The Chasers new project The Hamster Wheel premiered last night on ABC1. Anyone familiar with the Chaser saw a show last night that had no real surprises. It was the Chaser doing what the Chaser does. And that’s fine. For the most part, I enjoy the cut of their jib.

While The Chasers War on Everything had its moments, the show never really quite clicked as well as intended. The Chaser are at their best when the targets of their comedy stylings are politics and the media. CWoE was a little too broad in scope. The Hamster Wheel corrects this with a very clear focus on media/politics are is the better for it.

Not every joke can be a winner and The Hamster Wheel had a couple that fell with a thud, but those that did work landed well and the show had a great spirit and enthusiasm about it. Go Back To Where Tony Abbott Came From was the standout sketch from the show, parodying the excellent SBS series from earlier this year. And the faux-celebrity Twitter feed at the bottom of the screen delivered a bunch of decent gags, marking a welcome return to CNNNN territory.

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The set design is inspired and I’m loving the hamster desk. Hopefully the hamster will be repurposed by the ABC for future productions. The Lateline set could use a good sprucing up.

If there’s one thing that the show could benefit from, it would be that the show needs to feel a little more topical than it does. Social media like Twitter have sped up the length of time audiences are still interested in a topic. Jokes about the media calling for Kevin Rudd to return as PM felt ‘so two weeks ago’. While I appreciate that there is a lead time needed for research and that the show is recorded earlier in the week, the topical humour on the show was already feeling a little too tired to warrant inclusion.

Also, it’d be great to see the guys doing some more remote pieces bothering politicians. There’s an entirely new government since the Chaser last did that sort of material with any regularity.

Ultimately, it was a return to form for the Chaser. Not every gag worked, but more jokes landed successfully than not. They’re a welcome voice on Australian TV and I’m happy to see they’re back.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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