As a title Hughesy, We Have A Problem is just asking for trouble.
It wouldn’t take much for a savvy reviewer or, presumably, any journo keen to compare ratings to have some fun at its own expense.
But the good news is the show hits the ground running. While recent panel shows from Peter Helliar and Darren McMullen have had format problems, the Dave Hughes vehicle is more simple and thus more entertaining.
Despite being squeezed into a studio barely bigger than a handkerchief (problem #1, note the shots), the chemistry of the guests keeps things crackling along.
In truth this format is little more than a 2018 Beauty & the Beast -it even has “problems” sent in by viewers (I guess via social media). The four guests, Julia Morris, Nazeem Hussain, Anne Edmonds and Harley Breen, offer a variety of answers and gags as comedic self-help. A small studio audience helps them play to the crowd -this show would tank without one.
Before assuming host duties, Hughesy opens the show with one of his droll monologues reminding us his best asset is his “everyman” quality. You’ll hear plenty about his wife, kids and dog Barkly, which have served him well as stand-up material for years. That said, since publicly buying The Block he is doomed to cop money references for life, as it belies that same quality. Good luck with that.
In the first episode the problems (via email or video question) include hiding tattoos, children smoking, facial hair, kissing and more.
Invariably each topic leads to a guest getting anecdotal, but it isn’t all merely drawing upon their stand-up schtick. Some of the best moments come from spontaneous and unscripted moments, such as Anne Edmonds trying not to answer when she last had a pash (“What in Australia?”) or prospective dad Nazeem Hussain mentioning in passing he was a virgin before he got married. Morris is especially a hoot and if you don’t know what “silent rooting” is you soon will….
The format plays with how the problems are showcased. Ricki-Lee drops by to share a personal problem, the celeb guests also bring one to the table and an audience member will also open up on an issue with their ex (yes, romance, love & sex are frequent topics).
I suspect much of this will rely on the chemistry of the 4 guests -get Ita Buttrose in there please, she once asked a viewer contemplating a stripping career whether they planned on “showing their junk?”
Given the teasing title I will identify other problems as: #2 awkward editing, however I suspect the preview I watched was not final; #3 length at 60 minutes is pushing the friendship, it would be really tight as 30 minutes; #4 a Tuesday timeslot when this show would appeal perfectly to a HYBPA? audience (and SVU has gone there instead, huh?).
When so much viewing is gunning for lean-forward TV Hughesy, We Have a Problem is defiantly lean-back, probably with your shoes on the coffee table and a stubby in the hand. On its very modest budget with its affable and confident host, this is the definition of cheap and cheerful TV, and there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.
8:30pm Tuesday on TEN.