Sony Music Video/Sony BMG .
R4 . COLOR . 285 mins .
PG . PAL
In the 1970s, a handful of comedians ruled the TV airwaves. They were headed by the King, Graham Kennedy, the Lanky Yank, Don Lane, and everybody’s favourite ocker, Paul Hogan. Life for the Sydney Harbour Bridge painter would never be the same after getting his break following an appearance on the talent quest show New Faces and the rest is, as they say, history.
King of the Yobbos!
The Paul Hogan Show ran for ten years from 1973 to 1982, and was a runaway success that presented numerous memorable characters that you would see imitated in every schoolyard on any given day. Nigel Lovelace, Leo Wanker, Luigi the Unbelievable and Arthur Dunger were easily imitated and never forgotten. Aided by his mate Strop (John Cornell), Cornell’s real-life wife, the sexy Delvene Delaney and, in the later years, by former model and beauty queen Karen Pini, each of whom was little more than material and bodies for Hogan to feed off. Or a pair of legs with breasts.
The jokes and sketches were a combination of commercial piss-takes, social commentary and simple, character-driven sketches. As such, much of the material has dated, and some will mean absolutely nothing to viewers who never saw or can't recall '70s television shows and commercials. Hoges (as he was affectionately nick-named) was also keen on his monologues, which were delivered at the opening and closing of every show. In the ‘70s, some of these were quite funny, but in 2004 not so much as they are loaded with gags and humour that simply fails to shock or titillate. The same can be said of many of the sketches that poke fun at stereotypes that ceased to be funny quite some time ago.
Even AFL banners manage to spell better than this...mostly!
The Paul Hogan Show – The Best Of presents the supposed funniest moments from 1977 to 1982 in five previously compiled “Best of…” television specials. Either my sense of humour has matured beyond measure, or this is simply not as funny as I remember it. Sure, there are a few moments and sketches that I can recall in great detail even after 20 years, but generally the comedy falls flat on its face.
As for Hoges, well his career peaked with the Crocodile Dundee films (well, two of them anyway), and a handful of dud films that simply proved that he really only had one joke, but it was one he managed to stretch out to almost 30 years. That in itself is quite an achievement.
Compiled from episodes of the show over several years, the footage on the two discs is acceptable without being overly impressive and is as good as it will ever be. The full frame aspect ratio should come as no surprise, and although all the material is in colour, not all of it has retained vibrancy, with some of the filmed sequences appearing quite pale, washed out and displaying evidence of noise. There are also numerous film and tape artefacts and glitches, dirt and grain.
Black levels are hardly the best, but shadow detail is infrequent enough to be of no concern. Overall, the image has enough sharpness and clarity to earn itself a decent enough rating and is unlikely to disappoint unless you have unrealistic expectations.
The audio transfer is more than adequate, though it's only Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. It is loud, clear and displays no synchronisation problems. There is some minimal background hiss in some of the sketches, but it's largely free of problems. Only the front speakers get any kind of workout and even that is pedestrian and straightforward, with no separation, and no great depth.
As the feature is a collection of previously compiled specials, the extras included on each disc amount to a total of 82 minutes of extras footage with the titles Other Funny Stuff and The Thoughts of Hoges. The extra footage matches the feature for technical quality and content.
The Paul Hogan Show – The Best Of… will not appeal to younger viewers who will not find the politically incorrect humour funny, and the piss-takes likewise are really only humorous if you are familiar with the originals. The celebrities who are impersonated and lampooned have largely remained in obscurity, and the co-stars and supporting comedians all but disappeared long ago.
This collection provides some great memories of a very different television era, but offers precious little to the uninitiated.