A chest­nut roast­ing on the plasma screen

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

AT 8.30pm on Christ­mas night, one would have thought most peo­ple would have bet­ter things to do than settle down in front of the telly.

The Panel , which has been dor­mant for some time, rarely suc­ceeded in be­ing more than mod­er­ately amus­ing. The ban­ter was never as crass as the vari­ant fre­quently en­coun­tered on the ABC’s The Glass House; as a re­sult, it rarely elicited belly laughs. Nor did the repar­tee sparkle suf­fi­ciently for the show to claim its place on a higher in­tel­lec­tual plane.

Its re­deem­ing fea­ture was the per­son­al­i­ties. Even if you aren’t crazy about the gang on ac­count of their com­plic­ity in the highly en­ter­tain­ing Front­line se­ries and the charm­ing film The Cas­tle , Tom Gleis­ner, Rob Sitch, Santo Ci­lauro, Kate Lang­broek and Glenn Rob­bins are hard to dis­like un­less your dis­po­si­tion is pos­i­tively Scrooge- like.

Their gen­eros­ity of spirit is borne out by the fact that this is the fifth suc­ces­sive Christ­mas on which they are aban­don­ing home and hearth to be with you, should you be in­clined to­wards the plea­sure of their com­pany. It’s a de­cent ges­ture, not least be­cause, as the show’s pub­lic­ity ma­te­rial points out, ‘‘ For many Aus­tralians, Christ­mas is not a time of joy but a day in which feel­ings of iso­la­tion and lone­li­ness are brought into sharp re­lief.’’ Gleis­ner of­fers an­other ex­pla­na­tion for the show’s prove­nance: it is in­tended, he says, ‘‘ to stop the net­work screen­ing A Very Brady Christ­mas for the 22nd time’’.

Which­ever way you look at it, un­wanted soli­tude is not the only rea­son you may want to tune in. If you’re stuck with rel­lies you haven’t seen all year, and by the time it gets dark you’ve re­mem­bered there’s a good rea­son for the ab­sence of con­tact, you can earn your­self a break by pre­tend­ing you’re ad­dicted to this show: for 90 bliss­ful min­utes, the Christ­mas Wrap of­fers a way out of the Christ­mas trap.

Apart from the in­evitable small talk and a light- hearted look back at the year, there’s the prom­ise of a Christ­mas panto, plus spe­cial guests and per­for­mances from Sneaky Sound Sys­tem and Thirsty Merc, which would prob­a­bly ap­peal to a con­sid­er­ably younger de­mo­graphic than the av­er­age Panel tragic. On top of all that, there’s a good- cause el­e­ment: ‘‘ Thanks to some in­cred­i­bly sup­port­ive and trust­ing spon­sors,’’ Gleis­ner says, ‘‘ we also get to raise a fair bit of money for char­ity by do­ing live reads. Think of it as cash for com­ment, but with a so­cial con­science.’’

Should 90 min­utes of The Panel not suf­fice, you can start a half- hour ear­lier, if you can bear the thought of sit­ting through Merry Christ­mas, Mr Bean ( 8pm, ABC) one more time.

Mahir Ali

Yo, ho, ho: Rob Sitch, Santo Ci­lauro, Tom Gleis­ner and Kate Lang­broek

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.