A mix of new dramas both locally and overseas made, a reality show juggernaut spin-off and documentaries are all coming our way in 2015 as channel 7 announces it’s line-up for the new ratings season.
Sadly though, it seems with some of the imported US content, Australian viewers will be quite some episodes and by the looks of it, even over half a season behind American audiences. No fast-tracking programs here.
So just what programs did channel 7 reveal?
How to get Away With Murder: This new US drama is easily one of the best to come out of the new US season. Oscar winner Viola Davis stars as a high profile defense lawyer slash college law professor who finds herself caught up in a murder investigation along with some of her students. Comes from Shonda Rhimes – she of Greys Anatomy and Scandal.
State of Affairs: Starting November 17th in the US, this Katherine Heigl vehicle has a mix of Madam Secretary and Homeland and see’s Heigl as a CIA agent working closely with the US President.
Aquarius: 1960’s based homicide drama see’s David Duchovny working with an undercover detective trying to solve a missing persons case that leads them to Charles Manson.
Winter: Spin-off series from this years “The Killing Field” telemovie with Rebecca Gibney and Peter O’Brien back in the pursuit of a killer.
Restaurant Revolution: Another spin-off from the My Kitchen Rules juggernaut taking ‘inspiration’ from My Returant Rules, which will see contestants attempt to run their very own restaurant.
800 Words: New Aussie drama starring Packed to the Rafters favorite Erik Thomson who plays a a widowed father, who moves overseas with his two teenagers, then takes on the job of writing a weekly newspaper column.
House Rules: The home renovation show is back for 2015 and just like The Block, is offering up two seasons in the new year.
Catching Milat: Underbelly-stylized drama around the Ivan Milat murders.
What Really Happens in Thailand: First it was Bali, now it’s Thailand – or a heightened version of what actually happens. This series is focused more on the emergency rooms, cosmetic surgeons and party hot spots.
Programs returning for 2015 include The X Factor, My Kitchen Rules, Winners & Losers, Border Security, The Force and Better Homes & Gardens while The Big Adventure, Bringing Sexy Back and The Amazing Race were not on announced as returning for the network in 2015.
After it’s original announcement back in May 2013, MTV has come through (just in time for Halloween) and put in a full season order for it’s “based-off-the-movies-starring-Neve-Campbell-and-Courteney-Cox” series Scream and also announced a premiere date of October 2015.
The 10-episode series follows a group of mis-matched high school students including shy yet popular girl Emma (Willa Fitzgerald), artsy loner Audrey (Bex Taylor-Klaus), computer geek Noah (John Karna), athlete Will (Connor Weil), bitchy socialite Brooke (Carlson Young), and mysterious new kid Kieran (Amadeus Serafini). Joel Gretsch playing Sheriff Clark Hudson (Kieran’s father) and Tracy Middendorf are also on board for the series.
Still keeping most of the plot under wraps (for now), MTV are still yet to reveal whether or not the franchise’s icon image – Ghostface – will be a part of the series.
Fans wanted it and now fans are getting it. Axed channel 7 drama A Place to Call Home, which was suddenly cancelled after just one and a half seasons is back, but this time, on PayTV.
Foxtel, in a deal with Channel 7, are resurrecting the popular cancelled drama for at least a further two seasons after hearing the cries from fans annoyed at the shows cancellation. While the show was a hit for the network, production costs saw Channel 7 make the decision not to continue with the show, much to the dismay of fans.
Foxtel executive director of television, Brian Walsh, said in a statement today: “A Place to Call Home is Australia’s most loved drama series and has captured the hearts of millions of fans across the country. We are proud to partner with the Seven Network on this landmark deal and ensure that audiences can continue to enjoy this beautifully crafted and elegantly produced series for a further two seasons.
“The Seven Network has produced Australian television’s most successful drama series of all time and we are delighted to partner with the highly experienced creative team at Seven, who will now work their magic for Foxtel subscribers.”
Fans will also be happy to hear that series originals Marta Dusseldorp, Noni Hazlehurst, Brett Climo and Craig Hall will all returning to the new series!
A Place to Call Home is expected to return to our screens sometime in 2015 on the SoHo Channel via Foxtel.
Does reality television have a message for it’s viewers? Is it “Be rewarded for your hard efforts” or “true talent will see you reach the top”? What about something less positive like “lie, cheat, bitch and moan your way through your journey”. With the recent dramas surrounding The Bachelor, The Block Glasshouse and Big Brother, that last message seems to ring more true.
It’s funny to think that just over 20 years ago, we got our first taste of reality television in the form of the classic Sylvania Waters. It was touted as a ‘fly-on-the-wall look into the lives of Noeline Brown and her partner Laurie Donaher, their family and their lavish lifestyle in the Sydney suburb of Sylvania Waters.
The 12-part program was one of the first for Australian television and became one of the most talked about programs in the early 90’s. It had its lovers and it had it’s haters, but either way, the show was an early indication of just how
Now jump forward 20-odd years where the genre that was considered taboo all those years ago has now become a staple on our screens. Everyday people (and sometimes celebrities) are starving themselves in isolate locations trying to avoid being voted off an island, they’re cooking for strangers, they’re living with strangers being filmed 24 hours a day, they’re dancing or singing or performing magic in-front of large audiences, they’re re-building and designing multi-million dollar apartments, they’re competing against strangers to win the heart of a person they don’t know…it seems there’s not much that hasn’t been covered by the genre – heck, there’s even people meeting and going on a date for the first time completely in the nude!
But it seems, especially of late, these programs that are saturating our networks are becoming more and more surrounded by scandals and outrageous antics both from those working behind the scenes and the contestants involved leaving one to wonder – just how positive is the message that reality television is trying to push?
One of the biggest on-going stories is from Network Ten’s The Bachelor, which ended two weeks ago is still getting people talking with ousted girls and the Bachelor himself (and Australia’s most despised man of the moment) Blake Garvey, offering up exclusive tell-all’s that don’t really seem to tell all…at all. Surely Network Ten must be loving the publicity for the show coming off the shock of Garvey ending his engagement to winner Sam Frost just weeks after proposing, but now, has the circus that has erupted after the finale tarnished just what the show was actually about?
For instance, season one’s bachelor Tim Robards walked away with a long-term relationship in his final pick of Anna. It was a happy ending that also cemented the message behind the show. Sure, most people really only tuned in to see a bunch of super spray tanned girls bitch and bicker about each other while trying to ‘win’ the heart of a man but now even that has been out-shone by Garvey and his post-show antics.
This current season of Big Brother is also skirting controversy, from housemate Gemma’s brutal evicition to last years winner, Tim Dormer re-entering the house to housemates Cat and Lawson starting a relationship all-the-while Lawson’s girlfriend Candice sits on and watches. While Big Brother and controversy have never been to far apart from each other, this season seems to have more people questioning the antics of the housemates and those behind the scenes – who some feel, may be pushing for certain actions to occur.
Even The Block has come under scrutiny for falsifying events regarding a visit from the EPA to inspect a 12,000 litre fuel tank discovered buried under the site (which was heavily played up by the show) There was a fuel tank, it was a big mother of one, but no one from the EPA was ever actually there to inspect it. The finale of the show also brought some murmurs of unhappy viewers when three of the five couples failed to make a decent amount of coin from their auctions – and while producers and contestants have little control over the final auction outcome, it was hardly a glowing reference for wannabe contestants on future series.
In the end, we are now at a point where we’ve come to expect schlock and drama from reality television as a way to hopefully boost fledgling ratings but is it worth it at the expense of respect and decency? Here’s hoping shows like My Kitchen Rules’ drama and scandal stays around someone using store bought pastry for a desert dish!
Can you sense the desperation closing in? The grasp of holding onto a fading spotlight beginning to loosen? It’s probably because The Comeback’s comeback is almost here! After a string of small teasers, HBO have finally blessed us with a full length trailer for the eagerly anticipated second season of The Comeback.
Fans can also expect to see Seth Rogen in the new series playing Valerie’s former nemesis Paulie G (first played by Lance Barber in series one). In the original run, Paulie G was the show-runner of Room and Bored, the sitcom Valerie ‘starred’ on in a bid to make a comeback in her career, which was all documented for a reality show filled with tense moments between Paulie and Valerie.
Now, Paulie G has created a new show that chronicles his years dealing with drug addiction and his fraught relationships with his actors, including the “fictional” Mallory Church, whom Valerie will portray.
Rocker Dean Ray, harmonious crooners Brothers 3 and singing school girl Marlisa are all vying for first prize when X Factor Australia reveals it’s winner tonight.
Who Should Win: I’ve been right three years running (Reece Mastin, Samantha Jade and Dami Im) and I’m hoping to add Dean Ray to the list. The guy is total swag on stage, clearly showing he is more adept at working the audience and giving stage presence than both Brothers 3 and Marlisa combined.
Right from the go, Ray’s audition of Kim Carnes ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ made him a standout and one to watch. Only hitting the bottom two once (I still believe it was a ploy), Dean Ray, his mesmerizing and penetrating eyes and all, deserves to win.
Who Will Win: While still hopeful of a Dean Ray Win, Brothers 3 have remained a steadfast favorite in the series, even while being booted during judges top three announcements. Being picked by viewers to be the return wild card and placing top spot when the viewer announcements were made are clearly showing these boys have fans.
What about Marlisa: She’s surely a surprise addition to the final three considering Regan was expected to make the final. Marlisa can sing – no doubting that, but her stage presence lacks any oomph. Give her a few years of doing Westfield gigs and i’m sure we’d see her pop up as a more mature and stronger performer.
Who do you think will win? Sound off in the comments below!
X-Factor Australia finale live tonight, channel 7 at 7:30pm.
“It’s kooky and it’s freaky and it’s a little bit creepy. Freak Show delivers a visual treat”
Disturbingly brilliant with a warped visual excellence…and an insane killer clown. It’s the easiest way to describe what American Horror Story: Freak Show is all about.
Set in 1950’s Jupiter, Florida, German ex-pat Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange – welcome back) has dreams of stardom. Her somewhat jaded dreams have led her to become the proprietor of a freak show attraction (which she aptly named “Fraulein Elsa’s Cabinet of Curiosities”) that is struggling to bring in the crowds and the dollars. Her troupe of oddities includes bearded lady Ethel Darling (Kathy Bates rocking a very convincing Canadian accent) and her son Jimmy (the underrated Evan Peters) who has a penchant for dressing like Marlon Brando and has deformed hands (that are also good for pleasuring bored housewives).
After discovering the existence of conjoined twins Bette and Dot Tattler (Sarah Paulson), Elsa sets out to convince the twins to join her troupe believing these girls will change her fortunes.
Lange from the onset owns. She just owns. AHS has been an incredible journey for her and with Elsa Mars, Lange once again gets to sink her teeth into a faded wannabe, reaching for stars that were never really in reach. A snarly beauty who blends the lines of mother and abuse of her ‘monsters’. As Elsa crows in the first episode “My monsters are the beautiful, heroic ones, they provide a laugh or a fright to people who need entertainment.” Paulson here, can finally lay claim to her co-lead status as twins Bette and Dot. The visuals for the twins are seamless and Paulson flawlessly gives both Bette and Dot identifying quirks and qualities that will have you picking a favorite of the two very quickly.
There’s also a very prominent side story which is most likely to give every viewer a new-found fear of clowns as it appears there’s a psychotic clown roaming around Jupiter who has a penchant for murder and collecting children.
AHS Creator Ryan Murphy has a knack for bringing to life the stories of outsiders which was so wonderfully created in the form of the excellent Asylum and the hit and miss Covenso the task of telling the tale of a band of circus freaks in 1950’s Florida feels like a natural step forward. With Freak Show, Murphy takes a step closer to the darkness that enveloped Asylum and steps away from the more modern and glossy Coven – which could be seen as a risky move considering Coven has been the most successful AHS series to date.
Amid all it’s over-saturated landscape, watch out for a certain scene that will delight AHS devotees – Jessica Lange clad in a powder blue suit bathed in copious amounts of blue eye shadow belting out a rendition of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars”.
To be sure, there is nothing like Freak Show on TV.
American Horror Story Freak Show begins tonight, 9:30pm on Eleven.
Pretty sure we just watched three of the five couples get kicked in the nuts – but that’s reality television isn’t it folks?
After catching up with the contestants, the wedding between Max and Karstan, finally seeing the reserve prices and choosing auction order, we finally got into the nitty gritty of auction time which usually results in gasps of shock and tears of joy and couples revel in new-found money. This time however, it wasn’t a pretty result.
After a false start ( bidders refused to move off the reserve of $1.5 million) first couple off the ranks, Chris and Jenna eventually managed to sell their apartment for $1.81 million – $310,000 over reserve. We all at home breathed a sigh of relief as the couple avoided a disaster and walked away with some mega coin in their pocket.
Next up, brothers Simon and Shannon, whose reserve of $1.565 million (that includes the $10,000 off they won) was quickly bypassed as bidding was fast and furious, eventually selling at $1.9 million – $335,000 above profit.
While these figures are no where near what we’ve been treated to the past few seasons of The Block, $300,000+ is nothing to scoff at.
It’s here when things began to go downhill and the grey in host Scott Cam’s hair began to push on through. Couple three – Max and Karstan had the highest reserve and the other contestants, their estate agents and pretty much all of us at home were expecting big numbers – but what we expect and what actually happened are two very different scenarios.
Max and Karstan’s reserve of $1.67 Million (minus the $30,000 bonus) saw the couple’s auction falter from the very beginning. An opening bid of $100,000 under reserve and no real interested bidders saw expectant smiles turn to tears as the hammer went down on a final bid of $1.71 million – $40,000 above reserve.
A general “wtf just happened” hit social media as the couple expected to win the season walk away with only $40,000 profit. While it’s not the first time such a poor result has happened on the show (All-Stars Mark and Duncan nabbed $25,000 for their efforts) I don’t think anyone saw this result happening.
Dee and Darren, couple number four, entered the auction a little more hesitant after the poor result for Max and Karstan and rightfully so. While often judged for poor attitudes, there was no denying the finished apartment offered by the couple was nothing less than perfect. Unfortunately, none of the bidders saw it like that. Their reserve (equal lowest with Michael and Carlene at $1.4 million or $1.37 million minus $30,000 bonus) saw bidding halter almost immediately and finally selling for $1.38 million.
$10,000 over reserve.
By this stage, two of the four couples are walking away with over $300,000 while the other two combined make up $50,000. Pretty safe to say, there were more than a handful of expletives shouted in almost every lounge-room tonight.
Lucky last couple Michael and Carlene (yes, I WANT that lounge/dining room) entered the auction with the lowest of expectations after the previous two results. Just like Dee and Darren, they started with a reserve of $1.4 million which was taken down to $1.38 million after their bonus was subtracted. Good thing is was as at one point, the discussion of passing in the apartment was talked about.
While passing in seemed like the best option (a property has not been passed in on The Block since season 4, when three of the four properties failed to sell at auction) a final bid of $1.39 million meant the couple walk away with only $10,000 profit.
Michael and Carlene were my favourites… Whyyy?? So heartbroken 😢 #theblock
So what caused, as Scott Cam says “the most traumatic and bizarre auction I’ve done“.? Could it be the reserve prices? The fact some of the apartments had no windows and the only source on natural light came from the exposed terrace? How is it that couple Chris and Jenna, who placed the lowest 7 times after judging, walk away with so much money compared to Michael and Carlene who topped the judges board?
There are some reports noting that over the top reserves for the location plus the lack of interested bidders played a massive part.
Sound off in the comments below!
Either way, I can’t imagine this to be great advertising for wannabe Blockheads for the next 2 series (yes, another 2 series is already in the works!) of The Block.
Spoiler Free! While the auctions have officially taken place, no word on final standings here until after the official airing tonight!
It’s auction time! Nine’s reality hit The Block: Glasshouse comes to a close tonight with the couples all heading to auction, hoping to take out the $100,000 top prize.
Tonight’s finale will see each couples original reserve price plus the current reserve price with prizes won over the last two weeks for work on apartment 6 subtracted off the reserve.
Max and Karstan have won $30,000 off their reserve along with Dee and Darren. Michael and Carlene earned $20,000 off their reserve with Simon and Shannon nabbing $10,000 off while Chris and Jenna remain the underdogs going into auction with their original reserve.
So how have the couples and apartments fared up to now? Word has it that all apartments are expected to reach around the $1.3m to $1.5m dollar mark with Ray White agent Matt White tipping Max and Karstan’s apartment to win (Matt is Michael and Carlene’s agent)
I’m hopeful of and not expecting another surprise win like last season when Steve and Chantal walked away winners from The Block: Fans Vs Faves – meaning, sorry Chris and Jenna, you guys were entertaining but I don’t see you for the win. I’d like to see Michael and Carlene take out top prize but then again, I’m completely in love with the bookcase enclosed lounge they delivered – and therefore slightly biased.
My final tip – It’ll be a battle between couples Dee and Darren and Max and Karstan. Both have produced the most consistent apartments with high quality finishes. I’m not officially picking a winner – as you know, it never pans out for me!
The Block: Glasshouse auction finale airs tonight, Channel 9 from 6:30pm.
Bewitching – why a trashy little Lifetime show about witches turned out to be one of the best things on TV
Since Witches of East End actually “went there” and killed off Wendy in the season 2 finale, I’ve been trying to figure out how on earth I became this invested in a trashy show about witches. I’m not entirely sure, but here goes my attempt to process the loss of Wendy, and why Wendy & Joanna are fabulous television…
Two weeks ago, I stopped watching Nashville. It was a conscious decision. I’d followed Connie Britton (of Friday Night Lights) into a show that should have been incredible, and instead I found myself hating it more and more: never-ending love triangles, a constant stream of dull new characters, a fixation with turning Connie’s character into a saint who never had to deal with real-world consequences for her shitty choices, a good actress wasted in a dead-end melodrama. When the season three premiere turned up the soap factor even higher, I decided it was time to tune out. And yet, this week I found myself crying right along with the immortal witch Joanna over the death of her sister Wendy, a shape-shifting witch who had given up what remained of the last of her nine lives for someone else. From Joanna weeping over her sister’s body, the show headed on over to a pool party in hell, where Wendy was greeted by a mysterious third sister in a bright red cloak. I sat there, mouth wide open. When the credits began to roll, I may have uttered a string of expletives. I need season three NOW. What on earth has this trashy little show about witches done so right?
To explain how I started watching a show about witches when I’d never been particularly into science fiction or fantasy, you need to look at casting. I’ve been a fan of Julia Ormond’s work for many years. She’s one of those actresses who elevates almost any script, and trust me, she’s been in some clunkers. But when she’s got good material and good co-stars, she just runs with it. If you’ve seen her in Traffik, Temple Grandin or her brief guest-stint as O’Hara’s globe-trotting girlfriend on Nurse Jackie, you know what I mean. But I really didn’t have high hopes when I read on Deadline that she’d signed on for a show about witches on Lifetime. Did she have to pay the mortgage that badly?
Within four episodes, however, I quickly realised that this show was far more than a show about witches. Instead, in the capable hands of Julia, Madchen Amick and the show’s writers and producers, it became a show about family relationships, inter-generational support, power and loss. It had stupid things like an immortal historian which totally broke my brain, being an historian myself. (I’ve lost count of the number of times this idea has kept me entertained when bored at seminars and conferences. Seriously. Think about it: what if one person in every history department was immortal… but don’t think too hard in case I want to turn this idea into a book one day.) This show knew it was slightly trashy and never took itself too seriously. But mostly, in spite of all its supernatural leanings, the ‘adults’ —sorry Freya and Ingrid!— felt refreshingly human.
For all the talk about us experiencing a ‘golden age’ of television right now, there’s still a massive lack of series where the action is driven by female characters, and among the shows where it is, there still seem to be way too few three-dimensional women that seem ‘real’, for lack of a better term, especially away from HBO, Showtime and Netflix. The new CBS show Madam Secretary, while featuring a woman as an ex-CIA-turned-college-professor-turned-Secretary-of-State as its central character, is turning into yet another show about super-women who “have it all”. That’s just not engaging, especially not in this day and age where competent, successful women can still be decried for consciously choosing not to have children, and stay-at-home-mom is used as a slur. Give me Tea Leoni’s train-wreck character in Spanglish any day over Madam Secretary.
Witches of East End, however, feels almost ground-breaking— a basic-cable show where the action is entirely led by four women who don’t bicker but support each other, who all have flaws which enrich their fictional characters. Sisters Wendy and Joanna had been estranged for many years, but in the pilot episode, Wendy came to Joanna’s house because she sensed Joanna’s life was in danger and needed her help. Joanna constantly hid the truth from people close to her to protect them. Even though she’d done so with the best intentions of protecting her daughters, Joanna had been far from a perfect mother to her now grown-up daughters over the years. There were consequences for her actions, but, refreshingly, they bore none of the sadly-still-common hallmarks of teaching a flawed female character ‘a lesson’.
Because Joanna is immortal, we gradually discovered that she had a string of immortal lovers who came in and out of her life across centuries. She reconnected with them and sometimes they had sex. Sometimes Joanna left; sometimes they did. Rather than be constant sources of heartache and despair, these men and women came to help Joanna and she was better because of them. Please find me a show where female characters above the age of 40 have relationships like this without any other character judging them for it; I can count them on one hand. Wendy had many more casual dalliances across seasons one and two, but again, nobody judged her for it. Even when Joanna suggested to Wendy that her commitment phobia was no longer appropriate because she was on her last life, note that at no time did anyone imply that Wendy had been ‘easy’ or ‘promiscuous. Wendy is “the fun aunt”.
Season two of Witches of East End has featured plenty of crazy, from tentacle-porn monsters and time doors, to more bad CGI than you can shake a magic wand at, but, in spite of the crazy, Joanna and Wendy have remained grounded in reality. By taking the ballsy step of killing Wendy who is easily the show’s most popular character, the writers not only brought home Joanna’s constant cycle of burying the ones she loves to us the viewers, but they also followed through with something that’s been carefully set up this entire season. If this season had one over-arching theme it was the fracturing of family, which in Joanna’s case was mostly loss: the death of her former partner Victor, her ex-girlfriend Alex’s departure, the (temporary) death of her daughters Freya and Ingrid which resulted in Joanna’s suicide attempt, and now, finally, the death of her sister Wendy, the character we all adore. Thus, Joanna’s grief is real but it doesn’t feel gratuitous. This is not some kind of tragic heroine scenario here. Instead, I’m looking forward to season three (which there had better be) where we see Joanna develop as a character because of all that has happened to her in season two, as she deals with the negative consequences of immortality, but also exploring how grief might bring her and her daughters together as an even stronger unit and serving as an impetus for the three witches to try to bring Wendy back. Hello seances!
We also know that this show will introduce more trouble in the form of the third sister, Helena, who gathers souls in the underworld. On paper, she sounds like a villain, but I have every confidence that instead of bitch fighting between sisters, Witches of East End will use Helena* to enrich the family dynamic, elevating the established characters while simultaneously not portraying them as flawless saints. It’s what this show does best: strong female characters who support each other, fuck up, and keep on having each others’ backs between all the bad CGI effects. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I grew to love a trashy little show about witches. It might just be one of the most refreshing, feminist-ing shows on television.
*… and if you need any convincing that Melrose Place alum Daphne Zuniga just has to play Helena and could totally hold her own against the talents of Julia Ormond and Madchen Amick, please watch the episode of Nip/Tuck that she guest starred on (find episode 5×01 on Netflix). This woman is stupidly talented. She’d totally pass as a relative. It’s a no-brainer and has to happen.
This essay was written by 'Fiona Bentfield' and originally posted at Another Electric Picture Hall. Original post can be found here. Many thanks to Fiona for allowing me to re-post.