Mad as Hell returns!

Into the Bin!We’re off and running into the fifth season of Mad as Hell, and already a few nods to the Micallef fans, with a “High Horse” routine sneaking itself into the News from Countries Other Than Australia, with Freedom bars and Coco Pops both going “Into the Bin!”

You may have also spotted his Tyrell Corp Blade Runner chair at the back of the set, which originally appeared in Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation.

We’ve got another nine episodes for this year, 8:30pm Wednesdays on ABC. Catch up on iView or it’s repeated Sunday nights.

Edit: It also made the Top 10 ratings for the night, albeit with similar figures as last year. Also, the Herald Sun had a write up of how the first episode came together, including sketches that were cut (and why).

Top 11 Moments from Mad As Hell Series 4

As Shaun previously spoke to us about, series four of Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell continued to move from a “news show” to more of a editorial or commentary on the week’s news. Along with the expert characters and sketch-show snippets, it was a brilliant season, and rated very well for the ABC.

Here are the top 11 moments from this season, as un-democratically not voted by you:

Mad As Hell S4E4 Fiesty11. The Feisty Award
After Emma Alberichi had a particularly difficult interview on Lateline with someone who wouldn’t denounce terrorism, she was complimented by Tony Abbott as being “feisty”. Shaun wanted to help reclaim the word for all women, so it couldn’t be seen as sexist, and dedicated The Feisty Award – “for excellence in a man’s recognition of a sassy lady who says something he agrees with.” Shaun was the inaugural (and only) winner in Episode 4, for retweeting a tweet from Sarah Hanson-Young about how much she enjoyed the show.

Mad As Hell S4E8 Dolly10. Dolly Norman, Jacqui Lambie’s advisor
With Jacqui Lambie making plenty of headlines with her political stances and dispute with and eventual exit from Palmer United, her “chief advisor” Dolly Norman (Roz) (first in Ep3) was on hand to… explain… Jacqui’s stance on many issues. It was certainly grass-roots advice Dolly was giving, with a lunch lady vibe to go with it. (Video)

Mad As Hell S4E2 Dating Scam9. Shaun scamming a dating site victim (Ep 2)
With the ACCC noting that online dating websites were becoming a hotbed of scammers, Shaun interviewed Pauline O’Grady (Emily) who was herself a victim, sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to a scammer. We soon got another side to Shaun’s character, as he took the opportunity to gain Pauline’s trust and exploit her kindness for his own financial gain. It was very cleverly written, as we were slowly taken down the garden path to where “Shaun’s” mind was at.

8. Media Sasquatch
Shaun tried to use “Media Watch” as his segment name to talk about the death of community TV (Ep 1) and Fairfax regional papers (Ep 7), but Paul Barry was having none of it. It makes no sense, but it’s absurd enough to be perfect.

Mad As Hell S4E2 OurABC7. Our/Their ABC
Only a few months before the season began, the ABC updated their idents to the theme of “#ourABC”, often with graphics of a person doing something they love, labelled as being “their ABC”. Could the Mad team help themselves? Thankfully not.
Henrietta and Walter’s ABC (Ep 2) – a retired couple sitting in their comfy chairs, reading
Colin and Angie’s (Ep 3) – two youths stealing a television
Kaylie’s (Ep 4) – throwing up after a big night out
Adam’s (Ep 6) – stranded and injured rock climbing, à la 127 Hours
Ali’s (Ep 9) – heavy metal band performing

Mad As Hell S4E8 Two Ronnies6. Two Ronnies
Amongst all of the brilliant monologues and interviews, Mad As Hell still has the time for a few single story word-play jokes. As a full stop to these punch lines, long time Micallef fans got a treat starting in Episode 6 – a cut away of Shaun and Francis as “The Two Ronnies”, originally from The Micallef P(r)ogram(me) (and before that, real people with many punch lines in the same vein), was brought out of the archive, achieving exactly the same purpose as it had done in that show.

Mad As Hell S4E8 Caspar Jonquil5. A Day in the life of Caspar Jonquil
Caspar (Tosh) has been popping up on Mad As Hell for a while, long the voice of the AM radio talkback callers. He finally got his own biopic in the final episode, and we got a insight into his life – spying on his neighbour Spakfilla Vole, frequenting the business of Chloris Webbler and Gwen Cribbage, and having neighbourhood watch shoot-outs with Larry and Evagnie Sideburns – all favourite characters who have been part of the show since the beginning. (Video)

Mad As Hell S4E8 Hair Whispering4. Shaun’s Hair Whispering
One of the strangest phenomena to surface recently, “whispering videos” are used by a select group of people to ease tension by watching people perform quiet, repetitive tasks such as hair brushing. The head of light entertainment used the method to also inform Shaun of the show’s reduced budget for next year, and Shaun tried it himself.

Mad As Hell S4E1 Tony the AFP Officer3. AFP Officer Tony
The series included a number of nods to the recent increase in national security, with the opening titles being prefixed with the terror threat indicator. To aid with the security at the ABC, Tony from the AFP (Stephen Hall) kept an eye on proceedings, initially fan-boying with Shaun over his previous roles (Milo, Fabio, Poida?).
He then prevented Shaun from talking to his Hypothetical panel of people with head coverings (in the interest of national security) (Ep 3) (Video), cut the string of a Yo-yo champion, in case she “garotted” Shaun (Ep 7), and tasered more than four people (including Shaun as Christopher Walken). (Video)

Mad As Hell S4E5 Darius Horsham2. Darius Horsham
First appearing last season, Darius had a staring role all season, as Mathias Cormann’s spokesperson (and impersonator) as a number of economic reforms were pushed through. His line “don’t be an economic girly man”, taken from Arnie himself, was picked up by Mathias in an interview, putting Mad As Hell at the centre of the very zeitgeist they were satirising. (Video)

Mad As Hell S4E8 Zinger!1. Bill Shorten’s Zingers
Shaun first noted the “burn” of Bill’s pithy press conference one-liners in the second episode, but as the season progressed, and Bill kept dishing them out, Shaun treated each with the finger guns they deserved. By the last episode, even Bill was defending “Shaun Mick-alifs” right to air “Bill’s Zingers”, again completing the referential circle. (Bill later made up for mis-pronouncing Shaun’s name by purposely doing so as “Shane Mcaulif”, like in The Micallef P(r)ogram(me) and throughout his career.) (Video)

A shout out to the War Is Hell segment, which was worth the expensive graphics to see Shaun lip-sync along with Edwin Starr’s song each week, once with dancing okra.

Top 11 Mad As Hell Season 3 Moments

Alas, we’ve reached the end of another season of Mad As Hell, one which many have described as the best yet.

I had to give up the recaps after episode 1, mostly because they were taking 2+ hours per episode and it doesn’t pay the bills. So instead, here’s my list of the Top 11 Mad As Hell moments from Season 3:

Mad As Hell S3Ep4: Shaun gets served11. The battle with the Graphics Department
Shaun’s ongoing “conflict” with the Graphics department continued, as they continued to use whatever Google Image looked closest to whomever Shaun was talking about. He waited patiently in Episode 7 for every image resembling Arthur Sinodinos to scroll through, and after Bronwyn Bishop was confused with Ursula from The Little Mermaid (Ep 8), he asked “Am I going to have to come up there?”.

But it was after a clip of Andrew O’Keefe talking about Qantas (Ep 4) that he remarked “Why on earth do they let some ex-Game Show host report on the news?”, only to be presented with a picture of himself promoting Talkin’ Bout Your Generation.

10. Abbott speak
It began with Shaun comparing his speed saying “We are more than happy to take the shackles off Qantas” to Tony Abbott, and became a perfect deconstruction of exactly how politicians are now speaking to the media and the people that vote for them. Video

9. Shaun punishes advertising guru Flornoy Quimbie
Flornoy (Tosh) visited Mad As Hell a few times during the season, and took immense pleasure in sharing his advertising accomplishments, including the Coles “Down-Down” ads (which got him repeatedly punched to the face), the Budget Direct ads (which got him a cricket bat to the head) and the AAMI “Rhonda and Kutut” ads (which Shaun didn’t mind). The simulated violence was a victory for everyone subjected to these inane ads.

Mad As Hell S3E1: Vice Admiral Bobo Gargle8. Bobo Gargle explains Operation Sovereign Borders
The biggest news story at the beginning of the series was Operation Sovereign Borders, and only Bobo Gargle could “explain” the navy’s position on it. It was beautifully intertwined throughout the first episode, with additional appearances throughout the series, plus a visit or two from… The Kraken!

Mad As Hell S3Ep6: The Monuments Men7. Recreating The Monuments Men
The cold opening for the sixth episode took the whole cast and combined the recent Biennale of Sydney controversies with the most recent George Clooney movie and a classic pythonesque tone: “There is no fucking punch line”.

Mad As Hell S3Ep4: William Wonka6. William Wonka visits
The Fiona Nash food rating website conflict of interest scandal prompted “Department of Health Adviser” William Wonka to appear as a guest, “explaining” there was no conflict of interest with a helpful video, followed by a homage to the 1971 movie. Video

5. Guest Stars
The promotions for the fictitious series “Paper Giants: The Trading Post” got a number of runs through the series, and like the real dramatisations of  Kerry Packer, featured a different actor portraying the man each time: Stephen Curry, Vince Colosimo and Claudia Karvan.

In the final episode, Maggie Bathysphere’s sports team featured an all star cameo crew: Tony Martin, Glenn Robbins and Alex Dyson.

4. The Musical Finale
Shaun’s musical performances are always a joy, and singing Devo’s  “Beautiful World” was a perfect end to the series. Video

Mad As Hell Series 3: Union official Steve McCloud3. Shaun gets called a “Jon Stewart wannabe”
Union official Steve McCloud visited Shaun again to talk about union corruption, and used the opportunity to step up the veiled threats again “Shane”: “If I was some perfumed, pedantic, Logie rattling, smug-arse Jon Stewart wannabe, I’d think very carefully about who I called intimidating.” Of course, Shaun’s long term ambition for Mad As Hell was for it to resemble Jon’s successful The Daily Show. Video

Let It Be / Shaun2. The Beatles 50 Years Down Under
While they’re unable to use real products or companies as on Newstopia, the fake promotions on Mad As Hell still do a brilliant job of lampooning the ABC’s own programming. So the one in Episode 3 based on the repeated formula of playing black and white footage intercut with interview footage of the subjects talking about the experience, namely The Beatles, would have been funny enough. Throw twelve seconds of Shaun dressed as each of the Fab Four, and you’ve made one of the highlights of the series.

Mad As Hell S3Ep10: Swimming pools1. Swimming pools become a unit of measurement
It was in Episode 3 that Shaun noticed the media’s love for comparing the amount of one thing with the amount of another random thing, usually swimming pools, but also MCGs and Eureka Towers. From the volume of tweets and emails, this captured everyone’s imagination, and the use of swimming pools as a unit of measurement was then referred to frequently throughout the series.

Recap: Mad As Hell, February 12th 2014

Shaun was resetting his election doomsday clock (for just 5 months time), before he began updating us on the happenings since last season – mainly a new government. Rest assured the statue of Abbott was already on order from season 1. And to help with the government efficiency drive, the cast will assist Australia Post to sort the mail, the audience will complete Medicare forms and the left-over NBN asbestos will be stored in the studio – making us, the ABC viewer, feel better about how our taxpayer dollars are being wasted.

This week: No Flourish. No Embelishment.

It’s a catch up episode, with Shaun having ignored the news for twelve months – but that takes time and preparation. Justin Bieber invading the moon with China, Shaun winning an AACTA, and Schapelle resuming her holiday will have to wait – the big story is Asylum Seekers.

Scott Morrison won’t answer questions on the navy turning back the boats for “operational reasons”,  so Shaun asked Vice Rear-Admiral Bobo Gargle (Francis) who couldn’t answer Shaun’s question on whether Shaun was actually speaking to him. Sarah Hansen Young says Scott Morrison is hiding behind the word “operation”, but Shaun showed footage of Scott standing in front of it, on a board at a press conference.

Spokeperson for immigration Rosemary Kipflers (Emily), won’t divulge what Operation Sovereign Borders is for “operational reasons”, and Lieutenant General Angus Campbell won’t comment on anything related to “on water matters”.

To comment on what other people are commenting on what’s not being commented on, specifically the straying of navy ships into Indonesian waters, Bobo Gargle joined Shaun from the Brisbane studio instead of the Mad As Hell one due to positional error. His explanation: “Water is what we in the navy refer to as wobbly”. He also claimed that if there was a “secrecy sandwich” as Bill Shorten claims, how would Bill know the ingredients?

Bobo was still hoping for an apology by the ABC over the navy cruelty scandal, and since Shaun failed to give one, he released The Kraken! But as Spicks and Specks wasn’t on yet, the Kraken went back into the cupboard.

We’ve apologized for our navy breaching Indonesian waters , which could happen to anyone, but they still drew a line in the sand over it. If Indonesia tows our boats back, then we tow theirs, eventually we’ll have a pontoon of boats for asylum seekers to walk to Australia.

The Government takes the breach seriously – the Navy “breached government policy”, a policy apparently against breaking international law. So when it comes to the accusation over the Navy personnel injuring asylum seekers, Tony Abbott asks: “who do you believe” – those who are attempting break Australian law, or those that have broken international law.

When asked if Indonesia was on a war footing with Australia, the Foreign Minister said “No, not really”. And on rival news parody Wake Up, our PM defended their secrecy “if we were at war, we wouldn’t be giving out information that is of use to the enemy.” But the customs department is also declaring it is at war over illegal drugs. Shaun asked Retired Field Marshal Wesley Pock, President of the Predictable Responses League (Stephen) if war rhetoric should be used for civilian matters like the postal service, but cut him off when he rambled on about water boarding postal employees.

Coming up: The $25m Royal Commission into the Homeowner Insulation Program, starring Kevin Rudd and Peter Garrett on APAC and a brand new series of Paper Giants: Trading Post, with Vince Colosimo as Kerry Packer on ABC2.

With an efficiency review in progress, Shaun thinks it is SBS who are really under the microscope. Malcolm Turnbull describes them as “lean and hungry”, but as Julius Caesar teaches us, the lean ones are the untrustworthy ones – likely to do away with Caesar/Abbott. Recently SBS even discovered “Reporters without Boarders”, such is their efficiency.

The ABC is also efficient, with Bill Shorten asking and answering his own questions in a recent interview, but the interview still has plenty of the usual ABC bias.

It’s clear Bill Shorten and Tony Abbott aren’t getting along, with Bill declaring Tony is too ideological to save SPC, whereas they could be like Labor and have no ideology. With all his Oxford education, Tony labelled Bill as “cocky” for saying Abbott would be a one term prime minister, holding back on saying: “better than Labor’s habit of a two prime minister term.”

In sport, Russia’s new gay-dar is watching over the Olympics, and Maggie Bathysphere (Emily) is still in the stadium at Sochi, but they can’t say much due to the secret police. Maggie had her eye on the story of a refugee who had been given a Visa simply because he was good at cricket, and thinks we should be checking all incoming boats for anyone who exhibits the same skills.

Putin has been trying to play down the anti-gay propaganda laws, saying that millions of Russian’s love Elton John, despite his orientation. Nikolai Orkic, president of the Australia Russian Alliance, agrees,  saying that he doesn’t think any less (or more) about Elton due to his sexual preference – about 1 or 2 twice a week. Shaun offered Nikolai a DVD copy of Millionaire Hot Seat, the Interviews: “Nearly four hours of Eddie McGuire’s conversations with the contestants”, but Nikolai had disappeared.

Eric Abetz had been trying to help the workers of Toyota before the decision to end manufacturing, even selflessly wanting to set aside their enterprise bargaining agreement so the workers could directly vote on a management proposal. Draymella Burt (Emily) from Mr Abetz’s office sympathised on the situation, but said business had to run without interference from big government: “we can lead the horse to water, but it’s up to them if they sink or swim.” Tantamount Scrillo (Stephen), quisling and chef in the Toyota executive boardroom “guesses” they care about the workers. Draymella continued: “workers need to stand on their own two knees. Competition means a healthy market. Without it, we’d still be eating tariff protected bananas.”

On a final note, bias is in the eye of the beholder. So Shaun left us with a “where are they now” of ex-Labor front benchers, including former resources minister Martin Ferguson, who now manages a road house near Dapto.