Agony and ecstasy of untrained melodies
It Takes Two 7.30pm, Seven
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