Sometimes critics will heap praise on a television show (or book, or movie, or whatever it is they do down at MONA) because it does a good job of what it sets out to do. On other occasions they praise it for simply being smart, or funny, or exciting, or memorable. Sometimes an creative endeavour gets the good word simply because the critic wasn’t really paying attention. And most annoying of all, there are those times when a critic will praise a show solely because it has somehow drifted closer to their misguided idea of what they expect it to be.
Reader, this is one of those times.
A while back, we said this about The Weekly with Charlie Pickering:
Here’s a suggestion. Over the last month Melbourne has been packed with comedians in town to catch Covid at the Comedy Festival. Would it have been so hard to set aside a couple of days for Pickering to interview (by which we mean, get them to do a few minutes from their act in interview form) a dozen or so of them to create segments that could run throughout the series so there’d be at least one bit that was reliably funny?
This week, we got our wish.
Over the half hour, we saw segments from Frank Woodley (getting a sleep test), Annie Louey (floating around being a ghost talking about cremation and funerals) and Luke Heggie (walking around occasionally mentioning doctors), plus a report from US correspondent Jena Friedman on the ongoing trash fire over there. Which was roughly four times as many comedy segments as the week before, and at least three more than the usual Weekly dose of comedians.
Were all the segments classic comedy? Well no, unless you’re going by Weekly standards, in which case… yes? They were funny, informative-ish reports on various issues – all vaguely medical, which did make things seem a little samey. Maybe it was meant to be a theme?
The point is, they were all somewhat funny, and they were all different from each other. Which made them more amusing than just a solid half hour of Charlie Pickering’s news references and attempts to explain whatever was trending on social media a fortnight ago.
(interesting sidebar: by having a bit of variety around him, Pickering’s usual antics came off as funnier too)
Obviously our gripe from a month or so ago had absolutely nothing to do with this week’s surprisingly comedy-packed episode of The Weekly. So why the sudden influx of talent on a show that more often than not this year has just been Charlie Pickering reading from the autocue?
Going by the occasionally haphazard fashion in which The Weekly seems thrown together, we’re guessing these were mostly segments that had been bumped from earlier episodes (you know, for important stuff like an interview with Jimmy Barnes). None of them were all that topical, they all felt like things that could slot in anywhere, doesn’t hurt to have a few in the tank in case the interview with Jimmy Barnes falls through.
Then someone finally realised they had to start using them up before Mad as Hell returns in three weeks and hey presto: the best episode of The Weekly this year.
Whatever the cause, we’re not complaining. Turning over the explainer side of The Weekly to other comedians would be the best thing the show could do. Adding a few fresh voices to the format would go a long way towards making it more vital and more funny.
So yeah, we’re not expecting it to continue.