We Can Be Heroes: Finding the Australian of the Year: Special Edition (2005)

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Released 1-Nov-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Animation & Audio
Deleted Scenes
Outtakes
Featurette-Auditions, Ricky At The Logies
Booklet
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 170:02 (Case: 164)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Matthew Saville
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Chris Lilley
Case Gatefold
RPI $34.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Those bemoaning the lack of creative and intelligent Australian comedy on TV should be quick to pick up a copy of Chris Lilleys We Can Be Heroes: Finding the Australian of the Year.

    Ignoring the sketch-based comedy which dominates the airwaves, Heroes is a fresh entry into the mockumentary genre. For the uninitiated, Chris Lilley plays the role of each of the five fictional nominees for the very real Australian of the Year contest. Over the course of six episodes (30 minutes each) we are introduced to the nominees and travel with them on the path towards the final announcement. The genius of the show lies in Lilleys ability to inhabit the characters and make them as real as possible, relying not on sophisticated make-up, but rather subtle changes of costume and wigs as well as his considerable talents as an actor.

    This is a Special Edition of the DVD which comes warm on the trail of wins at the Logies ( for Most Outstanding Comedy Program) and four AFI Nominations.

    In no particular order the characters are :

    Ja'ime, a hideously vain schoolgirl who has eighty-five sponsored children from the same African village. She goes on the 40 Hour Famine each weekend both because its a "great cause" and it helps to keep the weight down. Ja'ime is doted on by her long suffering mother Jhyll (I laughed until I found out it is the actors real name!) and her entourage of J'aime wannabes.

    Phil Olivetti is an ex-cop who decides to reinvent himself as a motivational speaker after a life changing event. On duty one day he became involved in the rescue of some children swept up by a bouncy castle that was caught in a freak gust of wind. Unable to work on the force any longer, he decides to write a book, titled One Mans Castle, as well as a mini-series. Phil is arrogant and desperate for Australians to embrace him as a hero.

    Pat Mullins from Perth is a middle aged mother who despite her disability has become an elite athlete. Born with one leg shorter than the other, she found late in life that this gave her an uncanny ability to roll and is now one of the finest rollers in the world. When we meet her she is in the planning stages of her boldest sporting endeavour; to roll all the way from Perth to Uluru with her husband as her coach.

    Ricky Wong is a supremely talented, young Asian physicist who is nominated for his startling work on solar cells. His ideas have the potential to revolutionise energy use throughout the world. His parents are extremely proud off his achievements, confident that they have instilled in him their strong work ethic. Trouble is, Ricky has been lured away from his PhD studies by the stage - he wants to be an actor. Playing the lead in The Boy From Oz inflamed his desire for stage glory and now his securing the lead in Indigeridoo (the story of aboriginals in Australia, performed with an entirely Asian cast) will surely take him to the top.

    Nathan and Daniel Sims hail from the town of Dunt in South Australia. Nathan lost his hearing in an explosives incident as a young boy and Daniel has decided to take part in radical surgery which will see one of his eardrums removed and transplanted into Nathan. He has been nominated for this act of selflessness. He is not entirely benevolent. The loss of hearing in one ear will make him a bit retarded and therefore more attractive to women. Rather than learn signing Daniel communicates with Nathan through shouting and also a colour-coded card system, which includes such essential messages as change the game on the x-box. Daniel enjoys cruising the short main drag of Dunt at night and Nathan likes collecting car badges.

    Throughout the course of the six episodes we see these nominees prepare for the naming of the state finalists for the Australian of the Year. By episode five, each has hit a snag which threatens to derail their campaign. Surprisingly there are some moving moments amongst the barefaced cheek of the satire and again Lilleys acting is the key to our ability to laugh at but also understand the characters. Such is his skill that when Lilley appeared on local radio stations as J'aime there was a flood of calls from angry listeners wanting to give her a good smack for being so mean to her mum! It is not a solo show and Lilley gets good help from the casting players. It is a complement to them all that I never felt that I was watching acting - they appeared nervous and conscious of the intrusion of the "documentary" camera. Although Lilley has been around doing stand-up for a while and has been seen in shows such as The Big Bite, this is his first major effort. With his director Matt Saville he has crafted a program that has every right to be seen as an equal of Frontline and The Office. Like Ricky Gervais, it is my tip that We Can Be Heroes will be seen as a career defining beginning for a comedian with a great future. All fingers are crossed that Summer Heights High, his new program (I love the title already!) will carry his success even further.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    My colleague DanielB reviewed the original DVD last year. His video and sound transfer comments are below.

    The video quality is very good. The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, 16x9 enhanced, which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was very clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was fine but rarely needed.

    The colour was excellent throughout. The only noticeable artefact was aliasing, which occurred infrequently and was mild in nature. An example can be seen at 6:09 in Episode 1.

    There are now English subtitles for the Hearing Impaired in the Special Edition.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is good. This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack, encoded at 224 Kb/s. Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync, which is the most critical ingredient in a comedy series. The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This is a Special Edition of the show. The case boasts a number of added features, including extended episodes. I noticed that the runtime came in six minutes longer than the original release, although I cannot tell you which bits are extended. There is also a Play By Character feature which is a lot of fun.

    The original DVD came with the following extras as referred to by Daniel:

    Original Extras:

    Pat (8:25) - Some funny extra improvisations and bloopers featuring Pat. These are probably the best of the sections.

    Daniel & Nathan (7:52) - Nothing too special here, more improvisation and bloopers.

    Phil (9:08) - More of Phil's annoying tendencies, especially his interactions with his children.

    Ja'mie (9:29) - More Ja'mie including discussion of boys and tampons (which is slightly off-colour).

    Ricky (8:52) - An interesting set of scenes which explore something that was only hinted at in the series which went to air.

Menu Animation & Audio

    Accompanied by the G'Day G'Day theme the Australian bush, glowing with comedic promise!

Deleted Scenes (107.26)

    This is a treasure trove of interesting character portraits left out of the finished product. The material is expanded from those bits on the earlier DVD. In essence it shows the improvised nature of the program. These are not really deleted scenes - they are work that just didn't carry in the right direction. Some degenerate into bloopers when the cast can't carry on in the face of Lilley's comedy. My favourite by far was Ricky's father, the straight-laced disciplinarian, constantly cracking up. Daniel already referred to a scene involving Ricky that takes his character in a completely different, although understandable, direction. There is a whole plot strand about Pat attending the Olympics, which was both funny and touching. Phil goes way left of field when he describes his third testicle (a birth defect) as his under-developed twin and Daniel elaborates on his grand building plans.

    In total there are an astounding 95 deleted scenes occupying almost two hours of DVD time. This is a real plus for people who can't get enough of the show.

Auditions (14.27)

    The DVD includes seven audition tapes. These are bare bones video and rough sound. The auditions consist of the actor talking in character about the relevant hero. The audition tapes are fairly brief (between 1 minute and 3.30 each) but they do provide an interesting look at the supporting players as they wax lyrical about their idol.

Featurette - Behind the Scenes (32.42)

    This is true to its word. For roughly 30 minutes a cameraperson allows us to silently observe the creative process behind the making of the series. It is not scripted, but after a general beginning it looks at each character and the work that went in to filming. Highlights include the fun they had telling a hall of schoolgirls not to laugh when J'Aime is performing her "dance for starving children", which looks suspiciously like a Britney Spears routine, and the difficulties experienced by the Asian actors putting together Indigeridoo. The multi-talented Lilley also shows that he plays a mean piano when he records the opening music.

    The feature is definitely worth watching, but we don't really get an insight into Lilley. He remains private and detached, only coming to life before the cameras when 'action' is called.

Booklet

    This is a nifty little booklet, containing some of the best dialogue from the show, together with glossy pictures of the characters. My favourite line is: "Are you fat? You sound fat", from a disgruntled Ja'ime.

Feature -Logies 4.09

    The performance of highlights from Indigeridoo at the Logies was a real blast. Not only was Lilley and his crew at their comedic best, but the surprise guest shyly stole the show. A great extra.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This DVD does not have an International release - yet!

Summary

  We Can Be Heroes: Finding the Australian of the Year is a funny and sometimes dark look at Australia and its characters.

    Originally released in a single DVD edition, this Special Edition is a gift for fans of the show, although the ordinary viewer might not see the value in the huge volume of extra material.

    The sound and image quality are unchanged from the original release.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DVR 630H-S, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TH-50PV60A 50' Plasma. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX - SR603
SpeakersOnkyo 6.1 Surround

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