Agony and ec­stasy of un­trained melodies

It Takes Two 7.30pm, Seven

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - Ian Cuth­bert­son

SLICK, isn’t it? Not quite the rat­ings bo­nanza of sis­ter pro­gram Danc­ing with the Stars , It Takes Two is none­the­less do­ing pretty well for it­self, con­sis­tently rat­ing in the top 10 of the top 100 shows na­tion­ally. I can al­most see the score cards be­ing held aloft by means of viewer habits: Eight, Seven, Six, Nine, and so on. Ex­cept that with rat­ings, the lower score is higher, if you get my drift.

I have a the­ory about why the singing show doesn’t fare as well as the danc­ing one, and it has noth­ing to do with the per­son­al­i­ties in­volved, the cal­i­bre of the judges, the skills of the hosts or any of that stuff. It’s be­cause mu­sic is more fun­da­men­tal to the view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

In DWTS most view­ers, I would con­tend, pick up only some of the finer points the judges com­ment on. Sure, we all know whether it was fab­u­lous or not, but given the whirling cam­eras that fre­quently ob­scure our view, and the pro­fes­sional com­plex­ity of the judges’ cri­tique, a com­mon ex­pe­ri­ence is to be as­tounded by the judg­ments. This as­ton­ish­ment is height­ened be­cause no mat­ter how crap the danc­ing, the band al­ways sounds sen­sa­tional.

In It Takes Two, the singing is so ap­par­ent, so fun­da­men­tal to the per­for­mance, that we can’t help but no­tice the flat notes, the sloppy tim­ing, the shock­ing phras­ing. There are no il­lu­sions with singing. Ev­ery­one but the to­tally cloth- eared can hear all the flaws.

Oc­ca­sion­ally, this makes it hard to watch and to lis­ten to. As a re­sult, I find my­self reach­ing far more fre­quently for the re­mote than I ever did with Danc­ing , and this has con­se­quences. Be­cause I could not bear the sound a con­tes­tant was mak­ing a cou­ple of weeks ago, I flicked away, got dis­tracted and never came back. And that meant I missed judge Ross Wil­son tak­ing the stage for his smash hit Ea­gle Rock . Bug­ger.

Speak­ing of judges, in an­other episode, the fab­u­lous Ju­lia Zemiro did an amaz­ing, un­heard of thing. She cut judge James Valen­tine off at the top of his smug perch, bring­ing him right down to earth by men­tion­ing how un­pro­fes­sional it was of him to have touched his mike while speak­ing. The point was scored, well and truly, and it served to re­mind the judges that they are deal­ing, in the case of Zemiro, with an ex­pe­ri­enced broad­cast pro­fes­sional, and not some quak­ing kid with naive as­pi­ra­tions.

But that’s why we love it. The stars be­come vul­ner­a­ble. How­ever, the learned help­less­ness demon­strated by Fifi Box, for ex­am­ple, on Danc­ing (‘‘ Re­ally? You liked me?’’) will have no place on It Takes Two, should Zemiro go all the way.

Not singing for their sup­pers: Pre­sen­ters Grant Denyer and Kate Ritchie

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