The Frontline television series presents a satirical take on the current-affairs format, through the setting of a fictional television station and its flagship show, Frontline. The fictional program is situated as competing directly with Nine's A Current Affair and Seven's Real Life (known as Today Tonight from 1995 onwards). The series further satirises the internal machinations of the producers, the self-obsessed host, and the ambitious, cynical reporters, all of whom resort to any sort of underhanded trick to get ratings and maintain their status. The reporters and host also ingratiate themselves with the all-powerful network bosses, while the real work is, in fact, done by their long-suffering production staff.
Throughout the series, other television shows aired by the 'station' are also referenced: notably the 6pm news program, the three-hour news-review show Sunday Forum, the sketch show The Komedy Bunch, the game show Jackpot, the teen soap opera Sunshine Cove (which later changes its name to Rainbow Island), the football show Ball-to-Ball, and other programs such as Late-Night OZ, Cartoon Crazies, and Vacation. Several real-life television celebrities also made guest appearances, including gardener Don Burke, fisherman/AFL commentator Rex Hunt, AFL commentator Sam Newman, music guru Ian 'Molly' Meldrum, and Media Watch host Stuart Littlemore.
Six episodes from series one were a core text in the Year 12 English Advanced syllabus for the Higher School Certificate (HSC) between 2000 and 2008. The episodes chosen for Module C 'Representation and Text: Elective 1 - Telling the Truth' were 'Playing the Ego Card,' 'Add Sex and Stir,' 'The Siege,' 'Smaller Fish to Fry,' 'We Ain't Got Dames,' and 'This Night of Nights.' The show has also been used as a text response for both Years 11 and 12 in the English units of the Victorian Certificate of Education. Episodes of Frontline have been analysed for the media topic in the Year 10 English syllabus in New South Wales since at least 2001.
When hostages are held in a farmhouse by a crazed gunman, the Frontline team uses some dirty tricks to gain exclusive access to the siege, endangering the lives of the hostages for the sake of ratings.1994
Frontline profiles the unemployed Baxter family, and Mike is revealed as Australia's fourth richest entertainer.1997