Season two of Plonk, the very funny series about a hapless TV crew who sip, swirl and stumble their way through South Australia’s wine regions, is now on YouTube.
Earlier this year I joined the cast of Plonk at the launch of season two in Adelaide and, well, I couldn’t stop laughing. It’s one of the funniest shows I’ve seen in a long time. The way these guys take the mickey out of the wine business is very clever, with the joke always on the crew, never the winemakers. The wine media also comes in for some gentle ribbing.
“We always thought it important that the satire is aimed at the wine media and the television crew, not the wine industry itself,” said Chris Taylor. The Chaser star plays the role of Plonk’s pompous, self-absorbed presenter, while Joshua Tyler plays his slightly idiotic sidekick and the show’s creator, Nathan Earl, plays the pragmatic producer cleaning up the mess they leave in their wake.
Plonk is a show within a show really, as the six half-hour episodes are a comedic look behind the scenes of the making of a wine program. Somehow the trio manage to insult, infuriate and desecrate all who come into contact with them.
“(It’s) essentially the story of a very inept television crew,” said Taylor. “The actual crew are the opposite of inept. I’ve never worked with such incredibly hard-working, committed, seriously talented people.”
Nathan Earl and series producer Georgie Lewin, the partnership behind Plonk, had originally planned a straight wine show, an ode to the industry in which Earl, the son of a winemaker and one of the early directors and producers on The Chaser, grew up. But then came the idea of turning it into a narrative comedy.
“The biggest standout on this journey was the winemakers and that’s what we’ve tried to capture,” said Lewin, who also did a great job of capturing the essence of the regions. McLaren Vale, for example, does things a little differently, its somewhat offbeat character reflected in scenes such as the sweat lodge in a teepee, where Earl finds solace and a place of quiet reflection to forget about Plonk (or so he thinks).
The sweat lodge actually exists, as I discovered on my visit to Alpha Box & Dice, which is definitely one of Australia’s most colourful cellar doors. Also featuring in the McLaren Vale episode is d’Arenberg, where you only have to look at the labels to know the winemaking team enjoy a laugh, and Samuel’s Gorge, where winemaker Justin McNamee describes himself as “the booze plumber”.
The Barossa, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Coonawarra and Adelaide Hills wine regions all feature in the series, with each episode revealing a rich tapestry of local wine industry identities and locations. Comedian Greg Fleet, food legend Maggie Beer, The Chaser’s Andrew Hansen and South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill are among those who have cameos.
So too does South Australian Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Leon Bignell, who in a self-deprecating moment at the launch said: “They say politics is showbiz for ugly people.”
Full credit to the South Australian Government for backing the production, and for realizing that less is more. Instead of blatant product placement, the producers were given an (almost) free rein to present the regions however they saw fit. Enjoying a few laughs will likely generate more interest than any ad campaign ever will.
The Road To Plonk
The second series of Plonk premiered on Stan in June, and the full six half-hour episodes went up on YouTube last week. The series kicks off with a homage to the South Australian ad campaign ‘Be Consumed’ – Plonk has aptly called theirs ‘Be Confused’.
The Plonk channel also hosts web exclusives, deleted scenes and season one of Plonk, sponsored by Destination NSW.
Season two of Plonk was produced by One Stone Pictures in association with ITV Studios Australia and supported by Screen Australia, the South Australian Tourism Commission, South Australian Film Corporation and Wine Selectors.
Jump on YouTube to follow the continuing adventures of the Plonk crew.
Read my earlier post about the launch of Plonk season two earlier this year.
Thanks to the South Australian Tourism Commission for hosting me on the #roadtoplonk