Well, that was grim viewing. I’m going to come out right away and say that I’m not entirely sure what Good News World is trying to be.

Aiming for a hybrid of a sketch comedy show and Daily Show with Jon Stewart, it resembles nothing of the previous incarnation of Good News Week, and instead reeks of throwing everything it can at the wall and seeing what sticks.

Paul McDermott is still in his element. The puppet has some salvageable gags. Akhmal seems a bit desperate. The rest of the cast just appears to be tired and robbed of their dignity. Mikey Robins looks sadder with each passing scene, probably when he realises what he’s being told to wear next. Nothing says self respect like a giant bat costume.

Individually the cast have talent – I’m a big fan of the stand-up of Cal Wilson and Claire Hooper in particular – but with the new GNW it’s almost like they aren’t told what is expected of them. They come off blank and stilted, relying on props, a dodgy green screen, and cheap laughs. Mixed that in with heavy, random political comedy and I’m not really sure what audience they’re aiming for.

Damaged by the hour time slot, the show drags and hemorrhages, before finally just falling back on the one thing that they know works by letting McDermott sing a song at the close of the show. It’s been working since he belted out ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’. It’s been used as a fallback ever since.

Glancing around Facebook, Twitter, and the show’s official forums, I’m not the only one voicing my dismay. the majority are expressing their desire for the return of the old program’s format. Few can recall ever asking for anything resembling ‘all new’.

I get all nostalgic when I think of Good News Week. Back in 1998, I caught the train to Sydney from my stomping grounds in Newcastle and sat in the audience of a taping. Young, innocent, eighteen years old, the comedy was edgy to me, the comedians were eager. Oh, how I laughed. At the end of the show, I ran down to the stage and grabbed one of the newspaper clippings that Paul McDermott had thrown as he yelled ‘and that’s the good news!’ And it was good.

Channel 10 clearly felt the ‘brand’ needed a facelift, and that’s what this is. A scary facelift. We’re talking way past Mickey Rourke, this is somewhere in the field of Jocelyn Wildenstein. Good News Week had deserved to die with dignity, if anything. Good News World is putting Mikey Robins in the horse costume. And then kicking it.

Update:

Last night’s ratings seem to indicate that 590,000 viewers tuned in to watch GNW, down from the 870,000 lead-in from the Can of Worms finale.
A tweet by GNW writer Dave Bloustien reads “Some tweeps liked it, some didn’t. But don’t complain it’s not ‘Good News Week’. That show wasn’t coming back in 2011 either way.” I think given the alternative…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTg1Bhtrshg[/youtube]