Monthly Archives: May 2019

Pay TV show of the week

Buckwild is the redneck version of Jersey Shore.Buckwild, Tuesday, MTV, 9.30pm
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Take Jersey Shore, give it a redneck makeover, throw in a bunch of hair-raising Jackass-style stunts, and you’ve got MTV’s latest drinking-shouting-shagging ”reality” sensation.

Buckwild follows the rather contrived adventures of eight young people (five girls, three boys) who live up in the hollows outside the teeming metropolis of Sissonville, West Virginia (population about 4000).

The main difference between this show and the previous iterations of the format is the outdoorsiness and inventiveness of the boys, be it in turning a dump truck into a swimming pool or misusing earthmoving equipment as makeshift fun-fair rides.

Tonight Anna (”the Ringleader”) is still angry at Cara (”the Firecracker”) for having sex with Tyler (”the Pretty Boy”) in her bed. Shae (”the Spicy Southern Belle”) is sticking with her boyfriend, even though he has been trying to have sex with her friends.

The main story, though, involves the gang heading out to a nightclub in the big smoke. This is a first for yokel Shain, who doesn’t leave the hollow much – in fact, he agrees to go only on the condition that Cara stick her finger in his bug zapper.

Once in town, the girls get a body painter to completely cover their torsos so they can get away with dancing around topless inside the club. Must be the new fashion, I suppose. Apart from that, we’ve seen it all before.

The one bright spot is the unpretentious, unselfconscious Shain, who is unencumbered by book learnin’ and happier than a hog in slop. He’s also the only one who has a real job. Well, MTV is pretending he does – it turns out he was fired from his job on the garbage trucks before filming began. Reality just ain’t reality no more.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net. Continue reading

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Sponsors get on the brand wagon

Ads up: Phil & Amity do the logo motion in The Block: All Stars.MEMO From: Product placement and marketing initiative division, Nine Network. To: The producers, The Block and The Block: All Stars. Subject: Increased product placement strategies.
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Good morning all. Before we begin, we’d like to acknowledge the sponsors of this memo, Microsoft Office Works and Canon, while our treats of choice while preparing this document were from Cadbury. If this memo was human and had a driver’s licence, it would drive a Suzuki Swift Sport.

First, congratulations on achieving new highs with The Block: All Stars. Sure, the ratings are down on 2012 and, basically, we’re occasionally cracking the 1 million mark even when My Kitchen Rules is on but, in terms of product placement and leveraged sponsor presence, we’ve never managed to squeeze more clients into a single episode.

When it comes to promoting our commercial partners we are killing it; although if you look at the ratings we’re also killing those.

When the show began in the prehistoric age of product placement (i.e. 2003) we didn’t have much to work with other than Jamie Durie religiously mentioning the ”beefy Toyota RAV4” and visits to a hardware store. A decade on and The Block has its own hardware store on site, with 24-hour branding opportunities. No hammer handle need go bare; no ladder leg should lack a bright sticker.

By the way, you know what else is great? Getting a 30-year mortgage to buy a property whose renovation was rushed for commercial television. This memo’s home lender of choice is the Commonwealth Bank.

We’ve had great success this year with the dressing of our eight mobile advertising displays, which some of you might know better as the contestants. In previous years they’ve been allowed to choose their own clothing, which was wasteful.

This year we have them in branded T-shirts and baseball caps, because the viewing audience would never be suspicious that couples who are constantly talking about bettering their interior designs wouldn’t choose to view a T-shirt with Wattyl or Pacific Blue Design and Construction plastered across it.

The success of the T-shirts and caps has got us thinking. If we had larger mobile advertising displays – that is, fuller-figured contestants – we would have more space for logos on their clothes. We could get two companies on one T-shirt (synergy!). Another option? Branded neck tattoos. What hip homeboy wouldn’t want iiNet inked across their throat?

Stop reading this memo for a moment and think about your health and well-being.

Wouldn’t your life benefit from Swisse, Australia’s No.1 multivitamin? We also need to apply a horizontal approach to marketing, not just vertical.

Recently Dan managed to put a nail from a nail gun through his hand and, while it was first-rate work to make sure the public never saw the brand of nail gun he was using (not all product placements are desired), we really missed out in not being able to associate designated brands with his situation. Where were the close-ups of the medicinal dressing box and the private hospital sign?

Aside from that, let’s just keep the ”casual” placements flowing. Making the contestants find their new complimentary car every week or two courtesy of ”the Suzuki Fairy” is genius, and those positive testimonials as they drive across Sydney to select throw cushions are invaluable. Same with Mark buying Duncan a ”treat” from our friends at McDonald’s when they went shopping.

One last suggestion: Josh and Jenna announce she’s pregnant and we name the baby Wattyl Samsung Densten if it’s a boy, or iSelect Swisse Densten for a girl. Or the other way around.

Keep placing, your pals at the product placement and marketing initiative division.

P.S. We’re always open to fresh concepts, but we need to stamp out loose talk about one initiative that goes beyond the pale. Under no circumstances will Amity be recording another album.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net. Continue reading

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Sex, lies and political types

Digging deep: Annabel Crabb explores the underbelly of Canberra.Should any current politicians be worried about what will be revealed on your new show, Canberra Confidential?
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All politicians past, present and future should be worried about how easily – as history demonstrates in Canberra Confidential – covert operations and intrigues can detonate, with disastrous effects.

Which skeletons to emerge from the proverbial closet most intrigued you, and why?

I knew that Canberra had a history full of secrets. But I didn’t know much about what an erotic secret life the city had until we made this show. That’s all I’ll say.

Should we really be surprised that Canberra’s political scene has a history of skulduggery and subterfuge?

Human beings love secrets. The thrill of being privy to something is a perfectly unsurprising human instinct. What surprised me is how much Australian politicians will excuse in the name of intelligence gathering; it’s as though they all had childhood dreams of espionage and haven’t entirely grown out of them.

What are your fondest memories of working in Canberra?

I am a sucker for secrets too. My favourite memory of working in Canberra is the day a politician leaked me a document by taping it to the underside of the giant billiard table that used to be in an annex to the Parliament House cafeteria.

And what memory would you rather forget?

I would rather forget the moment that Philip Ruddock walked into the room when I was loudly telling the story of the gorgeous security officer who had just been assigned to accompany him on his morning jog. The temperature in the room fell about 10 degrees. Later, I got a call from the security services warning me not to publish details of the minister’s movements. Awkward.

Which politicians, past and present, would be on your ultimate dinner party guest list, and why?

Fred Daly, for anecdotes. Amanda Vanstone, for cooking and outrage. Tony Abbott, to annoy Amanda. Colin Powell, for his mimicry. Harold Holt, for sheer surprise value. But if I could invite only one, it would be the former Thatcher-era minister Alan Clark. He was fearless, erudite, hopelessly optimistic as to his own abilities, and an extraordinary chronicler of his times. His diaries are among the best books on politics I’ve read. Sadly, his career never quite recovered from when he was caught bedding the wife and two daughters of a judge. But we might not mention that at dinner.

Why is politics so entertaining?

The same things that make it crucial that politicians are closely monitored: human relationships, secrets and intrigues that change the course of history.

What can we expect before the election?

Human relationships, secrets and intrigues that change the course of history.

Canberra Confidential screens on Thursday, March 14 at 8.30pm on ABC1.

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Green Guide letters

My Kitchen Rules’ Anglo male nasties, Peter and Gary.LETTER OF THE WEEKIndiscriminate idiocy
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My Kitchen Rules has had plenty of Anglo villains, so stop stirring the racist pot and suggesting minorities are being targeted, Craig Mathieson (Hindsight, GG 28/02). The latest pair are incredibly unlikeable, nasty and rude, just like the mother-daughter pair before them, the ”wicked witches of the West” Lisa and Candice; and 2012 contestants Peter and Gary, to name other Anglo (male) nasties.

Trish Bunworth, Thornbury

Seven’s race to the bottom

Channel Seven is doing a great job of promoting racial prejudice when they depict an Asian couple, an Indian couple and an Italian couple as bitchy, nasty people designed to attract adverse attitudes. There is no doubt all three couples are behaving only in accordance with scripted direction.

John Woolley, Ringwood

Giving the forks to class

I am sick of all the bitchiness, nastiness and the inconsistency of the judges on MKR. We all know that they have been given scripts and that they are following them to the letter. But really! The catalyst for me was watching Pete Evans pushing the dessert onto his spoon with his fingers. Haven’t any of these people seen a dessert fork?

Jenny Doreian, Box Hill

The case of the missing show

We had been enjoying Vera on 7TWO on Wednesday nights, but Channel Seven screened the last episode of series two on a Thursday night when Rebus was advertised in the schedule.

Elizabeth Foster, Box Hill

Missed Mardi opportunity

Why didn’t Foxtel or another media outlet telecast the Mardi Gras this year? What a missed opportunity for advertisers and other groups to promote and showcase our tolerant and progressive country. It’s a great party for many people and their gay families in celebrating their loved ones.

Pamela Papadopoulos, Prahran

Don’t stoop, SBS

Lee Lin Chin can report the news on Saturdays all by herself for one hour. I’m sure Anton Enus and Janice Peterson could do the same if given the chance. Come on SBS: why lower yourself to the lowest common denominator and copy the rest of the commercial channels with multiple news presenters?

Charles Scott, Harcourt North

Wrecking Rex

Dear Inspector Rex … Not content with pushing your timeslot around from pillar to post, you’ve now been sent to Coventry! Who’s around to watch their favourite crime canine at 5.35pm on a Sunday? What dreadful, dead-end programming. Bite a few bums will you, Rex, and get things sorted.

Gloria (Tracy) Guest, Yallambie

Hard work murdered

So it’s not enough that the networks minimise end credits to flog their other shows, Channel Ten has taken the next step with Mr & Mrs Murder and virtually eliminated crew credits altogether, directing viewers to their website. Don’t those who worked on this Australian-made comedy deserve on-air recognition, too?

Kym Cross, Campbells Creek

Real Mad talent, to be frank

Although Shaun Micallef has the funniest eyebrows in Australian television, the real comedy talent of Mad as Hell has to be Francis Greenslade.

James Adams, Preston

Professional all round

Three cheers for MasterChef: The Professionals, the reality show where everyone is a winner. The contestants learn things even from their mistakes, no one is mocked, positive things are emphasised. Viewers can enjoy new ideas and ways of working with food, and the ultimate winner obtains recognition within their chosen profession.

Christine E. Gray, Grovedale

Superior Safari

There is no competition about the best food/cooking show on TV. It is Food Safari on SBS. All class with a real love of the food from real people showing off their origin with pride.

Geoff Burston, Tullamarine

Pro-Catalyst camp

So what’s the problem with Catalyst? It’s not research done in a lab or buzz-word technology. It’s the science of outdoor Australia, including comments from scientists living and working there. I emphasis ”living”, because for the secondary students I used to teach, and me, it provides a rich context for scientific thinking and exploration. Childish? Critics, please explain what you mean!

Frank Bremner, Colonel Light Gardens

Not authentic but healthy

We have been enjoying The Doctor Blake Mysteries and don’t feel it loses any of its authenticity by not showing people smoking, as mentioned by Luke Strevens in his review of the show (GG, February 28). I don’t notice if people are not smoking on TV but I had to stop watching Mad Men because of the constant smoking.

Jo Prendergast, Sandringham

Give Aunty credit

Your report ”Seven News redraws battle lines” (February 28) says Seven’s News is ”sometimes drawing fewer viewers than the ABC’s 7pm bulletin”. For the record, in 2012 ABC News Victoria averaged an audience of 309,313 compared with 297,936 for Seven News. In the first eight weeks of this year ABC News has averaged 291,679 compared with 287,801 for Seven.

Shane Castleman, Victorian news editor, ABC News, Melbourne

Wiener’s a winner

Am I alone in appreciating the excellent Sarah Wiener, 6.40pm weekdays on SBS Two? She is an innovative chef from Berlin who visits areas of Italy, exploring the cuisine before cooking up an original interpretation of the fare. Her friendly, unassuming manner contrast to the confrontational ”cooking soaps” on the commercial channels.

Bruce Boldner, Brighton

No Lynx effect for Joe

May I politely offer some deodorant to Joe Hildebrand while debating issues on The Drum. He needs to have a change of shirt during the show as all that passionate debate seems to have side effects. I’m sure he can sweat it out with my criticism as well. Poor man … someone please assist him.

James Smith, Melbourne

Can’t of Worms

I’ve tried to put up with the latest series of Can of Worms, but enough is enough. They used to ask contentious questions, have meaningful debates and make the audience laugh. Now it’s just as annoying as Chrissie Swan herself. Goodbye Can of Worms.

Joshua Gray, Wodonga

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Political thriller retains its slimy appeal in the US

First look: House of Cards
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Depending on your age, you might remember Ian Richardson in the original House of Cards playing Francis Urquhart, a slimy British politician who redefined television’s portrayal of politicians. That is, it brought slimy truth to the fore and exposed politics for the shallow and inhuman house of cards it is.

The thought of taking something so definitive and fashioning an American remake might be enough to turn your hair white. It verges on sacrilege, particularly when you consider the American television market’s imperfect record.

But the American version of House of Cards, produced by Sony for on-demand TV service Netflix, is complex enough to earn a second glance. And once you’ve seen one riveting, sickening and illuminating episode, you’ll likely stay the course.

In a sense, Australian audiences have the toughest call here. As with shows such as The Office, we have the advantage of having seen the original before the copy. And the original House of Cards was, and is, a sight to behold. Richardson’s performance is exquisite, the observations in the writing devastating.

Kevin Spacey, with smooth charm, is strangely likeable in a way Richardson was not. And his character, Frank Underwood, is a far more modern politician, alternately captivating and disgusting.

House of Cards is Shakespeare, retold and laced with the bard at his political best. Spacey is moments out of his thrilling Richard III, and that heightened sense of stage play is felt loud and hard here.

He talks to the camera like an actor glancing at the audience, while Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood circles her husband with the sultry, luxuriant thrill of Lady Macbeth.

Much kudos should go to the director, David Fincher. This is a big drama told in small, sharp notes, and its velvet texture belies the taut, muscular motion of the story.

House of Cards launched in the US on February 1. It has not yet been sold to an Australian broadcaster.

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