Tripping Over: articles

Tripping Over jumps first hurdle

There's a suggestion being put about the TV world that the new Ten drama, Tripping Over didn't do so well in its debut last Wednesday night at 8.30 pm.

It's been suggested that because a lot of the audience for Thank God You're Here departed and didn't stay for Tripping Over, that the debut last week was somewhat problematic.

That view has popped up on the Sydney Morning Herald's TV blog site where David Dale rules the roost.

"Drama tips up Ten" said a headline in the SMH Monday in Sydney.

Well, no. True a third of the audience for Thank God didn't stay around, but tripping Over still won the timeslot for Ten, helped Ten win the night and filled in nicely for House which ended the week before.

Anyway, Ten programmed it after Thank God You're Here to give it a big push.

Ten knew it would not work on its own first up, that it needed a very popular program to give it a solid lead-in and get people to look, like and return.

Around 500,000 or so viewers didn't stay around through the full show; some sampled; others switched channels, or went to bed or turned to Pay TV.

The important thing to note is that Thank God has a far broader audience range than Tripping Over. Thank God is aimed at the broader 25 to 54 demographic, Tripping over the 20-something part of the 16 to 39 demographic and 18 to 49 group which Ten is targeting.

Thank God's audience is in the older end of both demographics, Ten wants Tripping Over to sit just below that to put a soap like program into a new niche and then build.

The actors are all 20 somethings with a couple of older (40's) adults who take parental roles and have different storylines.

It certainly, on that first program, has a more contemporary feel than McLeod's Daughters on Nine or Home and Away or even Neighbours which both seem stuck in video time warps.

For example, when are we going to see a realistic, upfront episode of McLeod's Daughters where the drought is the central storyline and 'character' and not the actors in the program?

I am much older than any of the demographic groups mentioned so Tripping Over won't be a regular part of my TV viewing: I'm more Thank God or Spicks and Specks and The Glass House on the ABC.

Ten clearly wanted to create a program to appeal to the group of young Australian TV viewers who might dip in and out of TV but will watch 'their 'programs:

Big Brother, Idol are those types of programs, Thank God isn't. The Biggest Loser (local five days a week version) is sort of but appeals to a wider audience. Being overweight isn't demographic-specific.

Nine sort of realises that with a new version of Overhaul but should have really gone for the wide spread of ages amongst its overweight contestants.

The problems of weight are different at different times in our lives, doing that might have injected more interest into what is a one dimensional program.

And that's the key to Tripping Over: the story lines, writing and acting were all good first up. That's why Ten was happy with its debut.

If it ends its first run around the level of last Wednesday (in terms of audience and acting and storylines) then it will be back.

It had something Nine failed to generate in its attempt last year to translate the one off movie version of The Alice, into a series.

A bit of tension (sexual and otherwise), good acting: the emergence of the doubt over the paternity of the character Ned, was brilliantly done, and the way the relationships started moving in surprising ways.

And a final note: going O/S, whether it is to London, Asia, Europe, the US or Africa or South America is still a rite of passage for hundreds of thousand of people every year in Australia and in Britain.

It is a mass movement full of individual but shared experiences.

The last time we really looked at the British end on a screen was Barry McKenzie. (Bangkok Hilton was a brilliant mini- series about Asia.)

It's about time this area of rich experiences for so many Australians of differing ages, was explored in a dramatic fashion.

October 30, 2006