If you need a bit of madness as a respite from the madness of modern life, the outrageous, outlandish, hilarious comedy of The Mighty Boosh is highly recommended.
The Mighty Boosh is a comedy ensemble led by Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding. The zookeeper characters of jazz maverick Howard Moon (Barratt) and kings of the mods Vince Noir (Fielding) originated in the 1998 TV sketch-comedy series Unnatural Acts. Also working on that series was troupe member Rich Fulcher, whose character Bob Fossil also first took shape. Vince’s brother Michael, who first played the shaman Naboo in the 2000 stage show Autoboosh, and Dave Brown as Bollo the gorilla, who first appeared in the 2001 radio series The Boosh, rounds out the team.
After stage and radio, the next natural step was television and all three series are now available as two-DVD sets. The first The Mighty Boosh series ran eight episodes, airing on BBC Three in 2004 and in America on Adult Swim in March 2009. Repurposing some material from the radio show, Series 1 is set at the dilapidated Zooniverse.
The first episode, “Killeroo,” lets you know how absolutely wonderfully absurd the whole endeavor is. After beginning like an old television variety program with Howard and Vince talking in front of a red curtain, the episode centers on Howard being blackmailed into boxing a kangaroo because Fossil has nude photos of him. Along the way, Vince, who acts as Howard’s coach, has a drug-induced dream courtesy of magic dust provided by Naboo. The dream is really just an excuse for a bizarre musical number, a recurring feature in all three series.
Other episodes have equally ridiculous plots. “Bollo” has Howard posing as a gorilla to impress a benefactor because Bollo is feeling ill, but the plan backfires when the Grim Reaper shows up and takes him to Monkey Hell. In “Tundra” Howard travels to the Arctic tundra with Vince to prove he is more of a man than adventurer and Zooniverse owner Dixon Bainbridge by retrieving the Egg of Mantumbi. “Hitcher” finds the boys meeting the titular and recurring evil character when they have to take Ivan the Bear to the Zoo for Animal Offenders.
The Special Features are great for fans that want to learn more about the series and the group. “Inside the Zooniverse” is a making-of, “History of the Boosh” is just that, and “Boosh Music” presents the music clips from the series altogether. There are also outtakes and commentaries on four episodes.
Series 2 aired six episodes in 2005 on BBC Three and they followed Series 1 episodes on Adult Swim. In this series, the gang minus Fossil has left the Zooniverse and resides together in an apartment in Dalston, England. Howard and Vince are trying to make it as a band. Naboo has a stronger presence in the plots and Bollo is declared to be his familiar. The Moon becomes a recurring character that offers babbling asides apropos of nothing.
Their adventures continue to be hysterical romps through the writers’ vivid imaginations. When trying to impress two goth girls in “Nanageddon,” Vince brags he’s a warlock. However, when he steals Naboo's tome of black magic, he unintentionally summons the evil demon Nanatoo. On their quest to find “The Fountain of Youth,” Vince and Howard travel to Naboo's home planet Xooberon. They also deal with Yetis and the merman Old Gregg, who has a beam of light where his “mangina” is.
Special Features include the series pilot, which was shot in front of a live audience with certain scenes reused in “Tundra” from Series 1. There’s also “Boosh Publicity” with Barratt and Fielding going around promoting this series; a making-of Series Two; “Boosh Music;” commentary on all six episodes; outtakes; deleted scenes; and “Sweet,” a 2000 film with Barratt and Fielding.
Series 3 aired six episodes in 2007 on BBC Three and has yet to air on Adult Swim, but eagerly awaiting American fans won’t be disappointed by the shenanigans this go-round, such as the Hitcher returning and demanding protection money, Howard being shrunk to microscopic size to destroy a deadly Jazz cell in Vince’s body, and a crack-addicted fox gaining supernatural powers after stealing Naboo’s Shaman juice. The base of operations has expanded as the Nabootique, a second-hand store owned obviously by Naboo becomes a set piece. However, the zany antics and laughs remain the same.
The Special Features should look familiar. There is a making-of Series 3, “Boosh Publicity” finds them making the rounds before this series, “Boosh Music,” deleted scenes, a promo, outtakes, a Boosh 3 trailer, and five audio commentaries. There’s also an Easter egg of Balloo on drums playing Phil Collins.
The Mighty Boosh is one of the most imaginative live-action television series I have ever seen, a Peewee’s Playhouse geared for adults. It even puts many animated series to shame. Its extreme oddness likely won’t be for everyone, but if you find it to be your cup of tea, I envy the joy of discovery and laughter these 20 episodes have to offer as you go with the gang "on a journey through time and space to the world of The Mighty Boosh."