Well,
it hasn’t taken long for the Nine Network’s “drama curse” to strike once
again. Its
once promising series, The Alice, has been killed off with a move from the
prime time slot of 7.30pm Mondays to the graveyard of 10.30pm
after next Monday night. And it
hasn’t been renewed for 2006.

More headaches for Nine management and the $4 million
man, Sam Chisholm; they will have to search hard to find local content to meet
the regulated minimum number of hours for local drama (more
repeats?).

The
Alice’s

impending demise was clearly on the cards after Monday night’s performance when
the audience slumped to well under 900,000. Nine
has also been “reprising” The Alice on Saturday afternoons to no effect.

It is a
great shame this has happened. Nine had a very successful hit last year when
1.83 million people on average watched the telemovie. The
producer and writer of the telemovie, Robyn Sinclair,
was supposed to be working on the series, but after artistic differences, she
departed for Italy and a much gentler
life.

The
series as it eventually appeared was the creation of a second production and
creative group, with input from Nine’s head of Drama Posie Graeme Evans. This
decision will not be good for her as the arrival of Sandra Levy approaches.

On top
of the problems with The Alice, Nine has changed the way McLeod’s Daughters is
looking, with the introduction of three strong male characters to offset the “daughters.” Strong
female characters are a characteristic of Posie
productions. Little Oberon, the successful Nine telemovie of 10 days ago was in the same genre. Just over
1.5 million people watched that.

Nine’s
lack of success with drama is legendary. Waterloo Station comes to
mind. Chances, Pacific
Drive
: all turkeys. Perhaps
its strongest dramas were productions like The Sullivans and Flying Doctors, or police dramas like Water
Rats
. There
are a host of failed Nine dramas over the years. It’s a
pity The Alice,
such a good idea in the telemovie, has joined this
list.

Peter Fray

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