Finally, a reality show that gets to the point in one episode!
On This Time Next Year, which premiered on Channel 9 on Monday night, overweight people become slim, the childless had twins and the wheelchair-bound walked, all within the space of an hour.
And host Karl Stefanovic was moved to tears at their achievements.
Gone are those tedious episodes in shows like The Biggest Loser where the transitions unfold at snail’s pace and there’s much talk of “journeys”.
Not in this show.
Here, the participants make a pledge to Stefanovic that, in one year from now, they will be thin, have a partner, become a stuntwoman, read 1000 books and so on.
After a brief chat they leave through a door marked ‘This Year’.
In an excellent moment of television trickery, Stefanovic then appears to walk across the set to another door marked ‘Next Year’ and asks: “Have they completed their pledge?”
Out come the participants in a speedy “big reveal”.
Of course, it’s the same set (and same suit for Stefanovic) but filmed one year later.
The stories in the first episode were powerful.
South Australian couple Luke and Sequoiah are desperate to have a baby – after 10 unsuccessful rounds of IVF. Their pledge was that, in one year, they would become parents. It’s deeply moving to hear of their struggle and everyone has their fingers crossed for the big reveal.
Stefanovic asks “Has baby made three?”, as viewers wait for the doors to open.
Well, babies made FOUR and Luke and Sequoiah introduce their twins – conceived through egg donation – and we celebrate their delight.
Then there was Brad Purdy, a 34-year-old stereotypical farmer in checked shirt and a bush hat.
His pledge is that he will find love, but not with a woman as his family and friends have always believed.
“I’m gay everybody! It’s exciting. This is who I am – take it or leave it, I’m quite relaxed about it. I’m bloody gay.
“Now I need to find a fella – I’ve never been on a date.”
— This Time Next Year (@9ThisTime) July 31, 2017
We did get a glimpse of what happened next as we saw Brad tell his family on the farm and receive their support.
He emerged one year on with a brand new look but, despite having a two-month relationship, he’s yet to find his life’s love.
It was Emma Henderson who moved Karl to tears. She had been in a wheelchair since a fall four years ago and her doctors had warned her she would never walk again.
She pledged to beat the prognosis and ditch the chair, using tremor therapy.
And, as Next Year’s doors open, there was Emma, slowly walking with the help of crutches.
While it’s a bit disconcerting to recalibrate our brains to cope with the transition and we saw no “fails”, this is contemporary and moving television. It should be another hit for Channel 9 in their “why don’t we try something new” efforts.
For those who like the missing bits, they can be seen online here.