If you stuck around and watched ABC television for 5 minutes after Spicks and Specks , chances are that you will have heard of or seen a show known as Hungry Beast. The ABC has attempted to fill the 9pm spot with many different shows over the years and it seems that the viewer community has a very fickle opinion of what should be put there. The latest bid at filling the spot in between a great Australian game show and an intriguing American drama is Hungry Beast which has a very “by youth, for youth” motif about it which makes it very appealing for younger audiences. However, questions have been raised about what the shows primary purpose is and if you read the website, it seems even the creators haven’t got a clue as to what exactly Hungry Beast aims to do as a T.V show.
Lack of purpose aside for one moment, I personally found this show to be very engaging and entertaining particularly in its investigation (and satire) of Australian media in the first episode. I admit that I may represent a small minority who found meaning in the show’s exploration of the Iran issue or the boastful way they presented their hoax story within the first three minutes of airtime, but I don’t think I’m alone when I say that this show contains something for everyone. From the war in Afghanistan, to the inefficiency of Australian media, to the viability of preventing the extinction of pandas, it is almost impossible to watch this show and not feel some strong opinion on at least one of the topics covered by its eclectic presenters.
Understandably, when I checked twitter feeds minutes after the conclusion of its premiere, the show was received with mixed emotions. The show bears characteristics and traits that the average Australian viewer would recognise from other shows such as the Chaser’s War, Media Watch and even Compass and this strange combination of messages and techniques can lead to a loss of direction in the ‘plot’ or ‘theme’ of the show. While some found it to be engaging and entertaining, others were somewhat confused by the varying tone of the show and asked “is it a comedy, or a current affairs show?” A question that the producers of Hungry Beast have left quite deliberately unanswered partly in order to keep viewers interested, and partly because they find it very difficult to answer precisely.
The closest explanation to the truth is that Hungry Beast is a work in progress and the ‘purpose’ of the show has been left up to the viewers to determine. This is why the Hungry Beast website has left spaces where you can provide feedback as to what parts you like, and what parts you find boring. This method of trial and error can be very effective in shaping a television show that caters perfectly to its target demographics’ needs.
That being said, there are a number of drawbacks that result in the show’s existence entirely depending on the viewers support. Hungry Beast is still in its early stages and heavily dependent on viewer feedback in order to shape its direction based on what the demographic likes and dislikes. This could prove a difficult task as if the audience is not immediately excited by what they see, they may not feel the need to take the extra time to tell the producers what they’re doing wrong and the show could continue on its aimless path round and round in circles. On the other hand, if the show has created enough ‘buzz’ and excitement, they could receive equal amounts of differing opinions on which direction to take the show. Hence, these early stages of release are very critical for the survival of Hungry Beast.
Logistics aside, this new show is engaging and entertaining with a mixture of editorial, satire, current affairs and reporting that has not been seen before which makes Hungry Beast somewhat of a unique and endangered species. If you’re tired of watching Hey, Hey It’s Saturday encores on a Wednesday night and you’re looking for a show that both challenges and entertains you, Hungry Beast is definitely worth watching, and commenting on in order to keep the spirit of new and fresh television alive and well nourished.
-A Concerned Citizen