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Take Steve Irwin, John Cleese, David Attenborough and the team from Working Dog and put them all together. What you’ll end up with is something closely resembling outback adventurer Russell Coight, the charismatic frontman to the hit television series All Aussie Adventures. Russell takes us through some of the most picturesque landscapes of the continent and teaches us a myriad of tricks we can all use on our travels through the Australian outback. Too bad they’ll probably get us killed along the way.

The Series
This satirical look at nature shows and their eccentric hosts was aired on Australia’s Ten Network over the course of 2001 and 2002. Basically a very humorous send-up of shows such as The Crocodile Hunter and the like, the series proved a hit among audiences who had lapped up the previous efforts of the Working Dog team such as Frontline and The Panel. That’s right, they’re at it again with another hit series, with Tom Gleisner at the helm along with Rob Sitch, Glenn Robbins (who also plays Coight himself) and Santo Cilauro who handled most of the camerawork throughout the show.

Classic.

Russell Coight is your usual energetic outback adventurer, willing to share his deep knowledge of Australia’s outback with willing audiences at home. Problem is his knowledge isn’t all that great and his ability to stay out of trouble is downright poor. You’ll end up feeling sorry for the bloke because of the amount of times he hurts himself. Nevertheless he ploughs on, much like the series in general.

The first series gives Russell a chance to take viewers through the Red Centre. Here good ol’ Rusty manages to tip a Datsun using an inflatable car jack, run into a cow with his bullbar and whack a small kid in the face with his whip. And that’s just in the first couple of episodes. There’s plenty more where that came from and the series just keeps getting better and better.

Series Two follows on in the same mould but the stunts and mishaps are all the more elaborate. Russell manages to shoot a tourist in the eye with a cork, roll a trailer into a dam and pick up an annoying fan named Aiden.

It’s not only the action that’s a downright hoot, with Coight getting in all sorts of situations, but also the production values are deliberately dodgy which gives the series even more of a satirical sharpness to it. There’s dodgy sound effects, long cuts that reveal Russell in a bit of a bother and some terrible writing that’s just plain hilarious to listen to.

The Coight menu

Most of the credit must go to Glenn Robbins who shows impeccable comedic poise and is the perfect bumbling adventurer. The combination of Glenn, Tom, Santo and Rob writing this series ensures it remains fresh, interesting and very, very funny throughout. The critics haven’t taken too kindly to the second series currently airing on Australian television but they're being a touch harsh on a relatively fresh concept. This disc is bound to have you in stitches over each and every one of the thirteen episodes. It's probably run its race as a series but there’s no doubt these episodes are brilliantly executed to goofy perfection.

Video
The first two episodes of series one are presented in full frame 1.33:1, while the rest of the episodes are given a 1.78:1 transfer. Strangely though, the cover states the remaining episodes are in 2.35:1, which they’re obviously not when you look at them. In all it looks very good, a touch above the broadcast quality visuals we saw on the telly not long ago. Sharpness isn’t all that great which is to be expected for a low-budget end comedy series but the harsh colours of the Aussie outback are rendered quite well. There’s nothing remarkable about the transfer here but it doesn’t need to be outstanding.

Audio
Surprisingly, the Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack supplied with the disc sounds quite good, with the dialogue and effects remaining clear throughout, even when Coight mutters under his breath. The corny music and Russell Coight’s self-performed theme song ring out very well around the speakers. There’s also some subwoofer usage on occasion which gave me an unexpected surprise at various stages.

Ouch!

Extras
Even the extras for this series are hilarious, and we are given a nice selection over the two discs to choose from. Firstly there’s a select a highlight feature on disc one where you can jump straight to the standout moments from each of the episodes. A great little addition that will serve you well when you want to quickly demonstrate the hilarity of the series to friends.

The first disc contains Russell’s bonus bits, a selection of outtakes from the first series. Some of these are a crack up watching Russell introduce various segments and get into even more trouble along the way.

There’s also an interview with Russell on Bert Newton’s Good Morning Australia. You’ll notice immediately how good the interview looks in terms of sharpness and colour, while the interview itself is an absolute gem. Glenn Robbins has Coight down pat by this stage and can keep the laughs coming in character with Bert feeding him all the necessary lines. Well worth a look.

The last piece on disc one is Russell’s favourite phrases which is just a collection of sound bites from the series. Pretty useless but it’s funny just to see them included.

Disc two also includes a bonus bits section which is equally as funny as the first. The Time To Hit The Publicity Road featurette is easily the best feature on the disc, with a running commentary from Coight himself. There’s more footage of Russ and Bert Newton, some whip cracking rehearsals and his hilariously funny martial arts demonstrations. He even makes a cameo appearance on The Panel, a casual talk show featuring the other three writers for those not in the know. Very funny stuff.

Rounding off the extras is a behind the scenes interview with Coight, again in its trademark satirical style. This interview shows a serious Russell discussing various aspects of the show with hilarious results. A photo gallery closes what is a high quality, hysterically funny extras package that backs up the series very well. Fans will no doubt enjoy these as much as the actual episodes.

Goofy, aint he?

Overall
I can’t get enough of this bloke. Russell Coight is the funniest thing to hit television since Mike Moore, ironically spawned by the same bunch of guys who wrote this series. Every episode is filled with hilarious mishaps and dodgy production values, giving us a very funny look at a documentary series gone wrong. The video and audio are quite good and the extras are just as funny as the episodes themselves so if you’re a fan then there’s no doubt you should get your order in straight away. Those who haven’t seen the series are advised to take a look when you first get the chance and you won’t be disappointed.  


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