Starring: Andrew Denton, Annabel Crabb, Merrick Watts, Michael Williams and Julia Zemiro
Airtime: Wednesdays, 8:30pm, ABC1
Randling begins with an opening sequence that should be on ABC3 rather than ABC1, and has a cornier theme song than Spicks And Specks – the hugely popular show that Andrew Denton’s much-hyped new quiz show effort is effectively replacing.
This “gameshow about words” will feature ten two-person teams over the season (mostly the usual suspects but some intriguing newcomers; my favourite team name has to be Roget’s Ramjets) gerunding for their place on the ladder by making up definitions, guessing rebuses, but mostly prattling on light-entertainingly.
Don’t be waylaid by the private schoolboy blazers and the Wiggles-inspired rollercoaster intro, this ain’t no softly-softly preschool prequel to Andrew Denton’s last hosting gig Elders. There’s an aspirant edginess. I noted references to eBay, ‘white powder’, a ‘shopped photo of Adolph Hipster, “Tropical Cyclone Christ”, a very askance fingering pun, dog poop, and the word ‘shit’ (coyly expressed, it must be said). I think I heard a feather ruffled.
Tonight we have, in the green corner, the West Coast Odd Sox – political boffin chipmunk Annabel Crabb and professional buffoon Merrick Watts. And in the red corner, the Southern Furies – amiable Director of the Wheeler Centre Michael Williams and the Ethnic Channel’s resident culture glamazon Julia Zemiro.
Pitched as QI meets, I dunno, a PC Blankety Blanks, the exchange of witticisms in the conference before final answers is meant to be the primary entertainment. Denton himself pitches out a handful of little-known factoids that are Quite Interesting and he turns out to be the most ably deadpan, in contrast with the eager-to-please guests.
The segments this week (and maybe every week)? A ‘This Or That’ guessing game, which could’ve easily been varied for both teams for more fun. Then there was ‘Heiroglyphics’ which is some sort of rebus puzzle. And all were WAY TOO EASY, for those dullards playing at home. In the third game, when a series of clues are delivered to the origin of a figure of speech, holy hell, I could barely pay attention to their shaggy dog guesses as I begged for someone to give the obviously correct answer. Spicks And Specks at least had a bit of suspense. That’s saying something.
Effectively, Randling closes the middle ground between the coloured-ball-room anarchy of Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation and the greying geekiness of Letters And Numbers. Denton’s an equally-loveable national treasure (his tagline, “May your words never fail you, and happy randling”, is clumsier than Adam Hills’), so we’ll have to see how much trouble Chris Taylor, Jennifer Byrne, Dave O’Neil and Anthony Morgan can get Aunty into next week.
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