The Week In Weird TV: From Kangaroo Dundee To Kavos

This week TV-land offered up a man called Brolga who mothers kangaroos, and a rather patronising look at pissed-up teenagers...
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This week TV-land offered up a man called Brolga who mothers kangaroos, and a rather patronising look at pissed-up teenagers...

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When Mandela arrived at the pearly gates last week, Saint Peter would have greeted him like an old drinking buddy. A fist-pump, a high-five, a hug and pat on the bum as Madiba strolled through in some shades and a terrible shirt. One of the very few who could look Saint Pete in the eye, without turning away in guilt.

Another man who might be able to is, for some unfathomable reason, called Brolga. Thankfully though, he has been re-named by TV executives as Kangeroo Dundee. The word “Dundee” has become something that people attach to other words to mean Australian. It’s the dangly-cork hat of words. Anything near it immediately assumes a sun-bitten, grizzled, red-dirt-under-the-fingernails, Ayres Rock-bedazzled, Down Undery-ness. And, actually, that is almost exactly what you get with Brolga.

He is a six foot seven chunk of outback, with a 3 o’clock shadow and baggy cargo shorts. He looks like Richard Hammond with a pituitary gland problem and dropped balls. He runs a kangaroo sanctuary in Alice Springs, where he rescues orphaned baby kangaroos, called Joey’s. Except he doesn’t just rescue them, he takes them into his “shack” and becomes, as he says, their “mother.” And he really does. He feeds them, carries them around in a pillow case, sleeps with them and – in this episode – helps them to, er, go to the loo.

Now, before I go on, you should know that kangaroo mothers have to “stimulate” their little joey’s, little joey to make them go to the loo. And after the joey’s have used their mothers mouths (honestly) as a lavatory, the dutiful, doting mum stoically swallows down the contents, like a glass of eggnog in a church hall. If kangaroos had mother’s day, chocolates and petrol station flowers would not suffice.

And Brolga certainly doesn’t shirk his motherly duties but, mercifully, does stop short of the whole Listerine-cum-Pampers arrangement. If he hadn’t, it probably would have been a news item, rather than BBC wildlife programme.

Like most contemporary wildlife programmes, it turns the anthropomorphic dial up to Disney levels. The maternal relationship between Brolga and the kangaroos is made explicit in the first few seconds and then again and again throughout the show. In fact, that seems to be the point of the whole thing. And, to be fair, baby kangaroos do lend themselves rather well this type of over-sentimentality.

They have great big innocent (see, I’m doing it) eyes and ridiculous floppy ears, all covered in downy fur that looks so cuddly, you expect Bruce Forsyth jump out from behind a shrub. You can almost see why Brolga has dedicated his life to them, although Paul Hogan would probably pelt him with rocks. It’s more Dundee cake than crocodile.

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A programme that is guilty of the opposite of anthropomorphism is What Happens in Kavos. This is your regulation pissed-up abroad reality show that everyone’s seen forgettable times before. What hasn’t been quite so evident before was the voiceover, which sounded like the headmistress of a girl’s Catholic school, crossed with David Attenborough. It used expressions like “ritual mating dance” and “attract a mate” when describing nothing more unusual than a few young girls going for a big night out.

Of course, it was probably intended to be ironic or tongue-in-check but it came across like sneering, patronising jealously. The talk-down-drink-up shtick was, if anything, hypocritical. The programme was trying to show how unselfaware “the young” can become with no rules and lots of booze, but succeeded only in highlighting the programmes own lack of awareness.

The girls in this particular episode came across pretty well. There were perfectly aware of what they were up to and seemed not so much to be full of alcohol, as full of life. You don’t get to be young for very long, so make the most of it and don’t waste time watching this. Watch Crocodile Dundee instead.