“Ah, well, I wanted to get into Program Planning, but unfortunately, I have a degree.” - John Cleese, in Monty Python’s Flying Circus
My mate Simon Coates (Coatsie) sent me this excellent caricature out of the blue, at the beginning of the week that Channel 9 decided, unannounced, to piss its loyal viewers off yet again by playing ‘hide the decent program’. Bastards.
Here’s a letter I didn’t write about it (I don’t quite agree with Guy Fawkes’s opinion of Comedy Inc The Late Shift;, and I certainly have more respect for Albert Watson Newton than either Channel Nine or Guy Fawkes):
Channel Nine Complaints
C/o The Programming Department
PO Box 27
Willoughby, NSW 2068
Well, congratulations Channel Nine programmers!
You have done it again. Duped us all. Like an Orwellian plot device you have had us sit up to all-hours to view the only decent American drama series currently first-time-screening on Australian free-to-air television.
Again I sat, like thousands of other viewers, ready for bed but eager the see the latest episode of The Sopranos. It was difficult enough having to endure the tail-end of your previous program eating into the advertised timeslot, with it’s boorish, greedy, conniving Americans sitting around a fire on a beach like de-humanised, slack-jawed Pavlov’s Dogs. Who was voted off? The suspense was killing me! Such an important decision: should I go to the toilet, or make a cup of tea.
Fortunately enough, the tissue-thin-tension was drawn out like a victim of the Spanish Inquisition’s entrails. Long enough for me to perform both evening tasks, and in terms of being entertaining, as equally revolting as said torture. What’s more, I had adequate time to go about my business AND pack the dishwasher.
There I was, preparing a nice hot cup of tea; only to hear a station identification with the crisp timbre of your announcer’s voice telling me The Sopranos had been moved to Monday night.
Well, from here on in my hatred of you for your airing of Quizzmania has become a mere triviality. I felt like howling obscenities at the top of my lungs into the cavernous much-seen-but-rarely-enjoyed cleavage of Catriona Rowntree.
What a low act. In terms of programming, not since the stunt you pulled in late 2002, when you realised The Sopranos would rate too well for the non-ratings period timeslot, and, unadvertised, you screened the previous season’s first episode instead, have you dragged your ethics as low as a snake’s cloaca. On that occasion you had the gall to attempt to pass that off as an ‘encore presentation’. On this instance you have perpetrated such an act of disrespect towards your viewers there is no other way to interpret this as anything more than an insult to our collective intelligence.
Instead, in its place, we the viewing public were treated to an episode of The Late Shift (surely a silent ‘F’ in there applies), dumbed-down sketch ‘comedy’ unworthy of the likes of your Channel’s previous triumphs: Who Wants to Be A Human Clay Pigeon, Funniest RPA Proctological Home Insertions and 20 to 01 Reason’s Why Bert Left Ten To Host a Rubbish Game Show. 
(Or something. I tend to vague-out with this tripe, and it all bleeds together after a while).
There are few television shows which make the likes of Summer Bay’s sun-stroked mental pygmies, Toady and his suburbanite gastropods, or the even your very-own animated, glossy R.M. Williams brochure McClowns Daughters look good. However you manage to maintain just such a level of mediocrity with every screening of this ‘fecal-gem’. If it’s a matter of maintaining your quota of Australian content, why not fill a house with the dregs of Australia’s pick-up-joints and suburban night clubs and hope they’re naïve, vulgar and oafish enough to engage in sexual congress under the lights of the night vision cameras?
Oh, wait, of course.
Channel Nine has in the past excelled at being the worst example of commercial television professionally appealing to the lowest common denominator in Australia. Without you good people (cough) raising the bar (or in this case the toilet seat) we probably wouldn’t have the likes of Big Brother gracing our TV screens and titillating our great unwashed.
Even Kerry Packer’s pulling Doug Mulray, halfway through his Naughtiest Home Videos was justifiable. It was typically (of Mulray) off-colour, it drew a young demographic after its parent program, and well, frankly, Packer was the boss. He owned the station. He could play Wings 24-7 if the mood struck him so.
As your morning program TODAY flounders in the ratings-race, beaten (nay, bludgeoned) by a show hosted by a gravel voiced pontificating bald geek with the charisma of a parking station attendant, and a doltish tuckshop lady-esque female presenter, (the hapless fall-gal of his fatigued japes), doubtless tomorrow morning your ‘Entertainment’ presenter Richard Wilkins (nee ‘Wilde’) will smugly give us through his surgically enhanced face (no doubt made up of the left-over pieces of Tracy Grimshaw’s after she had an airline inflatable raft inserted into her lips) the spurious news that your channel has again won the ratings in this timeslot.
What pap. Who does this research? The North Korean Government? I don’t know who the “Nielsen”, of the “Nielsen” ratings is. Leslie Nielsen, perhaps? Or the same trained budgerigar that picks tomorrow’s star signs in the Daily Telegraph?
A plague on your house, and a pox on your genitals. May the McGuire era be as conversely short-lived as the ability of this vile and pernicious man’s capacity to network his way to the top of this country’s wealthiest and most influential people’s rectums.
Forget The Footy Show; surely Let’s Go Caving is his calling.
There may well be nothing on the other side, but I feel fairly confident in saying The Goanna is rolling in his grave like a rotisserie chicken with Parkinson’s Disease, vacillating in distress whilst the flagship of his media empire is piloted towards the rocky coast of the public opinion by pink be-shirted yuppies (with matching tie combos), asleep at the wheel as to how the public views their service, unless we of course are talking about the legions of self medicating bogans adhered to their stained couches, remotes in hands, Orchy-bottles-with-nylex-hoses to their lips and mullets plastered to their napes.
Again, thanks Channel Nine; you have plumbed the depths of disrespect not seen since somebody attached a microphone to Ray Martin and released his 12-watt intellect into the televisual landscape. Only Kerry-Anne’s flat double-A’s can eclipse that feat, and I’m not talking about her cup size.
How depressing that these people typify your organisation. A man with a hairstyle like a lacquered croissant, labouring under the misconception he’s “making a difference”, but in reality is as transparently dense as a butcher’s stool on Boxing Day. Therefore appropriately a meat puppet whose ‘groundbreaking exposés’ have all the intellectual and cultural-nutritional value of air. And similarly, whilst on the subject, with KAK; you can feel your IQ diminish as you view her inane, banal and ultimately frustrating-to-the-point-of-distressing dip-shittery and ‘info-tainment-ercial’ programming.
Frankly, it’s like eating a farted-on meringue: sugary, awful, and indistinct – save for the distinct flavour of crap.
Yes, I may well be a crack-pot and a bored vulgarian, and there is patently too much time on my hands. But I’d hate to see the day where I don’t rail against the likes of organisations like yours who take their patrons for granted and imagine they can tell everyone what to think and what to enjoy without some reaction. I feel confident this letter will either line the bottom of the Security Guard Dog’s shit-box, be unceremoniously filed under “B” for “Bin”, or may even manage to make the prestigious “Kook of the Week” feature spot on the lunchroom corkboard.
It will doubtless fall on deaf ears and serve only to vent my spleen and amuse my friends, those of whom take the time to read it. But hopefully someone will take some little glimmer of thought enough away from it, and switch off the television to pop on a good record, or perhaps open a good book, or maybe, just maybe, talk to their wife, husband, or child.
Or even, at a long-shot, just enjoy the silence.
Wait! Did you hear that?
IS that the sound of the late Mr Packer’s chagrin on the wind..?
No, I’m sorry. It’s merely the sweet sound of Jessica Rowe laughing like a hyena with its testes caught in the Channel Nine Cafeteria insinkerator. I can hear it all the fucking way from Willoughby.
At least someone’s getting a kick out of it.
The Viewer’s Guy Fawkes 
(NB: My apologies for using the terms “entertainment” and “Richard Wilkins” in the same sentence. I might be pretty angry but there’s really no excuse for sinking that low.)