Sunday, July 25, 2021
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New NRL doco much like Tigers themselves

New NRL doco :

One of the things that makes Sir David Attenborough’s Life on earth documentaries so compelling is that they are not fairy tales.

There is no sugar coating. If the baby seal is ravaged by the killer whale or the hippo dies panting in front of the dried up waterhole, its carcass torn by so many hyenas, then this is what we see. And we feel. There is a beautiful Greek word for that: “Pathos”, which means the emotion of shared experience, of suffering, of empathy.

Far Wests: Tales of Tiger Town (which begins its four-part series on Fox Sports and Kayo Monday at 7:30 p.m.) is not Life on earth, we can clarify. And he doesn’t try to be either. It’s not even life on planet Leichhardt, not really.

But it’s an entertaining hour when a soccer club does its best, to a point, to take soccer fans to the legendary “inner sanctum” and, of course, fails overall because we always only see what they want us to do.

And maybe that’s fair enough. It’s their story and they can tell it as they see fit. But Wild Wests is also what it is not: a veritable ephemeral documentary with the camera as an omnipresent and unwavering observer.

The club checked on the content. Fox Sports put a goal on the soccer club and there is a filter. Yeah, they say “f ***” every now and then. But it’s still sanitized. He doesn’t document club warts and everything like Michael Jordan’s Last Dance did.

Yet there is something to love.

You can watch the Wests Tigers documentary on Foxtel and streaming via Kayo Sports.

There is pathos for Tigers fans who will, once again, suffer three losses in the first four rounds. And it’s entertaining.

In the first episode, we follow four Rugby League matches from a coach, fan, CEO and coach perspective. There is emotional music as the club loses. There are a lot of slow motion. Players walk to Newcastle Beach in slow motion, kiss babies in slow motion, shake hands and kiss in slow motion. The emphasis is on faces, blurred backgrounds. It looks good.

You see a lot that you never have. In the Canberra game, we see Michael Maguire in the coach’s seat as a fan who can get on a walkie-talkie and tell players things. When a Tigers player is injured, the Raiders jump in and Maguire bellows: “Stop the game!” Stop the f ****** game! He wants to get off. Canberra wins.

We hear Maguire’s pre-match pep talk, his post-match postmortems. He is the star of episode one and appears as the big man of the football club.

Still, the play feels like a show reel, an audition tape, even, to Maguire, who comes across as a serious, tough, fun yet stern uncle who doesn’t quite connect with the players of. 20 years and more in his charge.

The PR blurb says Wild Wests “follows all aspects of the 2021 Wests Tigers season – triumphs and tears – taking viewers into the inner sanctum of the rugby union club … viewers will have unheard-of access , raw and unfiltered through the ups and downs of a season that has challenged players, staff and fans on and off the pitch.

The Wests Tigers documentary will air on Monday.

True in part. Not in other parts. Wild Wests is not “unfiltered”. It’s the contrary. Camera on, no player takes shortcuts in training. There is no gossip over coffee, the guys gently drag the coach, don’t give a damn about piss. There is no footage of them peeing on Northies.

There is a private dinner among the “management group” at a flash restaurant, a coach, a CEO and self-important guys, sponsors or something, everyone is stiff, camera aware.

There is an article about BJ Leilua being dropped to reserve rank. We don’t hear from BJ Leilua. We haven’t heard from Luke Brooks who are reported to be bought at other clubs. There are conversations that Maguire has with players that touch the cutting room floor. Commercial-in-confidence, all that.

Maybe that’s fair enough – that’s their story. And maybe all we can expect from Wild Wests is that this is what it is: a series ripe for a mock documentary! Hugh Jackman could slip a polo shirt into high pants and do Maguire. Glenn Robbins could make Ronnie Palmer a ripper. Eric Bana could channel “Poida” and do Justin Pascoe.

Second game, we meet fans. There are cute children. There is a family day. A business fan of one description, Tim Triffit, says “Madge is an exceptional trainer.” We see the Roosters raining tries at Leichhardt. We play the game with Triffit and the McShane family outside.

“You know they’re doing their best… they’ll get there eventually,” said Father McShane. Brett Morris did his hat trick by saying, “They have to keep working hard on their games and as a team.”

The fans on the hill may have been more fruity and less kind. Too nasty – too real – for a corporate sports doco, this is a membership recruiting tool.

The third game at Newcastle and CEO Pascoe are at the center of our concerns. “I’ve always been pretty laid back in everything I do,” he tells us, wearing a black T-shirt, calligraphy tattoos under his arm, the singer from Noiseworks doing Cool Dad From School.

Parra game is all about Ronnie Palmer and we discover why we rarely hear Ronnie Palmer. “I’m participating in the warm-up,” he says. “When the game starts, I wear a yellow jersey and help wherever I can. The Tigers lose again.

Still, it’s clear they have a crack. Or at least it’s clear that they want you to believe them. Wild Wests is in part an exercise to assure fans that players care.

In the final scene, Maguire is on the verge of tears as he addresses the players in the hangar. “The effort is just f ******,” he says. “I want you to believe it.”

It’s a common theme. Maguire tries to make his team believe. And the Wests Tigers want fans to believe.

Villains are now fermenting a fairytale gag.

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WILD WESTS: TALES FROM TIGER TOWN premieres Monday, July 19 at 7:30 p.m. on Fox Sports and Kayo with episodes two and three on August 9 and 16 and episode four on August 30.

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