Hasn’t it been a long time between drinks?
A couple of bits of business before we get down to the carolling.
1) I’m watching this on PVR, and–Welcome to Australian television–the opening didn’t record.
2) Hi Australia, I’m back in blue.
Hopes for this year’s edition: Natalie Doyle’s death glare, Gnat actually getting his props for being a decent singer, another round of Seven & the Seventy-Sevens, and please, no rap breaks in songs that don’t need them. Either rap the carol or sing the carol!
Whatever preamble there was, I don’t know. What I am greeted with however, is actress Justine Clarke (very nicely attired) energetically telling a group of children “Do you know who it is?”
Since it’s not captioned, I have no idea what the children’s response is, but apparently it was a music cue for Justine to sing “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”
Not being terribly familiar with Justine Clarke’s career outside of prime-time, it’s pleasant to discover that she’s a very good singer. (Playschool grad?)
The ode to the oddball reindeer ends abruptly and quickly transitions to a very cabaret-style “Santa Claus is coming to town.”
The kids backing Justine are great, and two are dressed as the Mario Brothers of Nintendo fame, which is rather idiosyncratic.
As Justine really belts out the last few bars, Santa does indeed come to the Domain…on a motorcycle.
It’s Bikie Claus!
Bikie Claus then leads everybody on stage in what can only be described as “Jingle Bells” performed as a revival.
Gnat tells us that Samantha Jade is next.
Adverts: My Kitchen Rules promises twins who will be playing dumb and mean, and another pair who proceed to call them as such…Jamie Oliver salivates over WOOLWORTHS prawns…This year’s Carols in the Domain movie tie-in? Disney’s “Frozen.” Which makes a lot more sense than last year’s “Parental Guidance.”
And we’re back.
Michael Buble’ does his standard recorded “Happy Holidays” message for his very passionate fanbase down here. (I know he means it, but Seven really ought to stump up the cash to get him here for one of these things.)
No Nat this year, it’s Melissa Doyle, the old female foil to Lord Kochie on Sunrise. (A bit of background for Americans reading this: Remember the PR fiasco that happened when Ann Curry got booted from Today? Well, Melissa Doyle is essentially the Australian equivalent of Ann Curry in that situation, and let’s just leave it at that.)
No death glares or snark from Mel, which I must admit, I rather miss. These reviews are always a lot more fun when the presenters do everything with an arched eyebrow. Instead Mel & Gnat introduce Samantha Jade singing “O Holy Night.”
Unlike the risqué attire last year, Jade looks like a Disney princess. (Subtle plug?) Now, I don’t mind Jade, but she does give what is supposed to be a solemn hymn a few too many glory notes (no pun intended).
Mel remarks that Jade does look like a princess. (PLUG) Meanwhile, Gnat–wearing a parka–complains that it’s cold. Now this can go one of two ways: either with a Chaser-style bit of political humour about global warming or a plug for Disney’s Frozen. Let’s see which one wins.
Gnat says he feels frost in the air and that “it could snow at any time” followed by a joke about his surname [White].
And it turns out that the sole purpose of that whole blizzard of jokes was to intro Johnny Ruffo singing “White Christmas.”
Last year, this poor lad was running around like a mad man onstage, this year he’s taking it easy, it’s Johnny “Vegas Swing” Ruffo.
Unfortunately, the orchestration calls for him to hit a really absurdly high note. Given the fact that Ruffo looks quite baby-faced, it gives the impression that his voice is about to crack.
Out of seemingly nowhere, a flurry of tap dancers appear…in tuxedos. I admit I tend to overthink a lot of these things, but the first thought that pops into my head is that we have gone from the Domain to dinner theatre. Johnny Vegas Ruffo gamely taps along, but not too much, because he has to sing again and hit those notes. And they are HIGH.
There’s another tap break and Ruffo’s portable mic battery (or box, or whatever those things that allow a singer to hear themselves) falls out.
He soldiers on, and actually improves, in my opinion. Though of all songs to get a James Brown style “breakdown” “White Christmas” would be the last one I’d expect. Nonetheless, there Ruffo was doing the splits.
I tell you, this man is the workhorse of Seven.
Gnat chides Mel about snow, and I hope that is the end of that gag.
The glimmer of hope I had for climate change humour is dashed as Mel says “you could say it’s FROZEN.”
Gnat gives the spiel about [Disney’s new film] “Frozen,” making it sound like it’s “Gone With The Wind” for the 21st Century.
The clip we’re given is entertaining, but could not possibly live up to that hype.
Mel & Gnat–I’m just going to be calling them the MGs from here on in–promise us an “exclusive” performance of a song from the film from one of Australia’s biggest musical theatre stars, Amanda Harrison.
Not being up on my Australian musical theatre knowledge, I’m going to take the MGs word that she is.
The song “Let it go,” sounds like something you’d hear Miss Georgia sing at a Miss America pageant circa 1985. Harrison certainly gives it her all, with the fireworks dramatically punctuating every glory note.
“Exclusive” clearly is TV speak for brief, as the song is over after one chorus.
The MGs must be wearing sneakers as they reappear in a booth some distance away right after Harrison sings the last “GOOOOOOOO!”
Before we go to adverts they promise Jessica Mauboy, Human Nature (Australian boyband turned neo-Rat Pack after a Vegas residency), Stan Walker (AGAIN?), and Jimmy Barnes.
Adverts: Medibank is now speaking in hashtags.
We return with Sir Cliff Richard (or Nosferatu) reminding us to donate to the Salvos.
The MGs point out that the candle bags have sold out. (The profits go to the Salvos.) They give a donate to the Salvos spiel which conveniently segues into an intro for Stan Walker (AGAIN?) singing “The First Noel.”
Walker is accompanied by the Australian Girls Choir, and he does not try to sing over them…mostly.
After Christmas in the Park, I have reached Stan Walker saturation point.
Gnat reappears looking oddly stunned. Ah, must be time to do the awkward interview with an overseas celebrity who “wishes they could be there,” but Seven or Woolworth’s doesn’t pay enough.
This year it’s Kelly Clarkson, who is pregnant and in Los Angeles.
Personally, I don’t care, except Gnat refers to it constantly. Perhaps, it’s just me, but mentioning pregnancy during any Christmas themed show automatically makes me think of the Virgin Mary, particularly since this is Clarkson’s first pregnancy.
The Virgin Kelly will be giving an “exclusive” (read: probably recorded several days ago) performance “later on.”
I wouldn’t be so cynical about it, except last year’s Rod Stewart debacle gave that distinct impression.
Mel glides in and the MGs go into mega-hype mode, this time over the pairing of Jessica Mauboy & Human Nature.
I remember where I was when I found out that the Soviet Union was no more.
I remember where I was when Michael Jackson performed the Moonwalk for the first time.
Clearly I can add another thing to that list: when Jessica Mauboy & Human Nature performed “Sleighride.” At least that’s what the MGs want us to believe.
The reality is that this is not so much Jessica Mauboy & Human Nature, but Jessica Mauboy VS. Human Nature.
Much like Georgie Parker vs. Jay Laga’ia last year, they start out in unison and then kind of fall apart. Mauboy goes into Beyonce’ mode and Human Nature are the Osmond Brothers.
Kind of awkward, particularly when the members of Human Nature start doing one-on-one “diva vs. divo” duets with Mauboy.
Gnat tells us Jimmy Barnes and the cast of Grease are next (and if they’re performing together then that really will be Jimmy Barnes vs. the cast of Grease, because whenever Jimmy Barnes performs with somebody, it’s really Jimmy Barnes versus them), along with Kelly Clarkson’s “exclusive” performance.
Slight rant here: Somebody needs to start charging television networks every time they say the word “exclusive,” because it’s beginning to lose its meaning. Frankly, we all know that we can only see Kelly Clarkson’s performance on Seven. It’s pretty unlikely that someone from Nine or Ten is going to hijack the satellite feed and put it to air as well. (Though in the world of Australian commercial television, anything cut throat is possible.)
Adverts: The “bomb” is just the start on Home & Away. (It’s time to shore up our UK viewers with a sudden trip to London. Take that, Shortland Street.)…Holden tells us “we’re here to stay,” no matter what news of Holden winding down operations and closing plants might say (Poor Holden marketing execs are really between a rock and a hard place, honestly)
As we return, Mel intros Kelly Clarkson’s “exclusive” performance of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”
Clarkson is supported by a pretty decent orchestra, which makes really wonder if “exclusive” also means “well, I was doing this anyway for US television so I might as well flick it your way too, Seven.”
The fact that she’s in a theatre with a sizable audience and pretty slick camera work supports this even more.
Gnat returns with the ironic (at least to me, given the previous rant) statement that “the word ‘legend’ gets bandied about these days.” (Not as much as the word “exclusive.”) It is the appropriate terminology to describe Jimmy Barnes, however.
There is no need to go through the man’s whole entire bio, Gnat.
Jimmy Barnes comes in and in true Barnesy style attacks the stage singing “Run Run Rudolph.” That may read as odd, but Barnes makes it work.
Unfortunately, the camera goes to a shot of the crowd and shows the enormous Tele-prompTer with the lyrics scrolling merrily along.
The MGs return saying in the most square way possible “No one rocks it out like Jimmy Barnes.”
Gnat, I like you, but please don’t say “groovy” again.
Speaking of Tele-prompTers, Gnat clearly looks at one (or a clock) when complimenting Mel’s dress.
Mel gives the details very briefly in order to intro the cast of Grease.
They sing “Greased Lightning” to a sleigh.
Not being a fan of this song, nor the musical Grease itself, this is a bit of a hard slog for me.
This segues into “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” after Todd McKinney comes onstage.
Now were this Nine, we’d be having Bert Newton, I reckon. (Bert is actually in the cast, but it wouldn’t look right for him to be on Seven, such are the politics of commercial television. You just don’t channel hop in Australia as Mel B. has discovered, although I guess Rob Mills’s deal with Ten must’ve come to an end.)
Adverts: The next edition of My Kitchen Rules will apparently include a couple who are very big on cheese. Being that they are from NSW, you can pretty much guess which part of the state they’re from…