It's The Radio, minus the hits

Last updated 12:23 11/02/2013

What is the nicest thing I can say about The Radio, which started on Friday night after the new season premiere of 7 Days? I guess things can only get better from here. I mean, they sure couldn't get much worse.

(Warning: spoilers from Friday's The Radio and Sunny Skies follow.)

To be honest, I'm actually surprised by just how bad The Radio was: easy, predictable joke after easy, predictable joke, most of which took potshots at the mainstream radio industry (with the exception of a few decent programs, a pretty easy target to start with), all while a live studio audience half-heartedly chuckled along at the supposedly right moments.

Paul Ego and Jeremy Corbett star as fictionalized versions of themselves who are employed by a radio station, named The Radio, to front the breakfast show, after moving from Hevvy FM and Lite FM, respectively. Urzila Carlson appears as their receptionist, Urzila. The Edge FM DJ (and occasional 7 Days panelist) Vaughan Smith makes a couple of brief appearances as the nameless, faceless station manager.

20130211I actually don't have a problem with the cast; Ego has gotten better every year on 7 Days, Corbett is at least likeable, even if many of his pre-written jokes as 7 Days host are more groanworthy than laughable, and Carlson and Smith are entertaining as panelists who often provide the highlights on the hit comedy show.

Sadly, they don't have much to work with here. One lengthy sequence has Ego and Corbett debating whose name should be first - Ego argues that the short name goes first, like with eggs and bacon (see, it's funny because nobody says that), while Corbett believes he is the bigger name star.

Another sequence has them choosing the music for their show - a laughable proposition, since I think it's fairly common knowledge that music decisions on radio aren't made by DJs - and flicking between the heavy sounds of Metallica and the light sounds of Shania Twain, before compromising with Nickelback.

Maybe the problem is just that the radio industry isn't good comedy terrain? Several times during the show - some of the decision making between the pair, the complaint that there isn't enough music, those increasingly lame station identification sound bites ("The Radio, making your day 28% better") - I found myself just nodding at the screen.

I can't say I'd be surprised if some of the country's bigger, middle-of-the-road stations actually operated this way.

I suppose the show could better. I mean, anything is possible. You'd have to think Ego and Corbett, who also serve as writers (the show is based off a successful live show the pair performed during last year's comedy festival), have used up most of the obvious jokes. It's not completely ludicrous to suggest that it might get better. Though I'm not confident it will.

Look, I get that TV3 wants to capitalize on the success of 7 Days by using the various cast members and panelists in other projects. Ben Hurley and Steve Wrigley have a show coming up later in the year, too. But this is a huge miss, invoking the mid-1990s vibe of Melody Rules, instead of capitalising on the successes local comedy has enjoyed in recent times (including the vastly enjoyable Sunny Skies, which aired earlier in the evening*).

Furthermore, the shows need to be smarter; I've written before that 7 Days is leading the charge in a kind of "golden era" of Kiwi comedy on television - based on a single episode, and assuming it doesn't improve, The Radio can only be seen as a massive step backwards for local, scripted comedy. It could definitely hurt local comedy in the long run.

What did you think of the first episode of The Radio? Do you think it can improve?

(*) I'll be reviewing Sunny Skies at length next week ... but I will say that I enjoyed it.

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