One of the more divisive comedies in recent memory, 'The Mighty Boosh' enjoyed a long existence as a live show, a radio show and for three seasons, a television series. Let's take a look at the first season.
Howard Moon (Julian Barratt) is a slightly delusional, very narcissistic jazz enthusiast who works at the Zooniverse (the worst zoo you can imagine) with his friend Vince Noir (Noel Fielding), a fashion-obsessed slacker. Their boss, Bob Fossil (Richie Fulcher), literally doesn't know anything about the animals in the zoo while the owner, Dixon Bainbridge (Matt Berry) is a domineering sort who is as corrupt a figure as one could hope for. Heck, there aren’t even any real animals in the zoo, just people dressed as animals and some obvious fakes. Also, keep an eye out for Naboo (Michael Fielding), the zoo's shaman.
Howard repeatedly tries to impress the only female employee of the zoo, Mrs. Gideon (Victoria Wicks), to no avail while Vince lazily seeks fame. The duo does what it can to keep the zoo afloat by battling the schemes of Fossil and Bainbridge and occasionally encounters strange characters in exotic locales.
The series has a reputation for being random, bizarre and inaccessible. After giving it a chance, these reports have been greatly exaggerated. There are a tremendous amount of sight gags, brilliant banter and surprises. While English humor tends to have a reputation for being dry (there is a bit of that here), this show isn't afraid to get silly. There is a boxing kangaroo, an encounter with Death, an electro-pop band called Kraftwerk Orange, mutants and other oddities, so prepare for anything.
Unlike some episodes in later seasons, this first season stays somewhat grounded in reality (with some serious exceptions). The setting has a lot to do with many of the stories whereas future installments seem to only check in with the main location before moving on to greener pastures. This first season is also the longest, yet it’s still very short and never drags.
One criticism that can be leveled is that this examiner found the musical numbers to be hit and miss. Each episode has a few minutes where the plot grinds to a halt in favor of some song that, while not necessarily unenjoyable, seems to act as filler. This first season is also the only one where the episodes begin with two-man monologues (duologues?) which usually adds very little.
The dynamic between Vince and Howard is delightful. It isn't necessarily a matter of being a straight-man/crazy-man relationship, both characters have their quirks and their moments of logic, yet they are vastly different from each other. Further sealing the deal is that the friendship between the characters shines through and is believable, even with their differences.
It’s also worth pointing out that Fielding and Barratt play many of the strange characters that pop up from time to time. This shows their ranges and also helps to conceal the limited resources that they had when making the show. To those who know that fact, it should make you admire the work even more.
Special features include: a look inside the Zooniverse, a history of the Boosh, music, outtakes, a picture gallery and commentary.
It's hard to say whether you will like 'The Mighty Boosh.' The accents and rapid-fire, slang-heavy dialog will turn away some of you as will some of the sillier elements like talking animals and the travels to alternate dimensions.
You will know within a single episode whether you want to continue down this rabbit-hole.
The easiest way to put it is: you either like it or you don't.
Not Rated 224 minutes 2009