WHAT THEY SAY: For the last decade, TV has specialised in game shows where the points mean nothing. Not anymore. From Jon Casimir and Andrew Denton, creators of The Gruen Transfer, comes Randling – a show where every point is fought over tooth and claw. Where viewers will be asked to pick a team and cheer them on as they tackle the Toughest Non-Sporting Competition In The Whole World. Over 27 weeks, culminating in a grand final, ten teams of two (the names will surprise you) will slug it out on the greatest battleground of all: words.
WHAT WE SAY: The premise is still pretty vague but we’ll follow Denton anywhere not called Can of Worms. Should fill the game show void left by Spicks and Specks.
WATCH IF YOU LIKE: Enough Rope With Andrew Denton, QI, Letters and Numbers.
REDFERN NOW (WORKING TITLE) (ABC)
WHAT THEY SAY: Nestled in the heart of Australia’s most glamorous city lies Australia’s most infamous suburb. Aboriginal icon, centre of black struggle and pride, urban slum or real estate goldmine? Depending on your point of view, Redfern and The Block signify many different things and inspire both fear and affection. Think Redfern, think a black ghetto full of junkies and criminals, right? Think again. Redfern Now is a kaleidoscopic drama that explores this inner city suburb and the people who inhabit it. Over six episodes we join the households of six ordinary families whose lives are changed by a seemingly insignificant incident – an accident, a weakness, a lie.
WHAT WE SAY: A gritty urban drama made and populated by indigenous Australians. Best case scenario? Australia’s version of The Wire.
WATCH IF YOU LIKE: The Wire, The Slap.
THE STRAITS (ABC)
WHAT THEY SAY: Set among the turquoise waters and lethal wildlife of Australia’s Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait, The Straits is an exotic, darkly humorous crime drama series. The Montebellos are not your average Australian family. Modern day smugglers, their family business is transporting drugs into Australia, and guns and exotic wildlife out, making use of ties of blood and loyalty in the Torres Strait Islands. When Harry (Brian Cox – The Bourne Supremacy, Troy, Braveheart), the head of the family, starts to plan his succession he sparks a vicious family power struggle. However, under attack from ambitious bikies and mercurial Papua New Guinea raskols, the family must hold together through torture, assassination and imprisonment.
WHAT WE SAY: Looks promising. Brian Cox’s involvement adds international clout and tells us more about the script than the synopsis (it’s probably really good).
WATCH IF YOU LIKE: The Sopranos, Weeds.
BIKIE WARS – BROTHERS IN ARMS (TEN)
WHAT THEY SAY: A six-part drama about the Milperra Bikie Massacre, a gunfight between two rival Australian biker gangs that took place in suburban Sydney in 1984. Based on the bestselling book Brothers in Arms by Sandra Harvey and Lindsay Simpson.
WHAT WE SAY: Australia’s love affair with crime continues. Hopefully not as dumbed down or heavy-handed as its predecessors.
WATCH IF YOU LIKE: Sons Of Anarchy, Underbelly.
YOUNG TALENT TIME (TEN)
WHAT THEY SAY: Young Talent Time, one of Australia’s most loved TV shows that helped launch the careers of some of Australian entertainment’s biggest stars including Danni Minogue and Tina Arena, is returning in 2012 – bigger and better than ever before! Hosted by popular singer and actor, the effervescent Rob Mills and co-produced by the show’s original creator, Johnny Young, YTT is set to become Australia’s biggest new talent show.
WHAT WE SAY: This could be as terrible. We’ll wait and see.
WATCH IF YOU LIKE: The 80’s, Australian Idol.
UNDERGROUND – THE JULIAN ASSANGE STORY (TEN)
WHAT THEY SAY: The story of 18 year old Australian Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, who allegedly hacked the CIA website. Based on the book “Underground” by Suelette Dreyfus.
WHAT WE SAY: Can you even imagine what computers looked like when Julian Assange was 18? Neither can we. We’ll be disappointed if we don’t hear at least one modem dialing up or see at least one pair of fingerless gloves.
WATCH IF YOU LIKE: The internet.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN CABRAMATTA (SBS)
WHAT THEY SAY: In the mid-90s the Vietnamese enclave of Cabramatta was in trouble: gangs controlled the streets, heroin turned it into the smack capital of Australia and it was the scene of the only political assassination in Australian history. But 15 years later, Cabramatta is a shining multicultural triumph. This is the inside story of how a newly-arrived migrant community was torn apart by crime but fought back to rediscover itself and forge a successful future.
WHAT WE SAY: Three episodes detail how a notorious Vietnamese enclave went from the epicentre of heroin to a thriving multicultural community. Will watch Pho sho.
WATCH IF YOU LIKE: Go Back To Where You Came From.
HOWZAT! THE KERRY PACKER STORY (NINE)
WHAT THEY SAY: This two-part mini-series follows Kerry Packer’s extraordinary rise to become the most influential businessman in the history of Australian sport. Taking on the cricket establishment, a young Kerry Packer set up a rebel competition with the world’s best players, who abandoned their loyalty to their national teams to join the breakaway competition. Despite poor crowds and low television ratings at first, a brave new world of sports broadcasting had begun, ushering in the era of one-day cricket played under lights.
WHAT WE SAY: We don’t like cricket. Oh no. We love it. Ratings here we come.
WATCH IF YOU LIKE: Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo.
BIG BROTHER (NINE)
WHAT THEY SAY: The show that redefined television is coming to Nine in 2012. Famous as much for the controversy it caused as the incredible ratings it received, Big Brother is back with a difference. The ‘mother’ of all reality shows returns to Australian television on Nine in 2012. The show that changed the face of Australian television will be reborn on Nine with a bold new attitude and a brand new host, Sonia Kruger.
WHAT WE SAY: Australia’s original water cooler reality show was a revelatory social experiment when it began in 2001 but ended as a cringey waiting room for morons, narcissists and every budding actor/model/singer in the country. Hopefully it’s more of the former. The formula needs a work over but like Big Brother himself – we’ll be watching. Initially. We’ll be watching initially. Also, thank god Gretel Killeen isn’t hosting!
WATCH IF YOU LIKE: Big Brother 1.0.
PUBERTY BLUES (TEN)
WHAT THEY SAY: A television adaptation of the 1979 Australian novel of the same name. Written by Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette, the feminist teen novel chronicles the lives of two 13-year-old girls from Sydney’s Sutherland Shire who join the “Greenhill gang” surfers in an attempt to gain popularity.
WHAT WE SAY: With television’s popular trend toward period pieces (Mad Men, Underbelly, Downton Abbey), Channel Ten would be banking on the whole Seventies surf vibe as a big draw card for viewers. It will also be interesting to see how the novel’s central themes of sexual politics, peer pressure and male chauvinism will be dealt with in retrospect.
WATCH IF YOU LIKE: Nostalgia.