Mercado on TV: House Rules confusion, Party of Five worthy remake

having watched the first two episodes of House Rules: Sky High I am more confused than a Scott Morrison press conference.

Everyone, from A-list superstars to DJs spinning tunes, is now broadcasting from their lounge rooms to keep us entertained through the coronavirus crisis. They are upbeat, funny and innovative, so what are Australian networks doing to keep up?

Let’s start with the ABC who will offer School on TV from mid-April, absolutely brilliant. Kudos to Fox League for asking viewers to vote on which classic footy games they want replayed. And love your work 10, for continuing to stream all-new content (Drunk History Australia) and more classic local drama (Police Rescue) on 10Play.

Seven and Nine, however, are trapped in what they’ve always done … trying to one-up each other. Nine infuriated fans by dropping the MAFS finale this week, because they wanted to move it to Sunday where it would smash House Rules: High Stakes. Undeterred, Seven bumped their premiere to Monday.

So, great tit-for-tatting, but why can’t either ever try something different? If Sydney drag queen Minnie Cooper can throw together a Tonight-style show from a deserted nightclub with a stack of celebrity guests, why can’t one of our networks think up something cheap and cheerful too?

As for House Rules: High Stakes, the promos suggest this is now about renovating a Gold Coast high rise, and I was so on board with that. Sadly, having now watched the first two episodes, I am more confused than a Scott Morrison press conference.

That’s because the penthouse reno is just a ruse to siphon out contestants before heading back to suburbia to fix up their homes. Why call it High Stakes then? And why does judge Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen say they’re “remaking The Golden Girls” when there is not one wisecracking woman in sight, let alone four?

What is being remade is Dutch cop series Van Der Valk (Saturday on ABC) and weepy teen drama Party of Five (Good Friday on SBS Viceland). Van Der Valk had 32 episodes over 20 years from 1972, but now he no longer has a wife. Played by Hustle’s Marc Warren, this Van Der Talk sleeps with witnesses and enjoys unresolved sexual tension with his too-cool-for-school female partner.

Party Of Five (1994 – 2000) made instant stars of Matthew Fox, Neve Campbell, Scott Wolf and Lacey Chabert all playing orphaned siblings. This remake goes for a Latino spin, a la One Day At A Time (Netflix) but instead of killing the parents in a car crash, this version deports them back to Mexico for being illegal aliens. Party Of Five is a powerful and timely remake that is worth a look.

Next week, it’s the second season of Bloom on Stan for Easter.

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