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In a comedic series that defies labels and anything resembling basic structure, we're beckoned to "come with" our hosts Howard Moon (Julian Barratt) and Vince Noir (Noel Fielding) "on a journey through time and space" via the trippy and brief theme song that leads into the start of each and every episode of The Mighty Boosh.
Furthermore, unless you're familiar with the world of The Boosh, it's nearly impossible to describe to others since the series illogically changes setting, direction, and every other tried and true storytelling principle in each of the three seasons of the smash BBC cult sensation. However that's precisely what makes you have to tune in and decide for yourself just what the hell this particular band of Brits were up to when they unleashed The Boosh on the masses-- helped to TV when Steve Coogan and Henry Normal caught the live stage show and became instant fans.
Yet challenging and enticing new converts even more, The Mighty Boosh changes its course several times over in any given episode that comprises these vibrantly packaged, space-saving two-disc sets. Therefore, in lieu of a 1-3 "journey," if you're adventurous, you have the luxury to watch them in any particular order you choose in deciding which ones make you laugh and which ones repulse or just don't work for you on quite the same level.
With a weakness for anything offered up to audiences from the company boasting those magical three letters that seem synonymous with quality-- the "BBC"-- I went into The Boosh without a map, compass, or any idea just what to expect. In doing so I barely read the box or press release before only a few episodes in, I found myself needing to do just that, wondering how such a show had come to air in the first place.
The first season is set at the "Zooniverse" where the men's dimwitted boss Bob Fossil forgets the name of animals to the point that he inadvertently plays Taboo with kids on a field trip by describing the "gray leg face man" that a kid finally guesses is an elephant. And doubling the fun of the series creators and stars-- the first episode tests your willingness to go along with the journey of their fictitious alter-egos-- as Fossil blackmails Moon with naked photos for him to fight a kangaroo. Yeah, you're not exactly going to see that on a very special episode of... well, anything on this side of the pond that's made on this side of the pond.
For the series, the guys use their off-screen talents for their fictitious onscreen personae as the musically gifted Julian Barratt manages to weave music throughout the series as the clueless jazz aficionado Howard Moon whereas the artistically inclined Noel Fielding employs his penchant for painting and art as Vince Noir.
And admittedly together the two seem to be an unlikely pair of friends yet the classic "odd couple" balance of the two works and their best scenes are together as they manipulate one another endlessly and often in ways wherein undoubtedly Howard Moon-- feeling he's intellectually superior to his hipper friend-- cons Vince Noir in a running gag that always backfires.In a memorable example from the first season, he recruits Vince to make a male panda jealous by flirting with the female to expedite their mating in captivity only for Vince to get the better of the situation.
While the first season stemmed largely from their origins as an improvisational comedy group who tested material in clubs before becoming the official version of The Boosh on the radio and in live shows-- the second season pulled them out of that setting. Additionally, it concerned itself with stronger rewrites-- taking us into much stranger and far more surreal terrain in a lower budgeted apartment set where the guys predominantly hang out along with their Shaman Naboo (Noel's brother Michael Fielding) and Bollo the ape from the Zooniverse.
The first television show in the history of the BBC network to be released online before its UK broadcast-- scoring 36,000 viewers-- the second series became far more complicated in its plot development both to its success and downfall. Having left the safety net of the previous radio scripts and original slightly Monty Python-esque source material behind them in favor of newly written material-- this season became far more daring than the last with a more polished and precise idea of just what they're trying to achieve.
Making the most of the madness of our instinctual night time giggle fits by setting events mostly at night (and frequently giving the illusion of the dark)-- one of the season's zaniest episodes occurs when Vince suddenly goes goth and convinces Howard to cancel his sole annual plan to get out of the house to try and score with two goth girls which of course fails after they raid Naboo's library of dark magic books.
Literally taking us into the light from its nearly gothic look, the season's finale which is a bizarre spin on Cast Away with a little of Chaplin's The Gold Rush thrown in as well is another standout in a season that began to make me yearn a bit for the Zooniverse despite my admiration for their impressive ability to challenge themselves as writers.
Although they attracted the largest audience in the history of a comedy series for BBC Three with the debut of the third season's premiere episode "Eels," the show which again was given an even lower budget than the previous season switches the setting one more time to Dalston's second-hand shop-- The Nabootique.
This found the men of The Boosh going back to their original roots once more to create something out of nothing and hope that it's funny. Again, unfortunately the results are a mixed bag with some of the episodes relying far too heavily on scatological humor and others feeling like a retread of previously trippy escapades and adventures.
Aside from a few moments of true hilarity, I couldn't help feeling that by this point-- often and similar to the previous season-- mostly The Boosh made me sort of half-smile or nod in amusement like those people who say "that's funny" rather than laugh because we admire the talent and intent but not the ultimate result.
Overall, the show seems as though it was made from a purely creative and childlike place of joy fueled solely by "id" with the "play" instinct that most of us have learned to suppress in our lives as adults. And as such, while The Mighty Boosh may often resemble a live action kids cartoon and some parts are indeed animated, it's basically the naughtiest version of Pee Wee's Playhouse crossed with The Wiggles you'll ever see in your life so you'll want to be sure to keep the kids away!
Sure to gain more cult status here in the states thanks to these individual sets from BBC America that also boast loads of commentary tracks and extras (although I found some of the ones I took in to be overly reliant on in-jokes and people they all had in common etc.)-- The Mighty Boosh would likewise make an ideal present for enthusiasts of the work of Science of Sleep director Michel Gondry.
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