Not the nine o’clock news
REPORTING the news can, well, be pretty depressing at times, telling people about awful things going on in the world.
Sometimes the only thing more disheartening than reporting it is watching it, as viewers are bombarded with war, genocide, endless political scandals, violent crime and natural disasters. So what can you do about it?
In the classic 1976 film Network, newsreader Howard Beale is told he only has two more weeks on air because ratings are so low.
In an unscripted outburst fired by rage and frustration, he delivers an impassioned monologue during a live broadcast, lamenting the sorry state of the world – the fear, manipulation, injustice – and entreats viewers to get angry, to take back control of their lives and change things.
His speech ends with the now- famous line: ‘‘ I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it and stick your head out and yell: ‘ I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!’’’
That’s one way to deal with it. The other way is to just laugh.
And off- kilter funnyman Shaun Micallef is the perfect guy for the job when it comes to finding the humorous side of anything and everything.
His new show, Mad As Hell, is a panel- based news comment and analysis series with a distinctly Micallef twist.
Micallef has likened it to a revitalised version of his old SBS series Newstopia, which had to be shelved because it clashed with Micallef’s commitments to Ten for Talkin’ ’ Bout Your Generation.
He says the comedic news discussion show is something he has longed to revisit. With TAYG taking a rest this year, it is the perfect time.
Micallef’s new vehicle on ABC1 promises a half- hour weekly round- up, branding, inoculation and crutching of the week’s important news stories.
As well as the expected panel discussion of the big national news stories and Micallef’s typically absurdist treatment of them, we can also look forward to special guests and some pretty warped sketches.
Originally an Adelaide insurance lawyer, Micallef decided in 1993 to move to Melbourne to pursue a career in comedy. Since then his language- twisting, deadpan weirdness and occasional outbursts of straightforward lunacy have made him one of our stand- out TV talents.
He has hopped from network to network over the years in a multitude of projects – from sketch series Full Frontal to his cult ABC series the Micallef Program, Nine’s Micallef Tonight, ABC sitcom Welcher & Welcher, SBS’S Newstopia and Ten’s hugely popular TAYG.
His trademark style has always remained, as have some regular characters who seem to pop up
everywhere he goes, like Nobby Doldrums and Milo Kerrigan. Since Newstopia’s disappearance, Good News Week’s spectacular display of crawling up its own rear end and The Project’s gradual shift away from its initially edgy news- dissection roots, Australian TV really needs something like Mad As Hell right now. And having a good laugh at the state of the world is a hell of a lot healthier than having to go to your window and shout out in anger.