Fast-tracking and navigating the schedule

Andrew Mercado gives Mediaweek some hints on navigating the Australian fast-tracking schedule.

Has he been watching too much TV?
Andrew Mercado sends Mediaweek 900 words

Once upon a time, September wasn’t super. Old shows were wrapping up, new shows were being saved for the new year and reliable rating movies like the Harry Potter franchise and The Devil Wears Prada were being wheeled out for yet another umpteenth rerun. But this year, in the aftermath of the Restaurant Revolution results, Seven decided that September was going to be Super – and it actually was.

Brilliant new Aussie dramas 800 Words and Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door were critical and commercial hits. The immediate success of The Chase Australia immediately helped Seven’s ailing 6pm News on the east coast. Since every reality show now needs a gimmick, The X Factor came back All-New (aka Not That New) and it comfortably beat Nine’s “Back To Basics” The Block (aka Not Bloated like last time) and both shows smashed Ten’s TBL Families (aka because acronyms make you think it’s a different show). Seven is almost on a fast-track binge bringing viewers Heroes Reborn, The Player, Quantico, The Muppets and Blindspot.

Meanwhile, the bedazzled belles on The Bachelor continue to be bewildered and the boofy blokes on The Bachelorette believe best in the bro-code. All are looking to be famous, I mean looking for real love, but none of them will be able to enter a room like Osher Gunsberg can. Could he also help the guys with their pronunciation of the word “girl” since many of them call the delightful Sam Frost a “goil”. Who will win (a) The X Factor (b) The Block (c) TBL and (d) Sam’s heart?

Answers: (a) a future cast member of Home & Away (b) who knows (c) a future host of TBL and (d) hopefully not another douchebag.

Ten understands people will no longer wait for a show to appear on the schedule which is why they’ve fast-tracked Homeland and Scream Queens and Empire too which has been moved to ELEVEN. The ABC understands this which is why they fast-track Doctor Who to iview (and everything else screens on BBC First first). Nine understands this but only when it comes to new The Big Bang Theory (who knows when they’ll get around to the final episode of CSI which just screened in the US). Seven pretends to understand by promising it will fast-track new shows in September but then waits till October to screen any of them.

Only Foxtel truly understands this concept but even they won’t “Express From the US” everything. This year we saw Wayward Pines before the Americans while Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead gave new meaning to the term afternoon delight when they aired here in daytime straight after the US. Next up it’s Marvel series The Flash, DC Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow and Supergirl and we are being told we will “watch it with the rest of the world”. Not quite. The Flash, DC and Arrow (moving over from Nine) are all being Expressed from the US but Supergirl, which is arguably this US fall season’s most anticipated show, premieres in October but won’t make it down under till December. Hello? It has taken 40 years for another female superhero series to come to TV after Wonder Woman and even then Supergirl still gets relegated to last behind all the men.

Gabi Grecko dressed like she was a comic book heroine but her shameless shenanigans on Nine’s criminally underwatched The Celebrity Apprentice proved that celebrities with less integrity are often the first to be fired. Desperate for more exposure, Gabi returned the following week to wave goodbye to Geoffrey Edelsten and that proved to be as useless as Blake Garvey who was the next to be fired. Is there a celebrity who will now get a chance to shine like Jesinta Campbell did in the very first series? Her maturity and intelligence then and ever since on Today is impressive yet The Daily Telegraph devoted an astonishingly nasty full page to lecturing her on why she should postpone her wedding to Buddy Franklin. If Dame Edna Everage hadn’t been so busy spruiking the newspaper, I suspect she would have told certain columnists to mind their own business. So don’t expect to see Jesinta Campbell flirting with Sir Les Patterson any time soon (Jennifer Hawkins, he’s all yours) but Nine, do give Jesinta a gig on the upcoming The Verdict (Karl Stefanovic, you’re welcome).

Finally, could Gruen do a segment about the advertising campaigns for streaming services? Why is Netflix so popular despite zero advertising, why has Stan replaced Rebel Wilson with a unicorn and why has Presto miscast Naomi Watts as a rich bitch version of herself? Is selfish behaviour and isolated infamy what the advertising industry thinks we all aspire to now and what does it have to do with watching great movies and TV? Help me, Gruen, it’s doing my head in!


Why couldn’t Seven have also used Super September to fast-track the final series of Downton Abbey which has just started in the UK? Do they care that its ending will be reported everywhere and spoil it for fans before they get around to screening it oh, sometime in 2016? Maybe they didn’t want another period drama taking anything away from their beautifully made in-house production A Place To Call Home as it successfully transfers to Foxtel with its historic third season? Seriously, there’s room for both but commercial TV treats fast-tracking the same way as High Definition. As in, hey kids, here’s a shiny new toy to excite you, hang on, you can’t have it any more, oh all right, it’s coming back! Here’s the thing though – kids today are spoilt and they don’t want to wait.

Image (clockwise from top L): QuanticoBlindspot, Heroes Reborn, Empire, The Player.

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