It makes it really hard to think of all the ways you could resuscitate a show like Everybody Dance Now when you have that same song on a constant loop in your head. Plus, that ‘Do Not Resuscitate‘ form next to its deathbed keeps getting in my way. Regardless, We Need To Talk About EDN (rhyme it with Kevin).
It’d be a fair call to say this show has been “an unmitigated disaster” since its premiere pulled a meagre 598,000 viewers. When that number then dropped to a remarkably low 304,000 and it seemed like Ten were more than ready to pull the plug on this rhinestone encrusted cadaver. On Friday, Ten halved the program’s air time from a three hour marathon over two nights to just a one hour dash on Sundays. Network Ten Chief Programming Officer, David Mott, saying “we are working with production company FremantleMedia to reset the show and make it more engaging for viewers.”
Hints of that reset appeared in today’s Telegraph, with Pinocchio’s mistress Sarah Murdoch literally begging audiences for a second chance. Murdoch concedes the original format has been a complete failure and has spent the last week in crisis talks with the program’s judges and creators in a desperate attempt to administer TV CPR. Some of the changes revealed so far include cutting the number of acts performing to three, which means some performers promised a chance to dance will no longer be appearing on the show altogether. That’s pretty brutal, but hey – this is dance! Haven’t you seen Center Stage, Fame or Black Swan? Not everyone makes it out alive.
In the meantime, here are The Top Five Things Everybody Dance Now Could Do To Save The Last Dance, or five things they could have done better from lights up.
The solution: Cut it. Not entirely (although that looks likely) but drastically. Fremantle Media have already cut its air time by two thirds, so this is kind of a moot point, but I maintain that I came up with it first. If every episode of EDN breaks down to three dance offs at five minutes each, plus an additional fifteen minutes for post-dance chit chat and time for the judges to spruik their contestants, then doesn’t that still leave half an hour to be filled with more ads, more idle talking and more awful television?
The problem: The captains. Jay-son DeruloOoOo and Kelly ‘Can you handle this?’ Rowland, while likeable and accomplished, found much of their success by sampling larger talent (see Beyoncé, The Verve, Imogen Heap). Criticism of the captains circles around them being really dreadful at delivering their very scripted line, as well as just being generally really awkward.
The solution: Make them Work/Ride Solo. Stop feeding them lines, remove the microphone stands from their posteriors and make them emote! This is dance! Where is their passion!? Alternatively, EDN could have made use of Australia’s abundant local dancing talent to captain, because while Jason and Kelly are both successful singers, neither are dancers first and foremost. Basically, I don’t think they can handle this (woah!)
The problem: The format. EDN is supposed to be an original Fremantle media format, but how original can a dance format purport to be when its predecessors have pretty much got all the steps down to a fine art? The format itself consists of a live studio audience voting to keep dancers in the competition, so what level of interest can producers hope to maintain in their televisual audience when they have absolutely no say in the outcome? In other words, there’s no quality control and that extends into the program’s production values. Neon green? Really?
The solution: Overhaul it. It might not seem like it, but it’s still early days for EDN, and no one would see a drastic change of direction coming – mostly because no one’s watching it but also because no one knows what to expect. The current format lacks vision and excitement and that’s translating into a lack of interest.
The problem: It’s live (read: Sarah Murdoch). Poor (not really poor) Sarah Murdoch. It must be an impossible task to maintain the excitement and enthusiasm levels of a live studio and disinterested television audience when most of it are too young to get boozed, which unequivocally leads to increased levels of excitement. It’s what I call my Price Is Right Effect and it definitely works. Plus, like Jason and Kelly, Sarah is not known as a dancer. That, and she’s sleeping with a board member at Channel Ten. Go figure.
The solution: I just heard it but it was fed to me wrong. No solution.
The problem: Television! EDN is just another link in the chain of reality programming Ten has commissioned this year. Don’t Tell The Bride, I Will Survive, Reef Doctors, The Shire (which has been moved to a graveyard shift time slot of 9:45 on Monday nights), The Bing, Come Date With Me and Class Of seem to suggest that Ten is focusing on quantity over quality. Or are talent driven shows on their way out just as Ten is ready to roll out a new slew of them, to jump on a bandwagon that has already gone?
The solution: Better Television! Invest in producing quality local content that doesn’t involve criminals or amateur cooks. Easier said than done, I know, but if that’s too hard just cross your fingers and fast-track Homeland or start working on that Puberty Blues sequel stat.