On TV lately – 2: Molly plus Chinese (Australians and others)

Considering I as a pensioner rely entirely on free to air TV I find myself really rather well served if I put my mind to it. Lately there have been some quite extraordinary things, especially on SBS1 and SBS2, but not only. First Channel 7:

After the ratings success of Molly – 2.6 million Australians watched the first instalment – you’ll now be able to spot any TV drama producers with ease. They’ll be the ones hunkered down with a copy of What Happened When, flipping through the section on the ’70s, desperately locating their next subject…

Molly told in two instalments the story of Ian “Molly” Meldrum – do check that Wikipedia entry. Shocked that I am the same age – well, six months or so younger!


One of Countdown’s many amazing moments: “Molly” (right) with Iggy Pop.


Molly and Samuel Johnson as Molly. Which is which?

I watched the final last night. Look, it was very well made. Glad I saw it. Too many commercials of course, especially near the end – but that is par for the commercial free to air course. See Molly is lacking as a TV show but millions, including me, are hooked.

One of the more pointed – almost poignant – bits of the 1986 Richard Lowenstein film Dogs in Space is the Sunday night when the whole household comes together in mutual fascination over the Australian music TV show Countdown. No matter they’re all countercultural, mainstream-scorning punks: they need their Sunday night fix, connecting them to the wider pop world.

While Countdown (1974–1987) was clearly (even at the time) a group effort, Molly Meldrum was its heart. Meldrum was connected to many scenes and networks but far, far more important than that was the passion he displayed, often for what was clearly old tat that no-one should have made, let alone have had to sit through…

SBS 2 has offered a delightful Chinese-Australian sitcom, The Family Law.


The real Benjamin Law and his counterpart in the series, played by Trystan Go.


Family Law ensemble

I’ve loved this series, but missed the last two episodes for reasons that another post will explain. Fortunately SBS gives me another chance next Sunday on SBS2 where from 5.50pm on you may also see two amazing Chinese Game Shows.

First is The Brain. That blogger says:

The format of this round is a bit confusing. After the challenge is presented, three panelists will give the challenge a score of difficulty, ranging from 0 to 5, for a total score of up to 15. The strange thing about this is that the three panelists will often have nothing to do with brainpower/memory/cognitive science/anything relevant to the show. The judges are often “celebrity” guests such as actors, singers, and whatnot. In fact, one of the main judges, Li Yongbo, is a retired Chinese badminton player and now the head coach of the Chinese National Badminton Team. He receives a lot of criticism on the internet from viewers, who are frustrated by the fact that all he talks about is badminton. For example, to particularly impressive challengers, he will say things like “The Chinese National Badminton Team supports you!” or “I will send you a badminton bag signed by all of the badminton champions of the last decade!” etc. as if that was the greatest honor in the world. But I mean, I’m not sure what more you can expect from a a badminton coach… OF COURSE he’s going to relate everything to what (could possibly be the only thing) he knows about. As for the guest “celebrity” judges who are actors and actresses, they tend to give everyone a rating of 5 since honestly, every challenge seems so difficult to us “ordinary” folk that, how can you not give everyone a 5?

After the challenge is completed by the challenger, Dr. Wei, a neuroscience expert (probably the only judge who is qualified to be one), will give a score of 0 to 10, which is multiplied to the previous score from the three panelists. If the final score is above 80, the challenger is invited into the next round. The challenger will climb up a long staircase, do a victory pose at the top, and enter what I call the “Room of the Gods”, since its on an elevated platform.

I found it fascinating when I lucked upon it a few days ago.


From The Brain 最强大脑

And then there is If You Are the One 非诚勿扰

If You Are the One has been a ratings success in China and is now the highest-rated show for Jiangsu TV. Episodes are also widely distributed online. The show is viewed internationally over the internet and satellite television. The show’s popularity and social commentary has drawn attention of academics and foreign media, and after concerns from Chinese regulators in 2011 the show’s format was tweaked to de-emphasize factors such as financial wealth.


See SBS Lunar New Year 2016 TV guide.

Ever since the series hit Australian screens in 2013, If You Are The One has developed a mass cult following proving popular with local audiences for its earnestness and the contestants’ business-like approach to finding their life partners. Now the world’s biggest dating show has upped the ante – and in a network first, SBS 2 presents two Australian specials direct from Nanjing, China. Featuring 10 Aussie boys and 18 Aussie girls, strap yourself in and prepare for some cut-throat contestants and blunt dating advice.

Sun 14 Feb and Sun 21 Feb, 7.30pm on SBS 2