Can the SBS comedy team stop Hitler in this manic, no-holds barred spy pastiche?
Danger 5 was either made with, or to be accompanied by, a drop of acid. It’s a complete bender fusing live action comedy, fantasy, absurdism, miniatures and animated animals. It’s a homage yet original all at the same time.
Take Thunderbirds, Allo’ Allo’, Funky Squad, Let the Blood Run Free and Monkey, chuck ’em in a mixmaster and you may have something like this beast from Dario Russo and David Ashby. In this universe, anything goes.
Once again the young Danger 5 team are out to stop a constantly-laughing Hitler, who has survived until the 1980s -don’t ask, just run with it- and is still unleashing global mayhem. Along the way there are ninjas, dinosaurs, machine guns, and animal-headed characters, including a white lion, a dog and an eagle -each of whom is interacting with the more-conventional characters. Did I mention the emu and wombat puppets attending the wedding?
Within this blatant spy pastiche, the women are frequently scantily-clad and buxom and don’t seem to mind the politically-incorrect punchlines. Here, everybody sends themselves up from beginning to end. It’s sexy, gory, slasher, whory and it’s not about to apologise.
And yet it’s also nodding to Hollywood, episode one evoking Scarface and Miami Vice, and episode 2 blurring the high schools of John Hughes with Grease‘s Rydell High. Look out for Shaun Micallef guesting as a rule-nazi Principal. I was reminded of his own absurdist Inspektor Herring, no wonder he was keen to volunteer his services.
Amongst the Danger 5 cast, Sean James Murphy as Tucker gets all the best lines: “You know what they say about custard tarts. They can take care of themselves.” Zimbabwean-born Pacharo Mzembe gives him a run for his money with a million-dollar smile and manic enthusiasm.
Manic is the word for this comedy, which crams in more lunacy per frame than Housos -even the soundtrack is working overtime. Yet what’s most remarkable are the production values. For a low budget comedy, Danger 5 never drops the ball with a plethora of set pieces and locations, costumes, props and extras (well done, South Australia). Granted, some of it is meant to look el cheapo, but they pull it off so well.
Check your brain at the door and buckle up. Somebody has to stop Hitler, or we’ll all die laughing.
9:30pm Sunday on SBS 2.