I loved The Mighty Boosh series 1. "It's set in a zoo," I used to tell people, as if that was all the information they needed to make an astute, well-informed judgement. Sometimes I would add: "The main characters are zookeepers."
The Mighty Boosh 3 is not set in a zoo but in a second hand shop. It does, however, feature Bob Fossil, the disturbed head zookeeper who does not know the names of any of the animals, and Bollo the gorilla, who no longer acts like a gorilla to any significant extent. To be frank, I would say that the series is all the poorer for not being set in a zoo, principally because the zoo setting was conducive to animal-based characters and counter-conducive to Shoreditch-based characters, of which there are far too many in The Mighty Boosh 3.
In fact, I wonder if The Mighty Boosh 3 is actually set in a Universe where everyone is from Shoreditch. "That's an idiotic notion," you might say. "A far simpler and more obvious explanation would be that it is merely set in Shoreditch." All well and good, but I would have thought that on an average day in Shoreditch you would probably have a far greater number of people who weren't from Shoreditch wandering around, perhaps looking for the way out or writing poems about Brick Lane.
I have several criticisms to make, most of which I formulated in the midst of watching the series on DVD, immediately voicing them out loud to my companion.
"They are rolling out the same characters from the last two series," I said, "but not giving them anything new to do. See: Noel Fielding's Hitcher lingers threateningly, does the shuddering Cockney accent and copiously relieves himself. The Moon turns up twice every episode for a short, surreal monologue. The disembodied Tony Harrison creeps slowly but surely towards his 'This is an outrage' catchphrase."
The second criticism I made, some time later, was this:
"The relationship between Vince and Howard has gone wrong."
"What do you mean?" my companion asked, obligingly.
Vince and Howard are the main characters in The Mighty Boosh. Vince is a vain and pretentious simpleton who is extremely fashion-conscious. Howard is an untrendy jazz enthusiast who sees himself as living 'outside the box', destined for greater things, but is all too often revealed to be shallow and foolish.
I explain that in the first series their relationship was finely balanced. Howard tended to be more frustrated, while Vince tended to exude a more positive attitude. While Vince was more popular and a great deal jammier, Howard was usually the 'leader', the instigator of their various quests and undoubtedly the more intelligent. Vince was 'cool'; Howard was 'hip'. They were both losers because they were both working in a zoo, failing to live up to the image each had of himself. The zoo was what kept them together; outside of the zoo, they had no mutual interests. They hated each other's music.
By the time we get to The Mighty Boosh 3, however, that balance has been distorted. Vince and Howard have now been friends since childhood. They are in a band together, despite their incompatible musical tastes. Vince is no longer a loser but a style icon, loved by everyone. Howard has become the butt of almost every humiliating joke in the series, and his only friend apart from Vince is a blind jazz man. When he makes a nervous speech at his own birthday party, a crowd made up entirely of spider-jeaned Shoreditchers stand and gawp at him, aghast at his uncoolness.
For some reason, none of this clueless mob are mown down with advanced weaponry. Instead, Howard's blind jazz friend has his head lopped off by an angry shaman.
"I hate everyone in this except Howard," my companion said.
Naboo and Bollo are the most featured characters in the series after Howard and Vince. They are fairly pointless. All they do is take drugs and humiliate Howard. This is a shame, because Naboo was one of the best elements of the first series, where he would turn up only occasionally to bestow wisdom and temporary powers upon the hapless protagonists.
The principle joke where Naboo is concerned is that he is supposed to be a mystic shaman but talks like an eleven year old with a slight lisp trying to play the archangel Gabriel in a school nativity play. Unfortunately, this joke no longer functions when Naboo is given too many lines.
You become numb to it.
Well, I certainly did.
The Mighty Boosh 3 is a comedy series. By the time the DVD had finished, however, I had only laughed twice. Once was when Noel Fielding's golden shaman drug dealer briefly discusses spaghetti hoops. I cannot for the life of me remember the second occasion.
In the extras on the series 1 DVD, there is footage of a signing session with the stars of The Mighty Boosh. One fan is shown in a very excitable mood. He moves like he's accidentally stepped in a puddle of electrified water.
"By God, it is the best, funniest series ever, ever, ever," he tells Noel Fielding, who plays Vince.
Noel Fielding looks slightly scared, but must have since come to the fan's point of view. The Mighty Boosh 3 is surely a series for people who think the Boosh can do no wrong. Or else it has somehow become taken over - possessed, if you will - by the editor of the NME and other depressingly trendy types, perhaps wielding Fielding as their human puppet. What other explanation is there for Vince's newfound social invulnerability and the gratuitous cameo appearance of pastier-than-thou indie band The Horrors?
What other explanation is there for anything?