The 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 so by giving us something new, it blended an eclectic art design with surreal comedy style to make something genuinely funny and memorable.
Now don’t get me wrong, I can understand why people might not have liked this show, after all it was weird by design, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I also think that it was more a case of people not giving it a chance as well, rather than the absurdist plot putting people off. In fact my only real complaint was that it should have gotten a couple more seasons, I’d have been interested to see what they did with it. I mean we technically got a spiritual successor in the form of Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy, but despite sharing similar themes and art style, it never quite had the same feel as The Mighty Boosh, which I believe is directly a result of this being a project entirely from Noel Fielding, and without Julian Barratt to be a stabilising influence it was too
off-kilter and quirky for my liking.
Anyway, the first season of The Mighty Boosh stood out from the second and third seasons, because it was different, it tried something interesting and unusual and it worked, at least in my opinion. I think especially in hindsight that they really gave that first season their all, just in case, after the 8 episode run they weren’t commissioned for a second. Sure the characters remained pretty much consistent as did the overall tone, but the setting was very different.
In the first season we find Howard Moon (played by Julian Barratt) a pessimist, with unrealistic goals and delusions of grandeur and Vince Noir, an image obsessed narcissist with a cheerful demeanour and a head in the clouds mentality, working as zookeepers in the ‘Zooniverse’. They work alongside a diverse cast of other characters, such as Naboo the Enigma (played by Michael Fielding, Noel’s real life brother) an alien Shaman who runs the gift shop at the zoo (side note, he must have really enjoyed the working in retail, because in season two & three, he’s packed in the gift shop for his own shop, Nabootique), Bob Fossil (played by Rich Fulcher), the general manager of the zoo, as well as an all around weirdo and living non sequitur and rounding off the cast is Bollo (played by Dave Brown) an anthropomorphic Gorilla, who in the first season is a resident of the Zooniverse, and later is adopted by Naboo as his familiar in seasons 2 and 3.
In later seasons they change things up, moving from the Zooniverse to Nabootique, but not before they get into all sorts of hijinks at the zoo, like fighting a kangaroo, helping to free mutant animals, made by Dixon Bainbridge (played by Richard Ayoade in the pilot episode and was subsequently replaced by Matt Berry in all following appearances) to boost attendance at the zoo or dealing with a giant, pink bubblegum monster by the name of Charlie. Another element that was different, and one that I was disappointed that they got rid of, was the opening and closing segments, presenting in front of a theatre curtain, where they introduce and reflect on the events of the episode respectively. These segments were enjoyable and broke the fourth wall, and as I said I was sad that they disappeared in the second and third seasons.
Anyway, now that I’ve introduced you to The Mighty Boosh, let’s move onto the actual review. Remember you can also check out my reviews of season 2 and 3 of The Mighty Boosh by clicking here and here respectively.
Episode 1 (Killeroo)
In this episode, Bob Fossil is trying to set up animal fights and of course Howard, a natural target for misfortune is drafted by Fossil to be the one that fights them. He’s billed to fight the Killeroo (that’s killer Kangaroo just in case you can’t work that out for yourself) and of course it knocks seven shades out of him before Vince fresh of a vision quest twists the beasts balls to stun it so Howard can deliver the knockout punch. Overall it’s a reasonably good episode, that introduced the world of The Mighty Boosh well. Also every time that I watch this episode I get the Killeroo Song stuck in my head, and you can listen to that by clicking here, and join me. Overall I think I’ll give this episode a 3/5.
Episode 2 (Mutants)
So I really enjoyed the first episode, and with episode two, it gets even better. Also admittedly weirder, but that’s part of the charm of the show overall. In this episode, Dixon Bainbridge, the owner of the zoo begins kidnapping people and stealing the zoo animals, and combining them via surgery to create something new and exciting to get more people visiting the failing zoo. As he puts it, no one really cares about seeing a bear or gorilla or money anymore, but a snake with the head of a wolf, that is sure to draw a crowd. Our hapless duo investigate and as expected Howard gets caught and needs to be rescued. This episode has my favourite song of the entire series, it’s called ‘Mutants’ and it’s just ridiculously catchy and fun, with great choreography. Overall this episode earns a 4/5.
Episode 3 (Bollo)
In this episode the resident Gorilla at the Zooniverse, Bollo has become sick. He is not long for this world, he is set for the big banana in the sky, or as it turns out monkey hell, which is confirmed to exist in the world of The Mighty Boosh. This episode has Howard getting into trouble (I think I am seeing a pattern here) and through a bizarre series of consequences ends up pretending to be Bollo when the grim reaper comes to claim his eternal soul, which leads to a wacky, existential adventure, where Vince has to save Howard from damnation in monkey hell. I think I’ll give this episode a 3/5.
Episode 4 (Tundra)
In this episode, motivated by Dixon Bainbridge’s grandstanding, the duo go off deep into the arctic tundra to show him up by finding the elusive Egg of Mantumbi. As usual things come up sunshine and roses for Vince, which is strange as you typically don’t find either in the cold white emptiness of the tundra. Howard, however basically does nothing and still manages to get himself caught. In the end to preserve the status quo neither of them ends up getting the credit for finding the egg. I think overall I will give this episode a 3/5.
Episode 5 (Jungle)
In this episode the zoo is at risk from Dixon Bainbridge who has decided that he wants to sell it. Obviously Vince and Howard are having none of this and try to stop him, so to keep them out of the way at least until the sale of the zoo goes through he locks them in the jungle room, which is full of wild wolves by the way. They try to make their way out without getting eaten by wolves, and instead run into Tommy Nookah, the original owner of the zoo, who through his sacrifice actually managed to stop the zoo from being sold. This episode was really quite good…or was it really quite good. Yeah I think it was, and with all that in mind I think this episode earn a 4/5. Plus a special thumbs up for the Mod wolves.
Episode 6 (Charlie)
This is by far my favourite episode, certainly of the season and possibly of the entire series. Also on a personal note as a writer I would love having a writer caddie, just someone to follow me about, take notes and give me a pen or pencil should I need it. Anyway, in this episode, we discover that Vince is a published author, granted they are self-published, but he has been writing about a bubblegum creature called Charlie for years. Howard himself is also aiming to get fame and fortune by writing a book, but he can’t get more than a sentence done. Meanwhile Vince is trying to get the Pandas to breed, but ends up falling in love with the female panda instead. So because of the absurd fun of the episode, coupled with the awesome musical number at the end, this episode earns a 5/5.
Episode 7 (Electro)
In this episode, Vince intends to abandon his position at the zoo to join an Electro band, with two pretty girls, and a guy who wears two hats. Howard isn’t too happy with Vince leaving, especially since he’s developed a rock star attitude, he can’t even join him because Howard has a deep dark secret, namely that any time he plays an instrument, he becomes possessed by the spirit of Jazz, who then causes him to act up and cause chaos. Of course things go wrong with the pair and they both end up back in the ‘safety’ of the zoo. I think I’ll give this episode a 4/5.
Episode 8 (The Hitcher)
The episode Charlie as I said above is my personal favourite from the first season, but this episode, The Hitcher was easily my second favourite. Firstly it introduced Noel Fielding’s character, Baboo Yagu more commonly known as The Hitcher, a green skinned, polo mint eyed cockney entity. In this episode, we see Vince and Howard who are driving a rogue Russian bear to an animal jail, unfortunately things never seem to go right for them and they end up lost in the forest after an unintended shortcut, being trapped in a magic box and attacked by the aforementioned cockneys. Something else I really liked about this episode was that it took place mostly outside the zoo, firstly because in a final episode, you should try to shake things up a little bit, but also because in hindsight it prepares you for the second and third seasons which don’t take place in the zoo at all. So overall, it’s a very strong episode, and earns a 4/5.
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