Well, I know the bloke who reads this blog is a ravenous fan of anything so much as vaguely connected to Paul McDermott, and, as such, is big on Good News Week, the hilarious and irreverent ABC chat/quiz/current affairs/comedy souffle that Channel Ten did it's absolute best to destroy, but apparently didn't get the job done quite right.
Because this Monday, it came back.
Naturally, because of the fact that there have been episodes in the past, all 'true' fans (ie, those incapable of communicating online without fervently stating their fandom) will think that the new episode was complete crap, if not sacriledge to everything that has gone before. I'd like to offer a measured, reasoned response.... but I only saw the first 15 minutes so I can't really.
The big stun for me was the lack of fanfare - a very interesting move considering just how long this show has been a musty memory from the archives than an actual living, breathing piece of television. In its wake we've had Backberner, Glass House, Chaser, and Spicks & Specks, which have changed the landscape a lot despite, directly or indirectly, following in its footsteps.
And yet all we get is a grab of Paul singing "It's Good News Week", and then Paul himself walks to the very edge of the set, as he always did every episode, and tells us that it's the end of the longest ad-break ever. I didn't expect that to be anywhere near as accurate...
See, the amazing thing was how little had changed about the show. Somehow I was expecting them to... well, try and 'update' it. It is, after all, what commerical stations seem to think they're good at. But no, the exact same 'rounds', the same 'points', even the same mystery story that they have to work out via a series of baffling 'items', one of which involves a guest having to act like a prat. For this reason alone, it felt to me a bit old and tired, but that could simply be me having all the vague old memories stirred up.
What had changed, of course, was the girl. Julia McCrossin was gone (is she still alive? Would we even know?) and Claire Hooper is in. Now, this is something I welcome because Claire was, aside from Paul, the only reliably funny element of The Sideshow (Umbilicals had their off-nights, I'm afraid - and they weren't even always on!) Of course, what I hadn't realised that I'd only seen her prepared gear and had seen little of improv work. And I've still seen little of her improv work.
Poor Claire. She really did seem dropped into this one - didn't seem too aware of the news events in the week, wasn't ready to take control of her team, and certainly wasn't ready to take the piss out of Mikey and THAT'S the unforgiveable part! Has she not seen an episode of the original show? That's what Mikey is for! Sigh, these Jane-y Come-Latelies...
At the same time, though, Claire wasn't unfunny, her problem seemed to be nearly disappearing into the background which isn't as bad as the alternative. I was wondering if that was the reasoning for her two co-panelists, two blokes who I'd have thought should never have been on the same team: the barking insane and completely uncontrollable Frank Woodley, and Craig Reucassel the mumbling, bug-eyed Ginger frontman of the Chaser who, as an emissary of the ABC, seemed quite intent on destroying the show by bringing up Amy Winehouse as many times as possible.
**** THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPHS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH GOOD NEWS WEEK ****
Of course, I only saw the first 15 minutes... and I guess I'll try and explain the reasoning. My property has two houses - yes, two. This is something that confuses a lot of people. The first is a shed on stilts, with about enough room for two people to live uncomfortably, and that's where my four-strong family lived for the first 18 years of my life. That house was built by my Physicist grandfather (adoptive grandfather, but that's for another time) in his spare time as a 'weekender', and as such has a few quirks such as being in the worst position in the lot for sun and wind, no insulation, a badly fitted door, and thin walls. Probably thanks to his day-job, though it had two cool things - some circuit breaker box-thing on the power-pole that meant we never lost electricity due to power surges, and one of the biggest TV antennas in the valley, which meant I was the only person I knew until I reached high school who could get ALL the channels. (Except SBS but that one didn't count)
The second house, however, was a labour of love of my father over three years (I think, maybe more) and was finally completed when I was 18. It rocks. But we use a satellite to get our TV. For a while this allowed us to get Imparja, the Northern Territory channel which features most commercial shows in odd timeslots and has officially the funniest ads you will ever see (I really miss Reggae Dave Resaro, the spokesman for road safety, plying such gems of wisdom as "Don't sleep on the road, mate!") but, due to some probably illegal dealings with a man named as "Mr Satellite" our card was apparently destroyed by a satellite and we were subsequently downgraded to ABC and SBS.
So, in short, whenever I want to watch anything on a commercial station, I have to go down to the old, abandoned first house, which is now filled with junk and rodentia, and is cold and smelly and draughty. That's why I barely watch anything on a commercial station - I really, really have to WANT to. So I guess that's a bit of a compliment to GNW.
**** BACK INTO IT NOW ****
Even though I didn't see it all, I have to say that it was quite a shakey start for the new run of GNW... but a shakey start ultimately means nothing. Once Claire Hooper finds her feet and they think about what type of guests they really want on the show, then the ball can get rolling, and I won't be surprised if this becomes a hit, especially with Chaser off the airwaves this year.
But anyway, to break the flimsy fourth-wall I try and maintain when I'm in blog writer mode... what'd you think Ewen? Oh, and was Sandman actually in it?