Review – Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War
Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War – Nine – 8:30pm Sunday – AUS
Channel 9’s new mini-series How Good Was Our Old Boss? kicked off Sunday night and the amount of enjoyment had from the series depends entirely on how well you can accept the central premise. If you can buy into the idea that Kerry Packer is not only the hero of this story but is also presented as an underdog (yes, an underdog who yells at his minions but an underdog nonetheless) then Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War would have been a fun romp down memory lane. If on the other hand you found that this story of billionaire-tyrant Kerry Packer, the man who saved cricket, had the feel of a movie made for the Channel 9 Christmas party then the whole mini-series became a somewhat bitter pill to swallow.
There’s no denying that Howzat! is a slick production and that Lachy Hulme is a lot of fun as the man himself but this mini-series is a glossy but ultimately empty affair. There is enjoyment to be had if you go along for the ride and get caught up in the music montages, amusing rants and all of those memorable moustaches. However, in order to all enjoy all of that you have to turn your brain off a little bit; and you certainly have to ignore the bitter, bitter irony that this virtually female-free series is coming from the producers of Paper Giants. Oh, there are ladies around to answer telephones and pin photos onto walls and bring the boys jugs of beer but Part 1 of Howzat! is a lot of swinging dicks.
While the show itself is enjoyable in a completely fluffy wholly empty way, there’s no getting past what a long, slow pat on the back the whole thing is. Yes, Kerry Packer did change the face of cricket but for fuck’s sake all he did was change the face of cricket. Nobody landed anybody on the moon, Packer just fought for a way to get elite athletes better pay and so his television station could earn a fortune by broadcasting the sport. There is no doubt that there is some interesting stuff in here, and while there are some genuinely funny moments most of the show is incredibly pompous and somewhat delusional; go figure that Channel 9 would produce a series where Kerry Packer is always in the right.
I’m of two minds about this mini-series because while it did start to drag toward the end of the second hour for the most part it was an enjoyable ride filled. On the other hand the first hour was essentially “Do You Remember These People?”: The Series. Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War has its head planted firmly up the ass of its protagonist and that makes the whole ordeal somewhat more taxing than it should be. Again, there’s good stuff in here – Hulme really is a lot of fun as The Greatest Man To Ever Live – but it’s just such an enormous wankfest that anytime you feel like you might start enjoying yourself you get slapped with a “it’s not just a game, it’s something more” speech or two. It feels unlikely that Part 2 will be any less self-aggrandizing especially with the fate of cricket hanging in the balance – boy I hope Kerry wins and cricket gets to live!
Good, Alright, Bad Or Ugly?
This review is part of Change The Channel’s episode by episode coverage of Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War. The full list of episode reviews can be found under Series.