Oh, what a year it was
AS THE sun sets on another television year, the commercial and creative turbulence of 2012 has been marked by a series of successes and failures whose impact was not just confined to one frozen moment in time, but echoed throughout the year.
We have stood watch for a changing of the guard as living television legends such as David Leckie and Peter Meakin stepped aside, borne witness to a technological revolution of second screens, on-demand content and new digital channels, and seen what was tipped to be Channel Ten's triumph and Channel Nine's collapse switch places, ensuring the year would end in both surprise and dismay.
From the biggest show of the year to the worst, decisions good and bad, moments of genius and of disastrous decision-making, these are the milestones that defined one of the most unpredictable years in memory.
Revenge was the most-watched show of 2012.
Revenge becomes the most-watched show of 2012
AT FIRST glance, it's a slightly unlikely candidate for the biggest TV show of 2012: a turgid, overwrought soap opera riddled with the genre's most delicious cliches, from the wronged ingenue out to settle an old family debt to the big-hair, shoulder-padded super-bitch. Yet its success is there to see in the numbers: a weekly audience of 2 million viewers hanging on every twist and turn. Revenge is sweet.
The Voice launches and steamrolls the schedule
The Voice kicked its rivals to the kerb.
IT TAKES a rare and powerful show to reshape the landscape while the industry's key players stand on the sidelines, jaws agape. The Voice did exactly that, and with an elegance all its own, kicking its rivals - notably Chanel Seven's Dancing with the Stars and Australia's Got Talent - to the kerb. It lifted the bar for talent shows, and became the spearhead for a cultural and commercial reinvention that has put television's fallen prince, Nine, back in the game.
Randling breaks Andrew Denton's Zapruder's spell
IT SHOULD have been a walk-up start: Andrew Denton's production company, the ABC and the sort of TV parlour game that would have the ABC's rusted-on Wednesday night audience poncing about the living room and arguing over their chai lattes. And yet something in the recipe here was off, spoiling the dish and, for the first time, leaving Aunty's lock on Wednesday night seriously challenged.
Something was off with Andrew Denton's Randling.
David Leckie resigns
LOVE him or hate him - and it's fair to say there are roughly equal populations in the television industry who claim membership of each group - there are few television executives equal to David Leckie. The man who steered Nine in its final golden decade under Packer rule and later, sacked, led rival Seven to victory and, in the process, consigned his former kingdom to ignominious defeat. Leckie is one of, if not the, best commercial television executives in Australian TV history.
The Shire launches
Ten's Everybody Dance Now left a poisonous legacy.
THE bold reality TV experiment - Australia's first genuine ''soft script'' reality TV show - was intended to reinvent Ten's schedule. Instead, it left the network the butt of jokes from an unforgiving media and an unimpressed audience. The Shire was sold as sex and sun, but delivered watered-down stories and a motley assortment of characters who failed to resonate.
Foxtel delivers an unrivalled multichannel Olympics
THOUGH the Nine Network seemed to command much of the glory, perhaps because of free-to-air's dominance of the TV landscape, it was the cable platform Foxtel that delivered a truly transformative Olympic Games in 2012, with spectacular multichannel, multidiscipline coverage, world-class commentary and, to ice the cake, an iPad app that set an almost unmatched benchmark for breadth, depth and capability.
Everybody Dance Now launches
HAVING considered for some time a reboot of So You Think You Can Dance, Ten ditched that format at the 11th hour and instead launched this - a decision that would prove costly in both perception and commercial terms. Everybody Dance Now flatlined on launch, failed to engage an audience and was, within weeks, consigned to an early grave. It also left a poisonous legacy: it became the poster child for management and programming woes at Ten.
Nine broadcasts Howzat!
WITH a soundtrack writ large from the 1970s and a pantheon of characters - Kerry Packer, Paul Hogan and Dennis Lillee among them - who seemed to have stepped out of a time when gods walked the earth, Howzat! became the biggest local drama of the year for good reason. It took us back to a time when the world seemed infinitely smaller, and yet still overflowing with infinite possibility, and delivered Nine a jewel in the drama crown that, for the first time in a long time, reminded us of the network's giddy past achievements.
Nine is reborn, debt-free
HISTORY has seen few deals like this deal: Nine chief executive David Gyngell walked into a meeting with billions of dollars of debt resting on his shoulders and walked out having convinced his network's debtors to exchange their debt for equity. The deal turned Nine into a lean, mean network and single-handedly ensured 2013 would be the bloodiest year of the ratings war in memory, as Seven faced a rival that was not just creatively resurgent but commercially viable again, and dangerously so.
Peter Meakin resigns
ONE of the true artisans of Australian commercial television, Peter Meakin is a charming maverick who has revelled in not playing by the rules for most of his career and has, as a result, delivered some of the most innovative, inventive news programming in television history. He is, like his chieftain David Leckie, perhaps a man whose expertise flourished in a now bygone era, but one thing is certain: the solid ground on which TV's brave new world stands is built from bricks hand-carved by artisans such as Peter Meakin.