The one thing Trial by Kyle – the most anticipated show during Ten’s bold Pilot Week – can’t be accused of not throwing everything at winning over viewers.
Thursday’s debut episode included a tale of botched cosmetic surgery, a bona fide knucklehead, loved-up porn stars and a cameo by singer Shannon Noll in his most dignified appearance since being kicked out of a strip club and working blue on stage.
On the flipside, the one thing the show can be accused of is of being a contrived imitation of other TV arbitration-based reality court TV shows.
The problem is its star Kyle Sandilands, in the guise of judge presiding over a mock courtroom.
Bizarrely, while a little bit of Sandilands on radio goes a long way, on his own TV show he was a pallid shadow of himself.
It’s weird being in a situation where you’re wanting Sandilands to ark up instead of shut up. The cushy world of FM radio gives him a long lead to showcase his dubious verbosity, but – forced to rein in his big mouth on TV – he’s like a docile shetland pony trotting around at a kiddie party.
And turns out he’s a one-trick pony. Robbed of his attack dog power to bluster and posit and bully, Sandilands is stolid, his lack of intellect sadly exposed.
Social media users were divided:
A tourist arrives in Oz,Sees our government,the Batchelor and THIS.Think about it.#TrialByKyle
— robair (@robair20) August 23, 2018
They had to put the stupid girl on with the boobs so Kyle would turn up for work #TrialByKyle
— 100% Trustable (@Scorp8) August 23, 2018
King Kyle is a legend.. can’t wait to see more #TrialByKyle
— Jacob (@Jacob20665483) August 23, 2018
The international success of similar shows like Judge Judy and Judge Rinder is the result of not just their loyal afternoon pensioner audiences but the sharp bolshiness of their (real) judges.
America’s Judge Judy Sheindlin is an experienced, whip-smart authoritarian, and England’s Judge Rob Rinder a sarcastic, nimble showman. Their polished briskness exposes Sandilands, who repeatedly asked ‘plaintiffs’ how they were.
Police, arrest this show immediately and charge it with being boring.
The thundering voiceover promised “Those who enter this court have lost faith in the justice system and seek an alternative solution”. But judging by the number of flouncing Married At First Sight contestants, social media wannabes and suburban families on the pilot, they’re more likely seeking 15 minutes of fame.
“Kyle won’t do big numbers,” a commercial TV sales executive told The New Daily.
“They simply have no promotional platform, except for The Bachelor. But I think it’s a different audience from that, so they won’t be able to translate.”
The point of this sort of show is that it’s pure sugary entertainment with a side dose of cheese, but Trial by Kyle delivers only a sense of distaste and vague regret for not having spent the hour mastering clog dancing or butter sculpting.
Exhibit A: The first case, pegged as ‘Cosmetic Surgery Hell’, and involving an “Instagram sensation” named Skye who wants $35,000 in damages to fix her failed breast augmentation.
It couldn’t have been a failed nose job because, not salacious.
Admitting she has a bad memory and “zones out” during proceedings, Skye told Sandilands she did a “contra deal” with a medical tourism company.
“I would promote their business in exchange for a boob job,” she said.
He might not be a real judge, but Sandilands grasped the concept.
“You get something, they get something,” he mused. Sheesh, this law thing is easy!
The ‘evidence’ involved Skye being vaguely racist about her Thai surgeon and explaining why she tossed aside her medically-required compression bra: “You cannot wear any outfits with it, it’s so ugly.”
Skye was clearly on the losing side of the argument but her vacuousness and great hair struck a chord with Sandilands, who delivered a gloriously legalese verdict.
“You’ve just had a s–t go. It’s s–t luck for you but you’ve defamed this company. They really do deserve an apology for you s–tcanning them. You might have been a little bit responsible,” he told Skye.
2017 Married at First Sight bully Nasser Sultan made a flouncing appearance, and a Neighbours extra who said he was kicked off the set when a rumour went around that he wanted to beat down on “the Toadfish” produced a gleaming cameo.
Sandilands raced through a case involving a dog custody battle but perked up noticeably (“Porn!”) when an adult film star accused her leading man Jayce of undercutting her profits.
The saddest thing is how much Sandilands’ offsider Anna Heinrich, who cut her TV teeth by winning 2013’s The Bachelor and is an actual criminal lawyer, is damaging her $2200-a-day professional brand.
She was reduced to shuffling papers, showing “evidence” and occasionally interjecting with points of law to beef up the show’s bona fides.
Anna, like all of us, you’re better than this.