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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Thank The Lord For Your Presence # 4

Last night saw the fourth episode of Thank God You're Here (TGYH).

Is it just me, or is this show already losing its edge?

Hopefully it was just an off night, or perhaps I was simply a little tired when I watched it (although I thought that'd only improve my viewing experience). I dunno what it was, but returning guest stars Angus Sampson & Peter Rowsthorn, and new special guest stars Santo Cilauro & Robyn Butler (the latter two predicted by yours truly in my post three days ago) seemed less-than-hilarious.

I think somehow we were missing the Frank Woodley / Shaun Micallef "loose cannon" / "professional ad libber" element. Robyn was really no better than Fifi Box, although granted, Angus and Santo didn't let her or Peter get much of a word in during their group scene at the end, there.

Santo even reverted to the script from an old Late Show sketch about the Drive Thru window for a Catholic church! It was almost verbatim! I'm not for a moment suggesting that he knew in advance what would be coming and looked up the old scene's dialogue (although he is one of the writer-directors of both shows), because I've done some acting in my time and I know how the dialogue from a much-loved scene can stay with you for years - particular if you were the one who wrote it - but it strikes me as odd that he decided to "go there" and consciously re-hash old material. Didn't he think anyone would remember? It was almost word-for-word! I certainly noticed!

Santo's solo scene was okay, with him not sure whether or not he should be making moves on the woman in the bed attire (he was playing the role of a plumber), but by the time he got around to deciding either way, the scene was almost over. The actress didn't give him many clues, though. I (like Santo, I'm sure) expected that if he made a suggestive comment, she'd embarrass him by making it clear he had the wrong idea. Santo also has a bit of a tendancy to talk and stutter over everyone else's lines (and he always has), so the actress in this scene (as well as everyone else in the group scene) had a hard time getting their lines out on occasion.

Peter did a great job of science fiction spaceship captain (putting one in mind of - but staunchly omitting any reference to - Star Trek). His crooked hand and off-handed commands to his crew members to "put them in the beta quadrant and let's get out of here" made me laugh.

Robyn had excellent set pieces (including big copies of a movie poster hanging from the walls, advertising the fictitious film, A Time To Die (or something like that) and featuring her face - I wonder if she got to keep one?), and amusing questions being asked of her by the ensemble cast at her 'film actress' character's press conference, but she failed to do any more than just barely keep her head above water. There was basically no initiative shown here. She didn't go above-and-beyond at all.

Angus probably did the best job of the night, closely followed by Peter, but they'd both appeared on the show before, so maybe it gets better/easier with practice. Angus' scene was as a DIY hardware store manager, being forced to fire a female employee with whom he has apparently been intimate. He went out on a lot of bizarre tangents in this scene, but at least he wasn't just reacting to what was thrown at him. Like all the best scenes, he made his own stuff up as well, and forced the ensemble cast to have to think on their feet too, in order to fit his material into the scene and yet keep it moving forward (which is the whole point of the show - and most of the fun).

Angus' work in the group scene of four Catholic priests sharing their brainstormed ideas with the head priest on how to get children back into the church (no crass puns, please) was easily the better of the four (if you exclude Santo's pre-prepared - by about 12 years - material as described earlier). He was walking around, pouring them all drinks, throwing in some updated prayers in "Snoop Dogg" language, and listing his parish as being "online". I'm glad he won (although I also could have coped with it going to Peter for his spaceship scene if necessary).

Again, the less said about Tom Gleisner's stupid judging comments, the better. His poor puns ("We have lift off") just destroy the show.

This episode marked Angus' third time on the show, so I'm beginning to wonder if the agreement they all have is to appear on three shows each, with a guarantee that the appearances will be mixed around enough to enable them all to be the 'winner' once each. If I'm right about this, Peter Rowsthorn will have to win the night the next time he appears on the show, because it will be his third (and, by that reasoning, last) appearance.

I guess we'll see if there's any truth to this theory next week.



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16 Comments:

At Thursday, April 27, 2006 12:42:00 pm, Blogger Clokeeeey! said...

Unfortunately, we keep missing the show. I've caught some tail end bits and one of the stand out things I noticed were the crappy comments by Tom G. I love the d-gen but its time for people like Tom and Santo to give it a rest. They'll never recapture the magic of the late show or frontline again. There were high hopes for this show, it was even touted as the next "i-pod". Well not really an I-pod per se but others were going to copy this concept. Seems as though it hasn't hit the mark in the way it was promised.

 
At Thursday, April 27, 2006 2:52:00 pm, Anonymous John B. said...

Bevis, I think you are being a bit too harsh on the 'players' in this show. It seems like you expect a lot from people who are essentially making stuff up on the spot. I don't think everything is hilarious, but find enough of the adlib comments funny enough to class it as a good show. Obviously not all of them will be masterful improv artists, but all are giving a great, entertaining effort.
I know you have theatre experience yourself and are perhaps not taking into account that most of the viewing audience wouldn't and so can only imagine how tricky such a situation would be for some of the contestants.
Anyway that's just my non-actors point of view or your review.
Totally agree with you on Tommy G. though!

 
At Thursday, April 27, 2006 2:59:00 pm, Anonymous John B. said...

Bevis, I think you are being a bit too harsh on the 'players' in this show. It seems like you expect a lot from people who are essentially making stuff up on the spot. I don't think everything is hilarious, but find enough of the adlib comments funny enough to class it as a good show. Obviously not all of them will be masterful improv artists, but all are giving a great, entertaining effort.
I know you have theatre experience yourself and are perhaps not taking into account that most of the viewing audience wouldn't and so can only imagine how tricky such a situation would be for some of the contestants.
Anyway that's just my non-actors point of view or your review.
Totally agree with you on Tommy G. though!

 
At Thursday, April 27, 2006 3:02:00 pm, Blogger gav said...

Now Bevis - all these TV posts of late can only mean one of two things:

1) You're hoping to be selected for the Green Guide TV blogger blurb.

2) Your butt is stapled to the couch.

Which one is it?

C'mon, out with it. ;)

 
At Thursday, April 27, 2006 7:14:00 pm, Blogger noshie said...

Any chance thatyou might be able to video an episode for me to watch when I come home? It's all got me intrigued. I could post a cheque for the tape?
Noshie

 
At Thursday, April 27, 2006 7:59:00 pm, Anonymous sbr said...

I think the key here is that the show is inherently variable. They walk a high-wire, and sometimes it won't come off. And the format doesn't give them the opportunity to cut dud segments (at least not easily): because of the "all-in" at the end, they can't just film a whole bunch over a few weeks and then cobble an episode together in editing.

I noticed Santo's use of old material too (from memory, from a sketch he wasn't in), but to be fair I think it was someone else who provided the set-up for it. There was also a semi-paraphrase during the boat sequence, when he made a comment about the boat floating "except on water." (Or something like that). This was pretty close to an old Geoff and Terry Sketch involving cladding that was fireproof, "except when you get it near flame, in which case it burns like buggery."

I've always found Santo likable and funny (more the former than the latter), but I've never seen much sign that he's a particularly great improviser. This seems to be part of the problem - Angus and Rowsthorne are great at thinkiong on their feet, but not all the others they've had on are.

Agree about Tommy G, too.

 
At Thursday, April 27, 2006 9:50:00 pm, Anonymous John B. said...

Hey, I didn't mean to make two posts of exactly the same thing! I don't feel that strongly about it. ;-)

I thought you checked these posts before allowing them to appear?

 
At Friday, April 28, 2006 1:22:00 pm, Blogger MelbourneGirl said...

i once stayed at peter rowsthorn's house in albury on the way to sydney. i accidentally left some really cool leather hoop earrings there, that i'd gotten in bali.

still pissed off about the earrings. i think of them sometimes. they were purple.

 
At Friday, April 28, 2006 4:20:00 pm, Blogger BEVIS said...

Clokeeeey, hmm, maybe that's a bit harsh. The show's still great and highly amusing - it's only the judging bit that's totally useless. And my assessment of this episode being less-funny wasn't meant to sound so scathing. It's still a very good show; I'm only measuring this episode by the brilliant first few weeks.

John B, I've thought about what you've said here and I agree that I may be being a bit unfair in my expectations. I mean, I'm still enjoying it; I just felt that this week wasn't as funny as the previous three. But I take your point and will try to keep a check on myself with future episodes.

John B, I agree with my previous answer.

Gav, I didn't even know about a TV blogger blurb in the Green Guide, but hey - if it were to happen, I'd of course be quite chuffed. As for option 2, ... ah, no comment ...

Noshie, I think that can be arranged. We haven't wiped it yet, so I'll try to leave it aside for you to borrow when you get back here. Why this episode, though? After I said it wasn't as good as the episodes that preceded it? Don't send a cheque, silly.

SBR, I agree, absolutely. They have to do the best they can, but presumably they've done their homework and sourced people who they know will do an okay/amusing job of it (and I'm sure they're given pointers on how slight pauses while they think can get an extra laugh and make whatever they then come up with sound even funnier). Now that you mention Santo's "except on water" comment, I thought at the time that that sounded vaguely familiar as well. Whether he was in these original sketches or not, he was part of the writing team and presumably they all knew the lines and jokes off by heart by the time they were aired (and certainly after they sat through them again on DVD a couple of times to add their commentary track). Isn't it funny how no one's standing up for Tommy G and the job he's doing as judge? :)

John B, this was quite funny, actually. When I originally went to publish your comment, the webpage I had open faulted and shut down, so I had to open it up again. I saw it still sitting there (or so I thought, but it turns out it was a second copy!), so I posted that straight away. And the only reason I haven't deleted it now is that I found this whole conversation slightly amusing when you read down the page. :)

MelbourneGirl, hang on -- what?? You can't just casually drop into conversation that you've stayed at Peter Rowsthorn's house and then move on! You're trying to get me going, aren't you. I'll buy you a pair of purple hoop earrings if you tell me more about this stop-off on the way to Sydney.

 
At Friday, April 28, 2006 4:23:00 pm, Blogger BEVIS said...

PS - I've just heard Fifi Box on the radio saying that she was dressed in an Amish outfit for an episode of TGYH ... which means she will be returning for a fourth appearance soon!

I think she's been on it enough (as I said in my review of the third episode), and frankly I don't like the idea that she's coming back again. I hope they can find other funny chicks to be on the show so they don't have to use Fifi and Robyn all the time.

(Not Judith Lucy, though!)

 
At Friday, April 28, 2006 8:27:00 pm, Blogger noshie said...

Any episode would be fine Bevis. I don't actually recall asking for a specific one so whatever is available. Cheers!
Noshie

 
At Saturday, April 29, 2006 12:06:00 am, Blogger BEVIS said...

Ah, sorry - I misread your above request. I'll make it a better episode, then. I know you'll love it, having a theatre background like Wifey and I do.

BTW, have you seen my email, asking you a few questions? If not, let me know. If so, hopefully you'll have a chance to reply soon.

 
At Saturday, April 29, 2006 8:17:00 am, Anonymous John B. said...

Personally I hope they do bring Judith Lucy on the show, just to see how furious you get about it. ;-)

I think that my earlier double post was due to a internet problem from my end. The page didn't indicate that anything had happened so I think I tried to send it again. Still I can try to blame you right. ;-)

 
At Wednesday, May 03, 2006 4:45:00 pm, Blogger BEVIS said...

John B, you think they should include Judith Lucy just to see how badly I take the news? Grrrr!

 
At Saturday, April 21, 2007 7:30:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How did you get your page to look so awesome??

 
At Sunday, April 22, 2007 12:12:00 am, Blogger BEVIS said...

I dunno - just lucky, I guess.

:)

 

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