It’s a simple idea really. Can you take a bunch of non-singers and get them to warble and drive up your ratings? It worked pretty well for the ABC’s Choir of Hard Knocks. In fact it worked brilliantly.
This reality / game show hybrid chooses not to shoot so high. Nick Giannopoulis hosts the “live studio” segment of this one hour show where office and factory workers are culled by two singing team leaders to rehearse a number to perform before three judges and an audience.
The judges are Molly Meldrum and Tottie Goldsmith (both Foxtel stable favourites) and a guest judge (Ep 1: BB’s David Graham).
In the opening ep the teams are pulled from the staff at the Victorian Arts Centre and Four & Twenty Pies in Bairnsdale. In recorded footage, expect to see lots of attempts at singing in hurried snapshots. Julia Morris adds a lot of zest to this cattle call, and her opposition is pulled together by Gus Worland (An Aussie Goes Barmy). Singing tutors, choreographers and costumiers follow before the big night.
As it turns out, the big night isn’t really all that big. The studio set from Foxtel looks cheap, and Giannopoulis is overly earnest for what is essentially a karaoke night. As many karaoke patrons will tell you, they are great fun for those that are there….
The live performance element of Singing Office, with Meldrum and co looking on, looked remarkably like a performance ripped out of Countdown. The backing dancers were trying hard, the small audience was swaying along as instructed -but in 2007, music television that still looks like its in 1977 has its work cut out for it.
The two songs, Working Class Man and I Love the Nightlife (in complete Footy Show drag) were routine but the judges nearly had a hernia with their necessary enthusiasm. Molly knows a lot about music we know, but as he found out with Popstars, choosing when and where to show his expertise is a fine art.
By the end of it all, some team won, to be rapturously invited back for a final with some trophy. I can’t be sure if their boss gave them a pay rise.
Principally The Singing Office lacked the emotional through line of Choir of Hard Knocks. Like It Takes Two and The National Karaoke Challenge from SBS a few years back, there isn’t really a whole lot of outcome to this. At least in Idol the kids are offered a recording contract and a career shortcut.
This show might have more merit if it were 30 minutes shorter and if everyone involved treated it with the karaoke inanity it deserves. Or if Ricky Gervais had been involved….
If you love those Singing Star games on Playstation, this might be one for you.
The Singing Office premieres Sunday 9 Sept 6:30pm on Fox8.