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.