With a great repertoire of characters, an established style, and the best political satire on Australian TV, series 5 of Mad As Hell (not unexpectedly) continued the brilliance of the previous ones. And if the outpouring of grief when the series ended is any indication, most of you agree.
Here’s my list of the top 11 moments which were unique to this series:
11. Grun, adviser to Dio Wang (Ep 6) & Glenn Lazerous (Ep 9)
While he first appeared last season, Grun (Francis), an adviser to various members of Palmer United Party, got another chance to share his desire to be on the telly (and not much else). He also filled one gap of awkward silence with an old Micallef Program prop, the roaring dinosaur/alien.
10. House of Dick
With the popularity of House of Hancock, why wouldn’t the ABC want to try their hand at another epic drama? Dick Smith’s (Tosh) rise from electronics reseller to champion of the people, with the associated contradiction between his current causes vs. his original ethics, prompted some Mad As Hell ribbing in Eps 1 & 2. (Watch) (Dick actually later responded to it with a media statement.)
9. Food People, Lower Prices (Ep 9)
As easily as they send up the ridiculousness of Bill’s zingers, Mad As Hell took the topic of supermarket monopolisation through genericised branding and presented it in a similar manner to which the giants claim to “support genuine farmers” – but only if they meet every demand. (Watch)
8. Jezabell Scream (Ep 5)
Expertly dissecting Bill’s zingers against Abbott’s stingers, Jezabell (Emily) was a affectionate homage (more so than parody I felt) to Judith Lucy, who’s show was, not coincidentally, the follow on from Mad As Hell. Jezabell also got to turn her opinion to feminism, a slight dig at both Judith’s show and the way the media often handles female comedians. (Watch)
7. Caspar’s Future/TV show
Caspar Jonquil (Tosh), longtime AM radio talkback caller, has been a character since the second season, and his monologues are often the place where the writers one liners all get thrown. To shut Caspar up, Shaun usually has to have a piano dropped on him, but in Ep 6, Caspar managed to escape and we got a glimpse into his future – years hiding alone before a proposal from Spakfilla Vole gave him a heart attack.
But all was not lost, and the following week (Ep 7), Caspar got his own, Bolt Report-style, show: “Right Minded”.
6. Frank Underwood/Kevin Spacey impression
Channeling Frank Underwood from House of Cards, Shaun broke the fourth wall a few times after interviewing Dolly Norman (Roz) to deliver a quote directly to us:
“I love that woman. I love her more than sharks love blood.” (Ep 3)
“The [prime minister] is like a lone tree in an empty field – he leans whichever way the wind is blowing.” (Ep 5)
“A Cat likes to play with a Mouse before the killing blow. It’s a metaphor.” (Ep 7)
“Democracy isn’t what these people need. Hell it isn’t even what they want. People don’t want freedom, they want boundaries, rules, protection from invaders and from themselves.” (Ep 9) – that one wasn’t even from House of Cards, it was from the Call of Duty trailer!
5. “Into the Bin!”
For Micallef fans, we love the subtle references to his previous much-loved works: the Tyrell Corp chair from TAYG, the Micallef Tonight sign, the odd-Milo sighting, the Micallef Program punch lines. And Shaun brought back part of the High Horse segment from Micallef Tonight, to banish a number of things “Into the Bin”: Freedom Crunchola bars (Ep 1), Vanilla Ice’s sampled pool heater (Ep 3) and the cover of Joe Hockey’s tax discussion paper (Ep 10).
4. Being wooed by Malcolm Turnbull (Ep 8)
Shaun was particularly impressed by Malcolm’s smooth talking in an interview with David Speers on Sky, almost to the level of seduction, but soon realised it was all an act – he is the communications minister after all. But we did get to enjoy a bit of Smooth Operator. (Watch)
Shaun Micallef’s Boring Pigs of the Southern Balkans (Ep 3)
Shaun Micallef’s The Flying Cats of Corfu (Ep 4)
Shaun Micallef’s Rise of the Machines (Ep 5)
Shaun Micallef’s Borneo’s Pretty Determined Drug-Fuelled Snails (Ep 5)
Shaun Micallef’s The Goldfish of 47 Harrow Road Brompton (Ep 6)
Shaun Micallef’s Aerophobic Flies of the Tierra Del Fuego (Ep 8)
Shaun Micallef’s Rancid Substitutes for the Putrid Stench of the Corpse Flower (Ep 10)
2. The ABC Program/Cheese Shop (Ep 10)
When Shaun gives treatment to Monty Python, one of his own comedy influences, it’s only good news for us – and the chance to dig at the ABC, its comedy lineup and the lack of budget (which essentially means we only get one series of Mad this year) must have been too good to miss, creating a great fantastic opener to the last episode. (Watch) (Original here)
1. “I’m not a commentator”
Media speak has become a major part of the political discourse, and Mad As Hell was quick to pick up on it, specifically the use of “cynical obfuscation” to confuse the meaning of political policy. This was summed up by spokesperson Draymella Burt (Emily): “What’s important is that people don’t know what you’re talking about so can’t form an opinion. It works with phrases: ‘I’m not going to answer that question you arsehole’, becomes “I’m not a commentator.'” (Ep 3) (Watch)
The commentator line had first been subtly peppered in Ep 2, then with Dolly Norman (Ep 3), Maggie Bathysphere (Ep 4) and Darius (Ep 7) using it as liberally as their real-life political counterparts.