Hosted by the usual 5 we see on screen – Chris, Craig, Julian, Chas & Andrew – many described the show as “what media watch should be”, admittedly with a few more sketches and laughs. The usual suspects were set for their special brand of scathing attacks: Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott (including a sketch “Go Back To Where Tony Abbott Came From” parodying the earlier refugee series on SBS), Andrew Bolt, Channel 9, Channel 10, Rupert Murcoch, et al. Delivering some very quick comment on many of the issues we’ve seen covered at length over the past months some of the comments were were incisive and deft, others as sharp as a sledgehammer with the same result.
Set in an over-sized hamster’s cage, repleat with scaled-up hamster as the desk, the show was at times as ludicrous as the media they were parodying. A case in point is the “Schembri Awards” (named after Melbourne journalist Jim Schembri, who revealed critical plot points in a review for the movie Scream 4), looking each week at a different aspect of online journalism with an award for the “best example of what online journalism has become”. The Huffington Post won this week for the most randomly included photo gallery in an article – in this case, one of celebrities eating ice cream.
A highlight was the inclusion of a series of entirely fabricated on-screen tweets from a number of well-known tweeters (even using their twitter handles for authenticity), as though they were live-tweeting the show. Wil Anderson, Shane Warne, Kevin Rudd, etc all had tweets included. Even one-time public servant now researcher for the show Greg Jericho (Grogs Gamut) allowed the misappropriation/use of his twitter handle in the gags. Even the show’s website has a twitter ticker on the side showing the phony tweets from the show. In case you missed them go and read them through. They are comedy gold.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY CLINT.
It could be argued that what is offered by the Chaser is, at times, unkind and picking easy targets. After all the news cycle is so swift and media outlets have so many bulletins and print/online publications to cram news into that there will always be some error. It used to be 24 hours, now it’s 24 seconds as tv, radio, print and online journalists race to be the first one with the story, the pictures or the sound byte. But it’s in this haste that the mistakes are made and fact-checking or even sub-editing has fallen by the wayside, offering at times some very shoddy examples of journalism. Why shouldn’t they be pounced on and mercilessly displayed for all to see. Shouldn’t we all know if the king has no clothes (if we haven’t already worked it out for ourselves)?
The Hamster Wheel, while not a laugh a minute, is a welcome return to satire, political/media analysis and comedy. The remaining 9 episodes will slide by far too fast, and in this first episode a clear shot has been sent across the bow for all media outlets and politicians – the Chaser are back, so keep calm and carry on (because that gives them their best fodder).
The Hamster Wheel – Wed 9:30pm, ABC1.