The 7PM Project

7pm4There was a moment at the end of Tuesday night’s 7PM Project when Shaun Micallef raced through the set to tell Charlie Pickering to hurry up and get to Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation. I tried to yell out “Wait! Stay!”  to Micallef but in a flash he was gone….

It was a fleeting reminder, in television fantasies, of what might have been. How ironic that Micallef had also previously presented news but not as we know it, on SBS’ wry NEWStopia.

It’s now been a week with TEN’s newest baby and there has been much debate about how it has performed. On this site alone it has generated more comment than any single topic (ratings excluded). That shows awareness and engagement with the product. It would be far worse if nobody had an opinion. Some critics scored its first night a Pass, just. In fairness to the show, I’ve held off comment until it had a week in the bag.

On the positives, TEN was right to try something new. Hit reality shows notwithstanding, the timeslot has been a dog for too long. It was even right to try a genre such as this. The news premise is worthwhile (more on the execution shortly). The set looks bright and lively, the live element adds a sense of danger and, individually at least, the cast are appealing.

On the negatives, it’s format, format, format. This show doesn’t know what it is yet. It’s attempted to be bold by saying it will present news irreverently. But it isn’t working well enough yet as either a news and information show, or as light entertainment. Aiming for a middle ground, so far it ends up missing both.

Central to this is a desire to cram so much information into its 30 minutes, causing news item to arrive as a mere headline accompanied by a punchline. Suggestions that the show will go behind the news or provide some analysis, even comedic analysis, are yet to be realised. On Friday a cross to the premiere of Balibo lasted 50 seconds. An interview with Tony Moclair lasted 90 seconds. Putting less on the running sheet would allow more food for thought, unless this is a smokescreen to disguise the possibility the team has little depth to offer (none of which would be their fault, they are hardly experts on these subjects).

The hierarchy of news items is also questionable. On Thursday the Miss Australia winner ranked higher than the charging of a mother over the murder of her disabled son. On Friday the third news story of the day was a possible 5c rise in stamps. And for a team that promises to talk about the serious news it already shows a habit of avoiding many sensitive issues. One internet bullying subject was tackled, with Ruby Rose talking about her high school experiences and advice from Dave Hughes to “Just don’t do it.” Hiring a News Editor in journalism could address some of these points.

The live element has kept the team on their toes. It’s been a week distinguished by shaky cameras, presenters not knowing which camera to address, talking over one another, pregnant pauses, vision switching issues and three network cross promotions. Nine’s THIS afternoon showed just how difficult it is to talk about news events and so far The 7PM Project demonstrates it is yet to show the way forward.

The casting of the five personalities is yet to prove diverse enough to warrant a nightly conversation with the audience. Unlike the robust debates on Q & A, there is little black and white here. Dave Hughes is a funny guy, Charlie Pickering is a likable guy, but so far there isn’t enough to justify why their opinions, or those of the other cast, warrant a nightly visit.

Bickmore’s sing-song voice-overs accompanying video packages are too light and too identified with Rove, undermining her television shift as a serious newsreader. There is a reason female newsreaders have an Alto vocal range -to add gravitas.

It is hard not to compare the show with TEN’s former Panel, which similarly borrowed many elements from radio. That show benefitted not just from a later, weekly and longer slot but also a thoughtful discussion that took time to smell the roses. 7PM could do a lot worse than read all the news headlines at the top of the show then work out which ones it was going to dissect for the remainder of its airtime with some insight. Radio does it all the time.

That said, TEN should stick with the show, even with some lowly figures. It’s still a good idea if it is allowed some fine-tuning and addresses its news make-up with more conviction.

3_starsThe 7PM Project airs weeknights on TEN.

72 Comments:

  1. I heard you say that if you still wanted to get tickets to see Oprah in Sydney to ask you nicely for two . I would love to go and missed out on the ballot. Hope i’m lucky, Love Pearl

  2. The Only Problem if they change the timeslot and call it the 7am Project.What would they do for something to follow Neighbours?Friends,Seinfeld,The Nanny,The Simpsons,Mad about You,Everybody Loves Raymond And Almost Every other long dead sitcom has been done to death a million times over.They would have to go back to the drawing board and start from scratch.Worse They could do is put on Jerry Springer

  3. Mel and Michaela

    hi, *waves*
    We are attending Drouin Secondary College, and we are currently in publications, which enables us to write articles on real life situations and true stories for the College Knowledge which is our School Newspaper, and its 100% free. Our article is about, if real people can contact their heroe’s, we thought that it would be a great oppurtunity to contact you guys, and see if we could get an interview, maybe even be skyped on air, or even better attend the show and interview the cast on what it’s like to be famous. we would muchly appreciate a reply, a.s.a.p
    much regard Mel and Miki

  4. Bored TV Viewer Melbourne

    This show is terrible. Dave Hughes is way over exposed on radio and television these days, there is no escape from him. The man is not pretty and doesn’t have a great voice.

    Where is the new talent? Why do these shows try so hard to be so overly “ocker”?

  5. I am loving this show. Granted when it started it was like a headline roll call but in the last week it has been pretty cool. Interesting and funny. They’ve slowed down, started discussing topics not just reading the headlines. I think Charlie is great and his voice over works much better, Carrrie is kinda cute doing a fine job. Mathison is gold.

    Hughsey seems to have calmed down thank god, am surprised he was so nervous last week, his comment the other night about Carrie’s pimple being the 4th guest was really surprising and hilarious. All in all, looks like they’re finding their groove. Keep it coming ten, nice work so far.

  6. I hadn’t watched the show for about 3 episodes so I gave it a chance again tonight. Sorry, it hasn’t improved. Right from the first 30 seconds of the show Dave Hughes was scratching for a tag line to his first “joke”, if you could call it that. And, why is James Mathison even on the programme? I actually feel sorry for the guy. They seem to have him on some nights just because he has to be included. It looks like the uncle you feel has to be invited to your wedding – you don’t really want him there, but he’s part of the family so he has to be there. All in all still not good enough and, despite what they are saying, I still think 10 will give it a long “holiday” at some stage from which it will never return. For those who say that will cost 10 a lot, I’m sure their lawyers would have that possibility covered in other parts of the contract.

  7. Here’s the problems:

    1) Dave Hughes. He’s had his time in the spotlight and it’s time for new talent. His voice is horrible.
    2) Carrie Bickmore – very unfunny person.
    3) 7pm is the wrong time slot for any kind of comedic discussion. Kids are still up and so i don’t really see how a proper adult discussion can occur.
    4) Seeing how it’s a 20 minute show (after ads are taken out) why not just discuss 4 stories for 5 minutes each.
    5) I’m guessing that Channel 10 think that Rove is God. Guess what? He’s not. He’s dull. Please look elsewhere for new talent Channel 10.

    Anyway, I’ll give it another month before it gets axed.

  8. Last night the 7PM Project was the best yet.!!
    Charlie Pickering did a brilliant interview with Dr Phil and seems to be more in-charge than previously.
    I hope they can keep the show going.

  9. Interestingly – reading your review David I kept thinking of that show on Sky News – 180: The Other Side of the News, where Paul Murray has a pair of talking heads on (usually different each night) and they pick a topic and chew over it for a few minutes, it’s been on a break (I think) but when it was on earlier in the year I got hooked on it – it was like a half hour of “tell us what you really think” and it was great.

    As for 7pm I have two pieces of advice – a) If no-one has anything interesting to say then don’t report a story, viewers have likely already been bombarded with news in the previous two hours not to mention throughout the day they don’t need rehashed headlines, instead pick a few stories and really debate them which means…
    b) you’re gonna have to have a strong opinion about something – one thing that absolutely gets my goat about Rove is that he is completely Vanilla, he’s tries so hard not to offend anyone and in the process doesn’t amuse anyone either – and his vanilla fingerprints are all over this.

    Having said that – ATM it’s probably the best prospect for 7pm, Two & a Half Men is done to death and Home & Away is a soap so you’re either for it or against it, but it’s by no means something I must watch, Ten needs to find something in this show that’s gonna make me wanna tune in and they don’t have it yet – but it’s early days (he says without having seen last night’s ratings yet! :D)

  10. So much better tonight and whether or not that had anything to do with what is said here (@Ben) we as viewers are all the better for it.

    A really fun show that informed me of stuff from news that I missed traveling home. I got informed and had a laugh at the same time too.

    Also as a post note… to all the Rove knockers… 5th Grader was hilarious tonight! To see Matt Preston “ponder” over the questions was gold!

    Our family enjoyed it all thanks!

  11. It’s good to see the producers of this show appear to have read and taken on board some of the comments and criticisms everyone has shared. Tonights episode was much tighter, there were less news items, the guests stayed longer than a minute and they go into the news items more and by having longer allowed more depth to the topics which seemed to produce funnier comments by the hosts. Just hope that people take another look and dont judge this show on last weeks episodes.

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