The Black Box: “Australia’s Naughtiest Home Videos”

Television pilots are tough to make. It’s hard to introduce the concept and entire cast of characters of a show in one episode and still have that episode hold up on it’s own. But just because something’s hard doesn’t make it any more excusable when you fail spectacularly at doing it. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Black Box, where we check out pilots that crashed and burned to see exactly what went wrong.

This week, we look at one of the most legendary television disasters of all time.

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Man, we are just breaking all kinds of rules in this column lately. Last week I looked at a show that wasn’t a failure and this week we look at a show that… isn’t exactly a show. No, this is what we call a television special. It was only ever meant to air once. So why am I reviewing it? Patience, reader, it’s a virtue. First let’s get that pesky research stuff out of the way.

“Australia’s Naughtiest Home Videos” was a television special made for Australian Television channel Nine Network. The special was a spin-off of the popular “Australia’s Funniest Home Videos” television show, which in itself was an export of “America’s Funniest Home Videos”. The special was broadcast on September 4th, 1992 and was hosted by Australian radio host Doug Mulray. The special was a compilation of various clips that were considered “too naughty” for the regular show. But again, you ask, why am I talking about this, it was only supposed to be a single episode, so how was it cancelled? Well, I’ll let wikipedia tell you…

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Yep.

What does that mean? Well, pretty much exactly what you’d think. Halfway through the broadcast, at the request of the enraged president of the network, the show just stopped, citing “technical difficulties” and the network switched over to a re-run of “Cheers”. And by, “the president of the network requested the show be stopped” I mean that he apparently called the studio operators and shouted, and I quote, “Get that shit off the air!” That’s one way to cancel a broadcast.

What they did right: I think I laughed twice during this forty-one minute program, and one of those I immediately hated myself for.

What they did wrong: I don’t think I’m the target audience for this show anyway. I don’t even like “America’s Funniest Home Videos”, there was approximately a zero percent chance I would ever like this abomination. And guess what? I don’t like it. This review is probably gonna be a short one, as it’s hard to discuss a show of this format. It’s ten percent clips of the douchey host, ninety percent clips of animals humping things. Or a man lifting a barbell with his dick. Or any other measure of quality content. This was a slog to sit through and I hated every second of it.

Oh, and I feel I should mention that Australia has vastly different content standards than the USA. This means that, yes, nudity is fully allowed, human or animal. This is one of the many ways in which Australian television is not a step up from American television. And no, I’m not going to use any images from those sections of the program. Here, let’s go back to using things wikipedia did, because they handled this show with as much class as possible.

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Well, I mean, that is what that is.

No, the above moment doesn’t work in context. It might actually be worse in context. Also, kangaroos are actually a huge part of this program, so I guess I haven’t been stereotyping Australians all this time. Huh, good to know. Unfortunately, boomerangs, didgeridoos and being descended from prisoners don’t feature in NEARLY as much, so that’s a disappointment. Honestly, it’s tough for me not to just parrot off a short list of all the horrible shit I had to sit through like a war crimes reporter. I witnessed a dog attempt to procreate with an unwilling bird. An elderly woman removed her dentures to grab a message from a stripper’s undergarments. One child grabbed the rear end of another child. A bald man in a mesh t-shirt played a guitar over the proceedings.

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Truly, this is a dark day for us all.

Also, this show was hosted by the human equivalent of a slug, mostly in terms of the amount of unfunny sliminess that spewed forth from his open mouth. The humor in this special is “offensive for offensiveness sake” which I’ve never been a fan of. Mulray manages to be uproariously not funny and unpleasant as fuck all at the same time. The version of this special I watched was the full version, which was aired for archival reasons years after the former head of Nine Network’s death, and after I reached the end of the originally aired footage, I seriously asked myself the question “why the fuck am I still watching this?”

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Pictured: everything wrong with this show, society, humankind…etc.

Every time I review so-called “reality” programming, I just come away angry and hateful of the world at large. “ANV” is a perfect example of what happens when quality control drops out of programming. It’s a microcosm of the shittiest trends in shock-value TV. I hate it, and most importantly of all–

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I’m sorry, we here at Nine Network are experiencing technical difficulties. Please enjoy this regularly scheduled programming.

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Television pilots are tough to make. It’s hard to introduce the concept and entire cast of characters of a show in one episode and still have that episode hold up on it’s own. But just because something’s hard doesn’t make it any more excusable when you fail spectacularly at doing it. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Black Box, where we check out pilots that crashed and burned to see exactly what went wrong.

“Cheers” was a sitcom airing on American television network NBC in the 80’s and 90’s. The pilot, which aired on September 30th, 1982, introduces the cast and follows Diane’s introduction to the bar’s staff, after her fiancé leaves her. The pilot was the beginning of the long-running tv series, and was rewritten numerous times before making it to air.

What they did right: Nah, just kidding you guys, have a good week!

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