It was the year that Breakfast broke.
The year dawned with so much promise and ended with Ch10 very squarely in fourth place behind ABC1 (though it salvaged third place overall for the year – just). From the get go new CEO James Warburton was keen to make his mark and did so by replacing the entire executive across the year, including long-serving Chief Programming Officer David Mott. They didn’t fail for lack of trying, that’s for sure. It was just what they offered didn’t wholly resonate with the viewing audience. An anniversary is always a good thing to celebrate, so the 20th birthday of Totally Wild was a good thing. Then they went and fired a whole bunch of News staff. It started to feel like a Coles ad (Down, Down).
Consequently their schedule from across the year is a bit… messy…
MasterChef Australia – It almost got its mojo back entirely with great casting and the bounciest George Calombaris ever, but got a very serious challenge from Ch7’s My Kitchen Rules. The move to Melbourne for two series (S05 MasterChef and MasterChef Professionals) next year will be make or break for the franchise.
Puberty Blues – Turning a well-loved book (& notable film) into a 10 part TV series could have swung to a very bad place but Ch10 used all the resources to hand and delivered a stunning mini-series with a cast to match. The performances of the two central girls was captivating. Good news for fans that the series has been given a green light for season two in 2013.
NCIS – Gibbs and his team continue to solve crimes and people continue to tune in.
The Project – Ch10’s NewsCAFF whipping boy that continues to plug on and find itself as a very credible option for many people in what used to be Ch10’s key demographics.
Super Sunday v1.0 – In an early strike on the ratings year Ten offered up a very full-on line up as ‘Super Sunday’ and it did surprisingly well. Well enough to get a second go round towards the end of the year… but like most sequels it just wasn’t as successful for all the reasons outlined below. The first time we’ve seen a night of programming on free-to-air TV themed to what is similarly delivered in the US to great effect.
Modern Family – Redefines the modern sitcom in the best way possible.
Homeland – S01 loomed large as a part of Ch10’s Super Sunday 1.0 and sucked a lot of viewers eyeballs back to Ch10 at Sunday night 8:30pm. S02 hasn’t had a chance to find its feet in the last quarter of the year but at least Ch10 have stuck with it to Christmas as it plays out in the US. Won all bar one Emmy it was nominated for this year and off the back of S01 rightly so.
Bikie Wars: Brothers In Arms – How to out-Underbelly Underbelly in 10 easy episodic steps.
Underground: The Julian Assange Story – Alex Williams was perfectly cast as the teenaged Assange, working to fight “the man” and change the world through freedom of information.
The Living Room – Positioned to battle the juggernaut that is Better Homes and Gardens on Ch7 it settled in nicely to Friday nights and will easily become a feature as the coming ratings year sees it return for more.
Can Of Worms (S02) – While it struggled to gain a decent-sized audience, the slight change in format, excellent guest selection and introduction of Chrissie Swan as host made “Q&A lite” a fun must-watch hour of TV each week.
zeebox – By far the most functional and fully-featured TV second-screen app in Australia today. Ch10 bought in to the company as a partner rather than buying the app outright which means anyone else can (and likely will) play alongside it.
The Biggest Loser Singles Australia – Congrats to Margie Cummins, but it was a series as dry as a dead dingo’s you know what. The gloss has well and truly worn off.
The Circle – Cancelled mid-year when the axe was hanging for the end of 2012 anyway, it created a storm of it’s own at the start of the year with some specific comments derogatory about a living VC recipient.
Glee – Half the kids all growed up went to College, so as long as you can handle storylines that get a little confusing at times.
Ben and Kate – Cornball US sitcom about a ADHD/dysfunctional guy and his single Mom sister who only have each other in life. The touching/hilarious moments are almost too far in between drinks.
Young Talent Time – Brought back after a very long hiatus YTT delivered en pointe – fresh, young faces singing and performing under the tutelage of new host Rob Mills, musical director du jour John Foreman and the ever-smiling presence of Johnny Young. Perfect in the context of what YTT should be, but it should have been delivered to it’s spiritual timeslot of 6:30pm Saturday night. Nostalgia could only do so much.
Ten Late News – Mis-stepped from the start. Supposed to start as “NewsNight” until it was realised that they didn’t have the rights to use the name so the show that was axed in 2011 and moved Sandra Sully to a normal hour came back with Hamish Macdonald who hosted it for about 5 minutes before going “on assignment”. It’s smart, relaxed news that’s a great way to catch up with the News later in the evening.
Don’t Tell The Bride – Not one great big wedding disaster and the show needed it. Kate Ritchie elegant as host in her pre-recorded pieces to camera and narration, but the “stars” were from bogan casting central.
The Wedding Band – It’s not rocket surgery – it’s just fun, but struggling to gain an audience in the off-season.
Breakfast – Ch10’s most publicised failure this year. Some great people involved that just didn’t gel, and despite assurances it had 10 years to establish itself the show was gone before it could even celebrate 250 episodes. The last couple of weeks after it had announced it’d be finishing were, ironically, some of the shows best work.
News – The News revolution that revolted. After losing $13m this year cuts made toward the end of the ratings year gutted the Ch10 News rooms across the country. 54 years of Ch10 journalistic experience left in people – Bill Woods and Ron Wilson. God help them in 2013.
Everybody Dance Now – Everybody failed now.
Being Lara Bingle – Lara moves into an entirely different house for the show and doesn’t know how to work the curtains. Lara drives without a licence & goes to court for it. Lara goes to India to meet a stalker. Lara lives with her idiot brother and idiot (now ex) manager. Lara models for a living. Lara goes to NZ to be a part of an ad. Who really wants to be Lara Bingle, because it looked like even she didn’t.
Super Sunday 2.0 – Coming on the back end of the year with “fast-tracked” content (see below) it had the toughest of runs with ABC1 delivering an incredible drama slate against it and having to battle against Sunday Night and 60 Minutes.
The New Normal – Ryan Murphy’s new sitcom focusing on a gay couple who find the perfect girl to be their baby mommy that, sadly, isn’t that funny.
The Shire – Part unscripted drama/reality, part funniest show on television. Controversy surrounded the show going in, and on viewing it very clearly lacked direction or any kind of overall plot development. Everything was tacked together (including the faces of a couple of the participants) and it looked it. Add in Beckaa’s creepy relationship with her Dad and everybody’s skin crawled up off the couch and into the agreed safe area.
I Will Survive: Priscilla – Someone severely overestimated how much the Australian television audience would want to watch a show entirely about drag performances.
Come Date With Me – Touted as on of the four big new reality formats Ch10 were delivering in the second half of the year it never saw the light of day. Perhaps that’s for the best, really.
Vegas – Michael Chicklis & Dennis Quaid are putting in good performances but they’re being pissed up against the wall in Australia. Any new show Ch10 launched in the latter half of the year was on the back foot to start with.
Fast-tracking – Uh-uh, no you di-int. You didn’t even come close to fast-tracking until the damage was done.
Off the back of the “success” of 2012, 2013 has become a make or break year for the Warburton regime (“Smart, Different, Authentic” is only a small part of what they need to be – they need to be profitable). They can’t be expected to win everything but they do need to win SOMEthing. That which showed so much promise delivered in a very patchy manner and failure begat failure.
Overall result: D. TV Networks are supposed to get better year on year – the ledger too far stacked the wrong way for Channel 10 to do any better in 2012.