The Mighty Boosh: Season One
Release Date: July 14, 2009
Own it on DVD
Created by: Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding
Stars: Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding, Michael Fielding, Rich Fulcher, Matt Berry
MPAA Rating: Unrated
“Come with us now on a journey through time and space… to the world of the Mighty Boosh!”
In America, we are used to watching formulaic sitcoms that focus on a group of friends who sit around the same bar/restaurant/coffee shop every week exchanging one-liners.
Luckily, they do things a little differently across the pond. Instead of just listening to focus groups and going with a proven, safe comedic formula, they actually encourage creativity and originality. That’s how a truly unique show like The Mighty Boosh ends up on the air.
The show debuted in England in 2004, but only recently found its way to the U.S. The Cartoon Network just started airing episodes as part of its Adult Swim lineup and today the complete series is available on DVD via BBC America.
The Cartoon Network may sound like an odd fit for a live-action British comedy, but it actually makes sense. For one thing, Adult Swim viewers are already used to seeing surreal comedy thanks to shows like Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Squidbillies and Assy McGee. And, while The Mighty Boosh may not be animated, its outlandish storylines and colorful characters make it feel in many ways like a live-action version of an 80s cartoon (think Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids or Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling).
The Mighty Boosh is the story of two zookeepers, Howard Moon (Julian Barratt) and Vince Noir (Noel Fielding), who work at the rundown Zooniverse. Moon is a jazz-loving aspiring novelist hoping to win the affections of the Head of Reptiles at the zoo, Mrs. Gideon. Unfortunately, Mrs. Gideon is more interested in Noir, the perfectly-coiffed, easy-going “King of the Mods.”
The zoo is owned by Dixon Bainbridge, an adventurer with a huge ego and an impressive mustache. Day to day operations are handled by Bob Fossil, a man so incompetent that he can’t even properly identify the zoo’s various animals (and ends up referring to them as things like “the grey leg-faced man,” “the brown little hand-foot man” and “the hairy Russian carpet guy”). The zoo also employs a shaman named Naboo, who often aids our two heroes with magic.
At the beginning of each of the season one’s eight episodes, Moon and Noir stand in front of a red stage curtain and set up the show, which always involves the two of inadvertently getting involved in some type of wacky adventure. Each episode features an elaborate musical number and a host of strange characters. The show is given an over-the-top visual style, so the props and backgrounds intentionally look cheesy and fake and they make no effort to hide the fact that the zoo animals are people in animal costumes.
Here’s a quick look at the eight episodes in season one:
(Originally aired May 18, 2004)
Fossil uses naked photos of Moon to blackmail the zookeeper into boxing a kangaroo, so Noir must help Moon train for his fight and keep him from getting killed by his deadly opponent.
(Originally aired May 25, 2004)
While searching for Mrs. Gideon’s missing python, Moon and Noir discover Bainbridge’s plan to create mutant animals in order to boost revenue. Moon, in an attempt to impress Mrs. Gideon, sets out on his own to stop Bainbridge.
(Originally aired June 1, 2004)
Bollo the ape is dying, so Fossil convinces Moon to impersonate Bollo in order to fool an investor into believing the ape is just fine. Problems arise when Moon is so convincing that Death mistakes him for the ape and takes him to Monkey Hell.
(Originally aired June 8, 2004)
Moon and Noir head to the Arctic tundra to find the “Egg of Mantumbi,” a rare artifact that Bainbridge has tried in vain to locate. Unfortunately, to acquire the egg, they must confront a deadly ice demon known as Black Frost.
(Originally aired June 15, 2004)
Bainbridge announces plans to tear down the zoo so that he can build a road, so Moon and Noir head off to the Jungle Room in search of the only person who can stop him, Tommy Nookah, the presumed-dead original owner of the Zooniverse.
(Originally aired June 22, 2004)
Moon attempts to become a novelist in order to impress Mrs. Gideon, but the publisher is more interested in acquiring Noir’s story of a bubble gum man named Charlie. Bainbridge throws a party to celebrate Noir’s success, but it quickly becomes clear that he has an ulterior motive.
(Originally aired June 29, 2004)
Moon hasn’t picked up a musical instrument since he sold his soul to The Spirit of Jazz, but Noir convinces him to start playing in Noir’s new electro band, Kraftwork Orange. This decision forces Moon to confront The Spirit of Jazz once and for all.
(Originally aired July 6, 2004)
Ivan, the Russian bear, escapes his cage, so Moon and Noir are tasked with transporting him to The Zoo for Animal Offenders, but Noir’s directions end up getting them lost in the Forest of Death. While searching for a way out of the forest, the two meet a mysterious hitchhiker.
The DVD comes with several worthwhile extras, including audio commentary, a photo gallery and outtakes. But the three best bonus items are two behind-the-scenes featurettes and a feature called “Boosh Music.” The first featurette, “Inside the Zooniverse,” is a standard making-of documentary, but it is worth watching because it shows you how they made the various colorful characters and impressive sets used in the show. “Mighty Boosh: A History” focuses more on how Barratt and Fielding became a comedy team and how The Mighty Boosh evolved from standup to a stage show to a radio series and ultimately a television show. “Boosh Music” is a collection of every single song performed in season one, in case you want to skip directly to a musical number instead of watching the entire episode it is featured in.
All eight episodes are fun and original and the special features provide some insight into how this bizarre series came to be. It’s a quirky show that has a good mix of hysterical dry one-liners and over-the-top cartoonish action. Best of all, it is a refreshing change of pace from the formulaic sitcoms on network television these days. So if you are looking for something different, I highly recommend stocking up on The Mighty Boosh.
Written by Joel Murphy. All three season of The Mighty Boosh are available today on DVD.