These 9 ABC reviewers are set to tear strips off other ABC shows if they don’t meet their criteria as quality television, according to Screen Time‘s host Chris Taylor.
The new Film / TV / Web review show won’t hold back with opinions just because a show is on the ABC. In fact, it was a critical review of an ABC drama that got the biggest reactions in 1 of the show’s 2 pilots.
“The studio audience said, ‘It was really refreshing to hear one ABC show bag another,'” Taylor remarks.
“Not that that it will be our brief, but where panellists think that’s merited, we certainly won’t censor any honest opinions.
“One of the rules I insisted on before signing on was that I didn’t want it to be a vehicle to say how wonderful the ABC is. If there is something on the ABC that we think is pretty average, we will say so.
“I was so pleased all of our panellists said ‘We understand the role of this show is to be honest and fearless.’”
Joining Taylor is a rotating pool of reviewers including Marc Fennell, Sami Shah, Sophie Black, Michael Williams, Benjamin Law, Nakkiah Lui, Zan Rowe, Judith Lucy and Susie Youssef.
“Australia produces good TV but it’s rarely spoken of in the same breath”
But with so many Netflix, Stan, Amazon & Foxtel international dramas up for grabs, Taylor is mindful that the scales are tipped heavily in favour of foreign fare. That’s something of a problem.
“When you are talking about the Golden Age of TV very little of it, if we’re being honest, comes from Australia. There’s a lot of great stuff out of America, Sweden and Denmark and even the Middle East,” he suggests.
“Australia produces good TV but it’s rarely spoken of in the same breath as ‘The Golden Age of Television.’
But being an Australian show on the ABC we need to be mindful that we can’t just talk about American shows. So we will look at Australian shows, whether that’s something like Pulse, or the second season of Shaun Micallef’s The Ex-PM, comparing that to his satirical work on Mad as Hell.”
Filmed with a small audience, the show is set to be ‘more Gruen, less At the Movies‘ in its approach to discussing content. It will feature 1 film & 1 TV series, drawing upon titles that are already released, rather than previewing upcoming titles.
“We think that will bring a more inclusive conversation with the audience. It’s a bit like the way Book Club works, where the audience will have had a chance to have seen the movies and TV shows we are discussing,” he explains.
“So we review Season 4 of Broad City as a platform for a more analytical discussion about a range of shows in that genre.
“It will springboard into a wider discussion about female-driven comedy shows that have really open up a whole new conversation about female sexuality. Shows like Girls, Sex and the City….
“With film we have a rule that it has to have been on for a week or two, so people will have had a chance to see it and form their own opinion and compare them with the panel.”
Taylor, who will also front pre-recorded segments such as Not on My Watch, says the show will help direct viewers to other titles they may not have seen in the tsunami of screen content. It’s been nearly 3 years since At the Movies concluded and longer still since TVTV, TV Burp and his favourite, The Joy of Sets. Only Gogglebox is proving to be a broad review hit, albeit with a different tone.
“Gogglebox is brilliantly cast to accentuate entertaining characters sitting on their couch with a bottle of wine, getting pissed and watching MasterChef,” he continues.
“Our show is rooted in a more literary foundation, which is appropriate for a show coming out of the ABC’s Arts Dept.
“But it’s closer to Gruen in the sense that it’s a panel show. It’s not 2 hosts sitting in armchairs reviewing movies. It’s me plus 4 guests each week, drawn from a pool of 10, who are rotated across the series.”
“Harvey Weinstein will probably be the biggest scandal in Hollywood this year”
While scripted drama and comedy will be the focus of the show, Taylor says Reality and Lifestyle may still get a guernsey as well as wider conversations such as how TV is (or isn’t) produced and consumed.
“Where there is a genuine phenomenon, like Sophie Monk in The Bachelorette, it could be that week’s TV review. But if it’s just Season 42 of MasterChef we probably wouldn’t do it,” he says.
“We will try to cover why we get the content we get, how it is made, who’s making it and who’s watching it. So we will look at not just what people watch, but how people watch.
“Binge watching, the full drop vs episodic TV…. Any conversation people are having at dinner parties or offices about what they are watching we’ll be having on the show.
“Harvey Weinstein will probably be the biggest scandal in Hollywood this year, so of course we will talk about it. To not talk about it would be weird for Australia’s only screen TV show.”
‘The viewing is still something I am struggling to get my head around!”
However Taylor admits he is also getting a rude shock in just how vast the mountain of content is before him.
“It’s a hell of a job! I honestly didn’t realise what I had signed myself up for! I thought it would be watching a couple of movies a week and talk about whatever show I was already watching. But the viewing is still something I am struggling to get my head around!” he confesses.
“What originally sounded like a dream gig –watching TV for a living– is already turning into something I am really struggling to juggle with the other aspects of my life! I haven’t spoken to my wife in weeks!”
Screen Time airs 8pm Tuesday on ABC.