Based at an (unspecified) commercial network, Frontline goes
behind the scenes of the ratings-obsessed world of commercial current
affairs. Covering everything from the use of hidden cameras,
foot-in-the-door bullying interview techniques and cheque-book
journalism, the egos of on air personalities, the dubious practices,
and the occasional hypocrisy of a medium that purports to objectively
present public affairs. It was relevant in the early 90's, and with the
recent spate of "Beaconsfield Miners", "Steve Irwin Dead" and "The Atkins Diet" - Frontline is just as on the ball today than it's ever been.
While strongly satirical, Frontline
was never a 'comedy' in the traditional sense, filmed in a style that
lent itself towards a documentary realism. That may mean little to a
modern day audience who are inundated with "New Comedies" such as Arressted Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office and Kath & Kim - but bear in mind, Frontline was produced over 10 years ago now. Not only did it possess the awkward human comedy which made The Office
a worldwide sensation - it also involved some of the most intellectual
biting satire ever seen on the small screen. It's a rare case in which
the phrase 'ahead of their time' is actually appropriate.
In fairness, many parallels could be made between Frontline and the American classic The Larry Sanders Show - essentially Frontline
set with the backdrop of a Tonight Show - but comedy has always been
about advancing on other comedians ideas. Something the Working Dog
team have done superbly throughout their career.
Each episode stands alone as self contained dramas
- but watching them all back to back on DVD - you notice how supremely
good the D-Gen were at subtlety unravellings the larger story at hand.
Characters evolve, relationships evolve and stories evolve in a
brilliant blend of comedy, drama and information.
The cast works well together, becoming more
comfortable as on-screen actors with each episode. The pairing of
Sitchs' Mike Moore and his hapless friend - Weatherman Geoffrey Salter
(Santo Cilaro) - is superb. In fact, the scenes between the two are the
only of the show which could be described as out and out funny. It's
strange the way satire works - much like watching CNNNN
- your brain is so busy concentrating on working out what the joke
means, you don't realise at the time of how funny it actually is.
It's a superb show that just gets better with each
viewing and amazingly holds up after all these years - and likely to
hold up for many years to come (besides the odd reference to "Digital
Mobile Phones" and "The Bob Morrison Show"). It's one of those rare
programs that you aren't sure why you like it, but after watching it -
you just have a sense that you enjoyed yourself. A must have collection
for all DVD cases.
Sadly, one thing the Working Dog crew have never much bothered for - besides anything involving Tony Martin (Bad Eggs, The Late Show: Champagne Edition)
- is extras. It's a real shame to, but perhaps their aim is for the
viewer to concentrate on the work itself, and not the fluff around it.
Movie 95% Extras: N/A