The right name says it all

February 12, 2008

When it comes to cooking up a new program, one of the greatest challenges is devising a name.  Those few words can influence whether people want to tune in, whether they boast about watching it and, ultimately, whether it becomes part of everyday conversation. 


The best titles are generally a few carefully selected words that logically fit together, create a lyrical rhythm and actually reflect what an audience can expect.  Outstanding examples include Desperate Housewives, The Biggest Loser or Dirty Sexy Money (what a pilot episode, deftly introducing so many characters and capturing that Darling family – another brilliant name).


As formats move globally, it becomes more important to identify a show via a moniker that means something the world over. Big Brother never attracted network interest under its original title The Golden Cage and Survivor was first produced in Sweden under Expedition Robinson, but the more generic title change helped it explode worldwide.


Last week saw the launch of the extremely poorly named The Chopping Block. The only thing this reality/lifestyle/makeover/cooking mash-up has in common with its producer’s predecessor, The Block, is that b-word.  This time around there are no aspirational locations, no big prizes and a total lack of positive life-changing moments.  Instead, what starts out as a noble effort to helping out struggling business owners quickly becomes a lesson in where not to eat around the nation. 


The debut episode attracted 719 000 viewers.  The late night encore screening had 265 000 tune in, which appears promising until we realise that 1.2 million people were watching the cricket only minutes before.


Unless the next few weeks uncovers a new appetite for crappy cuisine and Catriona Rowntree’s condescending tones (did anyone else flinch at that opening quip about the Cronulla riots) the future for The Chopping Block appears inevitable.


Columnists the nation over must have their pun-filled pens poised. Perhaps Channel 9 will learn from this lesson and re-consider where to bury Pushing Daisies.