Friday, February 19, 2010

The 7pm Project: Not Bad Enough

Woah, My Kitchen Rules has very quickly gone from rip-off suspect to hit in a short space of time. Monday's figure of 1.47 million is the show's biggest aud so far and the first time it has won the 7.30 half hour.

It seems more people would rather be eating food than going without it, because while Seven was feasting on people meters, fifth season veteran the Biggest Loser was starving for attention, dropping to a woeful 678,000 viewers, which I'm pretty certain is an all time series low (or at least very close to it).

Alarm bells should ringing at channel ten right about now because the abject failure of the 7pm project is dragging down one of their flagship shows.

A few weeks ago I was of the belief that ten would stick with 7pm in the hopes that the Masterchef juggernaut would revive it when it rolled into town - but now that Seven has offered viewers an alternative to the cooking comp, they may just drop ten's show like a hot potato - especially given that 7pm seems to be doing its level best to drive viewers away.

So what's wrong with the 7pm project? Well, there are all sorts of nitpicky reasons floating around on the net like the short unsatisfying segments or people's personal dislike of certain cast members (Hughes and Pickering in particular are polarising figures) but the show is genuinely different to its immediate competition and it's not a bad way to pass a half hour, indeed the effort made to draw in mature viewers with guests like George Negus and Andrew Bolt has to be applauded, so why is the show losing steam?

Well, strip shows are not appointment television per se, they are habitual television, what other explanation is there for perfectly sane, reasonable adults watching night after night of Home & Away or A Current Affair, it's their habit, like smoking.

I'm of the opinion that habits have to be bad for you, they're a ritual self abuse, smoking, drinking, swearing - these are all damaging activities, we all know better, but we do these things in spite of ourselves.

It might be a better practice to watch PBS Newshour in the afternoon and wash it down with Lateline at 10.30 but where's the fun in that - where's the insidiously cynical plotting and bad dialogue? (Home and Away) Where's the chance to gawk at a celebrity satirising the worst aspects of his personality? (Two and a Half Men) Where's the shonky snake oil salesmen, biggest bra sizes and simmering (yet manufactured) outrage?

7pm, put simply, has no guilty pleasures, it's not stupid, or embarrassing, there's no exposes or puffed up self importance, there not even snark - most of the jokes are delivered in a PC good-natured fashion.

It's earnest, and that's not a good quality for TV, maybe kids TV, but then no-one ever got hooked on Totally Wild...

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