2012 version of the show was earnest, fun, innocent, colourful and smiley, with a hint of nostalgia. Sure, a generous helping of cheese, but that was YTT back in the day and it would televisual suicide to not deliver more of the same. Thank goodness we got it in spades. Part of the strength of YTT was that it never tried to sexualise the team. Songs were mostly appropriate; hem lines never too high. Key to the series returning (and as we saw tonight) was this remains true in 2012.
After we’d met the new team in song and dance (which was a bit clunky), Johnny Young delived a voice over intro to Rob Mills and it was on. Those that could remember the first series may have jarred slightly in having to accept Millsy as host, though the handover later in the show helped to settle that. For anyone under the age of 14 it would have been like crack – High School Musical and Glee smashed together and mixed up in a way they could relate to. Kids their age singing and dancing up a storm.
We were reminded that this first episode was “a celebration of all things Young Talent Time.” I think that was code for we’ll see lots of archival footage of the team, Johnny, contestants, a puppet dog(!) and try to instill in the older viewers a cue that this is just the same show they used to watch only with everything different. (Sure, there’s some old woman people keep calling Tina Arena, but she looks nothing like little Tina we all remember.) The team sang with Tina, and with musical director John Foreman, and with Millsy. Lots of singing. At least they went with their strength for now.
All the elements are there for it to be a massive success – just some spit and polish required. The cast need to be better rehearsed on the script and Chucky Klapow (judge and choreographer) has a lot of work to do in tightening up the dance moves. Chucky also needs to never speak on mic again. The staging needs work too, as the cast spent a majority of the show upstage away from the audience and on the wide and long shots it made it look disconnected given all the audience shots.
The hook everyone was looking for – the team singing “All My Loving” at the end of the show – delivered and sung straight to camera with all the sincerity necessary. Offering a minor mind-explosion for oldies then they rolled out a number of the original cast members to sing as well. If they hadn’t sold the updated version to the grown-ups, that did it.
YTT will get a full season on Channel 10, no question. It will have had a tough debut against a very big round four Australian Open tennis match but ratings will be encouraging. The cast will improve. Millsy will relax (he needs to). Tensions will rise within the cast, though Adrien & Lyndall are the stand outs at the moment and will get the best numbers.
The first episode of Young Talent Time 2012 was a great start for Channel 10. The only thing that could screw it up would be if there was any hint of anything not squeaky clean to appear. For now though – it’s gold.