Flab rats are ratings poison
IT’S been the year of the funeral plan. How far off are the polished campaigns using celebrities pretending to be real people? I would say February. And I’m going to stick my neck out and say Denise Drysdale’s been approached already. They have been hugely successful, and I know this without making one phone call, because they are on air all the time. More than any other product. Which means Sandy and the nameless operator who tells Sandy her age will be his secret, their days are numbered. To use an industry term.
If only everything else was as predictable as death. All last summer Nine played fantastic looking promos for a celebrity weight loss show, Excess Baggage. And they’d managed a pretty decent coup by getting Kevin Federline. It was looking like a hit.
Here’s the thing. A movie trailer, they’re always great. You buy your ticket, you get in, the movie’s terrible, it’s too late, you’ve paid your money. Television’s not like that. Those promos, people decided, were the best thing about Excess Baggage, and once they’d figured that out, they turned it off.
My theory is, we don’t want to look at fat people anymore. It’s too confronting. It accounts for the decline of The Biggest Loser. We don’t mind a bit of butter in our cooking though. Not that cooking shows are really about the cooking. My Kitchen Rules emerged as the hit cooking show this year, through a combination of casting and scheduling, tricky things to get right, but which were also behind The Block’s resurgence. Or partly. There are also sociological forces at play here, but that applies to all shows, every year. Do you think Revenge would’ve happened in a pre-GFC America? Nobody would even have thought of it.
Plus there’s that thing again, shows on a Wednesday night running into trouble. I still think Puberty Blues would’ve been seen by more people on a Sunday night, or Monday. Or a Tuesday, when people’s heads are slumped on their chest and the Rafters are at the boat club. They didn’t put The Julian Assange Story on a Wednesday night, you’ll notice, and it gave Ten their first Sunday night hit in 27 weeks.
What didn’t happen this year was variety. That worries me. It becomes self-fulfilling. The Voice was huge, The X-Factor, Nine’s bought Australia’s Got Talent: identical experiences, basically. Australian drama was solid, mostly, and I largely feel anything is better than nothing, but I cannot sit there and see the same 10 actors in the same half dozen productions. Please. Let’s try not to overwork Rhonda.