Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rubbish to the Rescue - Sunday 14 December 2008

If I heard the TV announcer declare that coming up was a romantic comedy starring Greg Kinnear and Ashley Judd I would reach for both the remote and a bucket and use whichever I could grab first, clearly last night a lot more people were closer to a bucket than their remote controls which explains why ‘Someone Like You’ gave the much more entertaining Die Hard 2 a run for it’s money.

Of course there is no explanation as to what possessed Nine to screen National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2, the original fine (and it will be played at some stage you can guarantee it) but this offcut of a sequel starring Randy Quaid??

Quaid is at times brilliant, but he’s best in small doses, as a supporting player he can steal the show but if he is ever the star of anything, then run for the hills.

Bizarrely Nine chose this for it’s lead over the much funnier ‘Friday After Next’, which itself is not as funny as the original ‘Friday’ which is my all time fave movie bout the ‘hood!

Note to Nine re Battlefronts – its not them, its you. Please forward the same note to Ten re Top Model. Both 6.30 shows cost their 7.30 followers big time, in the order of roughly 100-200,000 viewers week on week.

Viewers still can’t get enough of this fly on the wall BS and so Seven raked in the rewards at 6.30 and 7pm and tool the 7.30 hour just for good measure.

I don’t even think Battlefronts itself is the problem – I just think viewers are savvy enough to spot a dead duck when they see it – here’s a show that’s on for four weeks before being mysteriously yanked and suddenly resurfaces in summer. They average Joe may not read MediaSpy or TV Tonight but they’re smart enough to recognise a turd when it float to the surface, why bother to be interested in a show that’s likely to be gone in a few weeks, sorry Nine this goose is cooked.

As for Top Model – here’s what I like to call the import paradox and you read it here first…

Rule 1. In the United States as broadcast networks rapidly lose audience share to cable, more and more high quality series are being made for cable networks.

Rule 2. Nothing originating from any US cable outlet will ever achieve widespread mainstream success in Australia.

Rule 3. In reference to the above rules, please note that the CW enjoys an audience share comparable to a US cable network.

So there you go, Next Top Model is a dead horse, ten need to stop beating it. The last CW (or UPN, WB) series to achieve any success here was Supernatural which has been diminishing in viewers for several years now, I can’t think of any cable series that has achieved success with Australian auds except for the brief fling with Californication, once on 9.30 Mondays with 1 million viewers now languishing on late night Sundays with only 332,000

The list of US Cable dramatic series which have been successful in their homeland reads like a who’s who of Australian failures:
The Shield (FX): very quickly banished to 10.30 Saturdays
Nip/Tuck (FX): Brief success and summer series but eventually yanked, now Foxtel has first dibs
Battlestar Galactica (SciFi): a spark of hope with the mini-series but the regular season quickly flamed out on Wednesdays, second season didn’t even bow on the network
The 4400 (USA): First Season of 5 episode condensed over two nights and sold to Aussie viewers as a Mini Series had the goods, the second season was a complete bust.
Monk (USA): They have tried this again and again to no avail.
Burn Notice (USA): Vocal fans have kept this on the air and no doubt there’ll be another tryout in 2009 – it’s a good show but the general public don’t seem interested.
Psych (USA): Very quickly retired to TenHD.
The Larry Sanders Show (HBO): Remember the hype surrounding this in 1995, every TV journalist and their dog was salivating over this series complete with all the swearing coming to prime time, it had a very short prime time run
Dream On (Showtime): From the people who would go on to create Friends, this was one of the few US sitcoms with frequent nudity – Ten chose to screen the sanitized version – ‘nuff said!

And the mini-networks…
Star Trek Voyager (UPN): By today’s standards would be a massive hit – but Nine very quickly booted it to 11pm – except in Perth where it fared well against the competition and remained in prime time for a while longer.
The Sentinel (UPN): instant 10.30 status for this UPN action hour
Girlfriends (UPN): Was an early morning mainstay for Nine several years back
Reba (The WB): Foxtel absolutely loved this sitcom which was shunted to daytime on Seven
Grounded for Life (The WB): Ditto
Everybody Hates Chris (UPN/CW): Let me just say Everybody hates David Mott because this could still work dammit!
Felicity (The WB): One good summer does not a series make…
Smallville (The WB): Ten put in a superhuman effort to resurrect the man of steel from Nine’s scrap heap and they even got him to 1 million viewers – then did what every dumb network would do and switch timeslots midseason rendering the whole exercise pointless, first run right now sit with Fox8.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (The WB): They barely tried, slotting it on Fridays before retreating to 10.30 – after a while it became the hottest show out of prime time.
90210 (CW): This year’s saddest case a show which had everything going for it except it’s US network which ensured it wouldn’t be watched on these shores.
Reaper (CW): See above although even worse because seven have promoted this show and simply not bothered to make good on their promotion – it still sits on the shelf gathering dust.
Gary & Mike (UPN): this claymation series was the original ‘Reaper’, heavily promoted by ten in 1999 only to never surface.
Do Over (UPN): As I recall this time travelling sitcom did alright in Australia but was done in by US audiences.


Peter said...

Sex and the City?

H E Pennypacker said...

Well yeah there's always one exception to prove the rule I guess! Even Ten had Dawson's Creek which went gangbusters for a while at least, but I still reckon cable and Mini-Nets = low ratings in Australia.

Someone BBBA said...

This is why we need more television networks in Australia. The current situation is so annoying - it seems that anything that isn't a cop drama is doomed to failure.

If we had two new networks then I would assume that the most likely scenario would be that one of them would target a young female demographic like The CW in the US and one would target a more niche male demographic with edgy cable shows, sci-fi etc.

Wow, wouldn't that be awesome?

Are their government regulations which prevent the development of any new television networks in Australia or is it simply commercially nonviable?

H E Pennypacker said...

I agree that would be awesome.

I think the established nets would argue it's not viable but really the one hurt the most would be ten, Nine and Seven with their powerful 6pm news would still make a lot of money.

They only thing holding the government back from issuing additional content licenses would be the threat of networks refusing to spend money on Australian Drama.

The Australian Content quota is basically a tariff wall impose to protect a bunch of rent-seekers, namely production companies - while there's some logic to that (they are public airwaves after all) it also creates a weird market distorting stalemate where the players never change and no-one new can enter the game.