[Contains missed mattress-stacks and SPOILERS!!!]
The criminally underrated Australian action-comedy series Double the Fist caused quite a stir back in 2004, when it beat out popular favourite Kath & Kim for an AFI award (“Best Television Comedy”), to the surprise and disgust of many critics. While Fist may have won that particular battle, I think it’s fair to say that K&K is winning the war, as evidenced by the fact that the latter is still widely available on DVD around the world, while the former has largely vanished into the void. And by “the void”, I mean that it now only exists in the form of low-res, pirated YouTube videos… which I’m very grateful for, of course, because beggars can’t be choosers, but this is the sort of show that deserves to be celebrated with a big fancy anniversary boxset… not left to rot in a dark, dank corner of ABC’s basement, dammit!
I’ve written about the second season before, but have only just gotten around to watching the first season… partly because it didn’t have Hollie Andrew in it, but mostly because I had a preconception that it would be less surreal and surprising than its successor. To be fair, the challenges the Fist team face in the first couple episodes (such as jumping off a cliff, or making golf more dangerous) are fairly tame by later standards, but it isn’t long before the guys are leaping over (or into) time-space portals, getting attacked by cursed Aztec artefacts, and facing off against an ever-replenishing army of tree-felling pandas! Obviously humour is subjective, and while there’s no way to say for certain whether Fist is actually funnier than K&K (I say it is… but others would disagree), there’s no doubt that it’s a far more inventive and ambitious endeavour, especially when you consider that the two shows were most likely being produced on similar size budgets! While some of the CGI looks a little less than photo-realistic (to put it kindly), it always works well enough to sell the joke, and that’s all that really matters at the end of the day… and the way they staged/filmed the epic fight scene in the finale would put an awful lot of genuine, low-to-medium-budget action movies to shame! For the first seven episodes, the show’s host, ‘Steve Foxx’ (Craig Anderson), comes off as an oppressive blowhard, cruelly bullying and judging the other cast-members without ever putting his own neck on the line… but when it finally came time to show his mettle, he really brought the full-fisted thunder! [Insert primal roar here… Rarrr!!!]
This season also marked the screen debut of Australian actress Yvonne Strahovski, who appeared in episode #1.4 as ‘Suzie’, one of several civilian contestants participating in an insanely dangerous challenge-show titled “Fear Factory”, alongside the regular characters. She gets a lot of screentime here, and I love the scene where ‘Mephisto’ (Doug Bayne) hears a distant gunshot and rushes into a room to find Suzie holding a smoking pistol in her hand, and ‘Rod Foxx’ (Bryan Moses) lying on the floor with a fresh bullet-wound in his leg. They both bluff about the cause of the off-screen “accident”, but I think it’s fair to assume from Rod’s previous leching that he almost certainly had it coming (to steal a line from Chicago). As noted in my previous post, I appreciate the fact that Moses was willing to play such a detestable date-rapey creep, and that the writers always made him suffer for his transgressions/crimes… though, sadly, he always reverts to type when he respawns in the next episode! It’s really a shame that so many casual critics seem to mistake the show for a Jackass-esque celebration of mindless machismo, when it was generally quite a smart/spiteful satire of the same, using outlandish exaggeration to mock meat-headed Nietzschean one-upmanship. Imho.
Episode #1.5 saw the introduction of a recurring female participant, ‘Tina T’ (Neridah Waters), who seemed to be much smarter than her male cast-mates… though I was a little disappointed to see her fall for Rod’s dubious “charms”, as the two of them spent more time together. Of course, their “romance” inevitably ended with a lawsuit for sexual assault, after he attempted to remove her clothing while she was unconscious (as a result of him inadvertently knocking her out while attacking someone else!)… and while I didn’t find the resolution to that subplot particularly satisfying (in the sense that she didn’t inflict nearly enough damage on him during their trial-by-combat), I’m glad she was awarded the upper-hand, before disappearing from the series.
Meanwhile, episode #1.6 boasted several very funny “subliminal” comic-strip sequences, which zipped by on-screen and could only be read using the pause/frame-advance button. Besides enjoying the gags, I thought the artwork was amazing, and was determined to identify the artist responsible… only to discover that they were drawn by Trudy Cooper, co-creator of the fantastically funny (and extremely-NSFW) webcomic Oglaf that I obsessively refresh every Sunday! I then learned that her collaborator on that joyously pervy project is none other than “Mephisto” himself! I’m actually rather ashamed I didn’t make that connection before now, considering how much I enjoy their comix… but, in my defence, there aren’t any credits or bios on the website itself, so it’s not easy to identify who’s responsible…
P.S. I feel bad for not name-checking Tony Walters, who plays brain-damaged man-child ‘The Womp’ on the show, because he’s actually my fave character overall, and I always feel a little sorry for him having to wear that ridiculous costume in public while everyone else gets to wear normal casual clothes. Oh, and the episode where he had to deal with his own obnoxious, blue-clad clone was particularly entertaining (#1.4)… who can resist a little Womp-on-Womp action?