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Fast Forward was Australia's highest-rating and most critically awarded commercial television sketch comedy show, broadcast for 90 one-hour episodes from 12 April 1989 to 26 November 1992.[1]

Fast Forward
GenreSketch comedy
Created bySteve Vizard
Written byAndrew Knight
Steve Vizard
Directed byTed Emery
StarringGeoff Brooks
Jane Turner
Magda Szubanski
Marg Downey
Michael Veitch
Peter Moon
Steve Blackburn
Ernie Dingo (1989)
Steve Vizard (1989–91)
Bryan Dawe (1990)
Alan Pentland (1990–92, recurring previously)
Gina Riley (1990–92)
Brendan Luno (1991, recurring previously)
Gerry Connolly (1991, recurring previously)
Glenn Robbins (1991–92)
Narrated byJohn Deeks
Theme music composerPaul Grabowsky
Composer(s)Steve Blackburn
Yuri Worontschak
Country of originAustralia
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes90
Production
Producer(s)Andrew Knight
Steve Vizard
Ted Emery
Mark Ruse
Production location(s)Melbourne
Running time60 minutes
Production company(s)Artist Services
Release
Original networkSeven Network
Original release12 April 1989 –
26 November 1992
Chronology
Followed byFull Frontal, Totally Full Frontal
Related showsThe D-Generation, Bligh, Big Girl's Blouse, Jimeoin, The Eleventh Hour, Eric, The Micallef Program

The show was produced by Steve Vizard, who was also the executive producer, writer and performer, and starred Jane Turner, Gina Riley, Magda Szubanski (the three of whom went on to star in Kath & Kim), Marg Downey, Michael Veitch, Peter Moon, Alan Pentland, Steve Blackburn, Geoff Brooks, Ernie Dingo, the Rubbery Figures satirical puppets, and numerous guests and supporting stars, such as Gerry Connolly and Brian Dawe.[2]

Fast Forward was succeeded by the related series Full Frontal, and subsequently Totally Full Frontal, which were broadcast from 1993 to 1999 and which starred many of the original Fast Forward cast as well as many iconic performers including Eric Bana, Stephen Curry, Glenn Robbins, Shaun Micallef, Kitty Flanagan and Julia Morris.[1]

Fast Forward was directed by Ted Emery. From its second series onward, Andrew Knight joined Steve Vizard and Ted Emery as executive producers of the show. They went on to establish the leading Australian production house, Artist Services.

All four seasons plus five 'best of' compilations of Fast Forward have been released on DVD. All four seasons were re-released in 2010.

In 2013, the Network Ten-owned channel, One, began airing half-hour-long specials titled Fast Forward Funniest Send-Ups which first aired in 1994, making it the first time the show has been shown since 1998.[3]

Contents

BackgroundEdit

Many of the stars came from a 1985 Seven Network sketch comedy pilot called The Eleventh Hour, which also spawned The Comedy Company, via The D-Generation. Fast Forward was commissioned by Seven in late 1988.[1] It was produced by Vizard's production company, United Film Completion, and broadcast on Seven Network, then part of Christopher Skase's Qintex Group. There were a number of working titles for the show, including Snapped Cable Television, as well as Fast Forward.

StyleEdit

Fast Forward was noted for its fast-paced satirical comedy which particularly lampooned the media, in particular film and TV, with its precise parodies of well-known television shows (such as Kung Fu, Lost In Space, The Munsters, and A Current Affair), personalities (such as Clive James, Jana Wendt, Derryn Hinch and Geoffrey Robertson) and commercials (such as for American Express and Nescafé).

Its subjects were also Australian politics, which it attacked through various political impersonations (including John Howard and Paul Keating), and also using the political puppets, Rubbery Figures, previously seen in small segments on the ABC, based on Peter Nicholson's political cartoons.

Another key distinguishing feature was the use of simulated channel surfing to switch from sketch to sketch, often in the middle of a sketch, sometimes after the punchline. Particularly a sketch would abruptly switch to a momentary segment of static, followed by another sketch, simulating the effect of the viewer repeatedly switching channels. The channel-surfing device became a distinctive hallmark of the show that helped move quickly from sketch to sketch.[1]

The television and multimedia subject matter of the sketches, pace, style and devices were real points of difference from predecessor sketch comedy shows of the time, particularly earlier shows such as The Mavis Bramston Show, The Naked Vicar Show, Australia You're Standing In It, The D-Generation and The Comedy Company, Fast Forward was more media-focused and parody-focused; a real difference, and the binding force for the whole show, was the now-famous channel-changing device. The white noise and on-screen static that represented the channel change became the modern television equivalent of a curtain being drawn at an old-fashioned vaudeville show.

Fast Forward was also well known for its excellent musical parodies, particularly of current music video clips, many of which featured Gina Riley. Some of the better-known music parodies included ABBA, Cher and Dannii Minogue.

Sketches and contentEdit

Each episode of Fast Forward featured regular characters, a news-based segment, a major parody of a well-known television show or film, lampoons of television commercials, political satire, particularly in a segment using the Rubbery Figures political puppets.

Some of the most memorable regular characters included[2]

• Marg Downey: SBS Presenter

• Magda Szubanski: Pixie-Ann Wheatley; Chenille the Beautician (with Marg Downey as Janelle); the Ugly Couple (with Peter Moon)

• Steve Vizard and Peter Moon: Advertising executives, Brent Smythe and Barry; Indian Rug Fakari salesmen Roger Ramshet and Abdul

• Michael Veitch: gay flight attendants (with Steve Vizard); Kelvin Cunnington; Redmond Herring

• Gerry Connolly: the Queen; Joh Bjelke-Petersen

• Jane Turner: Russian news presenter Sveter (with Peter Moon as Victor)

• Steve Vizard: Darren Hunch (parody of Derryn Hinch)

• Ernie Dingo: Robert Gottliebsen

• Steve Blackburn and Geoff Brooks: Arthur and Wayne Dodgy (dodgy salesmen who previously appeared in Australia You're Standing In It)

• Michael Veitch and Glenn Robbins: The Whizz Bang Theatre Company

Some of the most memorable sketches included "Dumb Street", a parody of Home and Away and Neighbours; and a lampoon of Skippy. In one memorable sketch that went to air, Moon and Vizard were both visibly trying to contain their laughter through a series of insults in one of their parodies of Kung Fu.[4]

The political puppets Rubbery Figures were made more "commercial" than on the ABC by inserting them into popular situations outside the political Canberra environment. This led to the Star Trek parody where Paul Keating was Mr. Spock and Bob Hawke was Captain Kirk. Rubbery Figures was a huge hit and a crucial element in the early success of Fast Forward.

In 1991, there were five Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends skits featuring Ertl Thomas models. These segments involved people complaining about Sodor not having female steam engines, the Fat Controller polluting the countryside by pouring purple slime out of the tankers, drunken punks, the engines going on strike, and the engines getting replaced. In these skits, Thomas would do some human things, such as eating breakfast, writing, and going away for the weekend. Percy was referred to as Bertie two times in the first sketch, Gordon at the end of the fourth, and Henry one time in the fifth. The sketches had five original engine characters, Crazy Bartholomew the Loco Locomotive, who was a Thomas model painted yellow, Alfred, who was a Percy model painted red (he was even referred to as Percy at the start of the fifth sketch), Damian the Diesel, who isn't seen in person, Edgar, who is a mentioned engine character, and one of the female engines, who was a Percy model painted orange with additional detailing. Toby was also mentioned once at the end of the first sketch, and so was Clarabel once in the fourth sketch.

The full-length TV or movie parodies which were "stripped" through each the one-hour episodes were:

1989 Series [2]

1990 Series [2]

1991 Series [2]

1992 Series [2]

CastEdit

Regular cast members comprised:[2]

Guest stars included:[2]

  • Alan Pentland (1989)
  • Bryan Dawe (1989)
  • Brendan Luno (1989, 1990, 1992)
  • Alan Fletcher (1990)
  • Gerry Connolly (1990, 1992)
  • Glenn Robbins (1991, Episodes 3.1-3.13)
  • Glenn Butcher (1991)

Awards and ratingsEdit

Fast Forward consistently won the ratings for all of its 90 episodes, generally rating in the mid- to high 30s.

In 1990, Fast Forward won two Logie awards; it also received two Australian Television awards (Penguins) for Excellence in Make-up and Achievement in Production. Also in 1990, the company was bestowed with two AWGIES, the Australian Writers' Guild Awards; one for Fast Forward for best Comedy/Revue/Sketch and the other for Vizard, Co-writer Best Sketch Comedy – Fast Forward. The Variety Club awarded Vizard Comedy Artist Of The Year and Rolling Stone magazine awarded him Television Performer of the Year. At the ARIA Awards Fast Forward picked up Best Comedy Record.

At the 1991 Logie Awards Steve Vizard won the Gold Logie for Most Popular Personality on Australian Television. Vizard also won Most Popular Male Light Entertainer. Magda Szubanski won Most Popular Female Light Entertainer and Fast Forward was awarded Most Popular Light Entertainment Program. Also in 1991, the Fast Forward writing team won an AWGIE for Best Sketch Comedy for Fast Forward.

At the 1992 Logies, Magda Szubanski once again picked up the award for Most Popular Female Performer – Light Entertainment and Fast Forward received the Logie for Most Popular Light Entertainment Program. The Australian Writers Guild presented an AWGIE to Fast Forward for Best Sketch Comedy. Fast Forward also picked up a People's Choice Award for Most Popular Program on Australian Television.

The following year, 1993, Fast Forward won a Logie for Most Popular Comedy Program. The production team and cast decided in late 1992, despite offers to renew from Channel 7, to end the program 'on a high', feeling that they did not want it to go downhill and tarnish its legacy as one of Australia's best-ever sketch comedy shows.

DVD releasesEdit

  • Fast Forward In Rewind: Funniest Moments Vol. 1 (2-disc set) – 24 April 2004
  • Fast Forward In Rewind: Funniest Moments Vol. 2 (2-disc set) – 12 May 2004
  • Fast Forward: Funniest TV Send Ups: Vol. 1 – 22 March 2005
  • Fast Forward: Funniest TV Send Ups: Vol. 2 – 24 June 2005
  • Fast Forward: Funniest TV Send Ups: Vol. 3 – 1 July 2005
  • Fast Forward: The Complete Season 1 (5-disc box set) – 20 March 2006
  • Fast Forward: The Complete Season 2 (6-disc box set) – 23 October 2006
  • Fast Forward: The Complete Season 3 (6-disc box set) – 5 December 2006
  • Fast Forward: The Complete Season 4 (5-disc box set) – 18 January 2008
  • Fast Forward: Series 1 (6-disc set) – 22 March 2010
  • Fast Forward: Series 2 (6-disc set) – 22 March 2010
  • Fast Forward: Series 3 (6-disc set) – 8 June 2010
  • Fast Forward: Series 4 (5-disc set) – 8 June 2010
  • NOTE: There is a mistake on the DVD cover for Fast Forward: Series 2 (6-disc set). It states that there are 22 episodes when there are actually 26.

SpecialsEdit

  • Fast Forward Exposed (20 April 1993, 45 minutes)
  • A Royal Commission into the Australian Economy (5 May 1993, 90 minutes)
  • Standing on the Road (1994, 60 minutes)
  • The Making of Nothing (1994, 60 minutes)
  • 37 and a Bit (1994, 60 minutes)
  • Fast Forward's Funniest Send-Ups (1994, 12 half-hour episodes)
  • Fast Forward's Funniest Moments (1998, 12 one-hour episodes)
  • Fast Forward: Ten-Year Bash (October 2002, 48 minutes)
  • Fast Forward: One More Round (2003, 60 minutes)
  • Fast Forward: Dragging up the Past (2003, 60 minutes)

AdaptationEdit

The show was adapted for German television under the name "Switch" by order of TV station ProSieben. It was aired for the first time in 1997.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d Bedwell, Steve (1 January 2007). Vizard Uncut. Melbourne University Publish. ISBN 9780522854749.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h The Unofficial Fast Forward Guide
  3. ^ "Fast Forward Funniest Send-Ups". Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  4. ^ Fast Forward - Kung Fu Parody
  • Pentland, Alan (Editor) (1992). Fast Forward in freeze frame. Melbourne: Mandarin Australia. ISBN 1-86330-166-6.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)

External linksEdit