I had two weeks off work recently and much to my wife’s chagrin I spent it watching whole seasons of my favourite sitcoms in a single sitting. Among the miasma of single New Yorkers and ugly guys with hot wives one show stayed in my memory, Mike Judge’s animated sitcom King of the Hill. It’s an underrated programme which won two Emmys and ran for 13 seasons, longer than even Friends or Seinfeld. What made the show standout was its low key, realistic approach to comedy. This wasn’t 22 minutes of redneck stereotypes but a show with a defined sense of place and character. Judge and co-creator Greg Daniels kept the show grounded for more than a decade, striving to find humour in the conventional and ultimately creating what Time TV critic James Poniewozik called “The most acutely observed, realistic sitcom about regional American life bar none”.
What most differentiated King of the Hill from its cartoon contemporaries was its setting. Arlen always remained a mid-sized Texan town. It didn’t suddenly gain plot relevant casinos like Spingfield or be destroyed Mecha-Streisands like South Park. Unlike time travelling Stewie Griffin or globe-trotting Eric Cartman, the furthest Bobby Hill ever strayed from Texas was New Orleans.
A new year in television brings with it plenty of questions for viewers and executives alike.
Who survived the Summer Bay bombing? Has Australia still got talent? Why on earth did Colin Friels agree to be in that Schapelle telemovie? Wonder no more dear reader. Thanks to a time machine discovered in the long-abandoned offices of Beyond 2000, Daily Reviewis able to reveal the highs and lows of our small screens in 2014 …
January 14: Cricket commentator Ian Chappell gives Channel Nine an ultimatum. “If you want someone to call the game then pick me but if you want someone to cross promote your shows then get one of those fucking House Husbands.” Gyton Grantley makes his commentary box debut the following week.
February 17: A visiting HBO executive emails various Australian TV producers seeking to get in contact with the “hilarious political satirist” he saw on TV the night before. He is eventually informed that was a Sky News broadcast of parliamentary question time involving Clive Palmer.
March 13: Falling advertising revenues prompt a round of cost-cutting measures for Ten’s ailing breakfast program Wake Up. On the chopping block are EP Adam Boland’s fully automatic coffee machine, James Mathison’s dedicated eyelash stylist and the extra “r” in Natarsha Belling
Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Like its taste in cars and awards show guest presenters, Australia prefers its Christmas carols imported.
Some progress has been made in other aspects of the season – my family and I now choose to accompany our passive aggression with seafood instead of turkey – but when it comes time to attend your niece-in-law’s end of year massed recorder recital, it’s the same old songs being attempted: Jingle Bells, Silent Night and Rudolph the Bloody Reindeer.
The Australian carols that do exist are mostly novelty re-workings of existing songs with the holly and the ivy replaced by gum trees and wattle.
Santa swapping his fur hat for a corked Akubra and a token Aboriginal word is deemed sufficient to localise the celebration of the day a Middle Eastern tradesman wasn’t actually born.
I for one am shocked, SHOCKED, that Australian’s spies might be spying on people.
A news story hasn’t shaken me this much since I found out SAS Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith was awarded the Victoria Cross for killing people. I thought he received it for services to current affairs programs.
The revelations published in the Guardian this week really hit home for me. The Defence Department facility allegedly used in the phone tapping is near the farm my pet dog went to live on when I was 12. The thought of it being used for nefarious purposes is utterly bewildering. Continue reading →
It’s a crowded world we live in. Six billion people crammed in to 30 per cent of the planet’s surface area, minus desolate wastelands like Antarctica and Canberra.
We are as different as we are prodigious. There are more than 7000 languages spoken, 832 in Papua New Guinea alone. Burping after a meal is supposedly good manners in China but don’t try that bit of multiculturalism at an Asutralian Sunday roast. Humanity is so diverse we can’t even agree on which game is called football.
You’d think surrounded by all this variation the xenophobes among us would let the small differences slide and instead concentrate their intolerance on people who were genuinely exotic. Continue reading →