“Come with us now on a Journey through Time and Space”
Mighty Boosh was and still is one of my favourite shows. It clawed it was up from radio to a slot on the edgy new TV channel BBC 3. It did something new, it blended eclectic art design with surreal comedy to make a genuinely funny and memorable show.
I can understand why people might not have liked this show but I think that was more of a case of not giving it a chance rather than it being a bad show. But while the surreal duo might not be everyone’s cup of tea it won’t stop me from watching. I really wish it’d gotten at least a few more seasons though because they still had places to go with it. I guess in a way it was spiritually succeeded by Noel Fielding’s Luxury comedy which shared similar themes and art style (it was funny but not quite as good as Boosh. It suffered from being too much of Fielding. I guess he needs Barratt to rein him in)
The first season of The Mighty Boosh stood out compared to the second and third because it did something different and wasn’t afraid to try something new. I think in hindsight they gave the first season everything just in case the eight episode season wasn’t recommissioned. Overall the characters weren’t that different only the circumstances around them were different. We have Howard Moon (Julian Barratt) who is a pessimistic, with unrealistic goals and delusions of grandeur and Vince Noir (Noel Fielding) a narcissistic, who is very flighty and always obsessed with being on the winds of new fashion. Alongside them we have Naboo the Enigma (Michael Fielding) a shaman who runs the zoo’s shop (Clearly he liked running a shop because by season 2 he’s opened his own shop in London called Nabootique) Bob Fossil (Rich Fulcher) as the manager of the Zoo and an all around weirdo and living non sequitur (he one of the main cast in the first season before being reduced to a recurring character for seasons 2 and 3) Finally rounding off the main cast is Bollo (Peter Elliot/Dave Brown) an anthropomorphic Gorilla who in the first season is a resident of the Zooniverse (the zoo in which Vince and Howard work) and friend of Vince and in the later seasons he is Naboo’s familiar.
One of the main differences between the first season and the later seasons is that it takes place in a Zoo. We follow the characters as they deal with hijinks like fighting a kangaroo, mutant animals and a big pink bubblegum monster called Charlie. Another difference from the second and third season other than the change in location was that each episode started and ended with Vince and Howard talking to the audience in front of a closed a stage curtain and discussing the events of the upcoming episode or recapping it respectively. I happened to enjoy this aspect of the show because it felt relatively unrehearsed and was just them messing around out with the concerns of the episode’s events. Also them stepping aside and the curtains opening was a good transition to the start of an episode.
Something that occurred to me, probably just because I finished my review of Peep Show last night was that Vince and Howard remind me in broad strokes of Jeremy and Mark. You have the social awkward one who wants to follow his dreams but fails usually due to cowardice and the happy simpleton. I also think the relationship between the two duos is similar they act at different times as both a comfort blanket and a weight dragging the other down. I will say that Howard and Vince are probably the better duo because they regularly save each other (okay Vince saves Howard) rather than screwing each other over (although they do a fair share of that as well) It’s fair to say though that Vince would probably sell Howard for a fancy hat or indeed a cloak.
Overall compared to the second and third season the first probably isn’t as strong as it could be but it makes up for it with some of the best musical numbers in the entire show and some of the most surreal moments.
So without further ado let’s talk a little about the episodes:
‘Killeroo’ Has Bob Fossil the American trying to set up animal fights and of course Howard who’s a natural target for misfortune is drafted in to be the one that fights them. He’s billed to fight the Killeroo (that’s killer Kangaroo) and of course it knocks seven shades out of him before Vince fresh of a vision quest and with a little help twists the beasts balls so Howard can deliver the knockout punch. Overall it’s a reasonably good episode. I had the ‘how to kill a killeroo song stuck on my head for weeks. I’d give it a 3/5.
‘Mutants’ was just that bit better than the first episode because it was a little bit weirder and a little bit funnier. It involves Dixon Bainbridge a higher up at the zoo taking the animals and kidnapping some humans in an effort to make something new and exciting. No one cares about seeing a rhino or a snake anymore but a wolf with the head of a frog and tail of a horse would draw a crowd. So our duo investigate the missing animals and in expected fashion Howard gets caught and has to be rescued. My personal highlight was Vince painting Naboo and with a flick of his Shaman wrist Naboo reveals the secret entrance to the laboratory via Vince’s painting. I think this episode has my favourite song in the entire series ‘we are the mutant race’ it’s ridiculously catchy and fun and set to a great sequence and choreography. I think this episode is a 4/5.
‘Bollo’ has the resident Gorilla at the Zooniverse getting sick. We also get confirmed existence of Monkey Hell which suggest that somewhere there’s also a big banana in the sky. Maybe even a chimpanjesus. This episode has Howard getting into trouble (seeing a pattern here) when he’s pretending to be Bollo for reasons I won’t ruin he is taken by the grim reaper and goes on an existential journey to the afterlife and monkey hell to finding if he’s been a good or bad monkey. I think I’ll give this episode a 3/5.
‘Tundra’ has the duo, egged on by bainbridge showing off go deep into the arctic tundra in search of the elusive Egg of Mantumbi. As usual everything comes up sunshine and roses for Vince which is weird as you don’t usually find either in the cold white emptiness of the tundra. Whereas Howard basically does nothing and still gets caught. In the end neither of them get credit for finding the egg. So the overall message is screw Bainbridge. Being honest I’ll give this a 3/5. I might have went a little lower but Gary Numan saved it.
‘Jungle’ has the Zoo at risk from Bainbridge who wants to sell it. To stop this Howard and Vince (who’s a Mod this episode) set out into the closes of Jungle room of the Zoo to discover what happened to the real owner of the Zoo Tommy Nookah. This episode was quite good…or was this episode quite good? I think it earns a 3/5. And a thumbs up for the Mod wolves.
‘Charlie’ is by far my favourite episode. As a writer I would love having a writer caddy to give me pens when I need it. We discover that Vince has been self published books about Charlie for years. I’d love to hear more about the big pink bubblegum guy even if he is totally terrifying. Meanwhile Vince is also trying to get jiggy with a panda in some vague attempt to get the pandas to breed. I give this episode a 5/5. Because of the strong musical number and the bizarreness which gets kicked up a notch in this episode.
‘Electro’ sees Vince trying to abandon the Zoo for an electro band with two pretty girls and a guy who wears two hats. Howard isn’t happy with Vince’s new attitude and he can’t join him because he’s got a secret of his own. Namely that when he plays in instrument he gets possessed by the spirit of Jazz who makes him do crazy things. I give this a 4/5.
‘The Hitcher’ was probably my second favourite episode firstly because it introduced the green skinned cockney weirdo who shows that Noel Fielding is a man of many talents. This episodes sees Vince and Howard driving a rogue Russian bear to an animal jail. Unfortunately things never go quite right for the duo and this is no exception. I think having them leave the Zoo in this episode was good for two reasons, firstly because a final episode should try to do something new to excite the fans and secondly because it prepares you for second and third season which don’t take place at the zoo at all. This episode earns a 4/5 and was a great conclusion to the first season.
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org