Slightly Obscure Musical Reference Time

Spicks and Specks is back! Again. For what, the fifth time now? At least we’re getting a full season (10 episodes), so there’ll be plenty of time to remember just how forgettable the whole thing is.

When Spicks and Specks made its debut back in 2005, music was a very different thing. For one, the past still existed and music had a future; now there’s just a whole bunch of noise on various streaming services, and whatever you’re into could be coming at you from any direction.

Which you might think would be a problem for a show like Spicks and Specks, where much of the point is either straight-up nostalgia or the energy you (hopefully) generate from smashing two usually separate time periods together. A modern performer doing a song with The Wiggles? Getouddahere!

Fortunately, with the show now seventeen years old and with a pair of team captains in Alan Brough and Myf Warhurst who are now on board not because they’re experts on music but because they’re Alan Brough and Myf Warhurst, the deal here more often than not is just nostalgia for the good old days of Spicks and Specks.

Put in more musical terms, this is yet another comeback tour doing the greatest hits. The most modern piece of technology shown in the opening credits is an original iPod; otherwise it’s cathode ray TV sets and vinyl records all the way. One of the first questions was a reference to a Disney movie from 1967!

The guests might have current hits – or at least, current work – but the chances of anyone watching at home buying a ticket to their next pub or club performance is slim at best. When Bec Charlwood explained her answer with “people under 30 would know”, that ruled out the entire at-home audience.

Still, not every show on the ABC has to be relevant to the under-50s – though it’d be nice if Spicks and Specks had a run time that was under 50 minutes, because the current version feels bloated, self-indulgent, and more than a little aimless no matter how often they accidentally show the wrong music clip or have Dave O’Neill hold up balloon animal versions of the cast.

Yes, this is only barely a quiz show and by having musicians on you’re all but guaranteed to get some decent anecdotes throughout the episode. The musical numbers break things up too, and host Adam Hills remains a rock-solid pair of hands who can be relied to keep the moderately competent laughs coming like a freshly upgraded Wil Anderson.

And while Warhurst and Brough have mellowed over the years – gone for the most part are the days when Brough’s drive to succeed brought a palatable chill to proceedings – that fits the more cruisey, chuckles-over-laughs, nostalgia-driven vibe.

But there’s a reason why 20 minute prog rock epics were shouldered aside by 2 1/2 minute punk rock tracks.

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