Nazi Dinosaurs, Mutants, and Go-Go Girls: Why You Need To Watch ‘Danger 5’

Written By kom nampuldu on Sabtu, 14 Maret 2015 | 20.49

Every so often, an international cult hit sneaks its way onto Netflix and becomes a Stateside smash. This happened last December for the brilliant Black Mirror, and if I had my way, it would happen this year for the gonzo Australian comedy series, Danger 5.

Danger 5 is essentially what would happen if Quentin Tarantino turned Austin Powers into a television show. It's violent, raunchy, bizarre, nonsensical, and a complete send-up of '60s spy movies. The show follows an elite team of international spies who tackle strange missions to thwart the Nazis and get closer to killing Hitler. Adding to the absurdity is the fact that while their primary foe is Adolf Hitler, everything about the way they dress is completely at home in the swinging '60s. Furthermore, there are appearances from lizard men, Nazi dinosaurs, robots, mutants, and everyone seems able to defy the laws of physics. It's an action fan's fever dream that's simultaneously so strange that you can't take it seriously and so well-written that you can't help but to care about the characters. No, really. I care about the characters. I fantasize about being as gloriously tough as Ilsa and I'd kill to hang out with Jackson. I want Pierre to mix me a cocktail and I desperately need Claire and Tucker to get married and settle down after the war. My attachment to these characters is only so surprising because every actor is dubbed over in ADR to reference old school foreign-made serials and to give Danger 5 an additional sense of detachment.

The show is also a must-see for any true comedy nerd. Every line of dialogue is beautifully written satire. Because the show is already couched in such extremes, the writers can get away with truly strange (and otherwise extremely offensive) lines. When Colonel Chestbridge tells Claire to "Shut up, girl!" in the first episode, it's hard not to laugh. The joke isn't that misogyny is funny, but that it's dumb and antiquated and ridiculous — much like the Chestbridge's bird head. Yes, Danger 5's boss has the head of a bird. That sort of encapsulates the tone of the entire series. Cliches are celebrated and horrors are twisted into humor. Every shot, every prop, and every onscreen moment is overflowing with details that reference something buried deep in our collective pop culture imagination. Well, that, or it's something that purposely makes no sense.

Danger 5 owes its entire existence to a viral YouTube hit called Italian Spiderman. The film, made by an Aussie comedy group called Alrugo Entertainment, purported to be a long-lost '60s version of Marvel's Spider-man. It's a modern-made satire of foreign superhero knock offs and the terrible cheesiness of low budget films. Australian television channel SBS came a-calling and they wanted Alrugo to adapt Italian Spiderman for television. The one problem? Alrugo doesn't exactly own the film rights to Spider-man (that would be Sony, who just agreed to lease the character back to Marvel in the wake of that whole hacked email controversy). Alrugo's main power players, Dario Russo and David Ashby, launched Dinosaur Productions and pitched three high concept comedies to SBS. Danger 5 was the one commissioned.

Until this month, the only way Americans could watch Danger 5 was via bootlegs and YouTube. In fact, I watched the first series via a series of old YouTube links that I only knew about thanks to this Tumblr post from Jake Fogelnest. It became one of those weird shows that I would bring up amongst friends and either people would freak out about how awesome the show was or they'd blink their eyes in confusion over my passion. Now, thanks to Netflix, I can point people directly to the series. The streaming service has both the first series and the new one that debuted in Australia this January. The second series doesn't retread the swinging '60s setting from the first, but uses a neon-bright 1980s high school comedy setting as its spy backdrop. I realize that makes no sense, but then nothing about Danger 5 really does. The prequel episode is the only one not available right now, which is tragic because it's the team's first mission and provides context for this incredible gif:

Danger 5 is a show that pushes every button it can. If something gets shot, they're shot square in the head. If the team goes undercover, they wear the most ludicrous costumes they can find. If Ilsa has to have been married to one Nazi, then it's going to be the infamous Desert Fox, Rommel. It's a show that loves decadence and cheapness in equal measure and that contradiction is what gives Danger 5 its specific style. It's a show that can disgust and delight at the same time, but it's  guaranteed to elicit a reaction. Oh, and that reaction is usually hysterical laughter. [Watch Danger 5]

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[Photos: Dinosaur Productions]


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