“Hands on buzzers. Let’s play Spicks and Specks”
Contrary to popular belief outside of the country, Australians do not watch Neighbours. Instead, from the Aussie pick, we watch a raft of shows from The Gruen Tranfer to RocKwiz to that marvel Spicks and Specks. But lately, these panel-style shows, centering mostly around comedy, have been replaced. Last on the block to be replaced was Spicks and Specks, hosted by Adam Hills and featuring regular guests Myf Warhurst and Adam Brough. Don’t ask me where they’ve gone – it’s all very hush-hush.
But rather than going all-out and scrapping the idea behind Spicks, the ABC have chosen to go with a new cast, new titles, and an overall new look. Fans of the original show had almost universally condemned its replacement before its debut. So worried were they about the shun that the ABC even resorted to bringing back Barry Morgan, an incredibly popular guest on the show, for the first episode’s trailer. The replacements for the two Adams and Myf look starkly similar to their predecessors, too. Adam Hills’ replacement, Josh Earl, is skinny and suited-up with a short dark hairstyle, while Myf’s replacement Ella Hooper looks like her counterpart too. Then there’s Adam Brough’s replacement, the oh-so-annoying Adam Richard. Not only does Mr Richard give gays a stereotyped image, his comedic style revolves around his own warped views of how people should be. It’s a far cry from the previous trio, but it’s easy to see why the ABC went down the Richard road – he certainly looks similar to Adam Brough.
These regulars were, today, met with a fairly conventional group of guests, and the appearance of Michelle Laurie was helpful to bring back the reminiscence of times past. These new kids on the block had a difficult start to their first episode. With jokes like “I thought controlto was how you open up a word document on a computer,” the show didn’t look like it was going anywhere any time soon. Then it was suddenly thrust in to conversation about genitalia. But, after settling in by ten minutes through, the more enjoyable side to the show started to come out of its scared, unhomely shell. It’s good riddance we didn’t see Barry Morgan appear, though, or else the show would’ve turned into a throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks-fest.
And, like the old Spicks and Specks, my family and I still found ourselves guessing the songs in the Cover Version section. A few reluctant smiles crept out, though no solid laughs were heard. We marveled at an interesting fact about Bon Scott, then dismissed a less-than-interesting fact about Daft Punk. The mixed-baggedness of the new Spicks is stark: The questions are interesting, but the comedy just isn’t funny. It’s a romp with less conviction for answering the questions than the last series, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And it’s clear the ABC are making sure to distinguish between the previous Spicks and Specks by …wait for it… swapping the places of Adam and Ella so they don’t correspond with those of Adam and Myf. But seriously. The new Spicks is so different that even the Wikipedia entry is split into two pages – one for the old, one for the new.
And the differences are there. The revamped style is no consolation for the fact that the charm of Adam Hills has gone, and Josh Earl’s voice takes getting used to. He has a suspiciously similar tag-line to Adam Hills’ “Thanks for watching Spicks and Specks. My name’s Adam Hills. Goodnight Australia,” and I found myself questioning his competence more than his dedication for change. Earl himself even alluded to his difficulties filling the shoes of one of Australia’s most loved comedians when he said, making reference to someone else, “gee, I can’t imagine what it would be like to replace someone so loved after seven years.” The disappointment and the sympathy just seem to swirl into one large, hesitant and slightly reluctant appreciation for the new Spicks and Specks. The charm may have gone, but the fun is still there, and one thing’s for sure: It’s better than the trailer (below) made it look.
I just wish they’d chosen a better costar than Adam Richard.