Sunday Night

By David Knox on February 16, 2009 / Filed Under Programming, Reviews 33

sundaynight2Now we’ve had two weeks’ worth of Seven’s new current affairs show, it’s time to look a little closer at its style and content. The show was clearly thrown in the deep end in the first week, having to cover the bushfires in Victoria.  It wisely sent Mike Munro and Monique Wright to Victoria. How well they covered it is debatable, but it would have looked foolish to premiere a new flagship current affairs show without including the biggest breaking story in the country.

Seven deserves a tick for attempting to revitalise current affairs in a live format. It would have been logical to adopt a magazine style show, or put a host behind a desk introducing pre-recorded stories filed by its journos. With the exception of the bushfire cross, so far there hasn’t been a great deal of live interaction. A studio audience sits watching the show, but hasn’t yet added any significant role to the format. You even get the feeling they’ve been asked not to clap. This is serious stuff, remember.

Current affairs shows really make their mark by breaking stories, and for two weeks we have had the Britt Lapthorne case by investigative journo Ross Coulthart (Sunday). Last night the show named two suspects, alleged to be Croation police. Coulthart also showed how his first story has attracted interest in Croatia, even if much of it was largely negative.

The jury is still out on whether this story will lead to any progress in the Lapthorne case, but indications would suggest it is heading in the right direction as a first “get” for Sunday Night.

Mike Munro’s forum with survivors and experts on the bushfires last night looked like it would be good stuff too. A shame it was so brief. There are lots of questions to be asked. If Seven was nervous of over-saturating the subject it should have stayed away altogether. Jennie Brockie would have made a meal of this on Insight for SBS.

Molly Meldrum’s piece on Coldplay felt like a story filed for Sunrise or Today Tonight. Comprising Molly’s itinerary, hotel check-in, interview, songs and concert it lacked the point-of-view necessary for a current affairs genre. It’s fine to have a light piece but please can we smell the roses? Let’s get under the skin of Chris Martin, not just string together a puff piece edited at breakneck speed.

Similarly, I’m not sure how Grant Denyer playing tennis with Jelena Dokic (with JetStar attire no less) really says “we do serious current affairs.”

But it hit a home run spending time with a man who lost loved ones in the fires. Hearing his anguish was powerful, indeed.

Seven is also screening The All In Call on 7HD, a terrific idea to incorporate the audience with their comments and questions on the stories of Sunday Night. But despite the promises, only three or four questions made it to air. Most of this saw Ross Coulthart talking to Chris Bath and Mike Munro, and even an extra story from Monique Wright (which was good enough to put in the main show).

So far The All In Call isn’t living up to its title. Seven would do well to put a microphone into the audience and have Coulthart talk to them rather than the hosts.

Visually the show also looks too similar to breakfast television. Male and female hosts sitting on a couch with clipboards screams brekkie telly in this country, and its Sunrise that asked us to think that way.

The show appears to ask us to re-think the way we view current affairs with a bit of everything on offer: live interviews, filed reports, crosses, forums, investigative journalism, light celebrity pieces and a studio audience. The proposition may unsettle purists who like their storytelling more focussed. Next week 60 Minutes is back with a special boasting how its done this for thirty years.

Sunday Night must really be hoping there’s an arrest in Croatia before then.

35_starsSunday Night airs 6:30pm Sundays on Seven, followed by The All In Call at 7:30pm on 7HD.

33 Comments »

  1. CyrusL March 23, 2009 at 10:22 am -

    I think Chris Bath looks more uncomfortable sitting down than standing up. It looks to me like she’s worried people will see up her short skirt and wonder why she’s not wearing stockings – so she’s forever strategically positioning her clipboard for extra modesty!

  2. franz chong February 25, 2009 at 12:53 am -

    something like double episodes of Family Guy or the Cleveland Show would make a far better choice at that time of night.have they forgotten about the under 40’s or is it assumed most of them work on a Sunday Night or go to Church Services.

  3. Bernadette February 17, 2009 at 12:28 pm -

    I admit I didn’t watch enough to make an informed decision about its overall quality but the bit with Grant Denyer in the limo with the tennis player isn’t what I think of when I think ‘current affairs’. I went back to the ironing rather than see what else was on offer.

    Then again I’m probably not their target audience – I prefer the longer format stuff (e.g. Four Corners, Dateline, Insight) and so it was probably never going to appeal to me.

    I’ll check back in a couple of weeks but at this point I can’t imagine making this a regular watch.

  4. Majorette February 17, 2009 at 8:27 am -

    Tony Harrison wrote – ” is it just me, or does Chris Bath (who I love) look uncomfortable standing up! ”
    My thoughts exactly Tony, I can hardly look at her as she’s so wooden and nervous looking. Mike Munroe seem more comfy on his own.

    I have loved Grant Denyer for years, but please Ch7 don’t use him again on Sunday Night….ugh

    The Forum/discussion on fires was excellent, should have been more to it.
    The 2 experts made themselves look ridiculous with their lack of bush knowledge and the fact that they had no real answer to the questions as they wrong.
    Seems the local Councils have much to answer for too…

    Overall I really like Sunday Night and will continue watching.

  5. RichoTB February 17, 2009 at 2:44 am -

    I like the fluff!! :\ not every story has to be morbid all the time

  6. Zambora February 16, 2009 at 11:36 pm -

    Agree wholeheartedly David.
    Don’t need Grant Denyer or Molly Meldrum fluff pieces.
    The discussion on fires with ‘experts’ and survivors just did not go far enough or long enough.
    The final piece on the man who lost loved ones was “riveting” – I could not turn away even though it was sad it was also full of hope.
    More serious discussion please, less of the fluff.

  7. Tony Harrison February 16, 2009 at 9:51 pm -

    Is it just me, or does Chris Bath (who I love) look uncomfortable standing up! Molly is just a joke. A career forged from being in the office when he overheard the Beatles were splitting.

  8. GraGra February 16, 2009 at 8:29 pm -

    I’ll give it time but at the moment it feels like the show doesn’t know quite what balance to take. The Grant Denyer segment was a joke in lieu of the recent TT story about how he can hardly stand up to do “Talent”, and where was the hard hitting stuff about the threatened appearance of Jelena’s dad at the Aussie Open? Oh that was a TT threat sorry I forgot. And did she have to be shown with all the Jetstar plugs…of course, or she wouldn’t have done it but that sort of deal-making needs addressing for a serious current affairs show.
    I agree with the Molly/Coldplay comment above…will Molly address the plagiarism issue or the paparazzi confrontations Chris Martin had on his last tour of OZ… or if you’re going with Molly god love him will you just stick with the “I’ve just flown 20 hours etc” and dress it up with snappy cuts, edits and effects. Can work, needs to try harder not dumber.

  9. TVworker February 16, 2009 at 7:55 pm -

    hey Alex …what department at 7 do you work in…I’ve read all the comments…and well…your’s was so 7…i apoligise if you don’t but gee it smacks of a Press release out of sevens publicity department… now i have only watched it for two segments…and well after a month or two it will get better..if the viewers want to hang around for that …well best of luck… but the show smells very much a baby of a one night stand between Kochie and Mel…. and the steps sister of TT. 60minutes has the runs on the board and you seriously can’t compare these two shows….they are different in almost everyway…. but i don’t think Insight should be worried either..this show ( Sunday Night) is perfectly targeted at 7’s audience and thats the same crowd that tune in for Sunrise and TT…Denyer…Meldrum and even the same producer (Boland)…don’t panic 60 minutes…at least not yet…

  10. Tepee February 16, 2009 at 5:55 pm -

    Sunday Night wants to have it both ways. They get an ex-Sunrise weatherman in a deplorable “interview” with Jelena Dokic, to appeal to the fluffier Sunrise viewers, but try to have the hard-hitting stuff with ex-Sunday reporter Ross Coutlhart. Hurry up and choose, Seven. Also I agree, I think the presentation is a little iffy, and to be honest Munro and Bath as a pair don’t do anything for me, but I’m sure they’ll get used to each other soon enough.

  11. Alex February 16, 2009 at 3:25 pm -

    David,
    I was in the first screening of Sunday Night, and they did put a microphone in the audience, but they simply ran out of time to ask the questions due to the bushfire coverage, and on this Sunday there was actually no audience because they presumably wanted to catch up on the stories missed from last week. This week the audience will be back most likely, and this week i think will be a much clearer idea of what the All In Call will actually be.
    Just to add aswell.. i like the idea of Sunday Night, because australia really lacks in the current affair programmes (TT and ACA for example), but at the same time, it’s a bit too mixed up, going from such a serious issue of the bushfires to an uplifting interview with Coldplay.. In my opinion it’s much better than what’s out there, but i think they need to specify to capture the correct target audience..

  12. Chelsea February 16, 2009 at 2:57 pm -

    I agree with FlossAus, though I didn’t realise the runt was on the screen for 10 minutes…. that’s 10 minutes when Bathy should have been on.

  13. tomothy February 16, 2009 at 2:55 pm -

    Wasn’t keen on them using Molly Meldrum and Grant Denyer. Molly may get ahead of others, but c’mon, it is hard to take him seiously. Grant Denyer is not a reporter, the was the so called “amusing” weather presenter for a few years then hosted some low cost singing/dancing shows on Seven.
    No need for an audience. Last nights forum about the fires could have lasted much longer, dissapointing it was so short. I dont care about a tennis player or Coldplay. If I wanted to know about them I would watch the tennis and video hits!
    The hosts standing is fine, but we don’t need a full length view of them, Chris Bath didn’t seem that comfortable standing.
    I am more impressed with this show than I thought, but I want to give it a couple more episodes to decide whether is it is going to have much strength and quality stories to it after the bushfire disaster is not the major focus.
    I wouldn’t let Sunrise steal any of my time for the utter rubbish it spews out each day or the so called current affairs on TT and ACA. I just hope that this show doesn’t go down the lowest common denominator path, and turn into an evening Sunrise, aka ‘Sunset’.

  14. FlossAus February 16, 2009 at 2:53 pm -

    At the moment, it’s all little to Sundown (the PM of Sunrise) to be taken incredibly seriously. I agree with the general comments above, especially the short cut of the Mike Munro Q & A section.

    I think if they plan to get ‘gets’ they need to have a story that’s not just coverage but an actual investigation. They also run the massive risk of having one good, thorough story ruined by Grant Denyer spending ten minutes farting around on the tennis court in a faux match with Jelena. The credibility needs to run across the whole program and not sporadic stories if they want to topple 7.30 Report and Insight for the title.

  15. Chelsea February 16, 2009 at 2:51 pm -

    I really like the new Sunday program – I’m a huge fan of Chris Bath. Though please oh please why do you have to ruin it with that runt Grant Denyer – what a twat!

  16. Jason February 16, 2009 at 2:49 pm -

    Again I haven’t watched it but I want to know – did Molly bring up the recent ‘Cold-plagarism’ incident??

  17. Jason February 16, 2009 at 2:44 pm -

    I haven’t had the chance to watch it yet – but the other day I was watching John Stewart grill some dude on the Daily Show and I remember thinking that interview shows should have a studio audience (a boisterous one at that) it was like an instant BS detector!

  18. David Knox February 16, 2009 at 2:36 pm -

    Molly gets access ahead of everyone in his field, so he’s very valuable. The key will be in presenting stories which allow some insight.

  19. dragonchik February 16, 2009 at 2:31 pm -

    on 2nd thoughts, it is a possibility that the sunrise-ish thing was a one off.
    because of the fires and the extended britt lapthorne thing. there is a lot of good stuff in the cupboard. we saw on the add that there is a lance armstrong and stephen spielburg interview, sam doing something in the jungle, monique in vegas, ross with more of his investigative face on, and i have heard that jane henson has filed a report and andrew bolt (from the herald sun) is doing something on his view on the aboriginal apology, which could be interesting and controversial.

    we’ll just have to see, i hope we don’t see much more of molly.

  20. annie a February 16, 2009 at 12:02 pm -

    I realise that the Coldplay story was dropped from the first show because of the bushfires. I totally understand that. But they didn’t show it int he promos for the second episode or mention it at the top of the show. I know there were plenty of Coldplay fans who missed it because of this.

  21. ella February 16, 2009 at 11:55 am -

    well last week i thought the britt lapthorne story was excellent. last night the forum, the extra britt bit and the bushfire stories were all great but the coldplay and jelena reports were a let down.

    they had such a big score with jelena and they wasted it. there was barely any interview.
    i’m not sure if i should be frustrated with grant/molly or the editors because i think the people that put it together should cop some of the blame.

    i agree with people that say that the all in call is better. it is so much easier to watch. and much more informative. and the reporters and hosts seem to be well spoken and handle it well.

  22. Deano February 16, 2009 at 11:53 am -

    I tend to think that the pieces by Denyer on Dokic and Meldrum on Coldplay reek more of Today Tonight than Four Corners, if you get my drift, as does the general packaging and presentation of the show.

    This also affected the general feeling towards the Lapthorne investigation in my view, though this could in fact turn out to be a real get, as you put it, and have positive effect on the case should the allegations prove true.

    I’ll forgive the bushfire coverage given the enormity and ongoing nature of the story at the time of broadcast.

    I certainly don’t feel that Sunday Night should be a venue for serious, hard-hitting stories a la Four Corners, but I was hoping more for a sense of “the old days” of 60 Minutes.

  23. Jed February 16, 2009 at 11:25 am -

    I’m still thinking this show has potential but last night disappointed me. I’d rather they stick to those investigative pieces and even the Bushfire forum with Mike Munro worked well (although yes was too short).

    But Coldplay and Molly Meldrum, Grant Denyer??? I don’t want this show to turn into Today Tonight. The Jelena Dokic story could have been so much more interesting and answered many questions Australians would want to know, but seriously Grant Denyer. And don’t even get me started on the Coldplay story.

    If the program can stick to a 7.30 Report meets Insight type format and focus on quality investigations i’ll keep watching. Chris Bath seems awkward on the show also, just the way she stands looks odd.

  24. Stuart February 16, 2009 at 11:24 am -

    I really really didnt like this show. I think that it is just a Sunrise in prime time. Seriously looking forward to 60 Mins returning next week.

  25. Andrew B February 16, 2009 at 11:21 am -

    And I always thought the protocol for current affairs shows was to put the light entertainment / celeb story at the end (as in Cold Play last night)? Not in the middle of the show? The stories on these shows should be ordered from most to least serious.

  26. Andrew B February 16, 2009 at 11:19 am -

    I think the show has promise, we’ll have a better idea in a few weeks time when everything settles down as far as schedules go.

    I agree the All In Call is not doing what it should be. It’s just as bad as the letters in 60 minutes where they only show 3 or 4 chosen responses from 3 stories of the previous week. Its more like an extended discussion show with the poeple already there.

  27. toriwannabe February 16, 2009 at 10:44 am -

    I agree with the Sunrise comparisons, particularly with the way the hosts interacted. I felt like Chris Bath was desperately trying to look perky, swinging her hair and trying to keep things light. I hope she soon decides to be herself and not some Melissa Doyle clone.

    Also, I agree on ditching Molly. Keep that stuff for fluffy morning TV.

  28. dragonchik February 16, 2009 at 10:01 am -

    i’d also like them to tell us what is on next week during the show. i don’t think they do that. surely there is an audience benefit from it.

  29. dragonchik February 16, 2009 at 9:57 am -

    call me unusual but i think the all in call is better than the actual show. there is lots of content and it is so much easier to watch. and this is where the hosts make sense. Chris bath and mike munro do a really good job with this.

    i agree with david that Mike Munro’s forum should have been a lot longer. it was an interesting watch. but there were so many questions it could have gone on forever.

    the coldplay and jelena dokic stories were a bit disappointing but all the britt lapthorne stories have been excellent. i had last weeks on my mind well into the night which is supposed to signal that it was well done.

  30. William February 16, 2009 at 9:30 am -

    I flicked over to ‘Sunday Night’ on two separate occasions last night only to find what appeared to be ‘Sunrise’ or ‘Today Tonight’ by another name. It was way too shiny and slick to be taken seriously, it was as though they were aiming their show at teenagers or people easily distracted by pretty colours / people…

  31. Neon Kitten February 16, 2009 at 5:42 am -

    100% agreed on pretty much all the above, David.

    They’re probably worried that going in too hard with serious current affairs will alienate the Sunrise/TT/ACA sheep, and they’re probably right. But they struck a reasonably good balance last night, especially after week one’s hilarious “possibly/probably/might’ve/could’ve” so-called “investigative journalism” on the Lapthorne story (and anyone notice last night that it was News Ltd that actually got photos of the alleged culprits?)

    I have a feeling Sunday Night will find its feet soon enough, as long as they remember it’s not brekky, and as long as they can stop Mike Munro doing that face-shrug thing he does whenever something is deemed by him to be tragic or otherwise regrettable. It’s such an ACA cliche I actually laughed.

    60 Minutes can boast all it likes. Its producers have to be pretty worried at this stage. When was the last time 60 Minutes did serious current affairs and proper investigative journalism, after all? Hmm.. errr…

  32. Rutzie February 16, 2009 at 4:57 am -

    I think it needs a bit of ironing out but overall it’s pretty good. I do think they need to involve the studio audience more otherwise there is no point in having them there.

  33. Mike Beckham February 16, 2009 at 4:07 am -

    I agree, the presentation needs a fix. They need to drop the couch. Get a desk, stand behind it. Rejig the Leno style city skyline. Drop the audience for the main show. Bring them in for the all in call program instead.

    Drop Molly and get someone who can delve a little deeper.

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