Good News Week: Wikis

  

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Good News Week
Goodnewsweek2009.jpg
The opening titles of the 2009 season of Good News Week
Also known as GNW
Written by Ian Simmons, Simon Dodd, Bruce Griffiths, Dave Bloustien, Warwick Holt, Mat Blackwell, Patrick Cook
Directed by Martin Coombes
Presented by Paul McDermott
(1996 – 2000, 2008 –)
Mikey Robins
(1996 – 2000, 2008 –)
Claire Hooper
(2008 –)
Julie McCrossin
(1996 – 2000)
Anthony Ackroyd
(1996)
Theme music composer Hedgehoppers Anonymous
Opening theme "It's Good News Week"
Country of origin Australia
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 8 (5 original; 3 Revived)
Production
Executive producer(s) Ted Robinson
Producer(s) Jordan Robinson
Running time 42-63 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel ABC TV (1996 – 1998)
Network Ten (1998 – 2000, 2008 –)
Picture format 576i SDTV (2009–)
1080i (HDTV) (2008–2009)
Original airing 19 April 1996 – 2000
11 February 2008 – present
External links
Official website

Good News Week is a Logie Award-nominated satirical news-based comedy quiz show on Australian television. It originally ran from 1996 to 2000, and returned to Network Ten in 2008. It currently airs on Mondays at 8:30pm on Network Ten. Hosted by former Doug Anthony All Stars member Paul McDermott, the show has a similar format to the British show Have I Got News For You. Comedians Mikey Robins and Claire Hooper captain two opposing teams consisting of four other guest panellists, engaging in comedic games in which they are required to answer questions about the news stories of the week to score points. The name of the show is derived from the song "It's Good News Week" by Hedgehoppers Anonymous, which is also used as the show's theme music. The show aired first on ABC TV before it was bought by Network Ten in 1999. The show has spawned two short-lived spin-off series, the ABC's Good News Weekend (1998) and Ten's GNW Night Lite (1999).

On 17 January 2008, it was announced that the programme would be renewed for a new run on Network Ten and Ten HD starting with a sixth season after the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike caused many of Ten's imported US programmes to cease production. Good News Week has since been renewed for a seventh and eighth season, the latter of which is currently on air.

Contents

Format

Good News Week's format is based on that of the British programme Have I Got News For You, although host Paul McDermott says that the idea behind the show, "of looking at the news in a satirical way, the week's events, 'this is the week that was', goes back to early radio programmes."[1] Executive producer Ted Robinson has said that the show's humour is usually less genteel than Have I Got News For You as the British series is aimed at an older, over-fifty audience whereas Good News Week is most popular among the 18 to 39 age group. "We are at the rabid mongrel end of the market," he says.[2]

McDermott opens each show with a scripted monologue in which he dissects newsworthy events in a humorous manner. He concludes by declaring, "and that's the good news!" and throwing his newspaper clippings in the air, after which an air cannon expels more newspaper clippings all over the stage. The episode's six panellists, divided into two teams, are then introduced. Teams are captained by the two regular panellists, radio comedian Mikey Robins and stand-up comedian Claire Hooper. The four guest panellists consist of a combination of comedians, media personalities and occasionally politicians.

Over a series of rounds, the competing teams attempt to score points by participating in games relating to the news of the week. However, McDermott often allocates additional points such as for flattery, particularly witty comments, creative incorrect answers or to orchestrate the defeat of Robins′ team; similarly, he may confiscate them such as for heckling, misbehaviour or poor, “dad joke” type humour. Each segment is concluded by a short monologue by McDermott about the news story of game, and the whole show concluded by a monologue discussing “the good news for the week ahead”. Other than McDermott’s monologues, the show is entirely unscripted although some parts of the show require rehearsal when using certain types of props.[3]

Games

  • What’s The Story, where each team is shown a series of clips and images from a news story of the week that they must identify. This game is usually played as the opening segment.
  • 7 Days In 7 Seconds, where the teams are shown a quick montage of seven stories from the week. The teams alternate identifying each story, until the seventh story which is thrown open to the fastest responding team. At the end of the segment, the images from the montage collect on screen as McDermott recounts each story, often obscuring his face as a running gag. This game is another regular opening segment. In the 2009 finale, the game was renamed “12 Months In 7 Seconds” using stories from the year.
  • Spot The Bull, where each team is presented with a news story and must identify which of three quotes was the one actually said. A video clip of the person quoted is played to reveal the correct answer. This game occasionally appears as the opening game.
  • Strange But True, where each team is given three clues regarding a “strange but true” news story. The first two clues are represented by props, with Robins often forced to wear a humiliating headpiece, mask or costume as his clue. The final clue is a song - during the show's ABC run and the first Ten run, this was performed by one of the panellists and only lasted about ten seconds. In the current version, it lasts for a full minute, and is performed by a special musical guest act or occasionally McDermott, and sometimes the clue turns into a full musical routine involving other team members or the whole cast. The clues are presented in the second game and revisited in the penultimate game, when the teams must use the clues to determine the news story.
  • Warren, where each team is given three headlines regarding the same subject, but its identity has been concealed by the name “Warren”. In this segment, the audience cries “Warren!” following Paul’s explanation of the game.
  • Limericks, where each team must identify a news story presented to them in the form of a limerick.
  • Giving Headline, where each team is given a newspaper headline and must identify the news stories to which they refer.
  • News For The Backward, where McDermott gives each team an answer to a question about a news story, and the team must identify that question as the answer.
  • 3-And-A-Half Corners, where each team is asked questions about news from around the world.
  • 5 Second Grab, where each team must identify a news story from a short quote.
  • A Thousand Words, where each team must offer their best captions for images from the week’s news.
  • Survey Says, a multiple choice game where each team must identify the correct finding from a conducted survey.
  • Animal Magnetism, where each team is shown three images of different animals that they must match to three images of various objects or people to illustrate a story from the week's news.
  • Up-Cut, where a panellist from each team is required to rearrange words on a magnet board to make three headlines from the news of the week.
  • Dishing The Dirt, where a panellist from each team is given two possible answers for questions regarding entertainment, gossip and “filth” news.
  • Magazine Mastermind, in which a panellist from each team is given a magazine on an obscure topic to study before the show, then must answer questions about the subject.
  • Political Mastermind, in which a panellist from each team is quizzed on Australian politics.
  • Blow Up Your Pants, where a panellist enters an apparently sound-proof booth in which pieces of paper each printed with a letter are blown around the booth. The panellist must catch a letter and is asked questions where all answers must begin with that letter. Questions usually refer to both news of the week and random trivia.
  • Border Insecurity, where a panellist from each team that is an international guest is quizzed about Australian culture.
  • Target Of Opportunity, where a panellist from each team are shown images of people making news and discuss the stories in a critical manner.
  • Buzzers Of Death, where a panellist from each team compete against each other in the news topic of bizarre, unique deaths or accidents by pressing their buzzers, which trigger a small explosion in the ends of two broken wires held by McDermott. The only rule of the game is that buzzers cannot be pressed until each multiple choice answer is listed, however panellists often violate this rule much to McDermott’s frustration. At the end of the segment, McDermott brings the broken ends of the wires together, setting off a chain of explosions that usually ends with the destruction of a part of the set or injury to McDermott.
  • So You Think You Can Mime (known as Bad Street Theatre prior to 2008), where one panellist from each team is given a story from the news and must mime it for their team to guess. The story is often quite unusual for additional comedic impact. The name of the game refers to the dance show So You Think You Can Dance.
  • Are You Stupider Than A 5th Grader?, where a panellist from each team is given a question from a quiz show and three “superbly dumb” answers, of which one was actually given as an answer by a contestant. The name of the game refers to the game show Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?.
  • Couch Potato, where a panellist from each team sits on a lounge chair and is interviewed by McDermott in a mock psychiatrist-type session. The interview consists of a word association section, followed by McDermott suggesting to “go a little deeper” with questions ranging from quite random to more personal.
  • Clash Of The Titans, in which a panellist from each team face off over questions about news, politics and entertainment, where they must cry their own name as their buzzer. However, panellists often challenge this rule and end up using nicknames to match up the number of syllables in each panellist’s buzzer (as with “Wardo” and “Scottie” in a round between Felicity Ward and Denise Scott), or comically long titles and words (such as Adam Spencer’s use of “Adam Barrington Spencer” or Colin Lane’s “disestablishmentarianism”).
  • Know Your Enemy, where a panellist from each team face off over questions about their opponent, which have been referenced from Wikipedia. This game has only been played once thus far as it led to derailment of the show.
  • Hot Spot, where McDermott stands amongst the audience and asks the panellists on stage questions about the news of the week, to which they must respond with witty one-liners while standing upon a large yellow spot.
  • 7 Things For The Bin, where the panellists sit around a rubbish bin and rant about a news story which they never want to hear of again, then “bin” the story by throwing their magazine and newspaper props into the bin. However, this often extends to any topic annoying the panellist. Despite its name, McDermott only occasionally contributes a seventh “thing” for the bin.
  • Fast Money, the concluding game of the show played against a timer, where teams alternate answering questions about stories of the week until the last question which is thrown open to either team. Previously, the game has been named "Dirty Sexy Fast Money" (2008 series) and "Kevin Rudd's Fast Money" (2009 series, in reference to Kevin Rudd’s economic stimulus package). In the 2010 series, the name of the game changed each episode in honour of a newsmaker from the week.

Each episode usually features six different games, with “Strange But True” and “Fast Money” being played in every episode.

History

Initial run, 1996-2000

Robins, McDermott and McCrossin

The series premiered on the ABC on 12 April 1996, with an initial order of 50 episodes.[4][5] The ABC was initially apprehensive about executive producer Ted Robinson's choice of Paul McDermott for host. He had dreadlocks at the time, and was best known for the crude, aggressive "bad boy" character he had played in the Doug Anthony All Stars. In addition, it was doubted that he was capable of ad libbing and speaking well, as in past interviews he had usually allowed his fellow band members to do most of the talking. McDermott cut off his dreadlocks for the show and succeeded in broadening his appeal by showing a gentler, more charming side as host.[6] He has said that although he feels there are still elements of his more aggressive character in Good News Week, they are "toned down... I've got to be the generous host now, spin-the-wheel sort of thing. I'm basing myself on Mike Brady now. I'm the disciplinarian."[7] Mikey Robins was a part of the series from its beginning as one of the team captains. Both Judith Lucy and Anthony Ackroyd briefly participated as the second team captain before Julie McCrossin took on the role.[4]

The show initially struggled to gain a following, and McDermott admits that the early shows were "a little wobbly" and that he was not quite sure of the role he was supposed to be playing. "After only six episodes the critics said we were goners," says Robins. "In fact, the first publicity we got said we were axed."[8] In late 1996, while facing budget cuts, the ABC announced the cancellation of Good News Week, but later reversed the decision.[9] The series grew in popularity and by 1997 was attracting an average of 750,000 viewers nationally, occasionally beating commercial stations in the ratings.[10]

In 1999, Network Ten purchased the rights to Good News Week in a reported $6 million deal after outbidding the Seven Network, the Nine Network and the ABC.[11] The show's move to commercial television sparked outrage among some fans, who felt that this was a 'sell-out', but the show's staff expressed optimism about the change, describing it as a new challenge and a chance to reinvent themselves. Robins has described ABC as a channel that allows new talent to find their feet, and argued that as Good News Week had achieved this it was time to move on and make way for other performers. He added that Ten had allowed the writers great artistic freedom, perhaps even more than the ABC had permitted. "We can be even crueller about the Government without getting messages from on high," he said.[12] The show retained all of its stars and the majority of writers and technical staff after the transition.[13]

Among the show's guest panellists were Adam Spencer, Margaret Scott, Peter Berner, Amanda Keller, Tanya Bulmer, Anthony Morgan, Rod Quantock, Rove McManus, Johanna Griggs and Hugh Jackman, as well as several political figures such as Democrat senator Natasha Stott Despoja, then-Minister for Justice and Customs Amanda Vanstone and Deputy Prime Minister of Australia Tim Fischer.[14] Amanda Keller, a frequent panellist, advised guests of the show to "talk, no matter what... Err on the side of verbal diarrhoea because they can always cut things out."[15]

Ten cancelled the series in 2000, but early in 2001 announced that it had struck a deal for a limited series of Good News Week specials and debates.[16]

New series, 2008 onwards

Team captains Robins and Hooper

While Ten had initially intended only to bring back Good News Week as a one-off special, the short supply of US shows resulting from the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike caused the network to take an interest in developing more local programmes and the show returned as a weekly series. The revived series premiered on 11 February 2008 with McDermott reprising his role as host. Robins returned as a team captain and comedian Claire Hooper replaced McCrossin as the opposing captain.[17]

Many segments from the show's initial run, such as "What's the Story?", "Strange But True", "Magazine Mastermind", "Buzzers of Death" and "Warren", are largely unchanged, while others have been updated or renamed such as "So You Think You Can Mime?" (formerly "Bad Street Theatre") and "Blow Up Your Pants (formerly "Scattergories"). New segments include "Couch Potato" and "Dirty Sexy Fast Money", the show's weekly final challenge.

The programme is available for streaming via the Ten website, and also available for download as a vodcast. The main differences between the broadcast version and the vodcast are the presence of a larger Ten watermark in the lower right corner, and the use of generic opening music instead of the original theme song used in the broadcast version.

On 10 November 2008, Network Ten announced that a new season of Good News Week would be produced and aired in 2009.[18] In the 2009 season the final round "Dirty Sexy Fast Money" changed its name to "Kevin Rudd's Fast Money".

A new season premiered on February 1. [19]

Spin-offs

In 1998, a ten-week series entitled Good News Weekend aired on the ABC in the Saturday night time slot usually occupied by Roy and HG, who were away working in Britain at the time. The show was hosted by McDermott and featured regular team captains Robins and McCrossin. Unlike the weekly show, Good News Weekend was focussed more strongly on popular culture than the news and frequently featured musical guests and stand-up performers. The shows were broadcast live, with the exception of a few prerecorded sketches.[20]

During 1999, a second spin-off was created for Network Ten. GNW Night Lite featured the regular cast, in addition to Flacco and The Sandman. Like Good News Weekend, it was focussed on music and variety and games tended to relate to popular culture rather than current events. There would also generally be a musical act and Flacco and The Sandman would perform humorous monologues and dialogues between segments.[21] McDermott describes the show as having been "a fairly radical departure" and says that they initially struggled with it, but by 2000 had found a combination with which they were comfortable.[22]

Merchandise

Several items of merchandise were available from ABC stores including

  • Two books (Good News Week Book One, Good News Week Book Two)
  • Two CDs (Paul McDermott Unplugged: The Good News Week Tapes Volume 1, and Live Songs from Good News Week: The Good News Week Tapes Volume 2)
  • VHS video (Good News Week: Unseen and Obscene).

Reception

Awards

Year Award Category Result
1999 Logie Awards Most Popular Comedy Program Nominated
2000 Logie Awards Most Outstanding Comedy Program Nominated
2009 AWGIE Awards Comedy - Sketch or Light Entertainment (script) Won

See also

References

  1. ^ Staff Writer (2000-03-12). "Yes, Prime Minister". Sunday Telegraph. http://www.oocities.com/tangawarra/gnwart8.html. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  2. ^ McLean, Sandra (1997-09-08). "News Hounds". The Mercury. http://www.oocities.com/tangawarra/gnwart4.html. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  3. ^ Tabakoff, Jenny (1999-09-15). "Off the Cuff and On the Air". Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.oocities.com/tangawarra/gnwart7.html. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  4. ^ a b Molitorisz, Sascha (2000-04-06). "Looking For The Good News". The Age. http://www.oocities.com/tangawarra/gnwart8.html. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  5. ^ Staff writer (1996-04-10). "Review". Herald Sun. http://www.oocities.com/tangawarra/gnwart1.html. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  6. ^ Cossar, Lynne (1997-10-09). "The News is Good for This Allstar". The Age. http://www.oocities.com/tangawarra/paulart4.html. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  7. ^ Schembri, Jim (1998-03-26). "Now For The News". The Age. http://www.oocities.com/tangawarra/paulart12.html. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  8. ^ Johnston, Tony (1999-03-21). "Let The Good Times Roll". Herald Sun. http://www.oocities.com/tangawarra/gnwart2.html. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  9. ^ Staff writer (1997-04-02). "Review". Herald Sun. http://www.oocities.com/tangawarra/gnwart1.html. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  10. ^ Freeman-Greene, Suzy (1998-06-13). "The Bad Boy of Good News". The Age. http://www.oocities.com/tangawarra/paulart1.html. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  11. ^ Fidgeon, Robert (1999-01-27). "Ten's Good News". Herald Sun. http://www.oocities.com/tangawarra/gnwart9.html. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  12. ^ Devlin, Rebekah (1999-03-18). "Changing Channels". The Age. http://www.oocities.com/tangawarra/gnwart2.html. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  13. ^ Mathieson, Craig (July 1999). "News Hounds". Rolling Stone. http://www.oocities.com/tangawarra/gnwart7.html. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  14. ^ Staff Writer (2000-03-12). "Yes, Prime Minister". Sunday Telegraph. http://www.oocities.com/tangawarra/gnwart8.html. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  15. ^ Tabakoff, Jenny (1999-09-15). "Off the Cuff and On the Air". Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.oocities.com/tangawarra/gnwart7.html. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  16. ^ Staff writer (2001-02-22). "Good News For Mikey Fans". Daily Telegraph. http://www.oocities.com/tangawarra/gnwart6.html. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  17. ^ Duck, Siobhan (2008-02-06). "TV Guide: Here's good news for Aussie production". News.com.au. http://www.news.com.au/perthnow/story/0,21598,23169714-5005382,00.html. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  18. ^ Knox, David (2008-11-10). "Looking for the magic touch". TV Tonight. http://www.tvtonight.com.au/2008/11/looking-for-the-magic-touch.html. Retrieved 2008-11-10. 
  19. ^ Knox, David (2009-11-23). "Online is Good News for Good News Week". TV Tonight. http://www.tvtonight.com.au/2009/11/online-is-good-news-for-good-news-week.html. Retrieved 2009-11-23. 
  20. ^ Yallamas, Lisa (1998-06-10). "Working for the Weekend". Courier Mail. http://www.oocities.com/tangawarra/gnwart4.html. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  21. ^ Staff Writer (2000-03-12). "Yes, Prime Minister". Sunday Telegraph. http://www.oocities.com/tangawarra/gnwart8.html. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  22. ^ Molitorisz, Sascha (2000-04-06). "Looking For The Good News". The Age. http://www.oocities.com/tangawarra/gnwart8.html. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 

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