Thursday, June 4, 2009
The Danger of The Mainstream
Wednesday 4 June 2009
Biggest Programming Disappointment
Da Kath & Kim Code
Seven 7.30pm Down 37.93% of Thank God You’re Here and Down 37.58% on Criminal Minds
State of Origin Rugby League
Nine 8pm – 10pm up 106.87% on The Mentalist and up 77.5% on RPA
Biggest Week on Week Improvement
Law & Order SVU
Ten 8.30pm up 43.58% week on week
First of all, no I didn’t see The Chaser last night, haven’t watched it since it’s return, given that these precious comedians didn’t feel obligated to produce any eps in 2008, I don’t feel particularly obligated to watch them this year, but of course you haven’t been able to turn on the radio or visit a news website without being informed of their latest transgression, which brings me to something I did watch last night…
Last night’s Family Guy was something a little different, a 100th episode compilation, the show mixed best of clips with bizarre commentary from Seth McFarlane and interviews with various focus group members of their opinions on the show.
It was a stark reminder that Family Guy, though successful with it’s target audience, is, in a wider sense, not a successful show, it certainly didn’t appeal to the 40-something people they interviewed for the special, most of them were either offended or at best non-plussed.
It’s funny to me that there was once another show that fit neatly into that category of appealing to 20 somethings and people with a childish sense of humour (myself included).
I first discovered the Chaser on the back of Kath & Kim with their news satire program CNNNN, that show was perhaps a little too focussed on politics and in-jokes to have broad appeal, but then ABC gave them another shot with the War on Everything.
At first a Friday Night skein the show got by on word of mouth alone, for a Friday night show it was like a secret treasure among a sea of mediocrity, ABC saw a show buried at 10pm Fridays after an incompatible lead-in trending up and decided to give it the coveted 9pm Wednesday slot in 2007 (an election year of all years!) the combo was pure alchemy and The Chaser morphed from an underground skein to mainstream hit.
But that mainstream success is strangling the show, last night was just the latest in a long string of incidents that seemed to have shocked the mainstream audience that has been on board since ’07, prior to this there was a major brouhaha over a weird musical number taking a swipe at the cult of dead celebrity, remember the storm that caused.
Personally I understand where a lot of the “angry viewers” are coming from on this – I have kids and jokes about kids in peril cut close to the bone in a way they never did before my parenthood, but I also remember that this sort of edginess is what drew people to the show in the first place. I wonder aloud what this means for the Chaser.
It’s audience was down last night, of course, because of the State of Origin, the Chaser experiencing a 24.16% drop week on week, but beyond that will the show start losing the viewers that brought it into the mainstream, or it persist in a love/hate relationship with the Australian public, or will a third outcome arise where the essence of The Chaser is watered down to appease the mainstream.
That would be sad, Australia already has a once-great team of risk-taking comedians who now just phone in stale comedy week to week getting fat and raking in the cheques…
What ever you do Chaser, don’t turn into Working Dog