In less than a week, Karl Stefanovic will be back on breakfast TV and his Lazarus return kicks off my 2020 vision of what we need and don’t need to see on the small screen in the new year.
Fresh from settling his defamation suit against The Sunday Telegraph, which apologised publicly on December 29 for two stories published in November, Karl is the key to Nine’s Today reviving its dire fortunes.
I want him at his normal best, able to switch from his dad joke persona to pointed interviews with Scott Morrison without blinking. I want chemistry between him and Allison Langdon and the new team – Tracy Vo, Brooke Boney and Alex Cullen – that makes the bosses at Seven sit up and wonder if their breakfast TV flagship Sunrise is pale and stale.
Today has youth, diversity and hosts with hard news experience on their side. Sunrise has been able to coast this year and the reinvigorated competition from Nine ends its virtual monopoly. If that prods Seven into freshening things up, it’s a win for viewers.
What I don’t want is Langdon – gushy at her public debut as the host of Nine’s Carols by Candlelight on Christmas Eve – or anyone else on Today doing that fake Nine thing where words are over-enunciated and conversations are laboured. Let’s keep it natural for the decade.
What I want is reality TV that is either gloriously hideous entertainment – Married at First Sight that’s you, but can we please change up the infidelity storyline? – or authentic, meaningful and actually as real as the genre can get.
In 2019, ABC TV’s wonderful, thoughtful trio of Employable Me, Love on the Spectrum and Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds showed reality TV can be far, far more than a bunch of doltish Instagram wannabes claiming a confected show is their last chance of romantic happiness.
I’d like ‘experts’ who know their stuff. I don’t want to hear about journeys and people being “here for the right reasons”. I will make it my life’s mission to drain every kidney-shaped pool at mid-range Fijian resorts if Bachelor castoffs keep asking each other if they “can grab you for a chat”.
I’m sick of hearts being put on plates and the resulting show being less heart, more disingenuous drama. People watch cooking and renovation shows to learn how to cook or how to renovate, not for predictable hissy fits and budget shortfalls.
What I want is more Mel McLaughlin, Julia Morris, Craig Reucassel, Shaun Micallef, Yvie Jones and Louise Milligan, more innovative family shows in the vein of Gogglebox and Lego Masters, more provocative and socially important Australian drama like 2019’s The Hunting (SBS) and Total Control (ABC.)
I want more of Bruce McAvaney’s encyclopaedic expertise, less of his sentiment and none of the “he arches his back” claims or habit of ending every sentence with a question (“Didn’t he, Duck?”)
Let’s have less news and current affairs shows which over promise and under deliver (Silent No More) and more which provoke genuine discussion and social change. My hopes are pinned on Revelation, the ABC series which will see Sarah Ferguson interview convicted pedophile priests, to deliver that.
I want Neighbours and Home & Away to keep producing quality soap fun, children’s TV to keep evolving (Bluey is a masterclass in how to win kids over by not lecturing to them) and for us all to see something that makes us happy, moved or smarter.
Starting with Karl.