It’s become a marquee product for the ABC, and rightly so given that the Gruen brand is some of the smartest and most entertaining TV available today. Host Wil Anderson is always solid and while quick with a line guides and directs the conversation as much as regular panelists Russel Howcroft and Todd Sampson will allow him. Add in regular guests like Dee Madigan and Jane Caro and the show offers real insight into the way advertising and brand marketing tries to convince and manipulate us all. The proof is in the pudding, and the welcome news it’s back with a four episode Olympic special and then as full series of Gruen Planet comes at a small cost – bumping boss Denton’s under-appreciated Randling to 9:15pm. Swings and roundabouts, people. From the press release:

ABC1 today announced the ever popular GRUEN franchise is back for 2012 – beginning July 25 with a perspiring, Olympic edition titled GRUEN SWEAT.

GRUEN SWEAT, a four-part special launching just before the Olympic Games, will be driven by host Wil Anderson and regulars Todd Sampson and Russel Howcroft. With a series of expert guest panellists, the team will commentate on the “brandtathlon” that is London 2012, exposing the marketing machine that underpins, underwrites and over-exploits the Olympics.

“Every four years, the cream of the world’s advertisers come together for the greatest marketing event in history – two weeks of elite competition played out while the whole planet looks on. This year it’s in London and for the brands taking part, their very presence is a testament to years of dedication and focus, of sweat and toil. What do they want for their efforts? Gold, gold, gold. They want to bring home glory, to pit themselves against the best on the planet, to be worthy of the event’s eternal motto: Swifter, Higher, Stronger, Richer” said Gruen Executive Producer, Andrew Denton.

“Throughout London 2012, the Gruen team will be taking weekly samples of the Olympics to test for traces of bullshit, hype and spin. Any brand that doesn’t test positive will be sent home in disgrace.”

ABC1 Controller, Brendan Dahill said, “We know Gruen fans everywhere have been waiting for its return and what better way to kick off the series than to ‘upsize it’ with an Olympic edition. For those who love their sport with a side humour, GRUEN SWEAT will be everything they need to know about the marketing world that surrounds an Olympics and more. The special will then pass the torch to GRUEN PLANET which will carry on the legacy of being a show that never fails to entertain and inform.”

ABC Head of Entertainment, Jennifer Collins said “Gruen is ABC1 Entertainment – bold, smart and fun, and it’s terrific to have Wil, Todd and Russel back in the heart of our Wednesday night entertainment line-up.”

After four weeks of GRUEN SWEAT (motto: “Let the Gains Begin!”), the team will roll straight into the highly anticipated second season of GRUEN PLANET. Picking up where they left off last year, Wil, Todd and Russel will run the Gruen scanner across the biggest news stories of the week, at home and abroad, pinpointing exactly where the truth stops and the spin, branding and image control begin. Guest panellists will include familiar Planet faces as well as returning Transfer favourites. In a year that has already given us Craig Thomson versus the Tabloid Media, Peter Slipper’s fall from grace, Obama’s same sex marriage conversion, #Kony2012, the Royal Jubilee and the slow motion car crash that is Gina Rinehart’s family, can this show return soon enough?

Gruen Sweat (4 part Olympic special) – Premieres Wed 25/07 8:30pm, ABC1.
Gruen Planet (10 part series) – Premieres Wed 22/08 8:30pm, ABC1.