Friday, 11 July 2008

Lovers of Quality Television Unite

Now, I don't want to suggest that Channel Nine have hit absolute rock bottom and they may as well sell the whole station back to Alan Bond for all the good it's going to do them but....

ONE of the most famous stories in the history of Australian commercial television is about to have its ending rewritten. On September 4, 1992, when Kerry Packer was still running the Nine Network, he ordered Doug Mulray's Naughtiest Home Video Show off the air halfway through a broadcast. Offended by the home video clips of a couple making love, and dogs and cats trying to mate with different animals, Packer telephoned the presentation department at the station and network presentation manager Michael Healy at home. There was no discussion. Packer simply said: "Get this shit off the air." So the show was pulled after just 34 minutes and replaced by re-runs of Cheers.

Sixteen years on, and three years after the death of Packer, it was assumed the program had been lost. That was until head of factual television John McAvoy went searching for it, eventually uncovering an old broadcast quality tape on a dusty bookshelf in the bowels of TCN9, in Sydney's leafy Willoughby. Now the chief programmer at Nine, Healy watched the tape and decided it deserved another airing. A date for the broadcast has yet to be decided. Billed as "the show Kerry Packer didn't want you to see" Diary reckons it will be a hit, albeit a one-off.

So, the lesson is clear. When you've tried everything and are still getting murdered in the ratings after years of being on top you turn to a clip show featuring somebody fondling a Kangaroo's klacker. The way is definately clear back to the top of the ratings at Nine. "Still the One" my arse.

The only way I'll pay this as a great moment in the history of Australian TV programming is if they wait for the exact moment that Packer dragged it off the air and do the same. Everyone will be sitting there waiting to see just what Doug Mulray had next and then *bang* off it goes and on comes the same episode of Cheers that replaced it all those years ago. Follow it with the same episode of Nightline as well if you want to be really confusing.

In case they don't have the rights to Cheers anymore may I suggest any of the other fine fill-in programs that Nine used to drag out whenever the cricket would end early... Night Court, Wings, The John Larroquette Show, 18 Foot Skiff Racing from Sydney Harbour, Ten-Pin Bowling. The possibilites are endless.

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