It’s upfronts season on Australian television, and this week we heard from both the ABC and Channel Nine. Of the various upfronts (ABC, SBS, Foxtel, Nine, Seven and Ten), the most exciting are from ABC and SBS. They invest in new talent, a diversity of voices, and they also let their creators take a year off if they want to work on something else. Rake is only filmed when everyone involved is available, and it’s coming back in 2016 along with Upper Middle Bogan, which also took a break this year. Meanwhile, there wasn’t anything in the presentation about Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries or Utopia, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything with the ABC. Just as we didn’t have Rake or Upper Middle Bogan last year, these shows might just be taking a year off. And that’s okay! I’d prefer to have quality programming than something that feels rushed and suffers for it. I also didn’t see anything about Please Like Me, which has been wonderful this year, but that’s a co-production with Pivot in the United States.
Like SBS, the ABC invests in a variety of formats: comedy, drama, documentary and food, and I’m sure there are things I’ve forgotten. Food writer Silvia Colloca will have a new cooking show, and John Howard is presenting a documentary on Robert Menzies (he also wrote a book about Menzies and curated a gallery at the Museum of Democracy in Canberra, it was great). Luke McGregor has two new comedy shows, a humorous look at sex called Luke Warm Sex as well as Rosehaven, a show set in rural Tasmania (from which McGregor hails), starring himself and national treasure Celia Pacquola, who has done fantastic work this year.
Two new dramas were featured as part of The ABC’s upfront presentation. The first is Cleverman, described by DeciderTV as:
set in the near future where a species from ancient mythology must live amongst humans and battle for survival. – See more
Cleverman features an international cast, including Iain Glen, aka Ser Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones and the mean newspaper editor in the second season of Downton Abbey. The second drama is titled Barracuda, which is from the production team behind The Slap, focusing on Australia’s obsession with sporting heroes.
The ABC also continues to promote multiple platforms. In addition to the main channel, ABC uses its secondary channels to provide programming for children and youth. I don’t know much about the current programming on ABC3, but Blue Water High and Dance Academy were both great, so I’m not worried. Over on iview will be the second season of the hit YouTube webseries The Katering Show, as well as The ABC Comedy Showroom, in which six Australian comedians will produce pilots on which audiences can vote, which is similar to Amazon’s pilot process, from which we have gotten Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle and The Man in the High Castle.
Also, all of my dad’s favourite shows are back. I mentioned Rake and Upper Middle Bogan previously, but there will also be second seasons of shows that took 2015 off including Black Comedy, The Code and Janet King as well as Jack Irish. Shaun Micallef is returning with another season of Mad As Hell, and there will also be new episodes of The Weekly With Charlie Pickering and Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery. It’s going to be a good year on the ABC.