Hey Hey the Reunion

hhr“Before we were rudely interrupted in November 1999 I was saying….” said Daryl Somers….

And with that Hey Hey it’s Saturday was back on the air.

After ten years in the wilderness the show that epitomised a golden era of Nine television was back before an adoring audience of fans who had missed it almost as much as its host.

Within minutes of returning, the hallmarks of the show were evidnt. Somers’ banter with his off-camera crew, Blackman’s one-liners inserted for a comic rise, whimsical sound effects, cheeky subtitles, cartoon gags and only a passing determination to stick to the running sheet. ‘Dags’, as he was  once affectionately dubbed by Jacki MacDonald, lived up to his nickname and the audience loved him for it.

As a reunion the show was deternmined to live in the present with just enough time to acknowledge the past. Few nostalgic clips surfaced, with the show preferring to prove its value in a modern era. Livina Nixon sat behind a laptop reading emails. Somers was grateful to Facebook’s 200,000+ followers, and the live show was the #1 subject on Twitter while it was on air.

Ironically the show couldn’t quite sync its audio during a live cross to a John Farnham concert (where Farnsy was doing gags nearly as old as those in the GTV studio), but it mattered little. It was enough to have old faces back on the telly, and Hey Hey has always celebrated being a little rough around the edges anyway.

The show’s biggest success was its return to variety and live television. Since the show disappeared it has been up to the Footy Show to keep live variety at Nine from dying. Flimsy segments including “Celebrity Head” and a MasterChef parody by Russell Gilbert weren’t particularly sophisticated, but they took us back to simpler times. Even on a weeknight Hey Hey managed to make us forget about our worries for three hours (yes, it ran overtime).

Smartly, the show was also bursting with colour. On its vivid hybrid set Hey Hey even had a kid smearing himself with Vegemite (does it get anymore Australian?), and Molly Meldrum’s dog about to attack the irascible, faceless stick that is Dickie Knee. That’s colour, movement, kids and animals. Check, check, check, check,

Its most nostalgic moment was a fondly edited split screen allowing the late Maurie Fields and his son Marty to share a gag in The Great Aussie Joke. Seeing Raymond J. Bartholomeuz (Brian Nankervis) meeting his grown up protege was also nostalgic fun.

But there were some signs of its longevity. Most of the punchlines were older than some of the audience. Several of the subtitled gags were straight out of the 1970s, with insults directed at people’s weight and appearance (they could probably fit some of the cast). Whether the show works as an on-going entity is questionable. With several of the cast committed elsewhere it seems unlikely. But such post-mortems rain on Hey Hey‘s parade. It deserves to be acknowledged for its present before bigger questions about its future. Just getting the thing on and doing it so well is an achievement in itself.

Hey Hey kept several cards up its sleeve for its second reunion: Ossie Ostrich and a still-unconfirmed return by Jacki MacDonald, as well as favourite segments including What Cheezes Me Off and Chooklotto.

For Somers the night was a validation, as much as it was for the audience who have kept the faith. Nine started the week by ‘welcoming home’ its viewers. Here it has a prodigal audience which has returned, if it chooses to keep them.

4_starsHey Hey the Reunion returns 7:30pm Wednesday October 7th on Nine.

61 Comments:

  1. Yes something original would be nice. I really think Channel Nein have started to beleive their own bs about Daryl. He might have been a good second banana to the genius of Ernie Carroll but once Ozzie left the show it definitely went downhill and needed to rely on specatcles like yet another appearance of John Farnham or a live cross to a concert. Really the only thing that made it look any good at all was that they had no competiton. If Daryl and Rove went head to head we all know who would get the ratings, for heaven’s sake even Don Lane demonstrated more enthusiasm for his guests.

  2. After reading all the comments on this page, just a short note to those who pooh poohed HHiS – you are probably all way to young to remember IMT, New Faces, Don Lane, Naked Vicar Show or Blankety Blanks. HHiS is a direct descendant of those fantastic live variety programs which showcased mainly local and some o/s acts, but allowed local talent to “cut their teeth” and learn their trade. Yes, we do indeed have plenty of talent in this country to do a live variety program, however, it seems now that TV stations are run by bean counters in brown cardigans instead of executives with artistic flair and a dash of derring do – we have been constantly fed nothing but a diet of cheap US and imported rubbish (the equivalent of Maccas, KFC et al), ie anything on Ten, 7 or 9. Rove, compared to comic genius Graham Kennedy, is a complete twit and totally unfunny, anyone who relies on “toilet humour” is just appealing to the lowest common denominator and those who like their comedy so obvious it slaps them in the face like a dead fish. Bless GTV9 for taking a chance an re-introducing HHiS – I hope they do consider bringing it back albeit with a fresher look, but don’t lose the whole premise of the show in the meantime. Fun, cheekiness, local talent and a bit of good old Aussie irreverence. All you young Gen X, Y and “why did you bother” just sit in the corner, plug in your i-thingy and twit yourselves. You are so used to being spoon fed everything that you all have lost the ability or appreciation of ad lib and are too scared to fly by the seat of your pants. Leave HHiS to those who remember and know how to use imagination and appreciate political incorrectness and humour with a double edge. Long live HHiS and welcome back.

  3. I didn’t watch it – but I thought about watching the “encore” tomorrow night – until I read countless articles about how the show and Daryl Somers have single-handledly saved the world!

    The only reason I used to watch this show in the 80s and 90s was because of Jackie McDonald, Denise Drysdale, Ossie OStrich , Molly and Dicky Knee.

    Daryl always came across like a try-hard and it was quite evident he got annoyed when his co-stars or guests took the limelight away from his gigantic ego!

    And I agree with other posters that Nine have failed miserably this year with any of their “original” shows – and have resorted to tired repeats of 2.5 men and nostalgia shows like 20 to 1 and now HHIS!

    Should be interesting how the second reunion show goes – Daryl got Denise fired because she was funnier than he could ever dream to be .

  4. i just want to say, about time some real family television came back!
    It made a night worth staying in to watch!
    I hope they bring it back for good!
    Well done Nine for bring back Real Entertainment

  5. The best thing for Nine to do would be to bring Hey Hey back for 3 short series during the year. Say 4 weekly shows at the start of the year, 4 in the middle and 4 at the end of the year. A total of 12 shows for the year.

    This gives a good balance of some momentum but also not over exposing the format. whether the logistics can be done is another thing but for those such as Red and molly etc short series may enable their involvement.

    I seriously think that a long 40 week run during the year will be stretching it for visiting talent and also keeping the show ‘fresh’ (as much as it can be) and with big impact.

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