Television Revision: The Mighty Boosh – Season 1

Television Revision: The Mighty Boosh  – Season 1. Starring Noel Fielding, Julian Barratt, and Rich Fulcher. Rated M. By Andrew Williams.

Television Revision is a weekly feature in which our tuned in TV critic trawls through the best the box has to offer, giving you a primer on some of history’s finest shows (and warning you away from the specific episodes – or even seasons! – that might have ruined their reputation).

Now this is a story all about how… Vince Noir (Noel Fielding) and Howard Moon (Julian Barratt) are put upon zookeepers dreaming of bigger things, from pop superstardom to literary acclaim. The only thing standing in their way is their combined lack of any discernible talents; but where there’s delusion, there’s hope.

Happy days? The above description probably makes it sound like there’s more of a traditional story structure to The Mighty Boosh than there actually is. This is pure absurdist comedy with little regard for things like plot, character, and realism – that stuff only gets in the way of the jokes – and while The Mighty Boosh is working with actual jokes, it’s fantastic. Most episodes contain their fair share of laugh-out-loud moments and memorable lines; it’s the kind of show you can endlessly quote back and forth with your friends.

Unfortunately, it’s very tough to fill half an hour (let alone a series) with gags alone, and in the absence of plot, developed characters, or continuity, Boosh elects to fill the rest of the episodes with absurdity for absurdity’s sake. Your tolerance for watching the series – especially multiple episodes in a row – will depend heavily on your tolerance for pure absurdity, rather than absurdist humour. My tolerance is generally pretty high, but even I found the middle few a dreary watch; they just don’t have the invention and intelligence of the ones around them. I’m all for being weird, but it has to be in service of something.

The final frontier: Even Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the most influential sketch comedy series ever made, churned out some absolute stinkers. When it comes to this sort of comedy, it’s the highlights that matter the most, and The Mighty Boosh has plenty.

Top Three Episodes: 1) Killeroo. The opening episode is full of what makes The Mighty Boosh great: clever form, spot-on comedic timing, and hilariously unrealistic animals. It’s definitely the best episode to show the uninitiated. 6) Charlie & 8) Hitcher. Two episodes that see the show finding its groove late in the season. They’re the weirdest, sure, but the most well-structured as well, and as such, they’re the funniest.

Worst Episode: 4) Tundra. Definitely a result of the series still working itself out, the fourth episode feels like Fielding and Barratt testing the limits of how formless and absurd Boosh could be. The fact they pulled back later in the season would indicate the results didn’t please them that much either.

Season MVP: Julian Barratt. It would be easy – so easy – to put the effortlessly charming Noel Fielding in this spot instead, but Barratt is actually doing the hard work here. He’s driving every episode while Fielding smirks along and gets most of the good lines (and the man has some serious chemistry with a stuffed kangaroo).

The Mighty Boosh Season 1 is now available on DVD. It can also be streamed instantly on Quickflix PLAY.

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