July 7, 2020

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 finished, 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.

Pre-Watch Summary

So you might be wondering what exactly is Danger 5? This is understandable since I’ve only met a few people who had seen 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. It was created by Alrugo Entertainment after its success with the web series Italian Spiderman.

The premise is simple. It’s WWII, and the Nazis are on the offensive. To combat the looming threat, Danger 5 is created, formed from the best of the allied nations. They have two goals, to stop the Nazis and kill Adolf Hitler. Each episode follows a different mission where Danger 5 tries to foil the cartoonishly supervillain-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. There’s Jackson (played by David Ashby), the hyper-masculine American with a love of patriotism and hatred for fascism. There’s 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. There’s 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. There’s 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. Lastly, there’s 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. We also have Holly (played by Elizabeth Hay), an American teenager who gets caught up in a plot involving Danger 5 in season 2. There’s also McKenzie (played by Fumito Arai), Pierre’s lion-headed Japanese servant/best friend starting in season 2 who helps the team. Lastly, we have 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 makes Danger 5 special 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 their respective decades. 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. These range from fake commercials ending each episode to deathbed cocktail recipes. On a side note, I’m planning on trying some of these since a couple sound surprisingly delicious. All this comes together to create an incredibly funny tableau. Danger 5 is reminiscent of the shows and movies you would watch on a Saturday morning with your kids, with humor that ranges from goofy to incredibly surreal. I mean, old man Hitler trying to be the prom king, anyone?

If I had to compare this show to anything in particular, especially the second season, it would be Kung Fury. What sells Danger 5 though compared to Kung Fury though is the dedication to the production. While Kung Fury settled for all green screen, Danger 5 took the time to create a world filled with shoddy effects, miniature sets, and flimsy models. In other words, 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. The only thing that gives away the fact the show ran between 2012 and 2015 is the content standards. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the jokes and setups wouldn’t fly back in the day. Namely, there’s a lot of gore and sex.

My First Impressions

I discovered Danger 5 on Netflix back in what I want to say was my junior year of college (I remember I was living by myself when I watch it). Thinking “what the hell, this looks dumb”, I 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.

The only reason why I stopped was that Danger 5 was tragically pulled from Netflix, and I could no longer find it through legal means. It was only recently that I rediscovered the show. On a lark, I thought about looking up some Danger 5 clips on Youtube. Lo and behold, I found every episode on a Youtube playlist in full. I decided to hold off on watching the show for the time being, however. This was because I had come up with the idea of Off the Beaten Path, and thought Danger 5 would be the perfect subject.

What Do I Expect?

In terms of what I expect from the rewatch and the reviews, I’m expecting a much more consistent experience than Love, Death & Robots. This is because 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?”. Either way, it’s going to be a hilarious ride, and one I recommend following along with.

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

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


Joseph MacMaster

Writer extraordinaire in progress who hangs out with the Chicago Film Scene crew. I screenwrite for my fellow CFS filmmakers. I also write TV and movie reviews, and am a co-host/main writer of the Chicago Film Scene: Live! podcast.

View all posts by Joseph MacMaster →

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