There’s a scene in Darradong Local Council, Paul Fenech’s latest series for 7Mate, where a barista is obliged to laugh at a feeble joke told to her by Fenech’s character Fox. The woman playing the barista does her best, but it’s clear that she doesn’t think the joke is funny. Wait until she sees the rest of the series…
Yes! Fenech and his repertory company (Angry Anderson, Kevin Taumata, Garry Who, Vince Sorrenti and others) are back with a show which is technically an all-new series but, let’s face it, you could probably slap the titles for Housos on the front of this and some people wouldn’t notice the difference. Because while Darradong Local Council may set itself up to be a satire on why local government is broken, it’s actually just a loose frame on which to hang a series of scenes where moronic characters get into fights, indulge in soft porn and be out-and-proud anti-woke.
There are attempts at satire here – the Mayor (George Kapiniaris), Deputy Mayor (Jon-Bernard Kairouz) and Councillors vote to close down all the local libraries to enable a dodgy Chinese property developer to erect new apartments – but it seems unlikely to go beyond “Hey, this happens in local government sometimes”. As usual with a Paul Fenech show, there are way more important things to do than satire, like fill up a few minutes of airtime with a sex scene or a fight sequence.
The show gets a few decent laughs from the Greens Councillor character, who also votes to close down the libraries because the books aren’t made of hemp. But having him turn up and mention tofu or lentils or whatever it is he’ll get to do each week – in case you haven’t picked this up yet, this is not clever or original satire – will quickly wear thin.
What will be kind of interesting is how the Fox character, who proclaims himself to be a Sovereign Citizen, will develop. Fenech probably intends this character to be an idiot, sucked into dumb Cooker conspiracy theories about vaccines and so forth, but he’ll also likely have his cake and eat it too. Yes, the characters in Darradong Local Council are corrupt, lazy, dumb morons – and sexist, racist and homophobic to boot – but they’re also unlikely heroes, who get away with stuff like theft and up-skirting. And there’ll be no Donald Trump-esque series of court cases at which they’ll get a sort of comeuppance.
Maybe the subplot about the state premier wanting to shut down Darradong’s Chinese-backed property development, so he can build an even worse development, will be funny and interesting? But wait, this is Paul Fenech, so all the potential satire will be drowned in a melee of titillation, shouting and punch-ups.
Of course, after several decades of near-identical Paul Fenech series, no one watching his shows doesn’t love his trademark formula*. Or, at least, that’s the theory. There presumably will come a point where doing the same material in a slightly different setting will wear thin, even amongst Fenech’s rusted-on fanbase. Could this half-arsed local government satire be the series that kills his career?
Ah, who are we kidding? Paul Fenech will never die. See you next year for our review of Darradong Local Council series two.
* Unless they have to review it. Hello!