Judge Dave Ryan is a woman in the prime of her life who needs love-squeezins!
Bouncy bouncy, ooh such a good time!
English comedians Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding formed the comedy troupe The Mighty Boosh in 1998, performing an eponymous show at Edinburgh's famous Fringe festival. Since then, the pair have produced multiple live stage shows, a BBC radio show, a book, and three seasons of a Boosh TV series. The series—also entitled The Mighty Boosh—was recently brought to America by Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block, its bizarreness unleashed upon an unsuspecting (and very probably stoned) mostly college-aged, predominantly male viewership. Seeing an opportunity, the BBC has produced Region 1 versions of the previously-released DVD sets of the show, which are now available to blow your mind. This, then, is Season Three of The Mighty Boosh, presented for your consumption in all its awesomeness.
But man is it weird…
Facts of the Case
Season Three finds Howard Moon (Julian Barratt) and Vince Noir (Noel Fielding) still living in the Dalston flat—but they're now working downstairs at the Nabootique, a curiosity shop run by their shaman friend Naboo (Michael Fielding) and his gorilla familiar Bollo (Dave Brown). This two-disc set has all six of their third season adventures, as follows:
• "Journey to the Centre of the Punk"
• "The Power of the Crimp"
• "The Strange Tale of the Crack Fox"
• "The Chokes"
The Mighty Boosh really defies description. It's a really weird show—I mean really weird, even by Adult Swim standards—yet I can't stop watching it. It requires the viewer to pay really close attention (and almost forces you into repeated viewings) just to understand it. Its humor is profoundly intelligent and profoundly stupid, usually simultaneously. And the more I watch it, the more I want to watch more of it. I guess it's English video comedy crack.
Season Three (Series Three in BBC nomenclature) is the most fully realized of the Boosh seasons. Season One felt a bit claustrophobic, limited as it was to the zoo and its environs. Season Two, although more aggressive in its humor, was ultimately disjointed, each show seeming like its own comedic island rather than part of a greater whole. Season Three gets it just right. The Nabootique gives the show a convenient and consistent jumping-off place for the narratives, one that feels more open than the zoo did. It's also the best-looking of the three Boosh seasons, which is ironic since this season had the smallest production budget. Season Three has the best acting by Barratt and Fielding, too—at this point, they really understand the characters and how they relate to each other. A number of the popular side characters introduced in Season Two—the Shaman Council, most notably—return in Season Three, often with more significant roles. Finally, Rich Fulcher is once again given a great deal of comedic leeway in creating new characters, as he was in Season Two, but does get to bring good old Bob Fossil back too. All in all, it's a cavalcade of Booshy goodness.
That, however, is also why this season is the absolute wrong place to begin if you've never experienced the Boosh. While it's the best season, it's also the most impenetrable, if you don't have any prior exposure to the show. So of course this was the season Adult Swim chose to air when it brought The Mighty Boosh across the pond. Go figure. In any event, you, fair DVD purchaser/renter, have the option of choosing to start wherever you want. Although the first season is definitely weaker than Seasons Two and Three, I'd strongly suggest starting there. You can pick up the show here, at the end (for now)—like I did originally—but you'll be awfully confused. Entertained, but confused.
Technically, this two-disc set is fantastic. With six half-hour (give or take) episodes spread over two discs, there's plenty of room available for the video files—which means very light compression and a beautiful, crisp, colorful picture. It's one of the better SD discs I've seen from a picture quality standpoint. There are a good number of extras included, all of which are worthwhile for fans of the Boosh. The two main featurettes—a behind-the-scenes view of the filming of this season, and a selection of some of the promotional appearances Barrett and Fielding made to promote the season—are not only stylishly shot and edited, they're really interesting glimpses into the dynamic between these two very different men (Howard and Vince are basically exaggerated versions of Barratt and Fielding themselves). What becomes apparent is that the key to their partnership is that despite their differences (Barratt is somewhat reserved and publicity-shy; Fielding is highly outgoing and loves the spotlight), at the end of the day they really enjoy entertain each other. The best of the rest of the extras is a terminally clever video for the English techno band Mint Royale that features Fielding and Barratt. There are also commentary tracks—more on them below. And yes, there are subtitles (English only) you can use if the accents get too thick for you.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
It's a weird show. It's a really weird show. It can be weird in very disturbing and uncomfortable (albeit still funny) ways. It's an acquired taste. Several viewings might be necessary before you start to really "get" the show. In that sense, it's a lot like The Kids in the Hall—if you get it, you love it and immerse yourself in it; but if you don't, it's just a bunch of damn freaks. Some of the accents are pretty thick, and we Americans probably lose something by not recognizing their regional diversity.
Also—remember how I mentioned that Fielding and Barratt seem to really enjoy entertaining each other? Well…that's what the commentaries are. Fielding and Barratt entertaining each other. (Fulcher is also on the tracks—he's even less serious.) At one point, Barratt notes that commentaries are supposed to be useful…but that falls on deaf ears. It's not a terrible set of commentaries (they do point out some interesting production notes, like how a particularly hot redhead is in virtually every shot of an episode because "the director fancied her"), but it makes you feel a little like you're interrupting someone else's conversation.
Did I mention that the show is really, really weird, too?
If the rumors of an impending "breakup" of Fielding and Barratt are true, then this set of Boosh will be a fitting finale, conclusively proving that they left while they were still at the top of their game. But let's hope they come back for more. In any event, this show and this Season Three set are both highly recommended. But still very, very weird…
This is an outrage! Not guilty!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: BBC Video
• Episode Commentaries
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