Andrew Mickel13 July 2011
Current's Infomania is no more. Andrew Mickel was once its biggest fan. But even he thinks its time it was put out of its misery...
So long Infomania, we hardly knew you. Four years, seven hosts, ten slots, and a million excellent takedowns of the preposterous world of American media later, Current TV finally seem to have twigged that the show is never going to be a hit. Or even an underground hit, if we're honest.
It may have once been an awesome show, but sometimes that isn't enough: this Friday sees the last episode take to the American airwaves.
And while it was once the only show I would watch every week without fail, the passage of time has not been kind to Infomania.
I've previously promoted the show as a youthful, insightful way of approaching media satire that makes the Daily Show look like the often clunky, smug liberal laugh-in it is, and makes our creaking satirical dinosaurs show their age.
Tune in now and you wouldn't even begin to recognise that as a description of the show. Once it zipped along with wired green-screen graphics, concise pieces and raced through ideas and jokes so quickly you could barely keep up. Now, it has a set that could be confused as part of a Daybreak relaunch and cosy interviews in the studio that would be considered anodyne on the One Show. The knowledgeable drunken heckler at the side of the media circus has become a watered-down version of what it vainly tries to mock.
Take the average episode of the last year. Straight-up reviews of blockbuster films? The transmogrification of Brett Erlich from adorable everyman into an disingenuous host and arse-licking interviewer of often Parkinson-esque quantities? And the complete removal of the pace and insanely high hit rate of gags that made it so good? That's not what I signed up for.
The show also decided to stop airing full episodes online of a show that was targeting a web-savvy audience, and was gradually marginalised on TV screens too. If it even airs on Current UK any more, I can't find it.
It's worth remembering just how amazing the show was at its peak, and looking back its clear that a lot of that was reliant on tackling the serious stuff. Conor Knighton was the sort of anchor who had such a deftness of touch that you didn't even consider him a host – he was a class wise guy prankster with all the lines – who would engage with big media stories of the week head on. The fact that the best gags left the show at the same time as him would suggest he might have been an awesome writer too.
Sarah Haskins' much-loved Target Women, Erin Gibson's replacement and gradually improving slot Modern Lady, and the consistently reliable Bryan Safi with That's Gay, all provided alternate viewpoints on the media that won audiences much wider than their topic's demographic. Add in the class clowns of Brett Erlich, Sergio Cilli and Ben Hoffman, and at its height it was a perfectly balanced show.
Now, the newsier side has gradually been downgraded to the point that the jokes wouldn't be out of place on something like Leno. Most of the rest of the show these days feels like padding. That's Gay and Modern Lady remain great slots, and according to the Infomania blog will live on in a live stage tour. But beyond that? There's not that much to mourn.
It's a real shame because as I've complained before, satire for anyone who hasn't hit middle age is a weirdly invisible genre on both sides of the Atlantic. Indeed, Infomania often seemed the sole occupant of the category: it was wise, young and on the money about pretty much everything.
Tune in to the last episode on current.com/infomania on Friday night to see if they can pull one last decent show out of the bag. Or alternatively, show a review of Kung Fu Panda 2.
Your rating: None
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