Mercado on TV: Clarice and WandaVision keeping streamers on cutting edge

WandaVision blends Marvel superheroes with meticulously recreated homages to classic sitcoms

The TV year is off to a worrying start with poor results last Tuesday. Holey Moley (Seven) continued its downward spiral with just 469,000 viewers, beaten by The Amazing Race Australia (10) which, although going up in viewership, is not quite a smash hit. Meanwhile, the Australian Open (Nine) could only average 464,000 viewers that night, although the numbers are creeping higher for big games.

None of this should be surprising, considering free-to-air TV just took a two month summer holiday apart from big ticket sport. Programs like Code Red (Wednesday on Seven), Ambulance Australia (Thursday on 10) and Paramedics (9Now) have fans, but the copycat programming might push others to BVOD options or streaming services.

At least 10 tried and performed well with I’m a Celebrity, screening all-new episodes five nights a week (Sundays to Thursdays). Some episodes seemed too long and it would be interesting to see them try what ITV does in the UK – shorter episodes seven nights a week.

Commercial TV often only screens their big guns from Sunday to Tuesday, leaving the other four nights of the week to sport or less than fresh content. There are brave exceptions of course like the gardening/lifestyle big guns and the wonderful Gogglebox (10).

Clarice (screening on CBS in America and available here on Stan) is about the heroine from The Silence Of The Lambs chasing more “serial murderers and sexual predators”. There is no need for another violent show like this, but thanks to creators Jenny Lumet and Alex Kurtzman, they are trying to change the narrative.

I can’t word it better than The Guardian which says Clarice has “a keen awareness of how exploitative and misogynistic the genre can be. The fetishisation of dead, mostly naked women, is tackled head-on in the pilot episode with the loss of three victims given an unusual gravity.”

Now that is about time, especially given the bizarre loophole that forbids naked women being shown on American network TV, unless they are dead and lying on a slab. Aussie actress Rebecca Breeds does a wonderful job playing Clarice, especially given she is taking over from Jodie Foster.

WandaVision (Disney+) blends Marvel superheroes with meticulously recreated homages to classic sitcoms like The Dick Van Dyke Show, Bewitched and The Brady Bunch, complete with corny laugh tracks. The first three episodes move through the 1950s to the 1970s, then a standalone episode tries to explain what’s going on, before episode five is set in the 1980s with a Family Ties vibe.

This is the strangest thing on TV right now, although US pop culture channel E! comes close this Saturday when they screen an Aussie bushranger movie (Ned Kelly) in between marathons of Botched and The Kardashians!

For more from Mercado read here.

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