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The Best TV Shows Of 2012 – Australian Shows

December 13, 2012

The Year In Review – The Best TV Shows Of 2012 – Australian Shows

The hardest part of naming the best Australian TV shows of 2012 is the struggle to come up with a handful of shows that were actually enjoyable to watch for more than a single episode. Previous ‘Best Australian Shows’ lists have been padded out with dependable titles like Media Watch or Four Corners. Letters & Numbers has even made an appearance which speaks not so much to the quality of that recently departed game show but rather to bitter mediocrity that is Australian television.

There are a handful of shows that might have made the list had I seen more of them (The Hamster Wheel was well-received this season and Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell got good reports from everybody except, oddly enough, the Green Guide who are dim at the best of times so that slight can only come as an endorsement) or if I had seen them at all (any of those boring looking but critically praised ABC telemovies). In an effort to stretch this list to five entries I was going to include Channel 9’s solid Beaconsfield telemovie but in my review I described it as “competent if not terribly memorable” and its inclusion seemed more like a slight on the state of the industry in this country.

Of the four shows to make the cut there are two I have genuinely loved and two that are admirable efforts.

Danger 5 (SBS One)


This low budget SBS comedy series is on this list because it tried something incredibly different; that it failed to pull it off is disappointing but I’ve mentioned previously I prefer it when comedy in this country dares to experiment. Danger 5 was a purposefully terrible spy spoof that ran out of steam incredibly quickly despite only running for six episodes. The problem with Danger 5 was that once you got the joke (and the first episode was the funniest of the series) there wasn’t a lot else going on to keep you around. It was, however, a nice change for SBS to let somebody other than Paul Fenech make a comedy for once.


Problems (ABC1)


Problems fell into the same boat as Danger 5 as it also had endless potential that it squandered almost every episode. Problems is funnier than Danger 5 and has gotten funnier since the premiere (I could watch David Quirk and Sam Simmons talk at each other for thirty minutes, and the more Ronny Chieng the better) but for good chunks of its running the time the show just isn’t funny. Sam Simmons has a habit of being weird for the sake of being weird with the hope that the strange-ness is somehow amusing. This sometimes works (that ATM argument is the funniest moment of the series and “Aww, I’ve never been on a plane. What’s Perth?” is my favourite line of the show) but most often it doesn’t (the bits with the bickering moth couple seem to drag on forever). Problems makes this list mostly because unlike every other ABC1 comedy to debut this year it actually makes me laugh.


Warehouse Comedy Festival (ABC2)

warehouse comedy festival

Hands down the funniest half hour of Australian television you will see this year is Celia Pacquola performing her show ‘Delayed’ as part of the Warehouse Comedy Festival on ABC2. If you saw ‘Delayed’, you already know this, but Celia Pacquola is the best stand-up comedian working in this country and ‘Delayed’ is hilarious from beginning to end. The first season of Warehouse Comedy Festival was great, and the second (still running on ABC2) has been just as good. Pacquola is the clear stand-out in the second season, alongside Michael Workman who is also wonderful. Tommy Little, Randy and Lawrence Mooney have also all been solid, with only Peter Helliar’s lacklustre ‘Snazzy’ completely underwhelming (he had an extensive bit about Excess Baggage that couldn’t help but feel dated). There are a wealth of talented, imaginative and hilarious comedians in this country and Warehouse Comedy Festival is, at the moment, the only chance they get to show their stuff on our television screens. It’s just a shame it’s hidden away on ABC2 as it’s been far funnier than any comedy to hit ABC1 this year.


Puberty Blues (Ten)

puberty blues

Puberty Blues is not just the best Australian drama of this year, or of the last five years, but the best Australian drama I’ve ever seen. Puberty Blues was everything that drama in this country never is; intelligent, funny, warm, inviting, beautiful, gripping, moving and truly great. Puberty Blues was the best thing Channel 10 did this year, it was the best thing commercial television did this year and it put to shame the mediocre drama offerings the ABC has been churning out whilst they’ve patted themselves on the back as being “Australia’s answer to HBO.” This was brave, challenging and altogether fantastic television viewing. The cast were almost perfect, and the show was filled with complex characters who felt all too real. I absolutely adored Puberty Blues, and it is easily the best Australian show of 2012.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Usef permalink
    December 14, 2012 8:42 am

    Wow, I hadn’t even heard of three of these. Now that the site is finished, where can I discover Aussie shows worth watching? It’s depressing that I only hear about foreign shows.

  2. Matt permalink
    December 14, 2012 2:45 pm

    I thought you would have considered Problems one of those all-too-niche comedies like Outland and Laid.

    • pdjones permalink*
      December 15, 2012 3:05 pm

      Oh it’s definitely another niche comedy along the lines of Outland or Laid, but unlike those two Problems made me laugh.

      • Matt permalink
        December 15, 2012 3:33 pm

        Haha, I see.
        On the other hand, I can’t find Celia Pacquola’s show anywhere on the internets. After Laid, I would have expected a slight cynicism towards her, so she must be pretty damn good.

  3. December 16, 2012 12:38 pm

    I tried hard to get into Puberty Blues but I could only manage a sort of passing interest in it. The performances were great but the story just didn’t grab me like it did to so many others.

    Not on your list but I loved Offspring. It became my benchmark for the year as far as Aussie dramas. Puberty Blues just didn’t quite meet that mark for me.

    Problems was a show I tried but it was just a bit too weird for me.

  4. Ramoneagle permalink
    December 16, 2012 11:03 pm

    Great analysis of Problems. I get a few giggles. Then it goes like a dog at a bone with obsessive stuff like the “side tit view” which as a passing reference might bring a smile and wouldn’t seem so creepy. Insights from Morgan and mate on the front lawn are uni law review guff.
    Any news re Puberty Blues II (or Change the Channel 101A+)?

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