Well, it was better than the first episode last week (some might suggest that’s not very hard at all). Ben Elton: Live From Planet Earth returned to a hail of criticism on Twitter, and attempted to return serve in the best way it could – with some comedy.
After the first episode was criticised by large portions of the media and social media, Elton’s opener as the live read for the show classification warning was a good attempt at offering a vague apology for missing the mark. His interview in the Sydney Morning Herald today was indicative of what was coming, and his feelings about Twitter were due to bubble up. Last week the social media service was ruthless. This week, rightly or wrongly, the “twitterato” circled and went in for the kill.
This kind of show takes time to develop. As Elton mentions in the SMH article, it’s not going to hit it’s stride in 2 episodes (although the comparison shows he mentions pretty much did, if memory serves me correctly – which it likely doesn’t). There were some obvious changes this week: some of the cast were introduced post-sketch, allowing the audience to connect with them; Elaine Front was moved to much earlier in the show AND got a mention/walk on in Elton’s intro (an obvious sign that character tested well through the week); & Elton was generally more conversational with the audience (hat-tip to Hills, perchance?).
The cast were less nervous. They hit their marks stronger, and came out of the gate in each sketch ready to perform, compared to last week where they seemed cautious. Not all the sketches worked – Big Miner and Girl Flat two notable misses – and Elaine Front’s Celebrity Interview with Kris Smith was passable only through Genevieve Morris’s skill… he either was not briefed, didn’t see last week’s show(!), or just didn’t want to be there. But the team delivered well.
While Fiona O’Loughlin may polarise audiences she had fun, and Tim Minchin’s performance was pure joy. The inclusion of a comedic & musical act is good – but Elton needs to interact with them a little maybe? No answers here.
As 2nd episodes go, this didn’t get worse that episode 1. That’s a great start. There are still some adjustments and tightening to do, however LFPE was not the car crash that Twitter seems to have convinced itself of again. Given the chance to develop it will get better. As it should be – one witty tweet reminded us:
Importantly, next week LFPE is up against some serious competition in Channel 7’s new reality/docu-drama (their words, not mine) Conviction Kitchen. LFPE needs a better timeslot (and fast).
For your reference/enjoyment/criticism, these are my notes, live (and most published on Twitter), as I mostly watched it with the rest of NSW & Victoria:
- Dammit – missed the intro – catch up on that at the end.
- I really wish I knew the character’s names.
- Sigourney & Tarquin. Great work introducing the actors. Very smart.
- Elaine Front much earlier in the program. GREAT call.
- “Rugby is like proper football but with more sexual assaults.” GOLD.
- Nice try, Smith. Qld huh?
- The audience sound like they’re loving it. Particularly Ms Front.
- Yep. I love Elaine Front.
- Psst – Ben! It’s the weekend in 3 days, mate.
- Chicken Head.
- I do like that the actors are being introduced through the night, and connecting their characters. That’s smart.
- Some people may like that so that they can track them down and tell them what they really think…
- Ben’s stand up bits are good. I don’t know how he will keep this (and the sketch writing) week after week. That’s a LOT of work.
- Hel-lo Fiona O’Loughlin.
- 30min in, and I’m liking #LFPE this week. It’s gotten tighter since last week, the actors are starting to hit their marks.
- #GirlFlat – YOU have a lot of work to do. Surprise me.
- I think I’m hearing the same laugh very loudly on camera. Is that you @StMurphy??
- The accents are better this week. #GirlFlat
- I wanted to see Gaga’s egg.
- SEE! #LFPE *HAS* to come back, if only so that we can see the antics of #GirlFlat resolve… </sarcasm>
- “The twitterato”. I did miss a spray in the intro…
- Pig’s Arse! #BigMiner
- Big Miner, far too much “gentle satire”. Where was the gag? That one was a miss.
- He-lo Tim Minchin!
- Want to make a show instantly better? Simply add @TimMinchin. Beautiful.
- #LFPE will live to fight another day. I’m not sure if it will be 9:30pm Tuesday next week, though…
(Intro catch up)
- Another live classification read. But nice “apology” for last week’s missfire.
- I think the Warnie gag was necessary. Not good, but necessary.
- Making big of the “local/not-imported” comedy angle. That’s not silly. A tough sell.
- “Ha ha I’m kocking off Liz Hurley and you’re not.” Good call.
- It’s obvious Elaine Front worked well with the audiences last week – she was included in the intro.
- Best. Drag. Julia Gillard. Ever. Even if the gags weren’t great.
- Ever watched a television show that wasn’t quite right?
- Elton’s twitter tirade was nothing. Good on him for having a swing.