Not with a bang but with a televised political satire
September 12, 2008 1:07 PM   Subscribe

"We don't vote for them, we don't even know their names and we're not quite sure what they do. But they wield enormous influence. They are the power behind the power. They are The Hollowmen." You can watch the Australian Broadcasting Company's new political satire The Hollowmen [warning: sound] on the web. Or you can find it via Bittorrent. (Or if you live down under I suppose you could watch it on ABC 1 Wednesdays at 9pm or ABC 2 Thursdays at 8:30pm.) It's worth a look because it may be the funniest new satire on any English-language network.

"I tell you, they become prime minister and they start thinking they can do what they want."

The Hollowmen follows the Australian Prime Minister's fictional Central Policy Unit, charged with crafting the PM's public policy whilst battling the civil service and the press. Sound familiar? Episode two of the first series could be a "Yes, Minister" episode almost unchanged. But there's a lot less swearing than "The Thick of It."

The Working Dog Productions show was picked up for a second 6-episode "series" (AKA "season") before the first episode even aired. Having settled into second place in its time slot, I suspect we'll be seeing more of it in the future.

Thanks to this show I now know the national capital of Australia and the definition of "ANZAC."
posted by sdodd (17 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Looks good.

Glad The Bats will be getting paid for the theme tune also
posted by dydecker at 1:27 PM on September 12, 2008

This show is a plot by the Illuminati to discredit those of us who know The Truth about them.
posted by Class Goat at 1:48 PM on September 12, 2008

I was so excited about this show when put the trailer up that I torrented the first two episodes. I put the 'failing to get 'The Thick of It" quite right" to the fact it was a pilot, but the second episode was really bad. I don't recommend.
posted by parmanparman at 2:03 PM on September 12, 2008

I personally think the show is great, but probably wouldn't recommend it to a non-Australian. The best thing about it is how it sends up the way Australian politics works and the all-too-common catch cries involved such as "Working Families" and the strange priorities that politics in Australia take these days, especially the relationship between the governing party and the media.

There are a few alright jokes that anyone can understand but that is mere sitcom humour compared to some of the very funny and very subtle political humour that I'm afraid those not close to the Australian political scene are going to completely miss.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 3:51 PM on September 12, 2008

I personally think the show is great, but probably wouldn't recommend it to a non-Australian.

I thought it was quite funny (I'm an American.) Though I suppose jokes could have completely gone over my head - it wasn't anything very uncommon to politics everywhere.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 4:27 PM on September 12, 2008

(Unless grasping and transparent attempts at making a legacy are "mere sitcom humour"...)
posted by Solon and Thanks at 4:32 PM on September 12, 2008

I heard this show was going to be a politics version of Frontline. It's not. :-(
posted by robcorr at 5:34 PM on September 12, 2008


Which was fantastic. I find this at best mildly amusing.

/naked opinion
posted by Wolof at 6:01 PM on September 12, 2008 may be the funniest new satire on any English-language network.

Well I won't disagree with that because the competition isn't that stiff but I'm not sure it's that great. Rob Sitch is no John Clarke. I guess it's hard to be topical when you're so much time passes between writing your script and going to air, but it's seems pretty generic. I don't think it gets much past "ho ho, politics...". Not that I'd miss an episode, just that I feel faintly disappointed afterwards. :)
posted by adamt at 6:53 PM on September 12, 2008

It's no "Yes, Minister".
posted by Gyan at 8:22 PM on September 12, 2008

I tried to like it. But I can't. That being said, the last aired episode about the prime minister wanting to leave a legacy with the search of an architectural project was hilarious.
posted by a. at 10:40 PM on September 12, 2008

Megami > I hated it for exactly the same reason! It was just like being at work...
posted by Lucie at 10:47 PM on September 12, 2008

I guess it's hard to be topical when you're so much time passes between writing your script and going to air

Haven't watched the show yet- but just thought I'd mention a show that was made in New Zealand a few years ago... It was called Spin Doctors, and screened on Monday nights I recall. The script was written during the previous week, the majority of shooting done two days before air and some late changes written the day of air. The show was about a large PR firm who tended to have many of the current newsworthy people as their clients, or were associated in some way. It had some moments of brilliance, but didn't quite pull it off. But it was very topical.

I think that could work very well with a political setting like this.
posted by sycophant at 10:51 PM on September 12, 2008

My world + The Bats + big buildings = EPIC WIN!

Here for the full song
posted by fallingbadgers at 12:26 AM on September 13, 2008

Thanks fallingbadgers. It's a damn catchy theme song / opening sequence and I had assumed the music was a bespoke piece. I'm keen now to check out The Bats.
posted by adamt at 5:04 AM on September 13, 2008

I was worried the show's shtick was going to get old. But I made this FPP because I'd watched the latest episode and thought, "Wow, the show's still funny. They've really got something here." (That, and I learned they're putting entire episodes on the web, which is unusual these days.)

As an American I found "Yes, Minister" to be a useful introduction to the British political system (or at least the role of the civil service). It didn't bother me that I missed many of the references -- certainly one didn't need to be an expert to enjoy that show. Granted, "The Hollowmen" is no "Yes, Minister," but c'mon, "Yes, Minister" is a landmark!

I gotta admit that I cringe during the focus-group testing scenes. (And not in a good way.) Maybe that's just me, though -- I suspect that if I were to participate in a focus group, I'd end up doing a shoulder-roll for the door after roughly two minutes.
posted by sdodd at 6:52 AM on September 13, 2008

I don't understand the lukewarm hate here. Yes, Frontline was spectacularly good, but this has the same squirm factor you get in that, Yes, Minister or Fawlty Towers - the realisation that it could be completely, horrifyingly true. I love it, and it is a very worthy successor to Frontline - and I find myself a corporate version of Murp all the time.
posted by bystander at 5:25 AM on September 14, 2008

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