Surgeon debuts:

The Ten
Network is taking an interesting punt so late in the ratings season on a new
form of Australian drama, with Surgeon – a weekly half hour program – at 9.30pm on Thursday
evenings. On top
of that, Thursday night sees a second new episode of House (usually Wednesday
nights once a week) run, a sign the network is giving Surgeon every chance to be
noticed by viewers.

Complicating it though will be the fact that it’s up against RPA
on Nine, probably that network’s best
observational/reality program which returned last week with very solid
numbers. Running
a new episode of House in front of Surgeon will at least give it a chance to
survive the eight weeks it’s on this year. he big
risk is the once a week half hour format. Drama
is usually an hour in Australia by 22 episodes (The Alice,
McLeod’s Daughters
etc). Running
it as a half hour is a risk.

Ten has
ordered only eight eps to see if it makes a mark first
in the 16 to 39 age group and in the 25 to 54. The latter will be the big test
given the strength of RPA in that demographic. With
film actress, Justine Clark as the star (Look Both Ways) the program has a
chance on paper. Look
Both Ways
(also starring William McInnes, the big
draw card) has done very well for an art house movie that grew by clever
marketing and word of mouth about the strength of the movie and the
characters.

A blast from the past:

Guess
who’s coming back to TV screens near you next year? He’s
a blast from the past, a talented performer, if a little eccentric
and offbeat (not to mention curt-sounding, left of field
and irascible). And,
despite the continuing calls for his return to ABC local radio’s 702 in Sydney, Clive Robertson
is going to be back on ABC TV in 2006.

The
vehicle, a program called Togetherness, a weekly show of half an hour that looks at couples. Clive
recently appeared on the ABC Monday evening (6.30pm) program, Talking Heads
with Peter Thompson and reminded viewers that he is an original talent and a
person with something to contribute in the media. He’s
not everyone’s cup of tea and wouldn’t be the first person
who’d choose to host a program about advising couples. But
he’s not afraid and has a left of field approach to some subjects that
can either delight or enrage viewers. He didn’t delight Sue Howard, head of ABC Radio – Clive
was flicked without too much class late last year in a rather crude way.

How rude:
The Ronnie Johns Half Hour that was aired last night has evoked a
number of complaints to the network. They were offended
by some of the rudest sketches in the show along with the Jesus sketch and also with Chopper’s
language. One of the sketch’s was already heavily censored over the weekend according to the ACMA recent ruling on
Big Brother. The uncensored version is available for download via the jigsaw
website in the download section – click on at own risk.

Last night’s TV
ratings:

The Winners Seven, easily, with no killer programs like Tuesday’s dancing show. It was an old fashioned slugfest of standard
programming that in the end showed the strengths of all networks and their
weaknesses. Seven won because of the strength of the two and a half hours
from 6pm to 8.30pm with News (1.364 million), Today Tonight, (1.501
million), Home and Away (Number One with 1.609 million) and Beyond
Tomorrow
(1.435 million) all wining their timeslots. Then Seven fell in
the hole known as Blue Heelers and House on Ten won the 8.30pm to 9.30pm
timeslot with 1.582 million people. Nine’s best was McLeod’s Daughters
with 1.327 million 7.30pm to 8.30pm. Nine’s repeats of CSI Miami and
Without a Trace almost sank with not much of a splash as CSI Miami
was beaten by the combination on the ABC of Spicks and Specks and the
repeat of Kath and Kim. Forensic Investors at 9.30 for Seven again topped
the million viewer mark with 1.075 million.
The Losers

Losers: apart from House (which will
be the surprise hit of the year), Ten had another rough night in All
People
but it won the 16 to 39 age group in the four and a half
hours from 6pm to 10.29pm. Which is what the network is all about, as
they made clear at Wednesday’s profit announcement. Australian
Princess
sank under the million mark (926,000 from 7.30 to 8.30 pm.) The
tweenie market will have watched in droves. Merrick and Rosso’s second
program fell 11% from the premiere a week ago of 850,000 to 766,000. Hmmm.
Good thing it will be a short-run, but the 16 to 39’s tuned in, mostly
males. But M&R were beaten by The Glass House on the ABC at 9.30pm to 10pm (M&R finish at 10.05) which was watched by 801,000
people.

News & CA
Seven News
and Today Tonight won because of solid wins
in Sydney and Adelaide and the usual big wins in Perth. Nine News and A
Current Affair
won Melbourne and Brisbane. Nine News in Sydney lifted its
audience above the 300,000 mark to 332,000, but that was still 72,000
behind Seven. Seven continues to see a turn-on most nights from News to
TT, while Nine sees a small turn-off from its News to ACA on some nights.
The ABC 7pm news was watched by 1.033 million people and The 7.30 Report,
940,000 people.
The Stats Seven won with a 30.1% share from Nine with 26.5%,
Ten with 21.7% the ABC with a high 16.9% and SBS with 4.9%. Seven had wins
in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth while Nine won Brisbane by 0.3%
from Seven. Nine ran third in Perth behind Seven and
Ten.
Glenn Dyer’s
comments
Seven extended its
lead in this week of ‘normal’ programing to a 29.7% to 28.8% margin. Nice
but not comfortable. Tonight its the debut of Surgeon on ten, a bit of
adventurous programming for the network with a half hour drama. But
Nine’s very solid RPA will dominate that 9.30 pm timeslot. Ahead of it
Nine premieres a show called 20 to One, which is a lists based
program that taps into the nostalgia and life of baby boomers. Tonight’s
first ep is “Most Embarrassing Moments”. I reckon one based on music might
have been a better start, given the way that Spicks and Specks is going on
the ABC on Wednesday nights. Ten is running House ahead of Surgeon, so it
will have an unusually strong 8.30 pm timeslot tonight.

Peter Fray

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