Tuesday, September 26, 2006

TV Week: Monday

Australian Idol: Live Verdict

Another evening of cross-platform, network, former Idols, and product promotions. Marcia's got a new album out; the Young Divas and Guy Sebastian will be turning up at a Westfield near you; Channel 10 is the home of the AFL; surely there was something in there about the website and the mobile TV programme too? It seems the elimination of Country-inflected contestant Klancie Keough was the least of the Live Verdict's concerns.

Is there any point being being cynical about the marketing vehicle par excellence that is the Idol phenomenon? I would argue: not really, you might as well condemn commercial television all together... Oh, wait!

The way I understand Idol is not as a Reality television programme, or even a Reality/Game Show. It puzzles me that Idol has generally been placed in this genre by journalists and scholars alike, when it seems closer in its format to the Variety tradition of television. Perhaps Inside Idol, the behind-the-scenes show of previous years, might be characterised as a Reality programme, but even that seems vastly different to me than the fly-on-the-wall nature of something like Big Brother or Survivor.

Returning to the main programme, I'm reminded of the format of other shows that combine the talents of a host or hosts, intercut with musical and comedy performances, and various pre-recorded clips. Remember The Donny & Marie Show? What about The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour? For an Australian example, there are the antics of Graham Kennedy and subsequent hosts of In Melbourne Tonight, a programme that's remembered in part because of the unique style of Kennedy's advertorial deliveries. Even contemporary show's like Video Hits hosted by former Idol contestant, Axle, are a continuation of the Variety-Musical-Comedy Sketch Show that Idol's format is indebted to.

Perhaps what's different about Australian Idol, from the shows mentioned above, is the proliferation of the ways to generate income from the programme. Even then, the interactivity of sms voting and commenting creates another kind of live audience. Another development in the genre is the multi-platform smorgasbord that accompanies the free-to-air programme. I've certainly visited the website--how quickly was Klancie's face shaded in the elimination shroud? It seemed indecent--but I'm yet to see the behind-the-scenes mobile delivered programme.

I miss Inside Idol from previous years. I liked seeing the contestants work with Erina and John, and seeing the care afforded them in the house by Simon. It's wanting to know about these aspects that will probably lead me to watching the mobile-delivered material (is it a programme?) at least once, perhaps more if it's not as expensive as I imagine it will be.

But first I have to recover from the disappointment of Klancie's elimination; and the confusion of recognition that people actually want those cookie cutter 'RockGods' Mutto and Chris to stay in the competition. WTF.


Shado said...

Galaxy, I wrote a really long comment a couple of days ago but the site suddenly shut down and I lost it. I was commenting notably on Bones. David Borreanaz is great but he is wasted in that show. I find the woman absolutely dreadful - as a friend of mine (who is a huge Borreanaz fan) described her she has all the character of a bland cheerleader and the acting skills of a piece of wood. The writing in the show is so dreadful as well!

I came in at the end of Jericho as the program had advertised it for 9.30 and they put it on at 8.30. Skeet Ulrich is looking older than in Miracles - a small series I am sorry they cancelled.

Galaxy said...

Oh, I can't help it, even after noting all its flaws, I still like Bones. Yes,the support characters are the usual quirky, socially inept science types. But I'm holding out for Emily Deschanel (?) and the writers to sort out Dr Brennan's character deficit--hopefully in a more imaginative way than last week's ep.

Oh, la la la la [fingers in ears and eyes closed], I can't hear you-ou-ou.

ThirdCat said...

How are you going on The Philosopher's Doll? I only ask, because I've been re-reading Camille's Bread which I like very,very much, but have never got around to putting TPD on my to-read list. No idea why.

I like Mutto, because he reminds me of my first proper boyfriend. Not that he was a rock god or anything. And nor is Mutto. He'll be gone soon enough.

Galaxy said...

Ummm, I didn't really enjoy The Philosopher's Doll. I liked the first sections well enough, but suddenly the final section was given over to the perspective of a character whose presence in the first section was only marginal.And her perspectve added nothing new for me, especially in relation to the male character, which was much of the point of the final section, I think...

It's hard to talk vaguely about it. If you're going to pick it up, I don't want to spoil it for you. I haven't read Camille's Bread though. And I've always thought I'm not a terribly good reader of literature--or at least that I don't have the right vocabulary or sensibility for it. I don't know.

Have you been reading The Vivisector?

As for Mutto, well, I'm the kind of person who watches Idol and then doesn't buy the resulting albums. But I think I might've if the country girl had won. Must be all that Anne Murray and Kenny Rogers I grew up listening to.

Anonymous said...

I think Australian Idol continues to be described as 'reality tv', though it's much more like the old variety / talent quest format as you said, because it has the same basic narrative structure that most episodic reality tv shows do, ie 'the journey' is what gives it an overall story-shape that keeps us coming back from one week to the next. 'Journey' works for reality tv because it is both open-ended, like real journeys, and very heavily patterned in advance by sorta-Jungian stuff about spiritual growth and development.

Galaxy said...

Hadn't thought about it like that Ms Tartan, but yes, the Reality TV tag makes sense if you think about it as a make-over show. It's the ultimate hybrid beast, isn't it? Variety and Reality all for the price of a few text messages (and still Klancie didn't get through!)