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Gus Hedges: "Morning hotshots. Are we cooking with napalm? You bet."
Gus Hedges: "There is just something I'd like to pop into your percolator, see if it comes out brown."
Gus Hedges: "Yes, well, publicity-wise this is a rather regrettable gonads-in-the-guillotine situation."
Drop the Dead Donkey was a 1990s British TV comedy set in the newsroom of Globelink news, recently acquired by megalomaniacal billionaire Sir Royston Merchant. Aside from attacking politicians across the political spectrum, the show centred on the war of egos between newsreaders, the inability of editors to avoid the tabloidisation of their programme and the wickedly black banter and office terrorism between the rest of the staff.
Much like South Park, the show was produced close enough to its airtime that constant Take That's were made to weekly issues. Possibly the most cynical look at a Newsroom ever - and that's with some stiff competition.
Came twenty-sixth in Britains Best Sitcom.
Provides examples of:
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Sally, season 2, "Drunk Minister": "I do seem to be getting all the depressing items to announce again... In the last two weeks I have announced to the nation - three air crashes, two rail crashes, six serious fires, two motorway pile-ups... three famines... and a live interview with John Gummer!"
- Attention Whore: Henry, Sally, George's daughter, and Damien, according to his mother.
- Bathroom Stall Graffiti: There's a Running Gag about insulting graffiti in the office's toilets, usually about Sally and her sex life, or Damien and his lack thereof.
- Beleaguered Assistant: Joy, when she's not scaring people off, and Gus to Sir Royston. The final episode drives home how Gus has ruined his life in service to a man who doesn't recognize or care about him at all.
- The Bet: A constant plotline, mostly between gambling addict Dave and Jerkasses Henry and Damien as a way of relieving boredom.
- Beware the Nice Ones: George, usually a complete wimp, has held a thug at fork-point, paid to have Damien's car set on fire, and tied up and tortured Gus during a paintball game. All also double as George's Crowning Moments Of Awesome, partly just from sheer contrast.
- Made even more hilarious by the fact that aforementioned thug was played by an as-yet-unknown Daniel Craig.
- Black Comedy: Covered in it.
- Break the Haughty: Sally. Often.
- Break the Motivational Speaker: Gus brings in a psychologist for a psychiatric evaluation of the news team. Unfortunately, he's a recovering alcoholic and the various traumas of the team drive him back to the bottle. (DTDD likes its Black Comedy.)
- British Brevity: Subverts this somewhat, as most seasons (1-5) are 12 episodes long, and only Season 6 (filmed after the end of the 1979-97 Conservative government, and thus noticeably light on topical humour) was the standard 6 episodes long.
- Butt Monkey: George.
- The Chew Toy: Dave.
- Crapsack World
- Dead Line News: A Running Gag is how Damian's sensationalist field reports always result in his cameraman Jerry getting injured.
- Deadpan Snarker: Dave, Alex, Helen, and Joy.
- The Dog Bites Back: George takes a high class callgirl to his manipulative ex wife's wedding to make her jealous and pays her to seduce the groom, which results in the groom being punched in the face.
- Downer Ending: George gives up the chance for a life of happiness with his new love in Australia to nurse his manipulative ex-wife after she has a heart attack. Sir Royston burns down the building in an insurance fraud, but even then Gus is in denial that Globelink is closing and is left sitting in the condemned office, a broken man.
- Duct Tape for Everything: Even for faking executions.
- More retaking executions.
- Empathy Doll Shot: Damien carries a teddybear named Dimbles around with him for disaster stories. And a blood-stained plimsol.
- Estrogen Brigade Bait: The Chippendales episode had this.
- Fluffy the Terrible: Joy Merryweather.
- Freudian Excuse: Sally was raised by her grandmother, who psychologically abused her. Joy's father was an alcoholic who abandoned his kids. Damien's mother never paid attention to him, even when he fell out of a tree headfirst.
- Friendly Enemy: Henry to Sally in the last episode: "You know, I'm going to rather miss this."
- The Gambling Addict: Dave.
- The Ghost: Sir Royston Merchant, the owner of Globelink News, and Gerry, Damien's unlucky cameraman.
- Going for the Big Scoop: Damien, even if he has to create one himself.
- Gulf War: The Globelink News team did not distinguish themselves during this conflict, with Henry filing 'special reports' from Jordan (so he could get a drink) and Damien dunking cormorants in oil in order to create a story about the ecological impact of the war.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: Eventually averted, as both Sir Royston and Margaret are shown in the final episode. Played straight with Gerry the cameraman who only appears on-screen once, covered from head to toe in bandages.
- Heroic Sociopath: Joy.
- Hidden Heart of Gold: Very possibly also Joy, considering the episode with her brother, but -- really hidden.
- Hypocritical Humour: A constant feature.
- Intoxication Ensues: Damien, after getting high off the fumes from piles of burning marijuana at a drugs raid.
- Intrepid Reporter: Damien sells himself as this, but most of his stories are doctored for added drama, faked, or engineered by him.
- Jerkass: Pretty much every character.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dave borders on being one of these during his Pet the Dog moments.
- Kavorka Man: Henry. He might've been very good looking in his youth, but that toupee isn't doing anything for him now and he still gets his leg over every other episode.
- Kent Brockman News: The show that makes News Radio look like Happy Days.
- Large Ham: Henry loves to rant and bellow.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Wes Jasper, a TV host in the last series, is a very thinly-disguised Chris Evans (this one, not the Human Torch) on a equally thinly-disguised version of his show TFI Friday.
- Locked in a Room: Damien and Dave get trapped underground while potholing.
- The Loins Sleep Tonight: Elderly hedonist anchorman Henry confesses to Dave (in confidence) that this happened the night before. Naturally this spreads over the office like wildfire, and when his despised co-anchor Sally quips in response to Henry's computer going down, "Maybe it's your floppy." Henry bursts out with "YES, ALL RIGHT, I'M IMPOTENT!" right in front of a television crew who've come to do a This Is Your Life-style interview with him.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: Gus and Damien are both virgins for most of the series, which may contribute to why they're both craven, venal and unlikable Jerkasses.
- Manipulative Bastard: Everyone in the series, at one point or another.
- Meaningful Name: Inverted with the dark, rude, sarcastic, downbeat PA Joy Merryweather.
- Medley Exit: In the final episode, to Jimmy Ruffin's What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?
- Ms. Fanservice: Gus occasionally forces Joy to act as this for the station, even though she terrifies everyone.
- My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Done twice. Once with Russian (Henry introduces himself as a pregnant cabbage to a Soviet official on a factfinding exchange) and once with Japanese (Damien tells a group of Japanese businessmen to go and have sex with a porcupine).
- Never My Fault: Gus. Also Alex and especially Damien.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Sir Royston for any media baron, e.g. Robert Maxwell or Rupert Murdoch.
- Nobody Over 50 Is Gay: Averted when Helen's mother admits her past.
- The Not-Secret: Helen agonises for years over telling her parents that she's a lesbian. After her father's funeral, she finally tells her mother, who instantly responds "Of course you are." They figured it out years ago and were waiting for her to tell them in her own time. And later, she admits she had "a bit of a phase" in her time.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Gus, although it's more to serve Sir Royston than any actual bureaucracy.
- Only Sane Woman: Alex and later Helen.
- Paintball Episode: Partly justified as Damien, Gus, Joy, and George ignore all the rules so they can work out their grudges against their colleagues.
- Papa Wolf: George when Deborah joins a gang of muggers. He holds a toasting fork to the leader's neck and makes him sing "the birdie song".
- Paparazzi: Damien doesn't stalk celebrities, but still has every other characteristic of an evil reporter.
- Pet the Dog: Sally's frequent staged attempts generally end in disaster.
- Poke the Poodle: In one episode, George tries to emulate Gordon Gekko from Wall Street and fails miserably.
- Pointy-Haired Boss: The vacuous, hero-worshipping Gus, who talks almost exclusively in management speak. He would appear to be a living, breathing example of the Adams principle.
- Precision F-Strike: A once-a-season use of "fuck", which is usually directed at George.
- Red Shirt Reporter: Damien Day likes to exploit this - the problem is, he usually creates the dangerous situations he's in himself, to improve viewing figures.
- Rich Bitch: Sally. Vacuous, elitist, uptight, condescending Sally.
- Ring Ring CRUNCH: Damien to a car alarm that interrupts a taping.
- Ripped from the Headlines: Each episode included up-to-the-minute topical gags that meant a opening narration was included in repeats to give them context.
- Smug Snake: Gus, early on.
- Sophisticated As Hell: Henry.
"Gus, the man has the charisma of a tapeworm's douchebag."
- Springtime for Hitler: When Globelink is about to be shut down Joy believes that her contract means she'll be better remunerated if she gets fired first, but her attempts to do it fail: she tries to be aggressive, rude and disrespectful to her employers, but they don't notice the difference, and does things like making Gus's lunch with "used Odour Eaters and soap shavings" and openly admits to them, but everyone thinks she's just being sarcastic.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial/False Reassurance: After Joy slipped some dope into Gus's sandwiches:
Gus: Did we have a... conversation yesterday?
Dave: No, Gus. And we certainly didn't have one where you revealed your paranoid fantasies in embarrassing detail.
- The Swear Jar: The office had a "Nessun Dorma" box for anyone humming the catchy opera tune that became the unofficial theme of the Italia '90 World Cup Tournament.
- Followed by a "Bad Maxwell joke Box" after Robert Maxwell died.
- Sympathy for the Devil: Sally, Gus, and Damien - usually complete bastards - each get an episode which shows how sad and lonely they are.
- Stylistic Suck: When Gus directs a crime scene re-enactment -- adding murders which didn't occur and blood splattering on a bystander's cleavage.
- Take That: Every episode, every five minutes, to every notable politician during the show's run.
- It should be said that "Royston Merchant"'s initials, RM, were shared by two highly unpleasant newspaper moguls who at the time were branching out into owning TV stations. While Britain's TV is regulated and all news and current affairs footage is legally required to be impartial and even-handed, Globe Link TV was meant to be an awful warning about the unhealthy power an owner can exert over the media he owns. There is no such regulation over British newspapers, which explains why Robert Maxwell and Rupert Murdoch were - and are - allowed to get away with murder. And in America, Rupert Murdoch owns FOX TV. Where there is no regulation designed to enforce even-handedness in news broadcasting...
- This Is My Side: Henry and Sally have to share a desk and get into an argument about each keeping to his or her own side. As the episode goes on, the argument takes an increasingly militaristic tone with disputes about how one of them has made excursions into the agreed-upon neutral zone in the middle of the desk. In the end, Helen removes their desk entirely and puts two kiddie tables in its place.
- The Troubles: "What do people think they're dying of, stress?"
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: George's daughter Deborah has done everything from arson to bullying to dissecting a rabbit while it was still alive while IN CLASS.
- True Art:
- True Art Is Angsty: Joy's doodles of hideous fates for her superiors are lauded as high art.
- True Art Is Incomprehensible: Absurdly pretentious modern art abounds as Joy mixes with artists who love her sketches. The regular characters (Joy included) think it's all a ridiculous con, and a critic at a showing of her work suggests she's too naive to understand. When she knocks him out, someone else assumes he's an installation.
- Ultimate Job Security: Damien because he gets the highest ratings and Joy because she's "the best PA we've ever had" and she scares Gus too much for him to discipline her.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Damien really only wants his mother to be proud of him. Shame his grammar isn't up to the task while he's being shot at.
- We Want Our Jerk Back: When Sally converts to evangelical Christianity, though it's mostly motivated by an office pool on when she'll finally snap.
- What Did I Do Last Night?: George after the Christmas party; Henry after an ex-wife remarries.
- Word Salad Title: Word of God has it the title is only meant to sound like something that would be said in a high-pressure newsroom. (Originally it was "Dead Belgians Don't Count".)
- Work Com
- Yes-Man: Gus to Sir Royston.
- Yet Another Baby Panda: Often forced into the show by Gus so the program doesn't have any room for stories that criticize the conservative party or Globelink's owner, Sir Royston.
- You Get Me Coffee: Never try to pull this on Joy. Not because you won't get it; but she has added things to coffee in-story that would get you an attempted murder charge in reality.