With anticipation for this series quite high amongst fans of Get This, Tony Martin, and/or Ed Kavalee, the debut episode of Joy of Sets was almost critic proof – yet, could any show really live up to the expectations fans were putting upon it? As far as I’m concerned, Joy of Sets ticked all of the boxes.
Each week on Joy of Sets, Martin and Kavalee examine a different facet of television. While this week they looked at television opening credits (fitting, considering the fact it was their opening episode), next week they’ll be looking at cooking shows. The format seemed pretty simple, with Kavalee or Martin introducing a subject, throwing to the clip, then cracking-wise about it. Added to this was an audience participation segment which had a cute girl in the audience had to pick from three TV show concepts as to which of the three were real (the answer being the controversially memorable Heil Honey, I’m Home). There also seems to be a segment featuring a weekly guest star. Last night Peter Phelps came on to talk about the TV title sequences that he’d been visible in.
While the show was consistently funny throughout, the format still felt a little rough around the edges. This is to be expected from early episodes in the shows run, but it did feel slightly ill thought out in parts. While it was fun getting Phelps out to talk about his own opening title sequences, having him pose for his own head shot in front of a pale background had no real pay-off. It just kind of hung there. Also, the audience participation segment just felt like it’d been thrown into the middle with no support behind it as a segment. A cheesy segment title, or at least allowing that segment to run through a second round of questions would have been enough to make it feel slightly more substantive.
The one thing that kept coming to mind while watching the show is just how reminiscent it was of watching Tony Martin and Mick Molloy doing the intro on The Late Show. While Kavalee has a wildly different schtick to what Molloy offered back in the day, the control over the stage and comfort between the two performers were strikingly similar. Having Kavalee and Martin perched in their recliner chairs seemed to restrict their movement and body language somewhat, but is a necessity for the concept of the show. And speaking of The Late Show, it was also great seeing Martin doing some sketch work back on television. Something I had sorely missed.
While it would have been nice to have gotten a preview of the show (as so many other bloggers seem to have, with the exception of myself and Crikey comedy blogger Matt Smith despite putting in requests), it was nice to interact with others on Twitter while watching it live. The one statement that seemed to be echoed through the #joyofsets hashtag and also in comments made to me later that night was the question of whether Channel 9 will stick with the show or dump it before the 6 episode run is through. It seems indicative to me of the lack of faith that viewers have in TV networks of late (Channel 9 score the brunt of a lot of this flack, but they’re really not the only trigger-happy network) to see a show get through its entire run. I’d wager that while it’ll struggle against Packed To The Rafters, it is some clever counter-programming and the figures will be strong enough to see it through. But, I can certainly understand viewers concerns.
As a TV aficionado and fan of Kavalee/Martin, i’m very aware of my bias. While some segments felt slightly undercooked and the show was far too static with restrictive armchair hosting, the show is off to a very strong start. I’m sure we’ll see tweaks in the show over the next few weeks. It is great to see a commercial network take on a show like Joy of Sets (something that has a distinct ABC-ness about it). Lets just hope the ratings see it through.
Joy of Sets airs Tuesday nights at 9pm on Channel 9. It can also be seen on their catch-up service FixPlay.