I made myself a promise to blog here every Wednesday. Unfortunately I am a day late in posting this time but as I was fixing up some edits on a soon-to-be-released small book, I forgive myself.
It is hardly unusual for me to be l letting rip against Australian television. But this time I actually have some positive things to say in plugging a couple of programs.
30 Rock is a great little comedy. Created by Tina Fey and loosely reflecting her time writing for and then performing on the US comedic icon, Saturday Night Live, this is genuinely funny viewing. The characters in the show have been wonderfully cast in creating a diverse range of comedic conflicts and contrasts as it makes fun of television and big business. I had no idea how good a comic actor Alec Baldwin is in a role such as the one he has here and his casting was quite a gem. And how could you not like and appreciate Fey’s Liz Lemon?
This program should have excellent ratings but that is unlikely. Why? Because it is broadcast at a ridiculously hour on Australian television.
Parks and Recreation features another graduate of SNL, Amy Poehler. Her depiction of a local-government-obsessed public servant in a mockumentary style of program is another little gem. And the diversity of the cast behind her is just as well put together as that of 30 Rock. And they have their Big Name in there as well with Rob Lowe playing a beaut, quirky role.
Just like 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation should be going gangbusters but sadly it is broadcast even later than 30 Rock in Australia.
Interestingly, Fey and Poehler are friends as well as co-performers together on SNL. This may be why there are some similarities between the two programs but more than enough differences to avoid any ‘me too’ comparisons, although Parks and Gardens has come under a little fire in the past for being too similar in technique to The Office.
These are genuinely funny television programs. So why on earth are they condemned to such late night slots? Not everyone has the flexibility of hours that I have these days and so can often afford to sit up that late to watch things that have been hidden away in the attic of late night viewing.
Hey television networks – do you have something against genuinely entertaining people? Why on earth are two of the most entertaining programs on Australian public television, condemned to the late shift without any real audience? And what are they losing out too in the programming stakes? So-called ‘reality’ garbage like The Shire, GC, the repacked-but-still-the-same-crap Big Brother?
Here’s another thought. Both of those programs feature a strong cast, good writing and the experience of two well-credentialed leads, all from North America. But we have some damned good writers and performers Down Under. So why on earth doesn’t Australian television make the most of some of them by encouraging and supporting local development of more than just ‘me too’ ‘reality’ garbage? As I have said before, that means jobs, economic production, creative opportunities, revenue streams and potential export dollars.
Wake up, Australia! Please!