Saturday, February 11, 2006

A New Golden Age?

A couple of things struck me, while I was going through The Age Green Guide on Thurday to see if there was anything remotely worth watching coming up in the next week. Apart from Desperate Housewives, which would be much improved if they dropped Teri Hatcher's character Susan, and gave us more of Gloria Cross as Bree, there's not much. Scrubs has disappeared from Seven's programming schedule - last week's episode, of which more later, was screened at 1.40am Wednesday, Seven's usual dumping ground for programs that turn out to be too clever for the commercial stations' preferred demographic - people who like crap TV so much that they'll even sit still during the ad-breaks. The absence of Scrubs from the programming schedule was thing number one.

Thing number two was a review, by Jim Schembri, of a coming episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Jim writes:

For a first-class demonstration of just how far ahead of us the Americans are when it comes to post-PC comedy, you simply must check out this golden episode from season four [of this series].

If, as Jim's remark implies, we are now in an era of post-PC comedy, it obviously comes after an era of PC comedy, preceded, in its turn, by an era of pre-PC comedy (see Figure 1).

TV Comedy Timeline (Australia)
Era Major Events/Comedy Shows



10 years BP

Late Pauline Hanson's maiden speech in Parliament ends the PC era in Australian Politics.


Early The Big Gig

Late The Naked Vicar Show, Kingswood Country, The Comedy Company, The Gillies Report (proto-PC or full-on PC?)

Middle The Mavis Bramston Show

Early Dawn of television. 50 yrs BP
Figure 1.
As you can see, there's still a fair bit of work to do on the timeline. At the moment it's an open question whether we've got to the Late Post-PC era or whether in fact we're still struggling to get through the Late-Middle, or worse yet, the Middle-Early or even the Early-Early. Some might maintain that we're still in the Late-Late-PC. Wherever we are, last week's episode of Scrubs showed that there's a way to go yet.

Sure, it featured Michael J Fox, an actor with Parkinson's Disease, playing Doctor Kevin Casey, a doctor with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Which ought to get it plenty of Post-PC cred points - what could be less politically correct than casting an actor with a well-known degenerative illness as a doctor with a chronic behavioural disorder? And then playing it for laughs for most of the episode. Unfortunately Scrubs has too many PC hangovers - an ethnically diverse cast of characters, female characters with careers and so on. The most absurd of these PC inclusions is the dwarf janitor, who regularly beats his less vertically-challenged colleague in roof-top wrestling matches. And all the post-PC cred the episode picked up with the string of OCD jokes was blown away in the final scene and the preachy "philosophical" final voice over.

To finish, I'm inviting anyone who can scrape together the least skerrick of interest in the subject to nominate TV comedies and significant events that should be included in the TV Comedy Timeline.

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