At the start of the year, the Ten Network showed so much promise. A risky but solid news strategy, format TV up the wazoo and at least 3 of 2010’s hottest shows were coming back with new/additional seasons in 2011. What happened? Gun shy executives and a programming team so overcome with ego they lost sight of why viewers turned to them in the first place. ONE rebranded and changed it’s demo focus (for the better, I’d offer); Eleven continued on with some improved programming and very clear theme nights which helped the network build viewers. The primary channel has struggled no end, however it’s track record in chopping/changing program orders and places in the schedule have ensured fans seek to get their fix of their favourite shows elsewhere.

Such that it is, Ch10’s 2011 schedule was mostly disappointing…

MasterChef Australia – Bazillions of people tuned in to see Kate Bracks take the third season of MasterChef, after a strong season with great characters. What will it do to freshen the franchise in 2012? A change in production company will be a good start.
The Biggest Loser – The fascination we have with people losing weight on TV is amazing. Adding some family drama and stubborn contestants never hurt. Nor an engaged couple that were never gonna stay together post the show.
NCIS – One of the few imported highlights for Ch10 this year. And they’re milking it for all it’s worth.
The Circle – Hosted by one of the best line-ups in morning TV (and with one of the best benches from which to call substitutes) this is a danger show for the other commercial networks as at any point Gorgi, Yumi, Denise and Chrisse (the latter a Logie winner herself this year) could break out and be owning any timeslot they wanted across the day.
Bondi Rescue – Cordell Jigsaw know how to pump out engaging factual reality programming. This is at the top of a decent list for the production house and it keeps on delivering (hat tip to Andrew Gunsburg’s narration).
The Office US (Eleven) – The ensemble cast continue to hit the mark in a much-developed version of the UK version. Steve Carell is a joy, and intelligently the Network are keeping the new episodes coming through Summer.
American Horror Story (Eleven) – A recent addition to the Network, it’s freaky and it’s fun. The strength of some of the programming across the digital multi-channels will come into it’s own for Ch10 soon enough.
The Killing (One) – Another newbie, the longevity of this series is the week to week hook as the investigation progresses. Captivating drama.

Glee – The second season suffered again at the hands of programmers cutting it prematurely in 2010 and showing a Christmas episode mid-February 2011. The same has just happened after the Network built goodwill in legitimately fast-tracking it for an audience that will likely leave it for torrents any minute now.
The (7PM) Project – A solid performer, always pushed for time, it how has an hour to play with though the 6:30-7pm timeslot for Ch10 is still one the Network struggles to get any traction in. Seen off by Ch9’s stripped format reality programming it will need to really establish itself before Ch9 does in 2012.
Good News World – A slow start meant it got buried at 10:30pm, but the show improved post-episode 5 and now is some of the best sketch comedy going around. Actually it’s the only sketch comedy going around. Still good though.
Hawaii 5-O – It’s sexy (but not too sexy) & it’s entertaining (but not too entertaining).

Junior MasterChef – Kids showing us they are better cooks than us just hasn’t been as engaging as before. Perhaps we’re due Junior Celebrity MasterChef?
The Renovators – Died a death at the hands of egotistical programming, and never recovered from being prematurely wedged into an already reality-laden schedule (especially the audience reaction to the premiere scheduling). Great hosts, great idea, great cast, wrong timing.
6PM/6:30 with George Negus – It only missed because it was in the wrong timeslot. As a 9:30pm hour long show hosted by Negus it would have killed, however Ch10 over-estimated their audiences desire for hard, biting current affairs at 6pm/6:30pm. The content was good, but “you buggers didn’t watch us.”
News – Will they run local weekend news? Will they run a networked 90 min version from Sydney? What are they going to do with 90 minutes of news from 5pm? Cancel their late night national news bulletin? Hopefully some sanity will prevail under new leadership in 2012. Just don’t get rid of Bill McDonald (Ch10 BNE co-anchor) – one of the best in the business nationally.
Inside Out – The much promised reboot of the Prisoner franchise that, thank goodness, never got a leg up.
Don’t Stop Believin’ – Another budget tragedy, this series had real hope. Until Ch10 realised just how much it would cost to house 12 show choirs and produce a show that would compete with Australia’s Got Talent. Never gonna happen.
Ringer – Just. Don’t. Do it.

To say the schedule is in need of an overhaul is an understatement. With a promising 2012 lineup announced months ago (and already changed since then) the Network must ensure it concentrates on bringing back all the viewers it lost this year.

Overall result: D plus. There is always hope, even for causes that may seem lost.