Tomorrow Tonight is back! Wait, what’s Tomorrow Tonight again? Let’s let host Annabel Crabb explain:
“On Tomorrow Tonight, we’ll travel forward in time-“
(to a point after this series is over?)
“Offering well-known Aussies the chance to answer questions they’ve never before had to face”
(“why do you keep getting work despite your obvious lack of talent?”)
“Like, what if you could wipe clean traumatic memories?”
(like watching this show?) (we’ll stop now)
Tomorrow Tonight – last seen on our screens in 2018, so clearly people have been clamouring for its return – is a panel show. It’s basically ye olde Geoffery Robertson’s Hypotheticals: people are asked to discuss contemporary issues through the lens of “what if this happened?” But because it’s no longer the 1980s, instead of experts in their field displaying their knowledge and insight we get light entertainment personalities doing what they do best*.
The big question this week turned out to be “What if God was very, very real”. Seriously? We have two thousand years of thought from some of the smartest, most insightful minds in human history addressing this exact topic and the brains trust at the ABC thought “naaah, fuck those guys off, lets get Charlie Pickering to tell us what he thinks”.
In case you were wondering exactly why the ABC is held in such low regard by so many Australians: this is why. Tomorrow Tonight is merely the latest in an endless procession of utterly pointless ABC panel shows where the same safe pairs of hands (in that nothing actually interesting will be said) return time and time again to blather on.
Put another way, this is a show that asks “what if God were real?” and nobody says “we’re all fucked”.
Considering this is a comedy blog, we should have jumped ship somewhere around the time Crabb said “tonight we’re going to explore if belief is still essential to human existence”. But in our defense, the episode did at least start off trying to keep things light with a segment titled “The Moral Vacuum”. “Oh no, I cooked my vegetarian friends a meal using chicken stock! I somehow killed a goldfish I was looking after!”
Geoffrey Robertson used hypotheticals to tackle questions about what our government would do in times of crisis. Now it’s what would Waleed Aly do when confronted with a dead goldfish.
There are a grand total of two reasons for a show like this to exist, because you’re sure not making it to be entertaining. Either you’re there to educate the audience about issues relevant to their lives, or to educate the audience about the characters of the panelists. Absolutely no prizes for guessing which direction this takes. Though it’s good to know Charlie Pickering is now technically a Jewish comedian**.
When asked “how do you know you’ve chosen the right god?” Aly replies “You’re going to answer that in a light entertainment format?” and really the show should have just ended there, halfway through episode one. Nobody is going to learn anything substantial from this show; people looking for actual entertainment have so many other options it’s laughable this even exists.
If we’re going to get seriously critical here for a moment, if you’re going to do a debate on religion you really need to present some differing views on religion itself, not just a range of people with firm commitments to different religions. Aly’s belief is clearly utterly rock-solid: everything else in his life is built on his belief, and that belief exists independently of the need for facts or proof.
That’s interesting as far as we’re interested in him as a personality. It’s a dead end as far as any kind of debate goes. For him, the debate is already over. His firm religious belief – like that of everyone else on the panel – only tells us something about him, not something about religion in general. Which yet again, seems to be the point. Seriously tackling his (or anyone else’s) religion was most definitely not on the cards.
Which is kind of insulting to religion when you think about it.
*if you know what that is, please let us know
**well, technically he’s a comedian; officially he’s now Jewish