I suppose it’s too late to ask, but what’s the point? Or why bother
about the second series of the Nine Network’s The Block? Well, such are
the profits that will be made from product placement (Toyota, Freedom,
Black and Decker, Cadbury et al) and associated advertising, that The
Block Series Two was a lay down winner from the time Nine started
planning late last year.

Some estimates at Nine say this series will be the single most
profitable program Nine has ever done – apart from the giants like 60
Minutes. But after the first night, viewers are entitled to ask,
why? Where’s the spontaneity that made the first series so interesting?

Just as anyone who has renovated knows, shit happens on a Saturday arvo
or Sunday night in a renovation saga. Handling it and getting out of
the predicament is half the fun (after it’s over). It’s a
relationship testing experience and it’s not planned. And that’s what
we saw in Series One.

But not in Series Two, which looked so contrived in the couple
selection. So much so that the series in its present format is
past its use-by date when you long for Gav and Waz, the gay couple from
the first series, with their hideous laugh.

To have a gay couple from the Gold Coast talking about class,
especially in the Versace Hotel, was too much. And speaking of gays,
having male gays is a bit stereotyped now, why not a couple of
Lesbians? Aren’t they home and apartment owners these days!

Having the courage to select Gav and Waz in Series 1 helped set it
apart as television programming. No such involvement this time
around. A headhunter from Sydney and his partner, Melbourne bar
owners, plus the about to depart drug dealer and his partner, was a bit
too much.

Being a cynic why did I get the impression that it was all too studied
and too slick, after just one episode? And when Jamie Durie stands out,
you have another pointer to the tiredness of the idea in its present
format. And yet, the viewers will like it, which is always the marker
in commercial TV.

Crossing Sydney Harbour from Bondi to Manly doesn’t guarantee a
radically different series. The four couples this time are tiresome,
but there’s a new couple to arrive to replace the drug chappie and his
partner sprung by the Daily Telegraph. That’s coming up and could
provide the emotional spark to the series.

Going to Melbourne or the Gold Coast would have made the program sufficiently different to make it interesting.

After Episode 1, The Block was about as exciting as Burke’s Backyard,
which resumes this Friday. If I were Channel Nine I’d call on
Renovation Rescue to head to Manly ASAP. There’s a great need at 7.30pm
Sundays where it was like the second series of Big Brother last year,
with a slow start to the new series.

Now for the Logies

After The Block it was the ritualistic Frocking Up on the Red Carpet,
followed by the Logies. The Red Carpet walk for Australia’s stars of
the small screen was the usual collection of frills, flesh and flash.
Banalities poured from the mouths of presenters and interviewees alike.

And making viewers wilt until announcing the Gold Logie winner at
around 11.20pm. Why, it’s past bedtime for most of the audience,
especially that young Rove McManus from Ten.

What does the Nine Network have to do to get one of its stars up into
the top slot? And to think they flicked Rove all those years ago, and
Seinfeld too. Both ending up on Ten.

But the Red Carpet Walk, which rated better than the Logies last year,
was a good preparation for what followed in the Crown Casino where
there were, as usual, more losers than winners.

Melbourne people, such as the bar owners in The Block, are fond of
bagging big brash Sydney, but after another showing of the Logies, they
have taste and class to themselves. It was a special effort.

Eddie McGuire! He might be the big star of Melbourne for Nine and the
big noise in AFL, but that’s Melbourne. Elsewhere it’s Eddie?

The real reason Eddie fronts the Logies is because he’s a team player
and not a little subversive, like that Andrew Denton, in the view of
producer Peter Wynne, a frock-em up, red carpet sort of big TV guy from
the old Channel Nine school in Melbourne, who learned his craft well
from the legendary Peter Faiman.

Last night was Pete’s eighth Logies and Eddie’s second – and it showed. Just like The Block, no spark of originality.

Mr Wynne apparently did not like the sort of approach Andrew Denton
brought to hosting the Logies, with his droll, cynical jokes and
commentary about the industry and its players: Like Billy Crystal from
the Oscars.

But Mr Wynne apparently feels that the Denton-style of hosting is not
the stuff a ‘night of nights’ is made of – too cynical and not
celebratory enough for the thousands of wannabes and on screen egos in
the audience at Crown.

So Eddie was given the gig, because being from Melbourne (Denton was of
course from Sydney, as was that other great disaster according to
Channel 9 insiders, Wendy Harmer) he understood the seriousness of the
occasion.

Melbourne after all has a Grand Final parade and who can forget Moomba
and the collection of media types who were Kings and Queens thereof!

No, with Eddie fronting the Logies, it’s in safe hands. Logies by Candlelight.

Peter Fray

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