November 14, 2019

Off the Beaten Path | “Danger 5”

With Off the Beaten Path, we are one show down, how many else I feel like covering to go. So with Love, Death & Robots down, what’s on the docket for all of you, you dedicated few and beautiful readers who have read this far? For that, we are leaving the United States for the land down under, for a comedy show called Danger 5.

So you might be wondering what exactly is Danger 5, which is understandable, since I’ve only heard a few people here in the states talking about this show back when it was Netflix. Danger 5 is an Australian comedy that ran for 13 episodes across 2 seasons (I’ll be reviewing both seasons for you) on SBS, created by Alrugo Entertainment after their success with the web series Italian Spiderman. The premise is simple; it’s WWII, and a team of super spies, known as Danger 5, from the allied nations are brought together to stop the Nazis and kill Adolf Hitler. Each episode follows a different mission where Danger 5 tries to foil the cartoonishly supervillian-esque schemes of Hitler and his underlings (I mean, the first episode is about the Nazis stealing all of the world’s monuments, and it only gets more ridiculous from there). 

There are five members of Danger 5: Jackson (played by David Ashby), the hyper masculine American with a love of patriotism and a hatred for fascism; Ilsa (played by Natasa Ristic), the cool and sexy Soviet femme fatale with a mysterious past who’s as deadly as she is a hard drinker (she also speaks exclusively in Russian, which everyone understands without comment); Clare (played by Amanda Simons), the prim and chaste Brit who may be the most effective at the job but also one of the least respected; Pierre (played by Aldo Mignone in season 1 and Pacharo Mzembe in season 2), the ambiguous Mediterranean who is everyone’s friend and the one most likely to try and find a peaceful solution through partying; and Tucker (played by Sean James Murphy), the lame Australian who’s so uptight,  straitlaced, and lame that no one takes him seriously despite being the de facto team leader. Rounding out the main cast includes: Colonel Chestbridge (played by Tilman Vogler), their eagle headed handler who gives them their missions of the week; Holly (played by Elizabeth Hay), an American teenager who gets caught up in a plot involving Danger 5 in season 2; McKenzie (played by Fumito Arai), Pierre’s lion headed Japanese servant/best friend starting in season 2 who helps the team; and Adolf Hitler (played by Carmine Russo but voiced by Andreas Sobik), the evil mastermind behind the Third Reich who strives for world domination at all costs.

What distinguishes this show though is that it is so inspired by pulp fiction stories and the aesthetic of previous decades that it feels like the distillation of all that’s ridiculous for each time period: the first season is set in WWII, but looks and feels like a 60’s action serial mixed with a sitcom, with all the ridiculous stories and tropes included; the second season takes place in a distinctly 80’s inspired Cold War setting with all the 80’s excess you can imagine while also cranking up the insanity. Each episode is also loaded to the gills with period inspired running gags, ranging from fake commercials ending each episode to deathbed cocktail recipes (I’m planning on trying some of these, since a couple sound surprisingly delicious). All this comes together to create incredibly funny stories reminiscent of the shows and movies you would watch on a Saturday morning with your kids, with humor that range from goofy to incredibly surreal (I mean, old man Hitler trying to be the prom king anyone?) and incredible rewatch value. If I had to compare this show to anything in particular, especially the second season, it would be Kung Fury. What really sells Danger 5 though compared to Kung Fury though is the dedication to making each season look like it was made in each decade to a level Kung Fury never bothered to strive for; you can feel the love of each decade through the sheer craft of meticulously making each season look like it was filmed during that decade. Really, the craft is done so well, the only thing that gives away the fact the show ran between 2012 and 2015 are the content standards, which wouldn’t fly back in the day (namely, there’s a lot of gore and sex).

I discovered this show on Netflix back in college (I want to say my junior year since I was living by myself at that point), watched it on a whim, and fell in love. Over the next few years I would return to the show whenever I needed a sensible chuckle (both sober and inebriated), only stopping when the show was tragically pulled from Netflix, and I could no longer find it through legal means. It was only recently that I rediscovered the show (I found every episode on a Youtube playlist in full, and I’ll provide the link at the end of the article), but I decided to hold off on watching the show, since I had come up with the idea of Off the Beaten Path, and thought Danger 5 would be the perfect subject. In terms of what I expect from the rewatch and the reviews, I’m expecting a much more consistent experience than Love, Death & Robots, seeing as this show follows a cast of characters over numerous adventures as opposed to a variety of standalone episodes. The questions this time will be “do they hold up?” and “what are they spoofing?”, but either way it’s going to be a hilarious ride, and one I recommend following along with.

Here are the trailers for each season if you’d like to get a taste of whats to come.

Lastly, here’s the promised YouTube link to all the episodes of Danger 5.

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