Rarely in showbiz is a 1 a.m. slot on Sunday considered a prime spot for breaking your TV show in America. Who is up at that hour besides degenerates, insomniacs and people who don’t hate Monday mornings? Turns out there’s a few million Adult Swim fans eager for high weirdness in the wee hour. These fans of the bizarre made the series a cult hit on this side of the pond when it debuted in the fall. With the release of The Mighty Boosh: The Complete Season 1, people who have to wake up on Monday mornings can finally enjoy what the late night kiddies have been devouring.
The Mighty Boosh is complete freak fun at the most demented of zoos. The BBC series follows the antics of two slacker employees at Zoo-niverse. Vince Noir (Noel Fielding) is a dopey guy who has dedicated his life to his haircut that would look perfect on a Bay City Roller. Howard Moon (Julian Barratt) thinks he’s smarter than Vince, but he’s a stooge. Bob Fossil (Rich Fulcher) runs the zoo for adventurer Dixon Bainbridge (Matt Berry). Fossil has very little understanding of animals. He often lies to the guests. It doesn’t matter too much since the animals are merely puppets and people in fur suits. The complete oddball is Naboo (Michael Felding). He’s a strange mystic guy that might be from another planet. However in the Zoo-niverse, he runs the concession stand. The only person with sense is Bollo. He’s a gorilla which explains why he seems sane.
The eight episodes featured from the first season all start out like old ‘50s sitcoms with Vince and Howard standing in front of a curtain talking directly to the audience. They come off as 21st century Abbott and Costello except it’s not quite apparent if either knows who’s on first. In the middle of each episode we get a musical number. The show is kind of like Flight of the Conchords or The Monkees on that level. The dancing and outlandish costumes keep the nonsense flowing during this song break. Neither Vince or Howard is ready to start their own band. Howard loves jazz and Vince is devoted to his hair. They also incorporate strange puppets into the fun which is reminiscent of the legendary Young Ones series from the ‘80s.
“Killeroo” lets us know that this zoo is not run by normal people. Fossil forces Howard box a kangaroo as part of a promotion for the zoo. While it sounds sweet and nice, it turns into a blood sport. The kangaroo has a pouch full of pain to dish out to Howard. “Mutants” gives the nasty truth as to what has been happening to the animals at the zoo. It’s a tribute to The Island of Dr. Moreau. “Bollo” has the giant ape marked for death by the grim reaper. The agent of death mistakenly nabs Howard. It’s up to Vince to bring his pal back from Monkey Hell. “Tundra” has Howard and Vince explore the Arctic in order to outdo the great adventures of Bainbridge. Gary Numan, singer of “Cars” makes a guest appearance.
“Jungle” forces Howard to save the zoo from being turned into a highway. “Charlie” mocks the publishing world as Vince becomes the hot new writer. He’s written a kiddie book about a bubble gum monster. There’s also panda breeding action. “Electro” lets Vince and Howard join an electro pop band called Kraftwerk Orange. However Howard’s love of jazz ruins the band’s rise to stardom. “Hitcher” introduces us to the concept of The Zoo for Animal Offenders. Vince exposes his special relationship with Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry.
The Mighty Boosh: The Complete Season 1 keeps up the insanity that should be found amongst caged animals. Vince and Howard work perfectly against each other with their confusing and clueless efforts. There’s always something interesting happening in the zoo.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The transfer shows off the odd production design. You’ll need the wide screen to talk in all the weirdness of them performing folk songs in cable knit sweaters while wearing Kiss makeup. The audio is Dolby Digital Stereo. There’s English subtitles for those moments when the English accents get too confusing.
Commentary Tracks on “Bollo,” “Tundra,” “Electro” & “Hitcher” featuring Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding and Rich Fulcher. The trio aren’t completely in character while discussing the action.
Inside the Zooniverse (28:04) takes us into the madness that makes this show. When not on the show, Julian Barratt wears hats and shades as cool as Noel Fielding. These two look like Keith Richard’s blood donors.
Boosh Music (12:08) contains all the music scenes from the first season. You can dance with the Boosh.
Mighty Boosh A History (9:37) gives the background on how Noel & Julian came together. They proved the show could work by doing it on stage and as a radio show. When is the last time any comic established themselves with a radio show? They have vintage video of when the duo performed on stage in small clubs. They now only do arenas.
Outtakes (6:19) reminds us that comedy isn’t easy – even if you’re supposed to act clueless.
Photo gallery is a few dozen snapshots from the set.
The Mighty Boosh: The Complete Season 1 introduces us to the best comic duo on TV since Abbott and Costello had their sitcom. Vince and Howard are goofball gold in their ability to get tangled up in insane situations. Who boxes a rabid kangaroo? Who knew Bryan Ferry was the true king of the jungle? What is the deal with Naboo? The animals need to stay in the cages to protect themselves from the humans.
BBC Video and Warner Home Video present The Mighty Boosh: The Complete Season 1. Starring: Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding and Rich Fulcher. Boxset Contents: 8 episodes on 2 DVDs. Released on DVD: July 21, 2009. Available at Amazon.com