Calum Henderson writes about (mainly terrible) television.

Calum Henderson: Presenters can cut to the chase

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Story has been replaced by Road Cops over the summer break.
Story has been replaced by Road Cops over the summer break.

Like hard-working mums and dads, TV programmers slog their guts out all year to to nourish us with the best and freshest programming they can afford, and increasingly we turn our ungrateful little noses up at the lot of it. Understandably, over summer they just give up, and for weeks we get the televisual equivalent of chip sandwiches for tea.

At the moment we've got a timeshare situation between The Chase Australia and Masterchef Australia in place of Seven Sharp in One's vital 7pm timeslot.

Meanwhile TV3 has returned to old faithful Road Cops while Story is on holiday.

Both shows are preceded by news bulletins presented by a daily lucky dip of strange and unusual newsreaders. Who knows what dreadful sin Michael Morrah committed to be denied annual leave over the Christmas break? Maybe he just doesn't like crowds and prefers to take his holidays in February when the weather's better anyway.

The Chase Australia - or, in the thick Australian accent of host Andrew O'Keefe, "Thuh Chay-suh Stray-yuh" - is a faithful remake of the British original, in the same way Gus Van Sant's 1998 Psycho is a faithful remake of the Alfred Hitchcock original.

O'Keefe - immediately recognisable as the lunatic host of Australia's Deal or No Deal - hasn't quite adjusted to the demands of this new job, which calls for less energy and more wit.

To help ease the franchise into its new territory they've flown over Anne "The Governess" Hegerty to join Australian chasers "Goliath", "The Supernerd" and "The Shark". Hegerty was the chaser on Monday night's episode, going up against a motley crew of Aussie battlers whose first task was to condense their life stories into a single statement and say it assertively into the camera.

There was retired secretary Phil ("I've had two encounters with Queen Elizabeth!"), medical student Jenny ("I play in an experimental band!"), PE teacher Jared ("I enjoy running marathons!") and navy commander Steve ("I play for the Australian Defence netball team!")

None of them seemed very good at quizzing. Even Australianising the questions didn't help. "What is the title of Australian Crawl's first album?" O'Keefe asked. "Pass," Phil answered sorrowfully.

Over on TV3, the mystifyingly popular Road Cops showed a man in a special edition Warriors jersey busted driving a stolen people-mover, a farmer with a tremendous wizard's beard pinged driving on an expired warrant and rego, a young woman lucky to survive a single-car crash, a carload of hard-case hoons.

The best segment followed an eagle-eyed constable called Dave in hot pursuit of a motorcyclist he spotted riding without a helmet. Just when Dave thought he had his man cornered, the motorcyclist gave him the slip.

One eyewitness described the perp as "a real loose unit". Another called him "an idiot".

Pretty brainless stuff, but it must be doing something right - we can't seem to get enough of these ordinary police capers. Maybe when Story eventually returns from its long summer holidays they could take a leaf or two from the Road Cops style book.

Instead of having Heather and Duncan present the show from the studio (boring), why not film them and all the other guys driving around all day on the trail of the day's biggest stories.

With a dashboard-mounted camera filming their every move, and the comfortingly familiar voice of Road Cops' Jono Pryor doing the narration, there's no way they could possibly go wrong.

- TimeOut

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Calum Henderson writes about (mainly terrible) television.

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