Mercado on TV: Year in review Part 1 – not enough drama and few laughs

Mercado on TV

Australian network drama and comedy is not in a good place

Things could be better for people working in drama production. Quotas for local content were removed last year and not yet re-instated, plus there is also an ongoing Government delay with producer offset tax breaks.

Amidst that grim scenario, let’s look back at 2021 and preview what’s coming next year in these genres (plot spoiler – more true crime and two dramas about juries).

Deborah Mailman and Rachel Griffiths with Total Control director Rachel Perkins


DRAMA: Harrow, Wakefield, Jack Irish, The Newsreader, Fires, Total Control

COMEDY: Aftertaste, Fisk, Frayed, Preppers, Why Are You Like This, All My Friends Are Racist

There was something for everyone with this prolific output, particularly with so much outrageous comedy. It is almost impossible to pick one favourite amongst this outstanding line-up, and next year looks exciting too.

Mercado on TV Overall Grade: A+

Coming in 2022: Mystery Road: Origin, Barons (surf drama), Troppo (FNQ drama), Savage River (crime drama), Significant Others (psychological drama)

Mercado on TV

Seven’s RFDS


DRAMA: Home and Away, RFDS, Reckoning, Australian Gangster

COMEDY: Australia’s Sexiest Tradie, Fat Pizza: Back in Business, Housos

Good on Seven for making local comedy for 7mate, but why the delay in re-commissioning the brilliant RFDS? Reckoning was dire stuff made for US TV and Australian Gangster was toxic masculinity overload. Bonus points for making Back to the Rafters (Amazon Prime).

Mercado on TV Overall Grade: B+

Coming in 2022: Claremont (serial killer drama)

Mercado on TV

SBS’s New Gold Mountain


DRAMA: The Unusual Suspects, New Gold Mountain, The Tailings

COMEDY: Iggy and Ace

The Unusual Suspects was so much fun with its Australian-Filipino cast, while New Gold Mountain told a different side of history by including long overdue Chinese and Indigenous perspectives.

Mercado on TV Overall Grade: B

Coming in 2022: TBA, but True Colours (Indigenous drama) seems likely.

the end


DRAMA: The End, Wentworth, Mr Inbetween, Love Me (coming Xmas Eve)

COMEDY: none

Fans seemed happy with how Wentworth and Mr Inbetween ended, but let’s hope we haven’t seen the end of The End.

Mercado on TV Overall grade: B-

Coming in 2022: The Twelve (a jury drama)

Lie With Me

10’s Lie With Me


DRAMA: Neighbours, Lie With Me

COMEDY: How To Stay Married

Neighbours had another spicy year, but it was very sad to see 10 ignore Lie With Me. Five Bedrooms got flicked onto Paramount+ where it was much more watchable than the ludicrous Spreadsheet.

Mercado on TV Overall grade: C+

Coming in 2022: Last King of the Cross on Paramount+ (another John Ibrahim drama despite 2010’s Underbelly: The Golden Mile)

Nine’s Amazing Grace cast


DRAMA: Amazing Grace, Doctor Doctor

COMEDY: none

It was time for the tired Doctor Doctor to wind up, but the dreadfully cliched Amazing Grace was no replacement. Stan scored with the brilliant Bump (second series due on Boxing Day) but they stuffed it up big time with Eden.

Mercado on TV Overall grade: C

Coming in 2022: Underbelly: Vanishing Act (because every true crime event is apparently franchise worthy), After the Verdict (jury drama)

Read more Mercado on TV columns here.

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