Ever wondered if during the Second World War, a group of international spies were given top secret, elaborate missions by their leader to stop the Nazis and kill Hitler? Did I mention their leader is an eagle? And, obviously, this was happening in the 1960s? Then I give you…
Danger 5 is an Australian comedy show from the minds of Dario Russo and David Ashby. Beyond that, it is hard to describe. The writers took their inspiration from pulp adventure magazines and cheap B movies, but to sum this first season in one sentence, it would be an action comedy show that parodies 60’s spy films. And it was one that I enjoyed so much that I had to write about it. Season 2 is slightly different, so I will have a separate article on that coming in a few days. But here is my review of Danger 5, season 1.
Think of a live action Team America without the swearing. Everyone will have their own reference points for it, but for me this first season is a nice mixture of Thunderbirds, Archer and The Mighty Boosh, although the excellent Gareth Marenghi’s Darkplace could be the best place to start, and maybe BBC 3’s recent Top Coppers. The most important thing though – it’s really funny.
The first episode “I Danced For Hitler” is the perfect example of how overblown and ridiculous Danger 5 is. Nazi Zepplins are stealing monuments from around the world to build a super-monument for Hitler’s birthday. Jackson (played by co-creator David Ashby) is an all-American action hero, so the thought of the Statue of Liberty falling into foreign hands is more than he can take, and he goes off on his own mission to protect Lady Liberty. At the same time, Ilsa (Natasa Ristic) and Claire (Amanda Simons) – a chain smoking Russian and a prim and proper Englishwoman – end up being kidnapped by Joseph Goebbels, tortured, and then recruited to dance in the birthday extravaganza for Adolf Hitler (Carmine Russo – father of co-creater Dario).
Luckily Tucker and Pierre are on their trail, and track them to the Eagle’s Nest. Tucker (Sean James Murphy) is the straight laced Australian (seen here enjoying a restrained laugh at his magazine), whereas Pierre (Aldo Mignone) is a super smooth Frenchman who makes the best cocktails in the world. Can Danger 5 recover the world’s most famous landmarks?
Beyond the comedic potential of that story line alone, and the inherent funniness of the low budget parody, the script is hilarious. There are visual gags aplenty and so many one liners. Every time a character dies anywhere near Pierre, they pass on the recipe for a new, puntastic cocktail – “the perfect Carlos Sultana” is my favourite, although Fruiten Carmoon comes a close second – with their dying breath. There’s also deliberately jarring product placement, which is then followed by an in-show voice-over advert just before the credits start to roll. The credits play over footage of a “Mission Accomplished” party which has all the characters socialising together – good guys and bad guys. But my favourite character has to be “The Colonel” Chestbridge. Every adventure starts with him briefing the team on their mission for this week, which always ends with an addendum similar to “…and as always, kill Hitler”. And as I mentioned in the intro, he’s an Eagle.
The fact that he is an eagle is never explained in any way.
Similarly, the fact that the show is clearly set in the sixties, and yet World War II is still happening is also never mentioned or referenced. It doesn’t need to be. It just works so well.
You might realise from my description of just the first episode that this show is bonkers. Later episodes include “Lizard Soldiers of the Third Reich” (Dr Joseph Mengele is breeding reptile/human hybrids under the South Pole), “Kill-Men of the Rising Sun” (Hitler and Emperor Hirohito have created robot-soldiers) and “Hitler’s Golden Murder Palace” (Hitler is staying at a casino to win gold to create gold plated guns, and the Danger 5 assassination attempt is put in danger when Ilsa’s ex-husband, Rommel, turns up).
This all leads to a final episode that builds on the insanity of the previous installments: “Final Victory”. Giant Nazi monsters are attacking cities all over the world, and winning the war. Allied Command is about to admit defeat, before a telegram (naturally) arrives from Atlantis (obviously), claiming to have a super weapon that can take down the Nazi threat. They need uranium to finish production, and only the Danger 5 team can deliver it. The Danger Submarine is attacked on the way there, Claire and Jackson are separated from the team, but the uranium gets to their contact safely. Only he’s in league with the Nazis! And the super weapon isn’t to fight the Nazis, it’s the Nazis Ultimate weapon!
This is the perfect accumulation of a six episodes of insanity, and leads the Danger 5 team to their ultimate showdown.
This article might have been a word at times, and at the same time I’ve included more pictures and gifs than usual. This is simply because of how much I like this show, and how simply bonkers it is. If you’re still on the fence about this show, do you find this funny:
Some people maybe be slightly uneasy about a comedy show with Hitler and Nazis as its main antagonists, but there’s a Mel Brooks’ quote about including Hitler and the Nazis in The Producers: “You have to bring him down with ridicule, because if you stand on a soapbox and you match him with rhetoric, you’re just as bad as he is, but if you can make people laugh at him, then you’re one up on him”, and that’s a trait that is threaded through Danger 5. And you will laugh at this show.
Recommend for fans of: Team America: World Police, Archer, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, The Mighty Boosh.
Danger 5 is available on Netflix now.
(All images are owned by Dinosaur production company, creators of Danger 5.)