Hungry Beast

hb19 (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.

35_starsHungry Beast airs 9pm Wednesdays on ABC1.

35 Comments:

  1. The opening hoax just reminded me of a (nearly) identical sketch by the Chaser in their stage show a couple of years ago. From memory, Craig Reucassel created a fake story and sent it out to the media, and it was aired on one of the regional news channels. So I think the comparisons to the Chaser are fairly justified.

    Wanted to like this show but just couldn’t. It felt really try-hard. Sending up current affair shows has been done to death, so that was definitely not “something we don’t know”. The F– pandas bit was strange and unfunny. Couldn’t believe they put a web link up at the end so people could contribute their thoughts to the debate — like people are seriously going to debate whether or not we should attempt to preserve the species?

  2. loved the panda sketch! although they need to get rid of the cat (I thought that was the lamest part of the whole show) otherwise I really enjoyed it and will be watching next week

  3. Hungry beast is drivel at best it shold be a “bit size” web program and 30 Secondsis a low rent version of 30 Rock/Absolute Power/ Larry Sanders/ Mad Men.Andrew Denton is a rare find he’s creative and imaginative but he’s not an inexuastable source of idea’s.
    Why can’t his colleagues tell him his recent output is garbage instead of being toadying back slapping sycophants…..Give it a rest !

  4. I didn’t think much of it but really wanted to like it. Even though it’s about giving people a shot I don’t think you can have a show without a consistent tone. Why should I care who the “web producer” or graphics guy is? Why are two people introducing an interview never to be seen again. It needs a host or they could just ditch the studio altogether, it served no purpose. No matter how much you dress up facts on a screen with kinetic typography it’s still just information being spat out at us without context. I didn’t think much of the panda bit or the cat bit, if it was a sketch show fine but I just don’t know what this show is, it’s too inconsistent. Having someone impersonate an Ayatollah one minute, then cross to an interview with the wife and mother of a soldier who has been killed in combat seems strange. I’ve seen Brass Eye, I’ve seen Australian Story, I’ve seen Media Watch and I’ve seen the Chaser. I like all of them. This didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. It came across as bits of all of them stuffed together in a half hour. Oh and while I’m ranting someone get Sam Simmons a copy of Look Around You or at least a youtube link so he can see how it’s supposed to be done. I’ll give Hungry Beast a second shot. Even if I don’t like, it I’m sure some good people will come out of it. We need more of these feeder shows to produce people with experience. Doesn’t mean anyone will watch them but in some ways that’s not the point.

  5. I actually enjoyed it. I’m surprised by the generally negative response towards the show. I think people were expecting another “Chaser’s” but I don’t think this was aimed to be anything like that. While there were some issues with consistency of tone and the presenting of some of the cast, I think the segments themselves were pretty good. I’ll be back next week.

  6. I watched it, and there was bits I liked, but the bits I didn’t like really made me want to change the channel.

    The story on the hoax was brilliant, although it would have been great to go into a bit more detail with some of the media outlets why they ran with it. The War so far was a really good quick introduction, and packed a lot into a minute. The interview with the Till’s was fantastic, and I thought worked really well without having a reporter ask questions. But it was out of place with what they had either side.

    The text that they had come up was great, with some interesting facts, but please, put the whole thing up at once, rather than one word at a time.

    I fear that the diversity of content may put too many people off. I liked some of the stories, but the Panda’s sketch, and the stupid cat one were enough to make me change the channel. Some people might like them, but be put off by the more serious content.

  7. I’m all for young people learning their trade but I think these L-plate broadcasters need a lot more training before their product goes to air. By all means let them muck around with their mates filming silly sketches and so forth – that’s what uni’s for – but please don’t put it on the air.

    Most of last night’s show was an unpleasant combination of the juvenile and the smug. The presenters reminded me of year-9 debaters. And what is with the hair? Can the budget not stretch to one brush between them? When the most memorable thing about your show is the overall ridiculousness of the hairstyles that featured on it, you’ve got a problem.

    Such a shame Andrew Denton gave up Enough Rope for this.

  8. Wow, I’m really surprised with peoples response to this show… Especially all the comparisons to the Chaser. As far as I’m concerned, Hungry Beast is a far superior [and much more interesting] product than the Chasers excuse of a show.

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