We need to talk about the Logies & the state of Australian TV
With last night delivering the 59th TV Week Logies we can look back and say we've had a good run.
I think there's lots that needs to be addressed before we celebrate the Diamond anniversary of Australian TV's night of nights next year...
TIGHTEN THINGS UP (for the love of all things holy).
At four hours (30 minutes over the scheduled time to end the broadcast) it certainly wasn't our longest Logies ever. It was only a couple of years ago that the clock had struck midnight and we hadn't had the Silver Logies dished out, let alone the Gold. However it is ludicrous that the program is scheduled to run this long anyway.
Cut the crap. Discourage ad libbing presenters. Stop doing separate eulogies for dead stars (this is making a rod for your own back as more of them are dying every year). Do we really need an international recording artist performing every year? Whatever needs to be done to make it come home in under three hours, do it, because all we end up seeing is increasingly drunk stars/producers/people get up and make a mess of things.
Oh, and while we all love Molly Meldrum please don't let him speak again because it's only ruining the wonderful memories we have of him.
CELEBRATE YOUR HISTORY.
Lots of people have won the Gold Logie. It's the pinnacle award in Australian TV, and like it or loathe it the viewing public get to have their say every year and vote for the person they think is the most popular personality. It's an elite group of people that have meant a lot to so many people.
So the industry should treat them as such, and ensure they invite past winners of the Gold to attend as a part of the legacy of the awards. If Nine/Bauer want us to take the Logies seriously then they should take their responsibility as organisers seriously and treat the past winners of the Gold Logie as people worth honouring.
Stop being tight arses and invite people like Tony Barber and Rowena Wallace. If John Kennerley can be there in a wheelchair then we can have Bert Newton's iron lung dragged in and stood up in a corner. Take the time to point out that these people are Australian TV history and that they are important enough to include. Especially to the 60th anniversary of the damn thing.
REMEMBER WHO HELPED MAKE YOU A THING.
Ruth Cracknell, Noni Hazelhurst and now Kerri-Anne Kennerley. Three ladies (the only three) who have all been inducted into the Logies Hall of Fame, joining a few TV shows and nearly 30 blokes.
That seems inordinately disproportionate, doesn't it? I wonder what they could do about that. It's not like we have any other women that could or should be honoured with such an inclusion.
*cough* Jana Wendt, Caroline Jones, Ita Buttrose, Maggie Tabberer, Denise Drysdale, Jeannie Little, Lisa McCune, Anne Sanders, Gina Riley, Jane Kennedy, Lorrae Desmond, Benita Collins, Noeline Brown, Posie Graeme-Evans, Pam Barnes, Sue Masters, Robyn Nevin, Lorraine Bayly *cough*
THE IN MEMORIAM IS NOT ABOUT THE LIVE PERFORMANCE.
This is a difficult one, as it's become very nice to have a live performance of whatever song accompanies the In Memoriam and done well it's a subtle and gentle addition to remembering those in the industry who have passed away in the last 12 months.
The difficulty is when you get "latest star" or "person who is on the comeback trail" (as Casey Donovan is) the focus can shift from those being honoured to the person performing and that's just plain wrong.
Last night Donovan absolutely nailed her accompanying song however the audience in the room seemed to think it was appropriate to stand and applaud her for what she'd just delivered. Even Casey gestured toward the screen, indicating the moment wasn't about her rather the people whose images we'd just seen. Nobody cared, and that's not cool.
Absolutely make the remembering of those lost something important and poignant. Don't for a second make it about anyone else (this is not Casey's fault last night, rather the producers and director - they knew what she was going to deliver and banked on it).
GIVE US BACK A HOST AND PAY SOME COMEDY WRITERS
(and have some actual rehearsals while you're at it).
Oh. My. Goodness. The "highlights" reel of the Logies is full of awkward set pieces going awry or people deciding they could do better than the lines being delivered to them on the teleprompter. Some even look like it was the first time they'd ever seen those words. It has to stop.
With the move away from a single presenter holding it together the hodge podge we have now means to open the show a comedian has to deliver something close to a monologue, and Dave Hughes has done a fine job recently.
We are not going to see the generation or development of a new Bert Newton (or Andrew Denton, or anyone for that matter) if they aren't given the chance to work with writers across the entire show and craft a Logies entirely. It's still working for the Emmys and Golden Globes and mostly working for the Oscars and it's time to pony up some cash and make it a show worth watching and not just a collection of forgettable mishaps and bland duologues.
We want to be entertained. You used to know how to do that.
GET THE FREE TO AIR NETWORKS TO STOP BLEATING ABOUT THE COST OF LICENCE FEES AND INVEST IN DRAMA PROPERLY AGAIN.
Nine care a lot about the Logies because it's their thing now (and has been in the modern era since forever). Seven say they don't care (but they do). Ten are just happy to still be invited.
It's no mistake that over the last few years the majority of the serious awards have gone to the ABC or Foxtel. With good reason, too - they're the only ones really investing in Australian drama worth more than a tepid promo during The Voice or My Kitchen Rules.
Hell, even the big wins for the Molly mini-series last night look outrageous when you remember the series aired 14 months ago and apparently there's been nothing any good by comparison since.
Barracuda. Secret City. The Kettering Incident. Rake. Janet King. Glitch. Wentworth. A Place to Call Home. All amazing drama series and all not appearing on Seven, Nine, or Ten.
The current argument is that the Commercial FTA networks believe if the expensive licence fees the Australian Government make them pay on behalf of the Australian public for using our available radio bandwidth were dropped then they'd have more money to invest into "quality drama". Given the reprieve and discounts they've received and we're still just getting more of 800 Words, House of [INSERT NAME HERE], and The Wrong Girl certainly suggests they're lying.
The inference by Hugh Marks, head of the Nine Network, that it's too expensive to invest in children's programming and the competition is too tough are even more elephant tears in a landscape where the Networks can do anything they put their minds to (or are legislated to) and have a deep and rich history of delivering both high quality children's TV and drama that had the nation actually hooked - but now they don't because it's too expensive. If only there was some way they could make money by selling airtime in between breaks in the programming they run...
IF YOU WANT VIEWERS TO TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY START ACTING LIKE YOU'RE WORTH US DOING SO.
Television has the capacity to transform our memories. To change the way we see the world. To allow us to escape into a wonderful land of story-telling that engages and captures attention and demands allegiance.
While I love the breadth and depth of reality television available, the growing dependence on it has caused in no small part the decline of our love of televised Australian FTA drama. We creatures of habit who still watch linear broadcast TV are used to shows starting and ending on the half-hour. Allowing your PRE-RECORDED reality franchise to run 7/13/21/36 minutes beyond the published finish time of the program has meant viewers are forced to become streamers or DVR-binge watchers of the shows we used to eagerly anticipate starting at 8:30pm.
Now there's fewer watching, there's less inclination to stick to finishing times, so the program before can run long in an attempt to grow its audience and keep us from flicking channels - which leads to fewer watching. All of this leading to lower investment in drama because "the audience isn't there" and HELLO.
Any network programmer that started applying some rigour to their schedule won't win everyone back - but they'll start seeing a return of people to the shows starting at the times they've been scheduled to start at.
If the networks can slot in some quality Australian drama right there, who knows what they might achieve. I mean, a network that invested in content and ran it when they said they would might even experience a surge in popularity that could see their big new show win a Logie or something.
But we all know that's never gonna happen.