Showing posts with label Mighty Boosh. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mighty Boosh. Show all posts

Saturday, 14 February 2009

How To Tell When A Relationship Is Over [Short Film Saturday]

Yes, this counts as a Valentine's Day special in my twisted mind. The Mighty Boosh's Julian Barrett stars in a 90-second comedy from writer-director Tony Roche, entitled "How To Tell When A Relationship Is Over", about a couple who decide to split in 15 different ways. Enjoy!

* Have you seen, or made, a short film you'd like featured on Short Film Saturday?
If so, please e-mail me the details, including an embeddable video-link. *

Friday, 15 February 2008

RANDOM ROUNDUP: Film & TV News

Sometimes it's a little unwieldy to blog about everything that catches my eye in the week, so I thought I'd just throw it all together on Friday. Hopefully there's some news here you didn't already know about...

Phoo Action; yep, the awful BBC Three pilot, based on a comic strip, has been picked up for a 6-episode series by the newly re-branded digital station...

Ashes To Ashes star Philip Glenister is currently filming a modern-day vampire series for ITV (working title The Last Van Helsing), as an American who trains his godson to fight undead creatures…

Plans are afoot for Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding to write and star in a movie version of their Mighty Boosh TV series…

The beleaguered Bionic Woman has been cancelled in the US after 9 episodes, while Chuck and Heroes have had new seasons ordered…

Hit reality series Dragons' Den is being remade in the US (for the second time, after a failed attempt years ago), where it will be known as Shark Tank

The Star Trek prequel movie has been pushed back to summer 2009 from its intended Christmas 2008 release, with speculation that director J. J Abrams pushed for the delay so he can improve the script now the writers' strike has finished in the US…

Screen legend Al Pacino is rumoured to have a cameo in the new Bond film Quantum Of Solace, as the head of a villainous organization…

Five are planning to remake classic ITV series Minder, with Shane Richie rumoured to be a contender for the Arthur Daley role made famous by George Cole…

Joel Surnow, the co-creator of 24, has quit the top-rated thriller. The seventh season has filmed 8 episodes, but was a major casualty of the WGA strike, so won't be able to return until early-2009…

Lost producer Carlton Cuse confirmed that the production will try to produce 5 more episodes of the show's fourth season, bringing the total up to a strike-shortened 13 of the intended 16. However, there will probably be a month's break in transmission between episodes 8 and 9.

The Knight Rider pilot airs Sunday (17 Feb) in the US, with Val Kilmer replacing Will Arnett as the voice of supercar KITT, after Arnett had to leave the project because General Motors (who he provides voice-overs for in their adverts) weren't happy with the fact KITT is a Ford Mustang in the new series.

Friday, 21 December 2007

THE MIGHTY BOOSH 3.6 – "The Chokes"

Writers: Julian Barrett & Noel Fielding
Director: Paul King

Cast: Julian Barrett (Howard Moon/Jurgen Haabemaaster), Noel Fielding (Vince Noir/Montgomery Flange), Michael Fielding (Naboo), Dave Brown (Bollo) & Rich Fulcher (Bob Fossil)

Howard takes acting lessons so he can perform with Vince at the Velvet Onion, just to impress a Danish filmmaking legend in the audience...

The disappointing third series of The Mighty Boosh drags to its conclusion with The Chokes, another slapdash adventure that doesn't go anywhere particularly interesting or inventive. Indeed, the whole series has been frustratingly tied to the Nabootique and local surroundings, making you yearn for the days when the Boosh boys would genuinely take you on unpredictable adventures. This year? It's all been a bit flat.

Vince (Noel Fielding) hopes to join hip band The Black Tubes, but first has to prove he can get into some drainpipe trousers. The band are due to play at The Velvet Onion club, which prompts Howard (Julian Barratt) to consider performing as an actor, despite having a debilitating case of stage fright (known as "the chokes"). The majority of the episode is based around Howard trying to beat his phobia with the help of acting coach Montgomery Flange (Fielding again), to impress Danish director Jurgen Haabemaaster, who will be in the audience.

The best thing about this episode is the pitch-perfect parody of experimental cinema, in a little piece by Haabemaaster called "The Doctor And The Pencil" from 1972. Montgomery Flange is also quite engaging, if only because he's not quite as ridiculously unbelievable as stereotypical Boosh characters. The scene when Howard is being taught in Flange's "acting dojo" is nicely done and pretty funny.

But, everywhere else, The Chokes is just messy. There's some nonsense about rival actor Sammy The Crab (an actual crustacean) that doesn't seem to really fit in, while Vince's subplot about joining the band is pretty much abandoned until the final few minutes. The Boosh are often guilty of overloading episodes with too much nuttiness, to distract you from the lack of an actual story, but The Chokes is particularly dumb.

There are some smiles to be had from the stage acts on the bill ("The Umpire Of Folk" and "The Blue McEnroe Group"), but these are just throwaway gags in a sea of meandering pap. It's a shame, because Jurgen Haabemaaster promised to be more fun than he was, and earlier moments seemed to indicate this episode would have a stronger plot than usual. But it turned out to be just another example of The Mighty Boosh on autopilot, riffing on a vague idea about conquering stage fright, and throwing in a talking crab for good measure.

By the end, everything is back to the status quo and most fans will be glad to see the back of the Nabootique shop and its restricting influence on the Boosh. If the series does return for a fourth series (and, let's face it, it's still BBC Three's best show -- which isn't saying much), then I hope writers Barratt and Fielding realize they need to take viewers on fun adventures, because smaller-scale character-based comedy isn't their forte... it just shows up their limitations.


20 December 2007
BBC Three, 10.30 pm

Saturday, 15 December 2007

THE MIGHTY BOOSH 3.5 – "Party"

Writers: Julian Barratt & Noel Fielding
Director: Paul King

Cast: Julian Barratt (Howard Moon/Head Of The Shaman Board), Noel Fielding (Vince Noir/Tony Harrison/The Moon), Richard Ayoade (Saboo), Rich Fulcher (Lester Corncrake/Bob Fossil), Dave Brown (Bollo) & Michael Fielding (Naboo)

Howard reluctantly agrees Vince can throw him a birthday party, which quickly turns into a disaster…

Am I the only one disappointed with this new series? It seems to lack the zany energy of previous years, and hasn't been particularly imaginative. The Mighty Boosh TV series is often described as being "two friends who go on magical journeys" but, beyond the excellent Journey To The Centre Of The Punk, series 3 has remained frustratingly tied to the Nabootique shop.

Party is the penultimate episode and suffers from the same claustrophobia, as the entire episode takes place inside the shop. Vince (Noel Fielding) convinces boring Howard (Julian Barratt) to let him throw a birthday party, officially to make up for a childhood mix-up over a bouncy castle, but unofficially just to impress his other friends and have some fun.

Howard agrees to the party, but only because a sexy customer says she's going and he fancies his chances – not realizing she's a fake set-up by Vince to change his mind.

After a typically slow start, the episode begins to hit a stride once the party is in full swing and a host of crazy characters fill up the dance floor; from goofy Lester Corncrake and Bob Fossil (Rich Fulcher) to the bizarre Shaman Board -- led by Dennis (Julian Barratt), who has given up the chance to spend time with his Extreme Sports calendar model wife to be there…

By this stage, I was a little depressed that everything was again focused on one location, with the same supporting characters. As much as I like Bob Fossil and cockney squid-head Tony Harrison ("it's an outrage"), I'd rather the show explore new locations and introduce new people. We even get a reprise appearance of Chris DeBurgh...

Fortunately, the laughs and plot kick in once Howard make a woefully unfunny speech -- eliciting only blank stares, until Vince makes his grandiose entrance. As ever, the plot is twisted to fit in the final third, with Vince caught in a cupboard with Dennis' model wife and chased around the shop by the sword-wielding shaman.

More interesting is a moment when Vince scoffs at Howard's belief he could ever be considered gay, which is returned to later when the pair have to kiss each other so Vince can escape decapitation by jealous Dennis. The moment gives virgin Howard has an epiphany – that he is gay and madly in love with Vince after all these years, which explains the tension in their friendship. Sure, it all fizzles out in a matter of minutes once two pretty women appear, but it was the episode's most compelling few minutes.

Overall, Party takes its time to get moving, but the last 15 minutes are quite strong and there are some memorable moments – such as Naboo (Michael Fiedling) revealing he has no genitals, a brilliant "Spin The Bottle" gag, and a closing moment with Tony Harrison shagging the chopped-off head of Lester Corncrake.

But, try as I might, I still think this series has been less than stellar. I've also never rated most of the Boosh's comedy songs (with a bouncy castle ditty here being particularly inane), and series 3 is generally very restrained if compared to series 1 and 2. The sense of freewheeling craziness and adventuring has taken a backseat... to be replaced with kooky banter, a few fun visuals and a fondness for bringing back old faces.

The show's playing around in safe territory and, sadly, it's too late to fix it...


13 December 2007
BBC Three, 10.30 pm

Friday, 7 December 2007

THE MIGHTY BOOSH 3.4 – "The Strange Tale Of The Crack Fox"

Writers: Julian Barratt & Noel Fielding
Director: Paul King

Cast: Julian Barratt (Howard Moon/The Crack Fox/Head Of The Shaman Board), Noel Fielding (Vince Noir/The Moon/Tony Harrison), Richard Ayoade (Saboo), Michael Fielding (Naboo) & Dave Brown (Bollo)

After Vince is left to put the rubbish out, a creepy fox tricks himself into the shop and steals some of Naboo's Shaman Juice...

The stream-of-consciousness style of The Mighty Boosh is sometimes a bit too loose for its own good. This episode appears to be about some Shaman Juice Naboo (Michael Fielding) procures, but then seems poised to give us a skewed look a the subculture of bin men, but ultimately decides to jumble everything together with a story about a malevolent "Crack Fox".

The Crack Fox (an unrecognizable Julian Barratt) is the episode's saving grace; a grotty little puppet with a human head, syringes for fingers, sinister laugh, and vile flatulence. Vince (Noel Fielding) finds the Fox deep inside a mountain of bin-bags he's accumulated outside the Nabootique shop, and the little rascal tricks his way indoors and steals Naboo's powerful Shaman Juice...

Naboo and Bollo (Dave Brown) are summarily imprisoned by the Shaman Council and put on their version of Death Row, meaning Vince and Howard (Julian Barratt) must track the nasty Crack Fox to his sewer lair, before he drinks the magic Juice beneath a Full Moon...

The Strange Tale Of The Crack Fox is just as bonkers as you'd expect from the show, but it's more a hotchpotch of ideas than any purposeful tip into weirdness. The best Boosh stories offer some strange method to its madness, but it seems that Fielding and Barratt just liked the Crack Fox character and spend 30-minutes trying to justify his existence.

The return of the oddball Shamans is a bit lame (as they're not particularly funny), although head-squid Tony Harrison (Noel Fielding) is good for a chuckle, while the last-minute introduction of a homeless man to instigate a climactic punch-up with the Fox doesn't really work...

Like I said, it's stream-of-consciousness comedy: a surreal riff that doesn't really work, but contains enough good moments to make it enjoyable: the talking "Plan Pony", fox porn, Kirk ("he's off his tits!") and a brilliant moment when two women in the shop are possessed by an imprisoned Naboo.

It's very hit-and-miss, although the imagination keeps it bubbling along and it definitely improves after a slow start. The Crack Fox himself is a memorable creation and causes a genuine chill when it stares down the lens of the camera at the viewers.

But, without much cohesion and too many distractions in the storyline, The Strange Tale Of The Crack Fox is a fun, but very messy, exercise in lunacy.


6 December 2007
BBC Three, 10.30 pm

Friday, 30 November 2007

THE MIGHTY BOOSH 3.3 – "The Power Of The Crimp"

Writers: Julian Barratt & Noel Fielding
Director: Paul King

Cast: Julian Barratt (Howard Moon), Noel Fielding (Vince Noir/The Moon), Rich Fulcher (Bob Fossil), Lance Dior (Tom Meeton), Harold Boom (Simon Farmaby), Michael Fielding (Naboo), Dave Brown (Bollo) & Gary Numan (Himself)

Howard and Vince are distressed to find a pair of men shamelessly copying their fashion styles, musical tastes and personalities...

After the expensive imaginings of last week, The Mighty Boosh comes down with a bump with their version of a "bottle show", restricting itself to the main standing sets and using a more simplistic idea.

Vince (Noel Fielding) is uncharacteristically depressed by the emergence of a copycat, Lance Dior (Tom Meeton), who's ripping off his fashion style and idiosyncrasies. Howard (Julian Barratt) isn't too bothered by Vince's predicament, until Lance introduces him to his friend Harold Boom (Simon Farnaby), his own doppelganger...

With their unique identities threatened by The Flighty Zeus, The Mighty Boosh decide to prove who are the real trend-setters by competing musically with Lance and Harold at The Velvet Onion club, run by Bob Fossil (Rich Fulcher).

The comic idea of doppelgangers isn’t anything new, but it plays well into the show's oddball style. Meeton and Farnaby do a great job as the Boosh doubles, becoming quite irritating and creepy in their never-explained desire to be just like Vince and Howard.

It's also nice to see Howard and Vince united in a goal for once -- with the threat of a common enemy making them work together. Having them bicker and irritate each other is undoubtedly the comedy spark of the characters, but it's nice to be reminded that they're best friends deep down.

Bob Fossil's return to the show (as manager of The Velvet Onion) is also very welcome, as actor Rich Fulcher's American weirdo is one of the show's best creations. The moment when it's revealed his mom thinks he's a captured POW in Vietnam, and has to fake a phone call to her, is clear evidence of this.

However, The Power Of The Crimp lacks imagination and storytelling strength. The idea is simple and isn't taken anywhere new, leaving the episode quite empty and tedious. Only a smattering of bizarre visuals (voodoo tennis player, World War II transsexual, Bollywood lollipop man) and amusing gags (Howard's boring pencil case anecdote), help prop up the weak story.

But diversions such as the animated "Peacock & The Magpie" fable and musical interlude "It's What's Inside That Counts" badly misfire.

The episode culminates in a "crimp-off" at the Onion club, with the rival bands both crimping for superiority. For the uninitiated, "crimping" is the name now given to that weird singing/talking musical style often used by Howard and Vince on the show.

Overall, this episode is obviously one of the weaker Boosh outings, crippled by a humdrum story and not featuring enough memorable moments for it to stick in the memory. It's still entertaining and contains some funny stuff here-and-there, but it's too restrained and uninspired by Boosh standards.

Mind you, the closing Moon gag was funny, and any episode with a neat cameo from 80s popstar Gary Numan deserves some respect...


29 November 2007
BBC Three, 10.30 pm

Friday, 23 November 2007

THE MIGHTY BOOSH 3.2 – "Journey To The Centre Of The Punk"

Writers: Julian Barratt & Noel Fielding
Director: Paul King

Cast: Julian Barratt (Howard Moon), Noel Fielding (Vince Noir/The Moon/Howlin' Jimmy Jefferson/The Brain Cell), Michael Fielding (Naboo), Dave Brown (Bollo) & Rich Fulcher (Lester Corncrake)

Vince rebelliously bites a rare jazz record owned by Howard, to impress his new punk mates, therefore allowing a "Jazz Beast" to take over his body…

The main thing I love about The Mighty Boosh is their unfettered imagination, which means every episode has the potential to transport you to anywhere and anywhen you can envisage. It doesn't even matter about budget constraints, because any sub-par effects only add to the show's quirky charm.

Journey To The Centre Of The Punk basically recycles the classic Fantastic Voyage premise about injecting microscopic people into a sick person's body to cure them from within...

After Vince (Noel Fielding) eats a chunk of a rare jazz record, owned by Howard (Julian Barratt), in a bid to impress his new punk mates, little does he know that the vinyl was impregnated with the blood of legendary jazz musician Howlin' Jimmy Jefferson (Fielding again). It's not long before Vince is singing scat-style during a punk gig at "The Velvet Onion" club, his body being controlled by the "Jazz Beast" inside his bloodstream.

Fortunately, Naboo has a plan to shrink Howard and his blind jazz companion Lester Corncrake (Rich Fulcher) into a tiny submarine, then inject them into Vince's body so they can kill the Jazz Beast with some Anti-Jazz solution...

There follows a fun microscopic adventure inside Vince's body -- nicely realized on a TV budget; red blood cells with the face of Noel Fielding, and an ink-blot style Jazz Beast floating around, assimilating cells and attacking Howard's sub...

While the premise has been a staple of science fiction and parody for decades (Futurama did it a few years back, too), Journey To The Centre Of The Punk is an enjoyable mix of broad humour (throwing spanners into the face of a blind man), silliness ("scat" language), and a Charlie Kaufman-style meta-world (male/female Vince clones populate his body's cells and "Brain Room").

After a confident build-up to the biological mission (introducing us to neat-freak Howard's "Stationery Village") – and the fun trip around Vince's body that mixes Innerspace with The Life Aquatic -- the episode slightly runs out of steam in the last 5 minutes.

The Jazz Beast's Star Wars-inspired revelation to Howard was cute for its protracted silliness, but it's too old-hat to be funny over 20 years later. The mad scramble for resolution was also a bit unfortunate after a leisurely-paced first-half, although the Jazz Beast's slaying of the punks with his dreadlocks, and his comeuppance via a dirty safety pink was neat.

As with most of The Mighty Boosh's output -- it's imaginative, good, clean, zany fun, performed by likable actors and provides a welcome diversion of madness. Nobody else is doing psychedelic oddball comedy, and they've carved out a niche in the market.

I tend to prefer Boosh storylines with more originality (not simple parody), but to see a live-action Fantastic Voyage parody is undeniably entertaining whoever is doing it.


22 November 2007
BBC Three, 10.30 pm

Saturday, 17 November 2007

THE MIGHTY BOOSH 3.1 - "Eels"

Writers: Julian Barratt & Noel Fielding
Director: Paul King

Cast: Julian Barratt (Howard Moon/Head Of The Shaman Board), Noel Fielding (Vince Noir/Tony Harrison/The Hitcher/The Moon), Richard Ayoade (Saboo), Rich Fulcher (Elanor), Anthony Rossomando (Pete Neon), Dave Brown (Bollo) & Michael Fielding (Naboo)

Howard and Vince are now running a shop and Howard needs to find protection money to keep cockney villain The Hitcher happy...

I always dread the third year of a homegrown comedy series. If the first season was a success, the second year either continues that quality, or exceeds expectations because of increased confidence. But then, a third season looms, and the demand to maintain a high quality either causes everything to collapse under the strain, or prompts a misguided attempt to revamp the show. This fear is why The Office closed for business just when it broke into the mainstream.

Of course, there are lots of exceptions to this loose "third year rule" in British comedy, but it does hold particularly true for sitcoms with a more unique approach to humour -- who can forget The League Of Gentlemen's brave, but foolhardy decision to fix what wasn't broken for their disappointing third year?

The Mighty Boosh is similarly poised to fail, following a popular 2001 radio series, two hit seasons on TV since 2004, and a handful of stage shows since 1998. However, judged purely on quantity of output, there seems to be plenty of mileage in the Boosh's comic style, so perhaps its creators know how to avoid things like "third-year banana skins"...

Boosh masterminds Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding have once again chosen to lightly "revamp" their show by moving their characters to a different location. Series 1 was set in a zoo, series 2 a more conventional house, and now series 3 whisks us to the Nabootique second-hand shop...

Eels finds Howard (Barratt) and Vince (Fielding) running the shop for diminutive shaman Naboo (Michael Fielding), who leaves in the opening moments with his gorilla Bollo (Dave Brown) to attend a stag night for the Head Of The Shaman Board (Barratt) -- via a magic carpet carrying a crazy characters that include a pink tentacled head called Tony Harrison (Fielding). But, wait -- it gets even crazier...

Back at the shop, Vince begins to make a fortune using his "Indie Celebrity Radar", which can tell customers the whereabouts of certain tagged celebs, while Howard toils away trying to sell an unpopular elbow patch collection. Later, with Vince frittering away his profits elsewhere, popular Boosh villain The Hitcher (a cross between The Wizard Of Oz's Wicked Witch and Oliver's Fagin) arrives on the scene, and demands protection money from Howard -- or face the wrath of Elsie Queen of Eels...

If you're new to The Mighty Boosh, you're probably now wrinkling your nose and wondering if you're reading things properly. But don't worry; craziness is the name of the game with Barratt and Fielding's comedy brand. The show is joyously in love with its bonkers style and oddball characters, although at heart it's just the classic odd couple set-up -- with hip, stylish, bohemian Vince constantly at loggerheads with awkward, cynical, insecure Howard.

The opening episode was confident and immediately got down to business, by swiftly establishing the new setting and ensuring there were genuinely funny ideas mixed in with the more obvious mad visuals. Unfortunately, a reliance on past glories (particularly the return of The Hitcher), and a wasted shaman stag-night subplot, dragged everything down from being particularly fresh and exciting. It was consistently amusing and there was a cohesion to most of the plot-points (however loose), but it never quite flew into inspired realms.

For me, The Mighty Boosh works best when its flights of fancy have the back-up of an interesting story that's focused on the main characters -- so perhaps that's why Eels click entirely for me. Actually, for a big chunk of the episode, Vince and Howard were separated and the thrust of the story became a little weak as a result. That said, The Mighty Boosh refuses to be predictable, which always helps keep your attention, and the production values of the series constantly impress...

Indeed, along with the aforementioned League Of Gentlemen, The Mighty Boosh have managed to concoct an entire comedy universe to play around in. The sets are wonderful, and the mix of special effects and lighting really brings a sense of "unreality" to proceedings. Visually, I always enjoy seeing Barratt and Fieldings' imaginations brought to life on-screen, and there's a vibrancy about the production in general, courtesy of director Paul King.

Overall, Eels was a confident start to season 3, although future episodes will hopefully branch out into new territory without feeling the need to drag back old favourites (save that for the live shows, guys.) So if you like your comedy unpretentious, imaginative and incredibly zany, you'll love The Mighty Boosh and should check out their past work as an appetizer for this new run of episodes.

But of course, if you're already obsessed with all things Boosh, you'll need no encouragement: the craziest sitcom around is back.


15 November 2007
BBC Three, 10.30 pm