It’s been a year of vast improvement for ABC1. 2010 was a little dry however our dear Aunty has proven that there’s still life left in her. With the expansion to 4 channels overall and the fine-tuning of all them (particularly ABC2’s daytime solidification as solid children’s entertainment and the night being anything but) the network has experienced somewhat of a renaissance with it’s overall share nightly regluarly locking it into third place ahead of Channel 10. It’s even managed a few second places and the occasional first which will not hurt at the next Senate Estimates hearing.
As for programming specifically, ABC1 fared better than average…
Paper Giants – The tale of Ita Buttrose and Kerry Packer proved so popular Ch9 immediately signed for the sequel, & they signed the real Ita to the network for colour and comment.. Asher Keddie and Rob Charlton in the lead roles were divine, as was the soundtrack to the 70’s.
Gruen Transfer/Planet – As well as consistently high ratings, the Gruen franchise this year expanded to include spin & PR double talk and we lapped it up.
Spicks and Specks – With the sad announcement that this season will be the last, the show that proved it’s cool to be a music nerd delivered a strong 8:30pm hour with Gruen as a partner. It lives on in re-runs on ABC2.
The Slap – More amazing drama from the ABC with the converson of Tsoilkas’s novel to an 8 pat drama series. Great casting and scripts that brought the book to life in a way that divided the audience by forcing them to take sides prove an audience will flock to intelligent drama when given the chance.
In Gordon Street Tonight – Winner of the 1st quarter tonight show battle by a long shot, it proved Adam Hills was a talent of more than just comedic value.
The Hamster Wheel – The Chaser returned with a decent shot across the bow of journalists and television news services. More please.
Laid – A delightfully dark comedy from Marike Hardy that has been picked up for season 2 in 2012 and picked up for development in the US. Allison Bell, Celia Pacquola & Toby Truslove a joy to watch as relationships make them do crazy things.
Doc Martin – Martin Clunes has captured the Saturday night Brit TV-viewing demo and, importantly, kept them off the street.
ABC Breakfast – Michael Rowlands & Virginia Trioli continued to deliver the thinking person’s breakfast program, even if it didn’t compete in the ratings with the commercial networks. In 2012 it will have a competitor to stand on at least.
Rake (post-ratings 2010) – Richard Roxburgh stole the show as the self-absorbed drunkard that was Cleaver Greene, and after being teased about it all year, we’ll see a second season of his life in 2012.
Breaking Bad (ABC2) – Though it’s more than a season behind what’s playing out in the US (and on Foxtel), having this show on free-to-air TV is very important. Quality drama, thoroughly under-rated.
Good Game/Good Game SP (ABC2) – It’s fun, original content delivered entirely around gaming culture and reviews and only grows in profile.
Angry Boys – Though the series was thoroughly enjoyable, the ratings and reviews it delivered would have been anything but for ABC executives. It’s been quite successful in the UK and US, and the crowds that turned out for signings by Chris Lilley when he toured Australia to promote the DVD suggest it wasn’t as bad as everyone else made out. I quite liked it.
Crownies – A massive investment in drama (22 episodes) that never really captured the imagination of a very fickle audience. Certainly found lacking when measured against The Slap.
ABC News 24 – Now just over one year old, sadly the ABC’s run at a 24/7 news service has struggled – failed live crosses but the start of the highlights. A whole lot of money spent on the channel and it needs to start delivering a whole lot better to validate the cash money spent on it.
If ABC1 remains as committed to quality drama, light entertainment and comedy in 2012 as it was in 2011 then we all stand to benefit from it. Commercial networks take note – Aunty is right beside you.
Overall result: B minus. Still some room for improvement, but great effort.