Mercado on TV: Mitch McTaggart’s television history, NAIDOC Week & Limbo

Limbo: “Haunting…says more with an occasional glance or stare than most TV series manage in an entire season”

The Backside Of Television (Monday on Binge) started life on SBS before moving over to Foxtel where it continues to do end-of-year retrospectives. Now comes a brand new series and writer host Mitch McTaggart is more savage and insightful than ever before. 

Over six must-see episodes, The Backside Of Television delves into forgotten Aussie TV history, and nothing or nobody is safe. There’s a takedown of 2015’s endless Gallipoli-themed programming and an outrageously silly war between Seven and Nine over Bingo that wasn’t Bingo. And it happened not once, but three times! 

Keep watching for the analyses of commercial news and children’s television, particularly given the latter barely exists anymore. Play School might still be around, but the history of its whinging producers is gobsmacking. So too is long forgotten kids show Carrots (Seven, 1979), a bizarre show within a show that made no sense and therefore didn’t qualify for a ‘C’ classification.

Carrots was a shocker, but at least it was an original concept. Today, it’s all about copycats like this week when the ABC ripped off The Dog House. Whilst Masterchef (10) was a clear timeslot winner, New Leash Of Life had more viewers than two other reality rip-offs, Million Dollar Island (Seven) and Rush (Nine). What’s next – a Big Brother rip-off called Angry Aunty

Meanwhile, Seven are rebounding from their disastrous experiment to screen year-old episodes of Coronation Street and Emmerdale already seen on Foxtel. Both have been quietly dropped, so instead they’ve bought the edgy NZ soap Shortland Street after it was thrown away by SBS Viceland five months ago.



Television suggestions

Picking up where it left off, and ignoring that many fans have kept up to date on YouTube, Shortland Street isn’t screening on a digital channel because it’s now a 7Plus exclusive. Hilariously, this leads to the catch-up site suggesting that soap fans wanting “More Like This” should check out AFL panel show The Front Bar and Australian Idol. Sorry, what?

9Now asks their online viewers to “Discover Something New” whereas 10Play keeps it simple with “More from 10”. That leaves iview and SBS On Demand to also use the term “More Like This” but at least their choices stay within the same genre. 

Both are now celebrating NAIDOC Week and some of the programming is inspired. Firebite (NITV and SBS On Demand), the Indigenous vampire series originally made for AMC+, is a wild rollercoaster ride starring Kelton Pell, Callan Mulvey and Rob Collins.

Collins, who is also hosting The First Inventors (10 and NITV), also stars in Limbo (Sunday on ABC). Stunningly shot in black and white by Mystery Road writer-director Ivan Sen, this haunting film says more with an occasional glance or stare than most TV series manage in an entire season.

Read more Mercado on TV here.

Mercado on TV

Welcome to TV Gold: Mediaweek’s weekly TV podcast

Our name is new and so is the email address asking for feedback and questions – [email protected].
Listen now on your favourite podcast platform for 30 minutes of TV reviews and recommendations every week from Mediaweek’s Andrew Mercado and James Manning.

Listen online here, on the LiSTNR app or on your favourite podcast platform.

This week on the TV Gold podcast: Hijack, Gold Diggers, No Escape

Reviews this week of Limbo with Simon Baker, Rob Collins and Natasha Wanganeen (ABC, iview), The Last Daughter with Brenda Matthews (Netflix), Wham! with George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley (Netflix), and Six Four with Kevin McKidd and Vinette Robinson (Britbox).

TV Gold bonus episode: Producer & writer Jason Herbison

The longtime Neighbours executive producer talks about his “suburban noir” drama Riptide (a TV Gold Show of the Week), and his stellar television career writing and producing primetime FTA dramas. He also reveals the rollercoaster ride of emotions he experienced when Neighbours was first cancelled and then re-commissioned.

Email the hosts and tell us what you have been watching. The good and the bad. Emails to: [email protected]

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