IF SBS TV is wondering what direction it should take, it could do worse than back talents such as Dario Russo and David Ashby, creators of the recent SBS series Danger 5, which is released on DVD this week (MA15+, Roadshow, 150min, $29.99).
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe SBS is wondering too much about direction; rather, it’s wondering where the next dollar will come from. And Danger 5 is by no means a perfect series. But it is another step for promising talents.
The duo (and friends) came to prominence with their daffy online parody of spaghetti westerns and Italian action films, Italian Spider-man, which Russo uploaded to Youtube during his final year of university. The thing, rightly, took off and he secured funding for 10 more episodes that were just as successful online as the first had been.
SBS and the South Australian Film Commission wanted more but Italian SpiderMan was done.
So Russo and Ashby were backed to create Danger 5, a parody of Thunderbirds, 1960s spy shows such as Mission: Impossible, Mod Squad and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and any number of inept European knock-offs.
In Danger 5’ s 60s, Hitler is still wreaking havoc. Only a group of international spies can stop him taking over the world or deduce why, for instance, Japan has gone missing. Inevitably, the Nazis are at fault and Danger 5’s task is to ‘‘kill Hitler’’.
There are a few spoofs featuring Hitler floating around, including the Australian coproduction Iron Sky. Maybe a new generation of filmmakers has emerged whose families were untouched by World War II.
Anyway, I’ve always been suspicious of parody, which Danger 5 relies heavily on. But it’s done fantastically well on a meagre budget. I was primed to dismiss Danger 5 as piffle but I couldn’t. Whenever it looked like resting too heavily on its own smugness, it made me laugh.
Russo as a director has a light touch and a keen eye. I look forward to his next achievement, now that he’s milked everything possible from the world of parody.