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Australian TV News
First Half, 2001


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28th June, 2001

I received my July Foxtel Guide earlier this week, but first let's have a look at the FTA schedule.

The primary ratings season is coming to an end. Most first-tier shows are coming to the end of their 22-episode runs over the next few weeks. First to go is The X-Files, completing a fairly ordinary season tonight. But other series will follow over the next four to six weeks. This is a time of instability for the commercial networks, as new shows will often be held so all new shows can start at roughly the same time.

That notwithstanding, there's surprisingly few changes to next week's schedule. The X-Files is predictably replaced by Good News Week Debates (as if GNW still had some meaning after the show's cancellation). Next Wednesday, Just Shoot Me!, Buffy and Angel are all pre-empted, though for different reasons (of varying validity). And Wimbledon is still pre-empting the various Star Treks.

Next Thursday on Seven, World's Greatest Commercials inexplicably pre-empts the first session of the First Test! Now that's just stupid programming!

There's no excuse for Seven's schedule round-robin since the cricket started. First, they pre-empt Buffy and Angel for some other show's two-hour episode, but they refuse to do the same for the cricket. And they play AFL over the first half of the cricket final (as if some 12th round football match is more important than the final of a cricket series -- the nerve!). Then Buffy is again pre-empted by a gratuitous screening of Titanic on a Wednesday night (shoring up ratings in anticipation of poor cricket ratings? That's also very dumb). Finally, an obvious filler programme pre-empts the first session of a historic Test series.

I'm sorry Seven, I have no respect remaining for your programmers at all.

Foxtel in August

On to happier things. A number of shows are having their timeslots slightly modified in July, and some new shows are turning up. Read on for the full brief.

First up, remember the South Park (seasons three and four) marathon is on thecomedychannel this Sunday, followed by a couple of South Park specials.

FOX8: Family Guy stops its run at the same point as last time, eight episodes short of the end of Season Two. I've no explanation, unless it's something to do with Seven (that channel, again) preventing FOX8 from screening episodes it can't be bothered to show but still has rights to (at the moment, I'll happily ascribe such insensitive behaviour to Seven). Ellen will take the timeslot, stripping from the show's first season, 8:30am weekdays from the 2nd July.

Ellen gets a second stream at 6:30am weekends from the 14th.

The Visitor finishes its run and loses its Monday 8:30pm timeslot to New York Undercover on the 9th (but keeps its other stream).

Millennium loses its 11:00pm Sunday repeat timeslot to Deep in the City on the 15th, but stays on at 1:30am Sunday mornings, returning to the start of Season Three on the evening of the 7th July.

The Simpsons loses its 6:00am timeslot but the stream continues, now confined to just 6:00pm daily.

Fox Kids: As already alluded to, Fox Kids have picked up Farscape, and added repeat timeslots for Hercules. In fact, it's even better than that.

Farscape will air in two streams: the first at 6:30pm Saturdays (from the 7th July), repeated 2:00pm Sundays; the second at 7:30pm Tuesdays and Thursdays (two different episodes, from the 3rd July). The episodes will be shown in production order (a world first). This can be determined from the schedule at GEOS or by examining the production codes at epguides.com.

Hercules will air at 7:30pm Saturdays (from 7th July), repeated Sundays at 3:00pm and Wednesdays at 7:30pm (from 4th July).

TV1: Xena gets a repeat timeslot! Tuesdays at 2:00pm. So if you're like me, and you watch Friends on a Monday night, you'll no longer have to worry about clashes with Xena. Just set the VCR on Tuesday.

Mad About You is also moving its Saturday timeslot to 5:00pm Saturdays and Sundays. The move to 5:00pm happens next week, but Sundays won't kick in until the 15th (including a subsequent midnight repeat). Since the Sunday timeslots are fillers for short "Groovy Movies," they won't appear every week. But when they do appear, a different episode will air Sunday from Saturday's.

FX: Two episodes of Caroline in the City appear to have been skipped recently, although its possible that different episodes have screened in the 6:30pm and repeat timeslots. Either way, if you've only been watching one of the two timeslots, you will have missed two episodes (if anyone else noticed this, I'd love to compare notes).

In any case, that's it for repeat timeslots. Caroline moves to two episodes a weekend, 1:30pm Saturday and Sunday, from next weekend. And it'll be back to the first season on the 14th (ie: FX don't have rights to Season Four). This weekend, the 6:30pm episode will be repeated Sunday at 1:30pm.

Suddenly Susan takes over from Caroline (at least in spirit), starting Saturday, 7th July at 6:00pm, repeated at 11:30pm. The second episode will air on Sunday at 6:00pm with no repeat. This pattern should continue.

That's all for now.



21st June, 2001

Wimbledon's pre-empting the Star Trek franchise next week (and probably for a week or two more) on Nine. But the ABC is repeating Wallace & Grommit's adventures, starting next Monday at 6:00pm for three weeks.

So, what's going on with the cricket?
If you've been following the cricket, you'll have noticed not only a lack of commitment from Seven, but also some pretty ordinary graphics. Unfortunately, there seems no reasonable expectation of change, but it might be worth at least letting Seven know your opinion, if it's something you care about. First, though, it might help to understand what's going on.

As far as commitment to the sport, this appears to be a decision of the finance people, one which has been taken completely out of the hands of the programmers. My understanding is the "bean counters" are unwilling to put high-rating shows on hold for something they've decided must rate less. This seems a rather facile argument, and assumes people watch television continuously, rather than tuning in to particular shows. That is, they're quite willing to sacrifice Buffy and Angel for a Blue Heelers double episode last night, without realising the demographics for the shows are largely independent. But they're not willing to do the same for the cricket. In my view, they're losing viewers for the cricket, as few people are prepared to stay up on purpose to watch it, whereas once hooked early in the match, they're much more likely to hang around for the finish. But what do I know?

Well, apparently quite a bit. Seven agreed with all my suggestions for improving the graphics for their cricket coverage. Admittedly, that's pretty close to what I do for a living.

The problem with the graphics seems to be that Sky Sports in the UK have designed their coverage to work with both digital (16:9) and analogue (4:3) aspect ratios. But the way they do this is to keep graphics away from the left- and right-hand edges and show a full-height image on an analogue screen by chopping off the sides. Seven has instead decided to show a full-width picture on its analogue broadcasts by adding black lines to top and bottom. Personally, I prefer to see a wider image, but because Sky Sports didn't design for this, the graphics are quite problematic. For one thing, the graphics are too close to the middle of the picture. Even worse, the smallest of the font sizes they're using cannot be read on my 51cm TV (coming off a Foxtel feed, so it's average picture quality). Foxtel cricket viewers would already have noticed, during the 1999 World Cup, that the font sizes used for cricket in the UK are pretty small to start with, but shrinking them further, as Seven has inadvertently done, makes numbers particularly hard to read. The colour scheme doesn't help much, either.

Seven argues that the graphics package has been supplied by Sky Sports and that they can't change it now. My counter-argument is that Seven is a paying customer of Sky Sports (in a way that a viewer is NOT a customer of Seven), so they should make their dissatisfaction known very vocally, pushing for changes before the Test series. But my impression is that either Sky Sports is too tough for the puny market that Seven represents, or that Seven's a very weak-spined customer.

Prove me wrong, Seven; get it fixed for the Test matches!

In the meantime, the majority of the One Day Final is on Saturday night.



18th June, 2001

A little digging has revealed good news for science fiction fans on Fox Kids. Farscape premieres on Saturday, 7th July at 6:30pm, pushing Hercules back half an hour, to 7:30pm. To make both shows easier to catch (kudos), they'll also be repeated on Sunday at 2:00pm and 3:00pm, respectively.

Those of you following Hercules will have noticed that an episode was skipped a couple of weeks ago. This was apparently a sort of "behind the scenes" special that contributed little to the show and constituted an unwelcome interruption to an excellent, ongoing story-line. It'll show up in repeats, but if you feel hard done by, let Foxtel know, perhaps suggesting they drop it in at the end of the season.

In any case, Fox Kids now have the rights to all six seasons of Hercules, the eight-episode run of the last season due to start in September.

Other mid-week tidbits are a bit of a mixed bag. The rights to First Wave (the first season of which screened on arena a few years ago, later picked up by Seven) have been discontinued by arena. Sadly, they have no plans, at the moment, to pick up further seasons.

In contrast, The Pretender appears to stand a pretty good chance of being picked up by one of Foxtel's channels, though no definite plans are in place (a bit of gentle nagging might help).

But the situation for The Practice is less pleasant, with FX's strip ending last week. FX have no further plans for the show in the next couple of months, though FOX8 will continue with its current, Sunday timeslot. Apparently, the rights have expired to the early seasons, leaving those who, like me, came late to this excellent show, somewhat out of luck.



7th June, 2001

Lots of cricket on FTA over the next week, though Seven's not showing all of it live, I hear.

On Foxtel, don't forget the UK Comedy Top 50 (UK TV) and Brady Bunch (TV1) marathons this weekend. Also, it turns out that, although Family Guy is indeed stripping on FOX8, weekdays at 8:30am, it's not showing on Saturdays, as shown in the printed Guide, instead replaced by Cops.

Finally, some advance news on Millennium (FOX8). Season Three wraps up on Sundays early in July, the timeslot then used otherwise. But Millennium will return in August, Wednesdays at 10:15pm, back at the beginning of Season Three (rights to the first two seasons having expired). Incidentally, the new timeslot suggests some rearrangement of the schedule on FOX8 in August.



31st May, 2001

There's a couple of great French movies on SBS over the next week. Tomorrow night at 10:00pm, we have Visitors II: The Corridors of Time, a slapstick, semi-mediaeval comedy starring Jean Reno (The Professional, Godzilla). Next Tuesday, the excellent sequel to a superb original (later converted to an unremarkable Hollywood piece), Ripoux Contre Ripoux airs at 10:00pm (Note: "ripoux" comes from a peculiarly French form of slang, where the syllables are reversed to disguise a derogatory term, a bit like pig's latin. In this case, the source word is "pourri," meaning "rot".) Finally, on Wednesday at 10:00pm, Juliette Binoche stars in The Horseman on the Roof, which I haven't seen yet, but did look interesting from the ads.

If you're less culturally inclined, the one day cricket series kicks off in England next Thursday night, with England playing Pakistan from 11:20pm. This is a day/night match, so it won't test Seven's resolve to air complete coverage too much -- the next few matches will be the real tellers. The late finish time might seem to contrast the 3:00am finishes of the 99 World Cup. This is because that series didn't feature any(?) day/night matches. This time around, there's three (out of ten).



28th May, 2001

The June Foxtel Guide arrived on Friday, and here's the low-down.

FOX8: The Family Guy returns to FOX8 in June in two timeslots: stripping weekdays at 8:30am from Monday the 4th; and Saturdays at 5:30pm from the 2nd.

Third Rock From the Sun gains a repeat timeslot for its weekday strip, showing at 7:00am and 6:30pm weekdays from Monday, 4th June.

Monday's X-Files Double timeslot will move into Season Seven on the 18th June.

The Saturday 4:00pm timeslot of Earth: Final Conflict disappears in June, effectively slowing the weekend afternoon showing so it doesn't overtake Friday nights before Season Three becomes available.

And Millennium's Sunday night timeslot is pre-empted on the 24th.

TV1: A new timeslot for Xena, at 7:30am Saturdays, will be showing two episodes each week, starting with the second episode of Season Two on the 2nd June (the first episode having been previously used at the end of a Season One run).

That evening, the Star Trek repeats for all three series move from Sunday mornings to Saturday nights, from 1:30am to 4:30am.

However, there'll be no Star Trek (of any sort) on the weekend of the 9th-10th, making way for a Brady Bunch marathon, running through to Monday (hence also pre-empting Mad About You on Saturday and Monday).

All three streams of Mad About You change seasons in June, the weekday strip moving to Season Two on Wednesday the 6th (and also picking up a pre-repeat timeslot from Monday the 4th, 5:30am in the morning). The Saturday 6:00pm timeslot moves on to Season Four on the 2nd June; the Thursday 7:00pm & 10:30pm timeslot moves back to Season One on the 31st May.

However, Xena loses its Tuesday Lunch Box repeat. Monday's episode will be repeated at 1:30am on the 11th June, but this timeslot sadly seems to be a one-off.

In any case, both Xena and Star Trek: The Next Generation will be pre-empted in the first week of June by The TV1 Pentium 4 Top 40, Monday 4th to Friday 8th at 7:30pm and 11:00pm (except Friday).

thecomedychannel: Prepare yourself for a Dilbert marathon, Sunday 3rd June from 4:30am (awks!) to 7:30pm. If that's too much, Dilbert's also back in a more conventional timeslot, 5:00pm Sundays from the 10th June.

South Park also gets its own marathon, featuring Season Three on Sunday, 1st July from 3:30am until ... well, we'll just have to wait for the July Foxtel Guide to find out when it ends.

Unfortunately, The Games will not screen in June, ending its run half-way through the second season.

FX: The weekday strip of The Practice also ends -- last screening on Friday, 15th June. Hopefully, FX will schedule it a more normal timeslot.

UK TV: Finally, from Saturday the 9th to Tuesday the 12th, UK TV will be screening the Radio Times Top 50 Comedy Countdown. It's probably all too much, packing so much British humour into one weekend, but the good news is, UK TV have continuing rights to all these shows. So if you see something you like, look out for it elsewhere in the Guide, or in the future.



25th May, 2001

This weekend, we see the start of the manga series, Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040, on SBS (Saturday, 8:30pm) and a double episode of Will & Grace on Seven (Sunday, 7:30pm). Monday, Nine entrenches the second episode of Sex and the City, listed at 10:10pm (a repeat, of course, to follow the new episode).

The big news, though, is the cross-over on Seven, between The Practice (Monday, 9:30pm) and Gideon's Crossing (Wednesday, 9:30pm). I'm sure they'll advertise it enough that it'll be hard to miss, but those not used to tuning in to one or the other will need to make a special effort. Voyager is also delayed to 12:15am next Wednesday night.

On Foxtel, I was surprised to see Night Stand last Friday at 8:00am on thecomedychannel. Turns out, the listing for Ned & Stacey weekdays at 8:00am is a misprint. In fact, we won't see this pair's antics again until September, at the earliest. Meantime, enjoy Night Stand.

It's worth noting, in case you'd forgotten, that FOX8's Sunday night line-up changes tonight, moving Ally McBeal to 8:30pm, The Practice to 9:15pm, Deep in the City to 10:00pm and Millennium to 11:00pm. A new stream of Highlander starts at midnight -- just the first season, but if you haven't seen every episode yet, this is a great opportunity to see them in order.

In case you didn't know, Sunday is "Star Wars Day" on Showtime. They'll be screening all four movies (this is supposedly a world-first), all in widescreen, plus a couple of excellent documentaries . I haven't seen The Story of ILM (10:25am) yet, but The Mythology of Star Wars (Monday morning at 3:40am -- set the VCR) gives some truly excellent insight into what George Lucas was trying to achieve. The third documentary, The Story of Star Wars, won't screen again in May, but might show up again in June.



17th May, 2001

Just a couple of things to mention. First, from the creators of South Park, comes the political satire, That's My Bush!. This was written up in the Green Guide a couple of weeks ago, and sounded really interesting, so keep an eye out on Saturday night at 9:30pm on SBS.

Next Tuesday, the Federal Budget is impacting some stations' programming, particularly on Nine. Specifically, there'll be a repeat of Friends at 9:00pm, and Deep Space Nine will run early, at 11:20pm (assuming the Budget doesn't go over time). Also that night, the ABC is running the excellent, French, period comedy, D'Artagnan's Daughter at 11:00pm.

Then, next Thursday, Sex and the City moves to 9:00pm on FOX8, restarting the first season.

Meanwhile, the mystery about Mad About You on TV1 has been solved. You'll recall that on Sunday, 27th May, Mad About You is playing at 5:00pm, midnight and 5:30am, and that it's the same episode as then plays in the weekday strip on Monday at 12:30pm. I was thinking this seemed very odd, but it's actually correct. The explanation is that it's being used as a filler for a Groovy Movie that runs short, and it's only for two weeks (at this stage). The choice of episode is purely a rights issue, as multiple plays within the same 24 hour period cost nothing extra. So there you go; all cleared up!



26th April, 2001

Nothing to report on FTA. But I did receive my May Foxtel Guide. There's no major changes, but a lot of little ones -- it's a bit messy. Scroll down for information on FOX8, TV1, thecomedychannel, FX and UK TV.

FOX8: First thing to note is changes to the repeat timeslot timetable, basically eliminating all but one hour of prime-time repeats. This is not something I'm very happy with, but we're going to have to live with it. In specific terms, the hour from 7:30pm will usually be repeated from 5:00am weeknights (eg: Buffy on Tuesdays, Premiere and Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place on Thursdays).

Second, the stripping schedule has changed somewhat. Amongst other changes, this brings Third Rock From the Sun back to 6:30pm weekdays starting on Tuesday, 1st May with the pilot episode.

On weekends, Highlander disappears from the afternoon line-up after this weekend. It will return at midnight Sunday nights from the 27th May (from the first episode). Sadly, there's no indication the rights to later episodes are to be renewed -- I expect the earliest we might see them is September, and even that's very optimistic.

Meanwhile, Highlander: The Raven concludes its lone season on the 8th May and will be rested for at least a couple of months.

Back to weekends, there's no Earth: Final Conflict at 5:00pm this Saturday (a late pre-emption), but it will return, weekends at 4:00pm, on the 12th May, picking up from where it left off. On the same day, Buffy will move to 3:00pm and start right back at the beginning of Season One.

Thursdays, Third Rock From the Sun concludes Season Three on the 10th May, and thereafter surrenders its timeslot to Two Guys and a Girl, freeing 9:00pm for Sex and the City from the 24th May. Dharma & Greg is pre-empted, at 8:30pm, on the 17th May.

The following weekend, on the 27th May, the entire Sunday evening line-up is rejigged, so we have Ally McBeal at 8:30pm, The Practice at 9:15pm, Deep in the City at 10:00pm, Millennium at 11:00pm and Highlander at midnight.

Finally, Party of Five won't air at 9:00am from Wednesday, 23rd May to Wednesday, 30th May. Also note that the episode names for The Simpsons at 6:00am weekdays are misprinted for most of the month; go with the episodes listed at 6:00pm, instead.

TV1: Mad About You returns to the lunch-box from Monday, 7th May, with Season One airing at 12:30pm weekdays. Most of Sunday, 13th May is pre-empted with a special line-up for Mother's Day, including an episode each of Xena and Mad About You. Finally, Mad About You scores three timeslots on Sunday, 27th May; I'll let you know what that's all about closer to the day.

Also note that the Saturday Star Trek line-up shifts half an hour later in May, starting at 8:30pm.

thecomedychannel: On Tuesday, 1st May, Ned & Stacey returns, stripping weekdays at 8:00am, accompanied by The Adventures of Lano & Woodley at 11:30am and 8:00pm. Dilbert, however, will disappear. Incidentally, the airing order for Dilbert is being reviewed, as the tapes apparently came from Ten, sans labels.

Rowan Atkinson's police series, The Thin Blue Line premieres on Saturday, 5th May, each week at 5:00pm, repeated 10:00am Sunday.

FX: It's all a bit messy, but basically, Ellen loses its strip from 7th May, but gains a 6:00pm weekends timeslot (and 1:30pm Saturdays). Caroline in the City meanwhile loses its 11:30pm timeslot straight away, then later moves from 1:30pm to 2:30pm. However, they also suffer a number of pre-emptions, which I won't go into.

UK TV: The last two episodes of Fawlty Towers will air together on the 7th, 12th and 13th May. Bugs premieres on Saturday, 12th May at 10:00am and 6:30pm (I think FTA never finished the series, about four years ago).

Fox Kids: I should point out that the wrong episode of Hercules was played on the 7th April, pushing back the rest of the series by one week.

And that's it! Congratulations if you've stuck with me this long. Some months are just worse than others.



19th April, 2001

Easter holidays are officially over this weekend (at least on TV), so we're back to new episodes. In addition, Ten has added a new timeslot for Just Shoot Me! on Saturdays at 8:00pm (Season Four repeats).

Roy and H.G. -- stars of the Olympics -- return to our screens on Monday at 10:30pm on Seven (seemingly likely to cover similar material to The Fat, immediately previous on the ABC).

Cold Feet returns to Seven with new episodes at 9:30pm on Tuesday.

Sadly, Quantum airs for the last time next Thursday (8:30pm on the ABC, repeated 12:30pm Monday). With none of the regular news programmes ever dedicating even a segment to science news (at more than a 3rd grade level), it's difficult to understand how the ABC could let this brilliant programme go. Then again, if the regular news programmes are right about their viewership, perhaps it's not so surprising -- just terrifying.

On Foxtel, Deep Space Nine's Thursday and Friday repeat timeslots are being ceded to The Next Generation from next week, the former being temporarily on hold, the latter starting Season Three.

Even sooner than that, next Tuesday sees the arrival of Buffy Season Four and Angel Season One on FOX8, Tuesdays from 7:30pm (repeated from 1:45am, but only next week).



5th April, 2001

With Easter upon us, the FTA networks are dropping many of their premiere series into repeats. These include: Dharma & Greg (double episode repeats for the next two weeks, pre-empting Will & Grace), Friends (repeat on the 16th), Sex and the City (repeat on the 9th, won't air on the 16th), The Simpsons (repeats for the next two weeks), Just Shoot Me! (repeats for the next two weeks), and Buffy and Angel (not airing at all on the 11th). Notably absent from that list is The X-Files, which is clearly not the front-line show Ten once thought it was.

Also worth noting is the return of The Panel in two weeks, Wednesday, 18th April at 9:30pm on Ten.

Happy Easter, everyone! (And don't forget to drop into the Comedy Festival, if you're in Melbourne.)



29th March, 2001

A couple of scheduling changes on FTA. On Monday, 2nd April, Ten is showing the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala at 8:30pm. On Wednesday, 4th April, Seven moves Buffy to 10:30pm Wednesdays, followed by Angel at 11:30pm. The irony is that this week's episodes are widely considered a two-parter (although not in the traditional sense), so this move appears to come a week too late.

I've had a chance to look through the April Foxtel Guide, and although there's fewer changes than normal, there's some good stuff premiering next month.

First, though, here's the low-down on FOX8's Monday and Tuesday line-ups in April. On Monday, 2nd April, we get two episodes of Buffy from 7:30pm. Highlander: The Raven moves into the Tuesday 9:30pm timeslot. The following two weeks, on the 9-10th and 16-17th, Monday features Head Start and The Visitor at 7:30pm and 8:30pm, respectively, while Tuesday gets two episodes of Buffy from 7:30pm. Then, on Tuesday, 24th, Season Four of Buffy starts at 7:30pm, followed by Season One of Angel at 8:30pm. Both will repeat after midnight, but only in April.

It's all been a bit of a mess, but it's come out fairly nicely in the wash. My only concern is the dearth of repeat timeslots, which is going to make things very difficult for those of us with commitments on certain nights of the week. On the other hand, the DVDs should be on the way before long.

On to other channels, other shows:

On April Fools' Day, TV1's Star Trek line-up moves half an hour later on Sundays only, bringing the two Thunderbirds episodes together.

On thecomedychannel, Dilbert premieres on the 2nd April, Monday to Friday at 7:30am and 7:00pm. This animated adaptation of the comic strip has garnered mixed reactions, but I love it. I suspect there's a fair bit of geek appeal (though I'm not admitting to anything!) which can alienate the show from the general populace. But if you haven't seen it before, especially if you work in an office, give it a shot. Incidentally, all 30 episodes will air in a row on Sunday, 3rd June -- in case you miss an episode in April.

Earth: Final Conflict on Fridays (FOX8) is wrapping back to the start of Season Two on the 6th April.

On Saturday, 7th April, Profiler comes to arena in a double timeslot, 8:30pm to 10:00pm (repeated Sunday, 1:00pm to 2:30pm).

On Monday, 9th April, Starship Troopers starts stripping again on Fox Kids, Monday to Friday at 6:00pm, while Max Steel concludes the previous week at 5:30pm.

The Easter long weekend (Friday, 13th to Monday, 16th) provides an opportunity for a number of channels to put together some marathons. FOX8 is running through Seasons Two and Three of Buffy across the four days. TV1 is running the first season of Star Trek overnight (8:30pm to 3:30am), Friday to Monday night, along with screenings of the first movie during the day. UK TV is running The Bill. And thecomedychannel features The Adventures of Lano & Woodley on Sunday and Monday.

On the 22nd April, Highlander on weekends at 2:00pm (FOX8) is wrapping back to the start of Season One.

On the 25th, thecomedychannel has christened Anzac Day, "National Micallef Day," very much in the spirit of the show. TV1 is running ten and a half hours of Behind the Music.

The only other thing to note is the impending arrival of Just Shoot Me! on TV1, probably in May.



22nd March, 2001

First, some notes on the FTA schedule. Sunday night, both the ABC (at 7:30pm, live) and Nine (at 10:35pm) are screening the Don Bradman Memorial Service from Adelaide. Meanwhile, on Seven, a double-length episode of Popstars pushes Dharma & Greg back to 8:00pm; a new season of Will & Grace will return next week.

Sunday, two episodes of The Simpsons will air at 7:30pm on Ten, for this week only -- the second is a new episode. Monday sees the last two episodes of South Park Season Four on SBS, but they'll be going back to the start of Season One the following week.

And The X-Files (on Ten) moves to Thursday nights from next week, still at 8:30pm. Good News Week debates fill the Wednesday timeslot, at least for the next couple of weeks. If you're in Melbourne, remember that the Comedy Festival starts soon (next weekend, I believe). There's some great shows on, so make the effort to get out on the town.

In anticipation of April, I had a look through the online Foxtel Guide for FOX8 scheduling, and there's a few changes coming our way. It seems to be a time of transition, with a number of series/seasons coming to an end and new ones starting. As always, some of the changes are better than others.

Buffy, the Vampire Slayer: The weekday timeslot(s) is mainly attempting to reach the end of Season Three. To that end, two episodes will air on the 2nd April (pre-empting Highlander: The Raven). The next two weeks, two episodes will air each week, Mondays and Tuesdays at 8:30pm and 2:30am. The week after, I expect Season Four may show up, but I don't yet know at what time.

On weekends, there's a new Slayerfest over the Easter weekend, Friday 13th to Monday 16th, 9:00am to 6:00pm. Half a season will show each day, covering Seasons Two and Three. The normal weekend timeslots will naturally be pre-empted. They'll move back to Season One, once Three is complete.

Highlander: The Raven: After the Buffy pre-emption on 2nd April, this show moves to Tuesday nights at 9:30pm, infuriatingly without a repeat timeslot.

Dharma & Greg and Third Rock From the Sun: These move to Thursday nights in April, as follows: Third Rock at 8:00pm and 1:45am, Dharma & Greg at 8:30pm and 2:15am, then Two Guys and a Girl (first season) at 9:00pm and 2:45am. Note that in March, Dharma & Greg has retained its repeat timeslot at 2:30am, rather than moving to 2:50am as indicated online.

Other Series: The Friday timeslot of Earth: Final Conflict will not be progressing to Season Three just yet; but I don't know which season will play. The Visitor gains another timeslot, Tuesdays at 7:30pm (repeated 1:45am) from the 10th April, starting with episode one. Ally McBeal and The Practice replay their seasons just finishing, rather than going back to the start of each series. This is to reduce clashes with their run on FX.

On TV1: All three Star Trek series are moving into new Seasons in April, never before seen on TV1: Season Two for The Original Series, Season Three for The Next Generation and Season Two for Deep Space Nine in May. Plus, there's a first season marathon of the original series over Easter (8:30pm to 3:30am, Friday to Monday nights). Xena loses its Saturday morning timeslot, but the Monday timeslot starts Season Three for the first time on TV1, from 2nd April (truncating the end of Season Two, but then there's been two other opportunities to see it recently). Mad About You will be returning to TV1's Lunch Box in June, probably starting with Season One or Two.



15th March, 2001

A few things on Seven this week. First, First Wave was scheduled for last night but didn't show up. The last few episodes in the first season will air over the next couple of weeks at midnight on Friday and Wednesday nights.

This Sunday, 18th, a double episode of Will & Grace pre-empts Dharma & Greg.

Elsewhere, Nine's Star Trek series are being pushed back to around midnight from next week (actually starting last night).

On Foxtel, FX skipped The Pregnancy Test episode of Ellen on Monday due to some ongoing confusion. I've been assured they've now (finally) sorted it out and the episode will air in the Saturday timeslot later in the year.

On FOX8, March madness has resulted in The Practice being moved around a bit. It turns out, Deep in the City stays on Wednesdays, and The Practice on Sundays in a new timeslot, at 10:00pm. Deep in the City repeats at 11:00pm, followed by a delayed Millennium at midnight, and no repeat of Sex and the City. I'm hoping I haven't missed an episode of The Practice as a result (it's all such a mess).



7th March, 2001

If anyone's been watching Starship Troopers: The Series on Fox Kids, you should be aware that this weekend features three of the four clip shows, one of which hasn't been screened before. That's Saturday at 1:30pm and Sunday at 1:30pm and 2:00pm (a double timeslot).

Also worth noting is that Nine is screening the Babyon 5 prequel movie, In The Beginning, on Sunday night at 11:05pm. Everywhere except Sydney, that is. It's about time we got to see these!



1st March, 2001

On free-to-air, Sex and the City is back on Nine, Mondays from the 5th March at 9:30pm.

Here's the rest of the March Foxtel update.

On Monday, 12th March, Ally McBeal starts stripping on FX, weekdays at 7:30pm, naturally from the first episode. On Thursday, 22nd, the movie, Working Girl, pre-empts Deep Space Nine and the repeat timeslot for Mad About You on TV1. Then, on Saturday, 24th, Fox Kids has delayed Hercules half an hour, to 7:30pm.

Daylight Savings ends on the night of Saturday, 24th March. FOX8 is using an episode of The X-Files (Deep Throat -- 1X01) to fill the extra hour, TV1 an episode of Star Trek (an extra repeat of the 8:00pm timeslot). Note that the online Foxtel Guide is unable to deal with Daylight Savings, so the printed Guide is generally more accurate.

Doings on FOX8 are somewhat complex, so here's the full list:

Tuesday
2:30amThird Rock From the SunRepeat timeslots switch times from 13th March.
2:50amDharma & Greg
Wednesday
9:30pmThe PracticeStarts 14th March. Repeat at 3:15am. Note the double-episode season finale on 28th March.
Thursday
7:30pmPremiereReturns 15th March. Repeat at 1:45am.
Friday
8:30pmEarth: Final ConflictMoves from Thursdays, on 16th March. Repeat at 2:30am.
Saturday
3:00pmRoarFrom 24th March.
6:05pmThe SimpsonsProbably starting closer to 6:10pm.
7:30pmThe SimpsonsConcludes on the 10th March.
8:00pmFamily GuyConcludes on the 10th March.
Sunday
3:00pmRoarReturns on the 18th March, Saturdays and Sundays.
8:30pmSex and the CityStarts 4th March. Repeat at 2:30am.
9:00pmAlly McBealMoves from the 4th March. No repeat timeslot.
9:30pmThe PracticeConcluded on the 25th February.
10:30pmThe X-FilesConcluded on the 25th February.
11:30pmMillenniumActually 11:00pm on 4th March, then 11:30pm. Repeats the episode from 1:30am that morning.

There's no changes on Mondays, and the Sunday night Millennium timeslot actually began last weekend. Family Guy won't return until May, at the earliest.

Finally, The X-Files strip drops back to Season One on Wednesday, 14th March (rather than moving on to Season Seven). Dharma & Greg, reaching the end of Season Three, goes to the start of Season Two on Tuesday, 20th March. And on the 2nd April, the Monday night X-Files timeslots will both revert to Season Five, having separately reached the end of Seasons Seven and Four, respectively, the week before.



23rd February, 2001

First, on FTA, not much to note at all. In fact, the only thing I can think of is that Nine's bungling and last-minute rescheduling caused me to miss the first new episode of Friends on the 5th February. Of course, they're accepting no blame for their erroneous advertising.

If you want to influence the DVD releases for some of Fox's shows, fill out the survey at epoll for The Simpsons or Angel. There are probably other polls there, too, but I can't see an easy way to find them.

Gratifyingly early, I received my March Foxtel Guide yesterday. Less pleasing is the number of minor changes. Although the Guide advertises a new-look arena and the Australian cricket tour of India, the real devil's in the lesser details.

That being the case, I've only really surveyed the first two weeks so far.

Warning: The extensive changes on many channels, and particularly FOX8, have collided with the publishing deadline for the printed Foxtel Guide. The result is, much of the printed schedule is incorrect. So if you really want to know what's going on, check the website (this is particularly crucial for post-midnight timeslots). I'll try and extract the majority of changes and errors, and flag them, but I'm sure to miss some.

On FOX8, The Simpsons at 6:00pm on a Saturday officially moves five minutes later (although it's been airing even later due to E.T. running over time). On Sunday, 4th, The Practice departs to a weekday timeslot, with Sex and the City premiering at 8:30pm (and 2:30am), Ally McBeal moving to 9:00pm (no repeat) and Queer As Folk (strangely beginning with the "Making Of") at 10:00pm (and 3:00am). Millennium, meanwhile, gains a timeslot at 11:00pm Sundays, a repeat of the previous night's episode.

On UK TV, the incredible, one-off, slap-stick sketch, The Plank airs at 8:00pm on Saturday the 3rd and again on Sunday at 10:00pm. However, Fawlty Towers loses its Saturday and Sunday timeslots the same weekend.

On Fox Kids, Max Steel starts stripping, weekdays at 5:30pm, from next Monday, 26th February. While in March, starting on the 3rd, Hercules moves to 7:00pm Saturdays; it's Sunday timeslot is filled by Sinbad.

On TV1, Dawson's Creek makes a presumably anticipated appearance from the 4th March, Sundays at 8:30pm (a double timeslot, repeated at 3:30am), Tuesdays at 11:00pm and Wednesdays at 7:30pm. Not that I'll be watching.

I'm more interested in the premiere of Drop the Dead Donkey on thecomedychannel, Monday, 5th March at 3:00pm and 9:30pm. Unfortunately, this is Seasons Five and Six, which we've had plenty of opportunities to see on SBS and arena.

Finally, The Practice will be pre-empted in its strip on FX, Thursday, 8th March.

I'll fill in the rest of the month next week.



15th February, 2001

A few more things to note on FTA over the next week, as the schedules begin to settle down. The Pretender airs its final two episodes (ever?) on Nine this Saturday, at the later time of 10:05pm. On Seven's Sunday, Will & Grace drops in at 8:00pm, after Dharma & Greg. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine returns on Tuesday night at 11:00pm on Nine, with Star Trek: Voyager on Wednesday at the same time (note the new day). On Ten, Just Shoot Me! is back on Wednesday at 8:00pm, and both The Simpsons and The X-Files are back to just one new episode a week.

A couple of other things on Seven. First, First Wave concludes its run for the time being, tonight, despite having only five episodes left in the season. They'll apparently be trying to slot it into the schedule later, but the unpredictability of this sort of things forces me to recommend adding it to the list of keywords in your online Sofcom TV guide or equivalent. As for Dharma & Greg's first episode being pre-empted by Popstars on Sunday, that was apparently The Green Guide's fault that they failed to update their schedule. Just in case Melbourne viewers were wondering.

I feel I should say something about Malcolm in the Middle, who's first episode I watched on Monday. I'd heard it compared to a live-action Simpsons, and the resemblances in the first episode were remarkable: there were elements from a number of early Simpsons episodes, including Bart the Genius (7G02) and Bart the General (7G05). However, the really telling point, and the reason I didn't watch on Tuesday, was that I failed to laugh even once throughout the whole half hour. No matter how zany, a comedy you can't laugh at is just a bad drama. So I don't think I'll be watching this any more.

Oh, and it turns out Caroline in the City hasn't lost its 6:30pm Saturday timeslot, after all -- it's just a misprint in the Foxtel Guide.



8th February, 2001

So, ratings are back. Fortunately (with so many good shows on Foxtel), there's not much to recommend free-to-air. Sure, some of our favourites are back, but there's almost no new series at all worth looking at. In fact, the only exception I can see is Malcolm in the Middle (Nine, 8:00pm Monday, 7:30pm Tuesday), and even that doesn't look great.

So here's the list of returning shows, at least through to next Thursday:

  • Dharma & Greg -- Seven, 7:30pm Sundays (double ep).
  • Friends -- Nine, 7:30pm Mondays.
  • Ally McBeal -- Seven, 8:30pm Mondays.
  • BackBerner -- ABC, 9:15pm Mondays.
  • The Practice -- Seven, 9:30pm Mondays.
  • Buffy -- 10:30pm Tuesdays (Melbourne).
  • The Simpsons -- 7:30pm Wednesdays (double ep).
  • The X-Files -- 8:30pm Wednesdays (double ep).
  • Angel -- 10:30pm Wednesdays (Melbourne).
Note that times on Seven will likely vary in other states (I believe Buffy and Angel are on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, in NSW).

So Monday nights are pretty busy! Double episodes on Ten are very likely to be merged. Apparently Ten believe you'll be watching Survivor, but in case you're not, they don't want you to switch over at the end of the first episode. That's barely even logical.

Other series will also be returning, such as Felicity, Law & Order, All Saints, Water Rats, Charmed, E.R. and Dawson's Creek. I don't watch any of those, however, so I'm afraid you'll have to look them up yourselves. In fact, I recommend careful perusal of the next couple of weeks' TV guides.

Other changes to note include a double episode of The Pretender on Saturday night from 8:30pm, and the move of Will & Grace to Sunday nights at 8:00pm (starting the 18th February -- no episode this week). Disappearing for the foreseeable future are: Two Guys and a Girl, Dilbert and Party of Five.

For cricket fans, the Allan Border Medal presentation will air on Nine on Monday night at 9:30pm. Last year's event was very interesting, with lots of tension and lots of highlights -- worthwhile watching for any Australian cricket fan.

For any Highlander fans, there's two items of news. First, Highlander: Endgame is due in cinemas next week (15th Feb). Despite some amazing swordplay, it's unlikely to last more than a couple of weeks, so get in quick. Second, as a warm-up to the new movie, Nine is showing Highlander III: The Sorceror on Sunday night at 11:05pm. Admittedly, this instalment wasn't terribly good, so you're much better off watching Highlander: The Series on FOX8 on Saturday and Sunday at 2:00pm or Sunday morning at 3:00am. The advantage of that is the new movie brings together the series with the first movie, making full use of much of the mythology developed in the series.

Meanwhile on Foxtel, Caroline in the City seems to have lost its 6:30pm Saturday timeslot, although I'm still trying to confirm this. And don't forget Fawlty Towers on Monday at 8:30pm (UK TV), repeating Saturday and Sunday.



2nd February, 2001

While I don't watch the show myself, one of my readers has pointed out that the fifth and final season of Sliders is starting on Ten next Tuesday night, the 6th February, at 12:40am.

If you missed it yesterday and are interested in Digital Television, check out my short note and referral on the subject at the end of yesterday's news (titled, "Additional").



1st February, 2001

On FTA over the coming week, the networks seem to be moving closer to their ratings-period schedules, with a number of shows returning to their old timeslots, others getting double timeslots to plug the gaps before new episodes show up.

On Seven, The Corrs feature in concert tomorrow night from 10:35pm, then Dharma & Greg score a double episode from 7:30pm Sunday. Will & Grace make a welcome return on Monday at 8:30pm (two new episodes), followed by The Practice at 8:30pm (continuation of last year's repeats).

Elsewhere, the latest season of South Park is being repeated on SBS, with two sequential episodes each Monday at 8:30pm. The Pretender is screening an hour earlier on Tuesday (7:30pm), and also on Tuesday, the ABC is airing the spiritual sequel to Walking With Dinosaurs, called The Ballad of Big Al, next Tuesday at 8:00pm. Plus, Ten is again stripping The Simpsons, 6:00pm weekdays.

Also worth noting is the return of new episodes of Friends on Monday, 12th February (meaning ratings recommence on the 11th, with a new company doing the collecting). Expect many other shows to return that week.

Finally, on Foxtel, FX's 5:00pm timeslot for Ellen is moving to 7:00pm. And a reminder that Xena-Rama starts on TV1 next week, Monday to Thursday from 10:30pm; all of Season Two will air over eight nights.

I almost forgot. The reason Two Guys and a Girl and That 70s Show didn't air last night is that Seven was catching up on episodes of Home and Away that were unexpectedly pre-empted during the tennis. Just so you know.

Additional: You may recall I have a Digital TV article in the works. I recognise I've perhaps missed the boat with that one, but don't think I've abandoned you all. I've just been reading Ten's digital TV website at www.tendigital.com.au, and it contains some interesting stuff. Certainly, it's a much better overview than I've seen in the press. There are a few areas that are misleading, such as "Old vs New Equipment" -- their recommendations pay little attention to probable pricing -- but mostly it's pretty accurate. Most interestingly, I found the following in the "Australian Receiver Standard" part of "For the Techies":

Making the sets for Australia isn't really a hardware issue but a software one, it all revolves around the CPU. This should make it easier for manufacturers to adapt sets they're selling overseas, to our market.

It's only an issue for the existing sets for the first year to eighteen months and then all the chipsets will be capable of doing a high level decode (from HDTV down to SD) but we're left with the need to broadcast SDTV for the next ten years! All because of those sets sold in the first few years.

An extremely good point, particularly when you consider the SDTV and HDTV signal have to fit together into a single 7MHz/20Mbps channel. So the government's decision means we'll be stuck with lesser digital picture quality for at least ten years. Yet there's always been the STB option.

One other thing Ten's website fails to emphasise is the drastic improvements in reception quality and resilience to interference (like vaccuums cleaners) that digital TV offers. That's a pretty big draw-card for me!



25th January, 2001

First, on free-to-air for the coming week, Farscape concludes its first season on Nine this Saturday, Friends returns on Monday, but with four repeats rather than new episodes, South Park repeats replace Rex the Runt after the new South Park episode on SBS Monday, Buffy returns to Seven Monday at 10:50pm (this may have happened earlier and I didn't notice), and both Stargate SG-1 and First Wave return to Seven on Thursday night from 8:30pm, the former with a double episode.

From February's Foxtel Guide -- there's not too many changes to the various schedules, so I'll run through them chronologically rather than by channel.

Starting Friday, 2nd February, arena will be airing its collection of Cadfael TV movies at noon Fridays: high-quality British, mediaeval whodunnits based on Ellis Peters' series of books.

From the night of Saturday, 3rd February, FOX8 is running a post-midnight science fiction block, featuring Earth: Final Conflict at midnight, The Visitor at 12:45am, Millennium at 1:30am, The X-Files at 2:15am, Highlander at 3:00am, The Crow at 4:00am and Psi Factor at 5:00am. All series start from the beginning of their first seasons except Millennium (start of Season Three).

On TV1, all three incarnations of Star Trek have their timeslots bumped back half an hour on Saturday night and Sunday morning from the start of February.

Still on TV1, take 2 of Xena-rama runs Monday to Thursday nights at 10:30pm, from the 5th to 15th February. With three episodes a night, every episode in Season Two of Xena will feature.

arena's Lexxicon Festival concludes on Saturday, 10th February, having shown every episode of Seasons Two and Three of Lexx.

Returning to UK TV, Fawlty Towers starts on Monday, 12th at 8:30pm, repeating Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 9:30pm.

On Wednesday, 14th February, UK TV brings us Not the Nine O'Clock News, where many famous British comedians had their starts. This show features prominently in the comedic consciousness of thirty-somethings, and it will be interesting to see what it's all about. Wednesday's episode will be repeated at 10:30pm Saturdays.

Finally on UK TV, the third season of Black Adder starts on Monday, 26th February in the same Monday-and-Sunday timeslot currently showing the second season.

Also worth noting, on 24th February, is the possible pre-emption of FOX8's Saturday line-up from 7:30pm by the NRL.

Incidentally, my own pages aren't the only ones that have been updated: I've also updated the Foxtel dates and times at GEOS, including predictions for March.



22nd January, 2001

Highlander: The Series Returns to FOX8: Highlander: The Series is coming back this Sunday, 28th January, running Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00pm AEDT from the beginning of Season One.

It's also getting a second timeslot, as part of an SF block, Saturday nights at 3:00am from Sunday, 4th February. This will also start with Season One, though it will quickly fall behind the afternoon timeslot. (Incidentally, Season Three of Millennium will also feature in this block.)

FOX8 currently don't have the rights to Season Two of Highlander (and presumably beyond), but my guess is they will try to repurchase them in time to slot in after Season One. This is by no means guaranteed; though it can be made more likely if people ask for it when they ring up.

I'm sorry I didn't pick this up earlier. I've been working week-to-week since before Christmas. I should be back on track once February's Foxtel Guide shows up.



18th January, 2001

I think there's just one thing to note for the next week on Foxtel, being a change in the Caroline in the City schedule on FX. With the third season starting this Saturday at 6:30pm (many people would have missed this season, as Nine showed it in the morning, virtually unannounced), FX is throttling back to just one episode a week, at the later time of 6:30pm on Saturday, repeated twice, at 11:30pm that night and 1:30pm the following Saturday.

On FTA, Red Dwarf has concluded on ABC, and Seven and Nine are still pre-empting lots of programmes for tennis and cricket.

I've also updated the timeslots and predictions for all shows.



15th January, 2001

I hope you all had a wonderful festive season. My own was spent in company with young Lithuanians from all over the world, in serious discussions and in the bar -- lots of fun! But now it's back to work and back to maintaining this website. Forgive me if it takes a few days to get things working smoothly again.

I won't try to mention all the changes that have occurred over Christmas -- you've probably all figured them out for yourselves by now. I will try to cover Foxtel for the second half of the month by the end of the week. For now, notice Slayerfest 1 on FOX8 Australia Day (Season One of Buffy, which you can now also buy on DVD!), Season One of The Games on thecomedychannel Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:30pm, and Lexx mini-marathons, weekends on arena. More later.

Red Dwarf Smeg Ups on ABC: Hopefully everyone will see this before it's too late: Red Dwarf Smeg Ups is on the ABC tonight at 9:30pm. This is a rare chance to see footage that normally only appears on the videos. So set those VCRs and make me proud.


Australian TV News Archive: Second Half, 2000.



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Last Updated: 23-August-2001