One of the issues that makes Sir David Attenborough’s Life on Earth documentaries so compelling is that they aren’t fairy tales.
There isn’t any sugar-coating. If the newborn seal is savaged by the orca or the hippo dies gasping on the dried-up waterhole, its carcass torn aside by so many hyena, then that’s what we see. And we really feel. There’s a fantastic Greek phrase for it: ‘Pathos’, which implies the emotion of shared expertise, of struggling, of empathy.
Wild Wests: Tales from Tiger Town (which begins its run of 4 episiodes on Fox Sports and Kayo on Monday at 7.30pm) just isn’t Life On Earth, we will make that clear. And neither is it attempting to be. It’s not even Life on Planet Leichhardt, not likely.
But it’s an entertaining hour a few footy membership doing its finest, to some extent, to take footy followers into the fabled “inner sanctum” and, in fact, failing in the primary as a result of we nonetheless solely see what they need us to.
And possibly that’s truthful sufficient. It’s their story they usually can inform it how they like. But Wild Wests can be what it isn’t: a real, fly-on-the-wall documentary with the digicam as ever-present, unflinching observer.
The membership has ticked off on the content material. Fox Sports has shone a lens on the footy membership and there’s a filter on. Yes, they are saying “f***”, sometimes. But it’s nonetheless sanitised. It doesn’t doc the membership warts and all, as Michael Jordan’s Last Dance did.
There is loads to like, nevertheless.
You can catch the Wests Tigers documentary on Foxtel and by way of streaming by Kayo Sports.
There is pathos for Tigers followers who will undergo, once more, by three losses within the first 4 rounds. And it’s entertaining.
In episode one we observe 4 video games of rugby league from the angle of coach, fan, CEO and coach. There is emotional music because the membership loses. There’s a heap of slo-mo. Players stroll to the seaside in Newcastle in slow-mo, kiss infants in slow-mo, shake fingers and bro-hug in slow-mo. There’s deal with faces, blurred backgrounds. It seems to be good.
You see loads you by no means have. In the Canberra sport we see Michael Maguire driving the coach’s seat like a fan who can get on a walkie-talkie and inform the gamers stuff. When a Tigers participant is injured the Raiders get on a roll and Maguire bellows: “Stop the game! Stop the f****** game!” He needs to get off. Canberra wins.
We hear Maguire’s pre-match pep talks, his post-match post-mortems. He is the star of episode one and seems the massive man within the soccer membership.
Yet the piece feels like a show-reel, an audition tape, even, for Maguire, who comes over as an earnest, try-hard, equal elements enjoyable and stern uncle who doesn’t fairly join with the 20-something gamers in his cost.
The PR blurb says Wild Wests “follows every aspect of the Wests Tigers’ 2021 season – the triumphs and tears – taking viewers into the inner sanctum of the rugby league club … viewers will get never-before-seen, raw and unfiltered access to the highs and lows of a season that has challenged players, staff, and fans both on and off the field.”
True partly. Not in different elements. Wild Wests just isn’t “unfiltered”. It’s the other. Camera on, there aren’t any gamers taking shortcuts at coaching. There’s no gossip over espresso, blokes mildly sledging the coach, taking the piss. There’s no footage of them on the piss at Northies.
There’s a personal dinner among the many “leadership group” at some flash restaurant, coach, CEO and self-important varieties, sponsors or one thing, everybody stiff, conscious of the digicam.
There’s a chunk about BJ Leilua being dropped to order grade. We don’t hear from BJ Leilua. We don’t hear from Luke Brooks whom it’s reported is being shopped to different golf equipment. There are conversations Maguire has with gamers that hit the chopping room flooring. Commercial-in-confidence, all that.
Maybe it’s truthful sufficient – it’s their story. And possibly all we will anticipate of Wild Wests is that it’s what it’s: a sequence ripe for mockumentary! Hugh Jackman may tuck a polo shirt into excessive pants and do Maguire. Glenn Robbins may do a ripper Ronnie Palmer. Eric Bana may channel “Poida” and do Justin Pascoe.
Game two we meet some followers. There’s cute children. There’s a household day. A company fan of some description, Tim Triffit, says “Madge is an exceptional coach.” We see the Roosters rain tries at Leichhardt. We experience the sport with Triffit and the McShane household within the outer.
“You know they’re doing their best … they’ll get there eventually,” says Father McShane. Brett Morris goes in for his hat-trick whereas he’s saying: “They’ve got to keep working hard on their games and as a team.”
Fans on the hill might have been fruitier and fewer type. Too unkind – too actual – for a company sports activities doco come member recruitment device.
Game three in Newcastle and CEO Pascoe is the main target. “I’ve always been fairly casual in everything I do,” he tells us, wearing a black T-shirt, calligraphic tattoos on the underside of his arm, the lead singer from Noiseworks doing Cool Dad From School.
Parra sport it’s all Ronnie Palmer and we discover out why we not often hear from Ronnie Palmer. “I assist in the warm-up,” he says. “When the game starts I’m in a yellow shirt and assist wherever I can.” The Tigers lose once more.
Yet it’s clear they’re having a crack. Or a minimum of it’s clear they need you to consider they’re. Wild Wests is partly an train to guarantee followers that the gamers care.
In the final scene Maguire will get near teary when addressing the gamers within the shed. “The effort is f****** right,” he declares. “I want you to believe that.”
It’s a standard theme. Maguire is attempting to instil perception in his group. And Wests Tigers need followers to consider.
The unkind are actually fermenting a gag about fairytales.
WILD WESTS: TALES FROM TIGER TOWN premieres Monday, July 19, at 7.30pm on Fox Sports and Kayo with episodes two and three on August 9 and 16 and episode 4 on August 30.