Pop Culture [#603]

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Pop Culture [#603]

January isn’t exactly prime time when it comes to new shows on television. The non-ratings period fillers all turned up a month ago: if you’re after something new, you’re either out looking for downloads of UK Christmas specials (pro tip: this year’s Black Mirror special is well worth a look) or trying to tell yourself that sport is something you watch rather than something you do. But over on SBS they’ve pulled a swifty, with brand new episodes of Australian comedy series Danger 5 starting up Sunday’s at 9.30 p.m. from Jan 3rd (so you’re already an episode behind, sorry).
Usually a January start date would suggest something less than full confidence in the finished project: even the ABC tends to air the local shows they’ve gone off in prime time, so a Jan date might not inspire a whole lot of confidence. But in this case there’s a good reason for the off-Broadway timeslot: series two of Danger 5 was originally scheduled for September, but when the rise of Islamic State became something more than a blip on the news radar the Danger 5 team released this statement:
“It is with our deepest disappointment and sadness that we announce a decision has been made to delay the broadcast of Danger 5 Series 2 on SBS. This is due to unforeseen international news events and the recent ISIS actions and it’s felt in the current climate the series might not be received in the comedic spirit in which it was created.
Unfortunately, this delay is completely out of our control and the entire team at Danger 5 and [production company] Dinosaur are truly devastated. At this stage we’re unaware of when Series 2 will air, but as soon as we do, you will be the first to know. We hope that you will stick by us until this time as we do everything we can to show you what has taken the entire team thousands of hours of hard work, sweat and a few tears.”
SBS itself followed up with this statement: “Although Danger 5 was written and filmed before any of the recent ISIS actions and in no way refers to recent events, the network has determined that some themes touched on in this season are potentially sensitive in the current climate and may not be received in the comedic and satirical spirit with which they are intended.” Which raised a few eyebrows at the time, as Danger 5 is a parody of ’60s spy thrillers in which the titular team battles a still-living Hitler in a variety of unlikely scenarios – this week’s episode, for example, sees Hitler hiding out at an American high school, forcing the team to go undercover there to a) foil his evil scheme and b) do a bunch of riffs on shows like 21 Jump Street.
This doesn’t sound like it has a great deal to do with ISIS (unlike US animated spy comedy Archer, which had to rename its main spy agency due to it also being named ISIS) but at a time of heightened sensitivities it’s not hard to see the SBS bigwigs wanting to take the safe course. Which, in the wake of all the kerfuffle about pulling the release of North Korean comedy The Interview, seems to be the way of the media world these days: whatever happened to not letting the terrorists win?
By Anthony Morris