2012 was a year of changes. For everybody. Be it Channel 7’s slipping grip on the number one network mantle, Channel 9’s ascendency to being a network that can actually challenge Ch7 again, the ABC’s rise to almost permanent number three status, SBS’s year of growth, Foxtel’s realisation that actual fast-tracking TV is a good thing (& owning the Olympic coverage) or Channel 10’s generic annus horribilis – every network has experienced changes that will impact their 2013 in a major way.

This year’s candidates may not offer any surprises at all – though I do look forward to your comments as to what should have made it to the list or on what did make it. One thing’s for certain: 2012 was the year that everyone formed solid opinions on their TV…

Best: The Voice Australia [Ch9]
(Notable mentions: Homeland S01 & S02 [Ch10]; Agony Uncles/Aunts [ABC1]; Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War [Ch9]; Sherlock S02 [Ch9]; Downton Abbey S02 [Ch7]; Gruen franchise [ABC1]; My Kitchen Rules S03 [Ch7]; Breaking Bad S05 part 1 [Foxtel]; Rake S02 [ABC1]; Outland [ABC1]; Game Of Thrones S02 [Foxtel]; Redfern Now [ABC1]; The Project [Ch10]; Modern Family [Ch10]; Devil’s Dust [ABC1]; House Husbands [Ch9]; Puberty Blues [Ch10]; Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell [ABC1]; A Moody Christmas [ABC1]; The Straits [ABC1].).
It’s just a singing show, right? WRONG! What Channel 9 did with this new reality singing format was brilliant: 4 judges living a permanent love-in; a cast of wannabes with some of the best back stories ever; Production values out the wahzoo. All coming together to deliver what was the watercooler show of 2012. It made stars of at least five contestants including winner Karise Eden and the positivity of judges Delta Goodrem, Keith Urban, Seal & Joel Madden oozed through The Voice Arena and out of our TV sets.

The Shire - SophieWorst: TIED – Being Lara Bingle & The Shire [Ch10]
(Notable mentions: Everybody Dance Now [Ch10]; I Will Survive: Priscilla [Ch10]; Two and a Half Men [Ch9]; Anger Management [Ch9]; Brynne: My Bedazzled Life [Ch7]; Two Broke Girls [Ch9]; Mrs Brown’s Boys [Ch7].)
While I enjoyed The Shire for it’s comedy, both shows struggled against a tide of bad press and strong public opinion. Lara didn’t inspire anyone to do much of anything and if the show was any example of her life then she’d be well advised to make some big life changes (though Nan Bingle was the highlight with her heavy helpings of common sense and concern for her granddaughter). As for The Shire… the cast’s antics off-screen completely affected the viewer’s interest on-screen. Quite simply nobody cared enough about this latest crop of wannabe stars and that made the series even less interesting.

Biggest disappointment: Network Ten
(Notable mentions: Big Brother [Ch9]; Tricky Business [Ch9]; The New Normal [Ch10]; Glee [Ch10]; Cougar Town [Ch7]; Randling [ABC1]; Go Back To Where You Came From S02 [SBS one]; Please Marry My Boy [Ch7]; Fango [Ch7]; Jump In [Ch9]; Excess Baggage [Ch9/GO!]; Young Talent Time [Ch10]; London Olympics Coverage [Ch9]; Underbelly Badness [Ch9].)
So few wins for the Network, and far too many misses: Breakfast, Bingle, The Shire, Everybody Dance Now, Don’t Tell The Bride, the axing of The (under-performing) Circle… even the Loser franchise was looking tired and compared to years past completely underperformed. THEN there was the “inspired” idea to axe one third of their national Newsrooom staff, including people like Ron Wilson, Helen Kapalos, Bill Woods & Bill McDonald, to try to claw back some of the 13 million dollars it lost this year. (WHAT IS GOING ON AT PYRMONT, WARBURTON?! Time to right the ship and sort your shit out! And stop listening to Murdoch Jr!) This is two years in a row that Ch10 have struggled, and by far their worst year in a while. It’ll take some time to get things back on track and 2013 will be critical.

Biggest surprise: TIED – Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War [Ch9] & Agony Uncles/Aunts [ABC1]
(Notable mentions: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries [ABC1]; A Moody Christmas [ABC1]; Problems [ABC1]; Dumb, Drunk & Racist [ABC2]; London Paralympics Coverage [ABC2]; Danger 5 [SBS one]; Revenge [Ch7]; The Great Mint Swindle [Ch9]; House Husbands [Ch9]; Beaconsfield [Ch9]; Puberty Blues [Ch10]; Underground: The Julian Assange Story [Ch10]; ABC fast-tracking Doctor Who to iview.)
Nostalgia hit peak levels when Ch9 delivered it’s love story to it’s own history of broadcasting the cricket and former owner Kerry Packer’s influence in changing the face of the modern game. All concern over Rob Carlton not reprising his role as Packer washed away as Lachy Hulme was mesmerising in the role. Conversely Adam Zwar’s simple little show about all the kinds of relationship advice we can get from famous people and comedians was a complete joy. The vulnerability of the Aunts and Uncles in sharing their insight and misteps in the torrid world of dating and breaking up offered many magic moments. Timelessly enjoyable.

Problems - Ronny Chieng & Sam SimmonsSnuck under the radar: The return of Australian comedy to TV – particularly the ABC
(Notable mentions: Santo, Sam & Ed’s Sports Fever [Ch7/7mate]; Southland [Ch9]; Can Of Worms [Ch10]; Laid S02 [ABC1]; The Strange Calls [ABC2]; The Unbelievable Truth [Ch7]; Adam Hills In Gordon Street Tonight S02 [ABC1]; Mabo [ABC1]; Episodes [Ch9]; Good Game [ABC2].)
Problems. A Moody Christmas. The Warehouse Comedy Festival. Kane and Disabled. The Hamster Wheel. Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell. The Strange Calls. Woodley. Laid. Agony Uncles/Aunts. Outland. Danger 5. The Roast. Audrey’s Kitchen. Even Hamish & Andy’s Euro Gap Year. It’s building and we’re well overdue the return of good Australian comedy to our screens – the crop we received this year was plentiful and we want more. MORE, DAMMIT – MORE!!!

Where The Bloody Hell Were You?: Mad Men [SBS one]
(Notable mentions: Downton Abbey Season 3 [Ch7]; Come Date With Me [Ch10]; Mr Sunshine [Ch9].)
For the second year running we’re let down by SBS’s inability to deliver Mad Men to our screens – though news that S05 will start early in 2013 is a great start. So many shows promised that either never showed up or have been so delayed that they’ll be entirely over before they start airing in Australia… with growing numbers of people sourcing their international TV elsewhere, it’s time for the FTA networks to start thinking smarter.

Biggest move: Hamish Blake wins the Gold Logie
(Notable mentions: Social media’s perceived influence on TV; David Gyngell solves Nine’s debt problems AND manages to attend the birth of his son; David Mott ‘resigns’ from Channel 10; Sarah Murdoch’s move to FTA fails spectacularly; Ch9 rolling the dice on reviving Big Brother.)
His nomination was a no brainer: Blake has been on just about every channel at some point in the last 10 years. The success he and on-air partner Lee have with their radio show and now television show(s) offer a massive platform for fans to enjoy his work and also a great opportunity for Blake to round up the troops to secure votes. Nearly two million likes can’t be wrong(!) – though it has called into question the voting process and changes are afoot for the 2013 awards (now that the Germans own them – curse their superior organisational skills). Special mention to David Gyngell who had one of the busiest and most demanding 72 hours in quite possibly the world this year – solving Ch9’s debt crisis while still managing to attend the birth of his son overnight in the middle of negotiations. Somebody pour the man a drink.

Stupidest move: Channel 10 boning one third of its Newsroom
(Notable mention: Fast-tracking in a promotional sense; Sarah Murdoch’s move to FTA TV; The Shire being greenlit.)
Not wanting to labour the point – this is not the way to solve your network’s debt crisis. A band-aid solution at best. When the Network stops producing silly shows and straying from its key demographic everything will get better.

Howzat! Kerry Packer's War - Lachy HulmeBest Repeat: Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War [Ch9]
(Notable mention: Breaking Bad [ABC2], Downton Abbey S01 [Ch7], Doctor Who [ABC2], Agony Uncles/Aunts [ABC1])
When you own the television cricket rights, why would you NOT run your biggest drama event of the year all about the battle for said rights at night during the first couple of Test Matches to maintain the momentum & give everyone a second chance at loving the series?

2012 was the year of: Twitter and television.
Fango. Jump In. zeebox. The rise of the Australian Network-connected second screen app has meant 2012 is the year the Networks not only want you to love their shows but also tell them A LOT about yourself (targeted ads are coming your way). While Ch7 went early and interrupted the tennis with their launch of Fango it did allow for the platform to mature and they’ve gone hard to promote it as well (every night, just after Home and Away, there’s Rachael Finch and her Fango reminder). Jump In’s launch was barely a blip on the Give-A-Crap-ometer and the product itself – iPad only – continues to be a joke (though there are promises its relaunch in 2013 will make it more engaging and exciting and make it actually work). Ch10 saved the announcement of their partnering with zeebox until almost the very end, and it was worth the wait. If you’re going to use an app to converse with fans of a show and interact with producers while the show plays out, then zeebox is your app. The ABC have announced their app will come in 2013 though famed twitter-blasting program Q&A also dabbled with zeebox at the end of the year.

So that was 2012. Interesting, huh?! What are your thoughts? An incredible year for TV and one where Australian product was the stand out, without question.