The Chaser are back! Well, some of them are back: their new show The Chaser’s Media Circus (Wednesday’s, ABC1, 8.30 p.m.) – which only started the night before this issue of Forte went to print, so it’s all press releases and speculation at the moment – doesn’t feature the full complement of the Chaser team.
As the press release put it: “Filmed in front of a live studio audience each week shortly before broadcast, The Chaser’s Media Circus sees a mix of journalists, comedians and members of the program’s team (including writer/performers from The Checkout Ben Jenkins, Zoë Norton Lodge and Scott Abbot) dissect the week’s news and media through games like: Out of Order: Where teams have to organise news stories in the order they appeared in a TV news bulletin. Which is deemed most important – Syria’s civil war, the AFL results, or a neighbourly dispute over a garage roller door? Press Pack: Where a team member plays the part of a public figure at a press conference defending an embarrassing gaffe. Or whatever Jacqui Lambie said that particular week. Evil Mastermind: A fun game for the whole family where you have to decide whether a quote about “evil” is by Tony Abbott or a cartoon super-villain.”
This all sound a little like the kind of things that work better as a gag in a press release rather than actual segments that drag on for minutes in a real live show, but at this stage you’re the ones who’ve (maybe) actually seen the show so perhaps it really did turn out to be a hilarious comedy triumph.
The bit that’s interesting about all this is that while Craig Reucassel is the host, Julian Morrow is the executive producer and Chas Licciardello is present in the role of “one man brains trust” – no big surprise there, as he’s seemed like the real driving force behind their examination of the media since the days of The Chaser’s War On Everything – that seems to be it for the involvement of the regular Chaser team.
Presumably the others are involved in some backroom capacity (though regular Chaser non-performing member Dominic Knight seems to have been busy doing a lot of side projects of late), but with the addition of a bunch of the performers from The Checkout to the Chaser’s “A” show it’s starting to look a little like the guys are planning to step back from the on-air side of things. Which should be interesting: clearly The Checkout has been a bit of a hit for them without the whole crew turning up on-air, and if this format works out perhaps they’ll be able to back off and segue into producing.
On the other hand, even twenty half-hour episodes of television might not be enough to support six guys out back plus the on-air performers (Shaun Micallef does twenty episodes of Mad as Hell a year with a writing staff of half that): if The Chaser want to become a brand name, they might have to start really churning out the product.
By Anthony Morris