What To Look Out For In Season Two Of ‘Danger 5’
In the world of Danger 5, hybrid humanimals roam the earth, oranges can be used as weapons, and Hitler is the ’80s high school dreamboat you never knew you wanted to go to Prom with. It has been almost two years since the Danger 5 team finally completed their mission to “kill Hitler”, but they are back. And so, apparently, is their nemesis.
Dario Russo is a man with a basement full of swastikas, but it’s okay, because he’s also one half of the creative team behind Danger 5 and leftover props need to be stored somewhere. Alongside David Ashby (who also stars in the series as Jackson), Russo is responsible for shaping and writing this offbeat comedy, and he took some time to chat with me about season 2, slotting dinosaurs into a war narrative, and just how much fake blood you should be using per episode.
This season shows a departure from the structure of the first, with each episode reflecting a specific genre of ’80s film. “The first season was easy to define,” Russo says. “It was five spies in World War 2 on a mission to kill Hitler, but it felt like the 1960s. This time it’s not a simple description because it’s the 80s — but it’s not the 80s. Hitler is back. We assume he’s back from the dead and Danger 5, who have all disbanded, now have to regroup and put a stop to him once and for all.”
The show hops from Scarface to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, from Robocop to Italian horror — all the while maintaining the trademark eccentricity of the first season. There are so many opportunities for the show to slip too far into the ridiculous, or cross the line of political correctness, but Russo and Ashby navigate this with precision. Mashing up Hitler and swastikas with dinosaurs and zombies may look like carefree craziness, but everything we see on the screen is carefully curated and executed.
Season Two might be structurally different and have a few new faces, but it’s still the same excellent, badly lip-synced show and, as Russo laughs, it’s “all glued together with surreal comedy and a generous portion of talking animals — just like the first season.”
Russo tells me that because the budget doubled for this season, their ambition “increased twenty-fold”. So, alongside some higher production values and guns that shoot blanks rather than fingers that shoot imagination, here is just some of what you can expect over the coming season:
Within the first five minutes of the season premiere, a significant character is dead in a Scarface–esque gun battle. First rule of the series: don’t get too emotionally invested in any of the characters, because if you do, Russo and Ashby will George R. R. Martin you right in the emotions before handing you a cocktail recipe.
It is hard to keep track of the average deaths per minute in an episode of Danger 5, but the amount of fake blood used is a more quantifiable measure. “I think throughout the entire show we used somewhere around 90 litres,” Russo explains. “More than 10 litres an episode. So that’s kind of your Neighbours, Home & Away kind of ration.”
Set in World War II, season one was drenched in swastikas. While there are less this time round, they are definitely used for more than background material. “We missed no opportunity for any kind of a swastika shape.” Russo tells me. “I don’t know if that is good for us as human beings.”
All Of The Cameos Ever
Shaun Micallef makes two cameo appearances this season after getting in contact with Russo and Ashby to tell them how impressed he was with the show. “It was kind of surreal…he’s a legend of Australian comedy, and I’ve been a fan of his for a long time,” Russo explains. “He was just unfathomably pleasant to work with, and a lot of fun.”
Russo himself is not exempt from some screen time. After playing a bit part as a general in season one, as well as dubbing a few voices, he laughs and tells me that for this time round “I make an appearance as Jesus. Briefly.”
He is not the only Russo to appear in the series. Hitler, as it turns out, is played by Carmine Russo – Dario’s father. “Hitler’s my Dad. I get to say that and mean it. He is a 62 year old Italian dude pretending to be an extinct German dude.” After working as a guitar teacher for thirty years, and appearing as Professor Bernardi in Dario’s web series , Carmine Russo has “retired into his second appearance — as Hitler. It’s pretty unique. But now I think he’s at risk of becoming a proper actor now that he’s gotten used to the system. And the pay.”
The familial link makes for an interesting additional dynamic. “Hitler and Jesus in one family. I think that is a fair sign the apocalypse is on the way.”
Some Pretty Excellent Recasting
Do you remember when Flynn from Home & Away suddenly switched from a guy with long flowing locks and a carefree attitude to a banker-type family man with short hair and polo shirts? It was the worst. Cast changes are the worst. Yet somehow, Danger 5 has made it work.
Aldo Mignone, who played the cocktail-making womaniser Pierre in season one, was unavailable for all but two days of the shooting period, and so is replaced this season by Pacharo Mzembe. The change is eerily seamless, with Mzembe making it feel as though the same character has just shifted bodies. While Mignone might not be completely gone from the series, Russo tells me how “the new Pierre ended up being a symbol of change for the whole show”.
Nods To Your Favourite ’80s Films
This season is less nods and more maniacal head movements as you struggle to keep up with all of the references. To fully capture the feel and techniques of the specific genres tackled in the series, Russo and Ashby had to binge watch a very long list of movies. “It was detrimental to my enjoyment of ‘80s films because I had to pick them apart scientifically and dissect all of the technical aspects that we were going to try and emulate throughout this season. If you really want to spoil your enjoyment of a film, I recommend that’s what you do.”
Danger 5 is left-of-centre, nostalgic, and will make you laugh. If you don’t like ninja montages and weaponised sharks, then perhaps you’ll need to hold out a little longer. “Maybe Season Three of Danger 5 will be the socially realistic dramatic saga we’ve been waiting to do this whole time.” Russo jokes. Otherwise, Danger 5 season two premieres tonight at 9:30pm on SBS2.
Elizabeth is the editor of Voiceworks, and has been published in Film Ink, Metro, The Punch, and Lip Magazine. She tweets terrible puns @ElizabethFlux.