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Has Microsoft lost the plot?

Posted October 27th, 2009 by debritz

Family Guy image from official websiteHow cool is Microsoft? It's going to sponsor a show featuring Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein which will run commercial free in the US apart from built-in plugs for Windows 7. Oh, hang on, no it isn't. Apparently Microsoft executives were horrified when they attended a pre-record and the subject matter of Family Guy Presents: Seth and Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show strayed into deaf people, the Holocaust, feminine hygiene and incest. Did these Micromorons never actually watch Family Guy before agreeing to be the show's sponsor. The folks at Apple, who paint themselves as the cool computing atlernative, must be laughing their heads off.

Sharing the love

Posted October 26th, 2009 by debritz

Here, to the tune of Kim Durant's Love You Brisbane, is a taste of what to expect when BTQ7 screens its 50 Years of Channel 7 special on Friday night:

Don Lane: in his own words

Posted October 26th, 2009 by debritz

Channel 9's Don Lane special rated pretty well last week, so there's every chance publisher New Holland will move a few more copies of Lane's 2007 autobiography, Never Argue with a Mug, which it has dusted off and is offering for sale on its website.

I want my BBC

Posted October 26th, 2009 by debritz

Now here is something I definitely would pay for on the internet. The BBC reportedly has plans to launch a global version of its iPlayer, so people outside the UK can access some of its most popular shows on demand. If it means I can, for example, watch the topical, satircal quiz Have I Got News For You within a day or two of its screening in Britain (rather than have to hunt around for bits and pieces of it illegally posted on YouTube), I'm in.

Goodbye, hello

Posted October 24th, 2009 by debritz

My spies on Mt Coot-tha tell me Channel Nine staff last night had a farewell party for a popular newsroom staff member who had accepted a job at another network. The party went ahead despite the fact that the staffer was enticed to stay at Nine.

Nine shifts Gear

Posted October 23rd, 2009 by debritz

Channel 9 has issued a media release confirming that it will screen the hit BBC show Top Gear, and its local spinoff, from next year. The show, a huge hit in the UK, has been screening to respectably sized audiences on SBS here in Australia and will no doubt do better in the commercial sphere. Significantly, the Nine release ends with:

Notes to Editors:
Cast and transmission details for Top Gear Australia are yet to be confirmed

It's already been suggested that Shane Warne will front Nine's local version of the show. Whoever gets the gig will have a tough time topping the efforts of the British team of Jeremy Clarkson, James May, Richard Hammond and The Stig.

Seven names new station

Posted October 23rd, 2009 by debritz

The new Channel Seven digital station, launching on November 1, will be called (no drum roll needed) 7 Two. This logo has gone up on the network's website, and a linked home page says the station will feature programs such as Heroes, Ugly Betty, 24 and The Sopranos. Looks like it'll give Nine's Go! a run for its money. Also the name falls in line with what's happened at the ABC and SBS and will help people a bit confused by the new TV landscape to find the station on their digital tuners, which is a bonus.
PS: The program guide reveals a mix of new and old shows, including Magnum PI, Scrubs, The Jay Leno Show, Harry's Practice, Sons and Daughters and Murder She Wrote. There are also shows, such as Coronation Street and Shortland Street, that are big in overseas markets but haven't clicked with mainstream Australian audiences.

Don Lane: last of his kind?

Posted October 22nd, 2009 by debritz

The phrase "end of an era" is much overused and abused, but I think it's just about true in the case of the death of the Lanky Yank, Don Lane. Nobody in the world of Australian television -- not Eddie McGuire, not Rove McManus, not the resurgent Darryl Somers, not even Kerri-Anne Kennerley -- has had the same reach in terms of sheer proportion of the prime-time audience and across the demographics as Don Lane had in the 1970s. His was probably the last TV variety show that was watched by entire families together; now the audience is much more splintered, with kids, teens, parents and grandparents all seeking their own tailored entertainment. Of the greats of yore, only Bert Newton, the "second banana" to both Lane and the Graham Kennedy, remains on the air, and his passing -- may it be a long way off -- will truly bring the era of all-conquering free-to-air television variety to a close.

Farewell, Don Lane

Posted October 22nd, 2009 by debritz

Don Lane, the "lanky Yank" who became a TV staple in Australia in the 1970s and early 80s, has died at the age of 75. With sidekick Bert Newton, who he inherited on Channel 9 from Graham "The King" Kennedy, Lane was the complete entertainer. He also attracted controversy when he told magician James Randi to "piss off" when the latter challenged the talents of self-styled psychics such as Uri Geller and Doris Stokes. Lane died at age 75 after several years of suffering dementia.
Update: Channel 9 will air a tribute to Lane at 8.30 tonight (Thursday).

What Dave did next

Posted October 22nd, 2009 by debritz

If the tape makes its way into the criminal case, it’ll explode his marriage to smithereens.

That's what "a source" apparently told National Enquirer magazine regarding an alleged tape of David Letterman having sex with one of his staff. Assuming for a moment that the quote is genuine, and the tapes exist, would such proof actually make any difference to the state of the marriage since Letterman has already admitted adultery? Still, I guess it feeds the hungry beast.

Are you paying attention?

Posted October 22nd, 2009 by debritz

This from a Tweet:

If you're watching John Safran's show at 9.30, come visit us at The Punch. We're live blogging...

. This interweb thing has just gone crazy. Surely if you're watching the show, you're watching the show, not reading a blog written by somebody else who's watching the show. I've heard of mutlitasking but any comment written on the web about the show, during the show, is written by somebody who isn't really paying attention to the show.
PS: Oh, and thanks to a combination of the usual time zones and the absence of daylight saving in Queensland, a live blog is only useful to people who live in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.

Still censored

Posted October 21st, 2009 by debritz

Four of the five surviving Monty Python troupe appeared on The Jimmy Fallon Show last week. I caught up with the performance yesterday and a few things struck me. One was the fact that John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle don't seem overly comfortable in each other's company; another was the fact that, despite having four geniuses on the show, Fallon was too keen to make it all about him; and the third was that the show, which is screened very late at night in the US, still censored the word "shit" in Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, which Idle sang as the end. It amused me because, way back when Life Of Brian was first released, I wrote a story for the university students' paper Semper about how unenlightened Brisbane radio stations were bleeping that very word when playing the song. While cable shows in the US don't seem shy of four-letter words, it seems the free-to-air stations still play it very safe.

Seven still loves you, Brisbane

Posted October 20th, 2009 by debritz

Former newsreader Brian Cahill, weather presenter Nancy Knudson, Theatre Royal star Rowena Wallace and children's show host Dina Browne will be sharing their memories when Brisbane's BTQ 7 celebrates 50 years of broadcasting. The special, Flashback: 50 Years of Channel 7, will be hosted by John Schluter and, according to a media relase from the network, the first time in more than 25 years, the station replay Kim Durant's hit Love You Brisbane. I know that will get at least one reader of this blog very excited. It will screen on Friday, October 30, at 8.30pm.
PS: Seven is also promising to reveal details of its new digital channel during the special.

A matter of respect

Posted October 20th, 2009 by debritz

I've always been one to comment on the excesses of some presenters on the commercial radio and television channels, so it's only fair that I say the ABC must censure Virginia Tiroli for her disrespectful reaction to comments by Senator Barnaby Joyce on the ABC2 Breakfast show. Whatever any interviewer may think of their subject's opinions, or means of delivering them, they owe them respectful attention. And Trioli has been in television long enough to know that every camera and every microphone should be treated as if it's life. I also think Media Watch was too easy on her by making light of it.

Television teaser

Posted October 19th, 2009 by debritz

This just in from Channel Seven:

A drama about Gough Whitlam, perhaps? Or something to do with the new digital channel? Or something else altogether?

Backwards in time

Posted October 18th, 2009 by debritz

I just received a Tweet from somebody urging me (and others, of course) to watch a particular television program. A bit difficult since, at the time of writing, it's still an hour away. A small inconvenience I know, but another way the absence of Daylight Saving stuffs up Queenslanders' lives.

News from Nine

Posted October 12th, 2009 by debritz

I wrote about it (here) a couple of months ago, now it's finally happening: QTQ9 News will debut its new set tonight (Monday).

Grumpy old men agree

Posted October 11th, 2009 by debritz

I must be getting old; I've found something on which I agree with Prince Philip. He says television remotes are too complicated, and he's right. I don't mind that there's a hundred buttons, as long as they do something, but I do mind that the ones you need the most aren't larger and more obvious.

Who's new look

Posted October 10th, 2009 by debritz

Doctor Who is not only getting a new Doctor, it's getting a new logo. Here it is and here's a little about it. There's a video, too, but sadly we can't watch it in Australia.

Battle of the big guns

Posted October 9th, 2009 by debritz

While it's a bit hard to symphathise too much with a man who's got enough cash for a hundred lifetimes, I do feel a little sorry for James Packer. Packer reportedly blew his top at Seven CEO David Leckie over Today Tonight's relentless coverage of his private life and business dealings. Having said that, Packer himself has also been in the business of intruding into others' lives via the now-offloaded Nine network and his stable of magazines. James's next challenge will be coping with publicity surrounding Paul Barry's latest book on the Packer family, Who Wants to be a Billionaire.

Hey Hey, it's offensive

Posted October 8th, 2009 by debritz

I can't believe the second Hey Hey Reunion featured a Red Faces skit with actors in blackface doing a "Jackson Jive" routine. Daryl Somers may not think so, the performers involved may not think so and a large part of the audience may not think so, but it's offensive to many, many people. From memory, Ben Elton even told them so on the show during a similar incident many years ago. This time, it was another visitor, Harry Connick, who had to tell them what they should have known. The act should never have been approved by the producers and, as the show was pre-recorded, it should never have been aired. There are no excuses. Basically Daryl, you just proved to us why the show was axed in the first place -- it's simply out of touch.
Update: If you don't get the connotations associated with blackface, read this.

Whose dog is that?

Posted October 4th, 2009 by debritz

Doctor Who's formerly faithful companion has some new friends in the Queensland-made not-quite-a-sequel* K9. Here's the trailer for the series, expected to air here on Ten early next year:

* The producers have no relationship with the makers of Doctor Who, Torchwood or the Sarah Jane Adventures, so don't expect any of the characters from those franchises to turn up in K9.

Hey Hey a winner

Posted October 1st, 2009 by debritz

According to online chatter, Hey Hey walloped MasterChef in the ratings last night. (Confirmation here). I'd still caution Nine about bringing the show back full-time. Nostalgia can only sustain it for so long.
PS: Am I the only one who thought the taunting of Molly Meldrum's dog with the Dickie Knee head on a stick was cruel?

Hey Hey, it's MasterChef

Posted September 30th, 2009 by debritz

The critics and other experts are apparently divided over who will win tonight's showdown between Channel Ten's MasterChef and Nine's Hey Hey It's Saturday reunion. Inspector Rex on SBS One is looking pretty good ...

Spot the link

Posted September 26th, 2009 by debritz

I wonder whether somebody in the question department on The Weakest Link has a strange sense of humour. A contestant named Roger (above, left) was asked questions about George Lucas (above, right, top) and Richard Griffiths (above, right, bottom). They're all men of a certain age with grey hair and beards ...

It's, like, random

Posted September 25th, 2009 by debritz

I saw this on the Armstrong and Miller sketch show on Foxtel the other night, and was pleased to be able to track it down on YouTube. Enjoy!

Newman brands us all

Posted September 25th, 2009 by debritz

On 612ABC this morning, Robert "Crash" Craddock and I spoke about the behaviour of Sam Newman and Brendan Fevola, and the double standard where one got the sack from The Footy Show and the other didn't. I didn't say this on air, but I was quite disgusted to see on news websites a lot of comments saying "leave Sam alone" and "don't watch it if you don't like it". Well, I don't watch it, but that doesn't deprive me of the right to say Newman should be taken off the air. Why? Because his behaviour, as condoned by Channel 9, brands me and all other Australians as moronic, racist trash. Racism is a big issue in sport, and Newman's remarks should be condemned not just by the network he works for, but by the AFL, other sporting bodies and all Australians who care about the world in which we live and how others see us.

Hey Hey, it's old-think

Posted September 23rd, 2009 by debritz

Surely there is a round-table of brilliant television minds out there conjuring Australia's answers to Mad Men, United States of Tara and True Blood. Let's just hope there's room in the schedule to squeeze them between re-runs and reality shows.

So writes Kathy McCabe in a piece for The Daily Telegraph predicting that the rehash of Hey Hey It's Saturday not only won't be funny, it will spoil viewers' fond memories of the show. Sadly, I don't think there are people thinking up brilliant new Australian shows -- and, if they are, they are not working for the networks. Flogging dead horses like Daryl Somers and Sam Newman strangely seems to make more sense to Channel 9 than having a go at something new. Channel Ten took the plunge with MasterChef and Talkin' 'bout my Generation and it paid off in spades. But those are relatively cheap shows, and they are balanced in the schedules by tired concepts like Australian Idol and Good News Week. Now who's going to take a chance on producing new dramas and comedies? Not free-to-air TV. As in America, they'll leave the really creative thinking to pay TV, or, as in the UK, to the public broadcaster.

Sam Newman: worse than Kyle Sandilands

Posted September 22nd, 2009 by debritz

Thanks, again, to Media Watch, for pointing out the abhorrent racism of the AFL Footy Show's Sam Newman, who referred to a Malaysian man as a "monkey". There is no excuse for Newman's ongoing presence on the screen, let alone his million-dollar salary. Channel Nine, which took the moral high ground and sacked Matthew Johns from the NRL Footy Show over a sordid group-sex incident, should sack Newman immediately. And the people who laughed at Newman's comments, and his later inferences regarding Sarina Williams, should hang their heads in shame.

Commercials? Give us a break

Posted September 22nd, 2009 by debritz

Media Watch on the ABC last night had a revealing segment on the amount of advertising on commercial channels. Now, we all know the ads pay the bills, so we shouldn't complain. But, as Media Watch discovered, what we often consider to be commercials often are not classified as such. Here are some questions they didn't ask:
+ Why do we have so many more ads on Australian TV than in other countries?
+ Why are commercials often in inappropriate places?
+ How many, and how much are, programs cut to accommodate commercials?
+ Why commercial stations are not forced to advertise the actual starting times of programs which are blown out by commercials, promotions and deliberate acts of programming sabotage against rival stations? (By that, I mean extending a popular program beyond its scheduled finishing time to stop people changing channels.)
It seems to me that the free-to-air channels are shooting themselves in the foot sometimes. I know of many people who buy DVDs, record programs, zap the ads with VCRs, TiVOs or Foxtel's iQ system, or illegally download programs because they are sick of all the ads and of programs not starting or finishing on time.

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