The Hollowmen – ABC TV

05 Jul

The Hollowmen – ABC TV next Wednesday night is a must see from the same team that brought us what is still the most brilliant mockumentary ever on Australian TV, Frontline (Series 1 1994).


Frontline was, of course, scathing satire that parodied TV current affairs shows driven by ratings and commercial interests at the expense of integrity and the truth. And it established Sitch, who played the nicely groomed but hapless frontman Mike Moore, as one of our great comic presences, a gifted clown with no sense of shame.

And while Kennedy can’t tell me much about their new show — Working Dog is a tightly knit and hands-close-to-the-chest bunch — I gather it will hurl a few satirical bricks at federal politics. A comedy-drama called The Hollowmen, it’s set in the offices of the Orwellian-sounding Central Policy Unit, the prime minister’s special think tank. And it examines the rise of the professional adviser, Canberra’s much-derided new class, the anonymous power behind the power…

The Hollowmen is an idea the Working Dog ensemble had been tossing around for close to a decade. “The original script was called The Independent and we talked to a fatiguing number of political figures and commentators,” Gleisner says. “But we moved away from a story about a politician at the fringe towards the true centre of power, housed in the prime minister’s office.” All around us are the production offices and departments, editing suites and the sets for the show, the various backstage rooms, small offices and corridors from which the fictional Hollowmen operate; and prepare their notes, minutes, reports, background briefings, executive summaries and official statements…

I am led to a corridor outside an exact replica of Kevin Rudd’s parliamentary office, suddenly working in a scene with Sitch, in which the PD is furious with the PM for deciding unilaterally to attack sugar levels in Australia’s food and the obesity epidemic. (At least I think so; I’m largely guessing all this because I have only been handed my scene.) “For f..k’s sake why would you take on food?” the PD rampages. “I tell you, they become prime minister and they start thinking they can do what they want.”…

Graeme Blundell recounting his experience as a player in the new series.

The series started preproduction during the Howard era, but inevitably one will read it as referring to Kevin Rudd. I suspect Jim Belshaw will be another watcher.

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3 responses to “The Hollowmen – ABC TV

  1. Jim Belshaw

    July 5, 2008 at 11:26 am

    It could well be the case, Neil, assuming that my girls will let me near the TV!

  2. Eric Rifstarn

    July 16, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    A must see? As the young ones say now ‘Oh pulease’.

    Limp, predictable plots.
    Poorly researched roles and relationships.
    Ironically, its condescending characterizations match an undergraduate understanding of the world it portrays.

  3. ninglun

    July 16, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Hi Eric — you’ll note the post was written before the show appeared…

    On seeing two episodes since then? Well. I thought as mockumentary/comedy it’s not nearly as bad as you say. Not nearly…

    But that’s all opinion after all.

    I also am not sure it comes up to the standard of “Frontline”…

    But I will keep watching; I have seen worse.

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