19 (mostly) new faces, all congregating in ABC’s Ultimo Studio…here comes the class of 2009. On one level the mission is to “tell us something we don’t know.” On another, it is to discover new talent and on yet another it is to impress us with its highly secretive debut.
On a deconstructed, inelegant set, this show revels in its undergraduate attitude. The stories move swiftly, at varying lengths. Like a metropolis magazine, there are some stories with serious editorial tone and others that are flippant, irreverent or information-heavy. Not all of them hit their target in the premiere episode.
The first story was its publicised hoax, in which the Hungry Beast team hoodwinked media with a fake survey story about gullible people. Many radio stations, press and television fell for the stunt. Like The Chaser, the Hungry Beast team are already out to prank the corporates. And like The Chaser’s Andrew Hansen, presenter Daniel Keogh had the wild, distracting hairdo. But the stunt was a clever one for both proving a point and attracting pre-promotion for the show itself.
Another segment in which a cat was pilloried in the style of a tabloid current affairs show was effective in debunking sneaky presentation tricks. Slow-mo here, voice over there, this was definitely a pussy guilty of being a suburban cat. Shame, shame, shame.
Other snappy graphics with information and facts jammed in between stories hark back to the wry, breakneck speed of the short-lived current affairs series, The Times (a show ahead of its time at Seven).
Hungry Beast‘s best contribution was an interview with the mother and wife of Brett Till, an Australian soldier who was killed in Afghanistan.
Sitting in a suburban kitchen they shone with laughter and tears as they remembered their husband and son. It was personal, honest and spoke powerfully to our continued role in the region. Indeed, it told us something we don’t know.
Less successful was a silly sketch about saving -or possibly not saving- pandas, most of which was to reiterate a line to “F**k Pandas.”
As a first effort, Hungry Beast is a welcome addition to our news & current affairs horizon. So far its best asset appears to have been the element of surprise. May it continue to surprise.
Hungry Beast airs 9pm Wednesdays on ABC1.