Crikey’s tabloid TV expert noticed the latest attempt by Mike Munro to get serious with A Current Affair but it looks like a flop with the viewers yet again.

Sure looked like it because big Mikey was off air for a couple of days last week “on assignment.” And there he was last the forefront of the fight against infectious diseases in Geelong and whatsmore, in full “combat gear” (that white vest over his shirt was really something else..a hack jacket maybe!). There was some grainy VHS shots of dying pigs and cattle to ram home the message that all this could be bigger than the Gulf War should the little nasties get out into the community. It was Outbreak meets Frontline as Mike conducted an interview between a glass panel separating him from killer microbes.

Did the audeince really care? No. In Sydney they all switched across to Today Tonight which recorded one of its rare ratings victories in that city with an entertaining fare of backyard of the mind stuff. ACA won in Brisbane and just got over the line by a few thousand in Melbourne where TT has clawed its way back as a contender. ACA got poleaxed in Perth and Adelaide, TT’s strongholds for a long time.

When Mike took over from Ray three years ago, journalist Andrew McGarry published this excerpt from an interview Mike did with steak-knife spruiker Tim Shaw on 2GB:”People can expect I think, a little bit..well hopefully a lot more investigative stories, certainly more investigative stories. And so in a nutshell going back to basics, I’d be very happy if I never saw another arthritic or diet or cellulite story ever!”

Mike has done the rare piece of “investigative journalism”-back in May he went inside a major “drug bust” in Cabramatta, wearing a flack jacket over that trademark uniform of check shirt, suede jacket and denims. The tough get-yer-hands-dirty look, eh. But a week never went past without at least one of those beat-ups to keep the ratings rolling along. This year we’ve had our fill of big Jim Toome, the 355 kg fatty trying to lose weight (freak element!) and find love (and he did on July 7,oh thanks Mikey), umpteen petrol price stories, free plugs for the Aldi supermarket chain, boring “Hero” segments, the Fat Blaster pill, backpain remedies, bra tests, shoe tests, toothpaste tests, stain remover tests, soap tests, stuttering cures, bank bashing and that old chestnut to get the figures pulsating – pollie bashing.

And to add a little bit more cred, Kieren Perkins has jumped into the shark pool that is tabloid TV. At least TT doesn’t pretend to be anything else! Crikey, Mikey looks mighty shaky. So expect a quick return to crash diets, bank bashing and testing dishcloths, paper towels and toilet flushing products.