making a show that’s social media, only television is a waste of pretty much everything.
In the past The Weekly dodged this by featuring people who weren’t Charlie Pickering, thus giving us something to stare at besides his hairline. Sure, the interviews were boring and Tom Gleeson really feels like part of that whole cultural moment that led to Donald Trump when you think about it, but at least they forced the rest of the show to pick up the pace. Now? The constant rhythm of news story / cheap shot / next story / cheap shot / another story / Pickering just makes a slobbering sound / news story results in a show that feels like it could be going for an actual week.
It’s not that The Weekly feels inessential; that’s been baked in since week one. It’s that now it feels cheap. The original format – well, the one they settled on after the early stretch where Pickering did location reports and so on – was uninspiring but solid: monologue, first cast segment, sketch, news segment, interview, second cast segment, we’re done. It felt like a television show.
Now The Weekly feels like it might as well just be a cross to ABC News 24 only the snarky office dickhead’s hosting while the professionals are taking a smoko. It’s just a news recap; the big news stories have already been chosen by the actual news, so there’s no real editorial decisions being made about what to cover. They do their best to be funny about those stories, but if they don’t have any decent jokes the stories get covered anyway.
Whatever the previous format’s flaws and Jesus Christ there were a lot of them, The Weekly – judged on its own terms – had a reason to exist. Now? Get Pickering to host the regular news and that’s 90% of the show sorted. Ha ha, Pickering rolled his eyes after the opposition leader said the nine words he’s allocated for “balance”; satire isn’t dead after all.