Comedy game shows don't automatically have to stink. It is possible to make a halfway decent one: just hire decent people, have decent writers, and make a solid effort to make a decent show. But if you're going to put in all that effort, why not just make a proper comedy show? That said, comedy game shows remain one rung on the entertainment ladder above the vile nightmare that is the panel show: hey, why not throw some talented people into a room and let them try and talk over each other for half an hour? That'd make great viewing! In hell.
Even after months of tweaking The 7PM Project remains a mess. The basic idea was always a bit wobbly - in short, it's on too early to be allowed to be a really funny news parody while people who want serious news can get it from the ABC at 7pm - but if Ten had hired someone apart from Rove to make it (and Rove had hired people apart from his mates to host it), it might have worked...slightly better. But instead we got Hughesy failing to lose it, making him pointless; Charlie Pickering forced into a hosting role when at best he should have been the go-to wiseguy a la Trevor Marmalade on the pre-2009 AFL Footy Show; and Carrie "At the News Desk" Bickmore basically being a slightly more polished version of a breakfast radio blonde. Oh, and some other people who wandered in and out to either lower the tone (Tom Gleeson) or make you wonder why they weren't just handed the keys to the whole thing (George Negus).
There's a whole bunch of reasons why The 7PM Project can't be allowed to fail - great promotional device for Ten, cheap way to plug a hole in their programming, just too much invested in it to let it flop, being Australian content - but not one of those reasons has a single thing to do with audience enjoyment. Which is why, for all the tinkering, this remains a completely forgettable show that will be missed by no-one when Ten eventually bites the bullet. Shit, even Straunchie looks good after this dogs breakfast.
It's important to stress here that being a crap game show isn't enough to get you in the running for this award. You have to be a crap comedy game show, which is where Good News Week gets to shine. Ironically, the show would work better if they had less actual funny guests on: just let Mikey and Paul and The Woman You Get When You Can't Get Corrine Grant crap on with the patented shithouse GNW / Sideshow / Glass House / GNW on ABC "news" gags and you'd have a firmly average show. Instead they're all "wacky" and "hi-energy" and "Pauls' singing a serious song to make the gals swoon" and "Oh sweet Jesus someone load the confetti cannons with grapeshot by mistake just once". As is often the case, all the extra crap is driven by the fear - fully justified in this case - that the material and performances alone aren't enough to keep people watching. Which is kind of understandable in a new programme, but Ted Robinson's been making the exact same freakin' show for well over a decade now so you'd think he'd lay off the Red Bull just once.
The real problem with The Gruen Transfer - apart from the fact that it's basically a forum for smug advertising pricks to smirk at the stupidity of the rubes they spend their lives treating like morons - is that it doesn't know what the hell it's trying to be. If it was just a show about advertising where advertising professionals discuss the business, not only would it be interesting and informative, but Wil Anderson would be out of a job. Instead, as a harbinger of the muddled mess that would be Andrew Denton's next project for the ABC, Hungry Beast, there's a big chunk of World Funniest Ads thrown in, plus a segment where ad companies make fake ads - AKA "sketches" - on controversial issues, and Anderson gets to drop a few clunkers along the way. It's everything you could want in a show! Unless you wanted to watch something without coming away with an ice cream headache.