Studio: Severin Films
Starring: Matt Berry, Rich Fulcher
Directed by: Michael Cumming
Running time: 180 Min (episodes)
Release Date: October 11, 2011
Matt Berry (the little man with the big voice from UK cult hits The IT Crowd, The Mighty Boosh and Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace – which is the single greatest show ever to air on television) and Rich Fulcher (Comedian’s Comedian and token abused American in The Mighty Boosh) team up for this bizarro half-hour “sketch show” that defies all convention and most rational explanation. For North American audiences, it’s probably best described as part Tenacious D, part Tim & Eric Awesome Show with the dark lunacy and sexual freedoms of The Kids in the Hall. The framing story features Matt and Rich as alternate versions fo themselves, working as hangmen in the service of the Queen. This job, basically, requires them to casually escort condemned men into a small room, converse blithely whilst bagging his heads and placing the noose, then throwing the lever and cracking wise with the always spectacular Alan Ford (Brick Top from Snatch). These scenes equal a handful of minutes out of the series. Most of the gentlemen executioner’s time is spent in the lush confines of a gentleman’s club, ensconsed in leather wingback, hollering for whiskey while Fulcher rains ‘F’ bombs on the stodgy old brits hanging around in the background. From here, we travel out in weird luminescent hallways to various worlds and non-sequiter situations like Matt’s repeatedly thwarted efforts to purchase silver cowboy boots (everytime he goes into the store, a different clerk beats the ever-loving sh*t out of him); Fulcher consulting himself about his inadequacies in dating; Berry trying to pick up women on the street and being constantly disappointed by the results (I won’t say anymore, as this is one of my very favourite bits and I don’t want to spoil it); Berry and Fulcher as songwriters in a studio setting, consistently finding themselves in altercations with musical legends... so on and so forth. There is also a hilarious bit wherein Fulcher goes through the wrong door in the gentleman’s club and finds himself transported to the 1800’s, where Matt Berry’s lookalike great-great uncle dispenses advice and gorges on Victorian whores. Some of Berry’s Darkplace co-stars show up, namely Richard Ayoade (Moss from The IT Crowd) and Alice Lowe, who does a mean David Bowie.
The whole thing is completely unhinged and inexplicably appealing. While obviously avoiding the repetitious character and tagline driven comedy of shows like Catherine Tate and Little Britain, you will nonetheless find yourself quoting most of the shows lines like some idiot robot with no sense of decorum. You will also, doubtless, find yourself singing the theme song, and its various iterations (all sung by Berry, who also composed all of the background music and actually plays a multitude of instruments in many of the skits). Luckily, this new DVD set comes with a soundtrack CD as well as the DVD. Huzzah!
I will admit that it took me an episode to get into. The first time I sat down to watch it I nearly turned it off because it was so different and so unpredictable that it seemed completely nonsensical. The second time I sat down and turned it on, I was hooked and nearly blew through the entire series in one sitting. Hot damn! Am I glad that I stuck in there, because this is now one of my favourite new (to me) comedy series. It is a wildly offensive, laugh-out-loud funny, exceptionally dark and mean-spirited show with a tiny unbreakable heart-of-gold. That may make no sense, or seem contradictory, but that is the whole point of the show. It’s a shame that general UK audiences didn’t seem to get the joke in time either, as it really didn’t gain its following until after it had been cancelled, but maybe that makes it just that little bit more special.
Crave Factor – 10
F*** you. Whiskaaaaaaay!
1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen on the episodes, which serves perfectly well. This is a mid-level BBC production, so don’t expect anything too spectacular, but for the confined spaces it’s set within, this looks pretty damned good.
Crave Factor – 8
Can I get olive oil on that?
Dolby 2.0 Stereo does the trick in most cases. This is a small-scale sketch show, not a Michael Bay explodaganza. The songs sound crisp and the dialogue is clear, what more do you want?
Crave Factor – 8
No offense, homeboy, but you could be sh*t and not know one end of this bastard from the next... Mrs. Winkleman, however, does!
A fine bevvy of extras round out the set, not the least of which is a Snuff Box CD, featuring most of the songs from the show. Also included are a locations walking tour with Berry and Fulcher, featurettes on the score and the filming of the show, testimonials from big-time comedian fans, outtakes and the interview feature Taking Control Of Your Body, which features the likes of Simon Pegg, Paul Rudd, Noel Fielding and Weird Al Yankovic, along with Berry and Fulcher, all discussing the show, theplayers and the long-lasting effects of overexposure to the Snuff Box.
Crave Factor – 9
Quick! Quick! Quick! Buy your kids a stick! Stick! Stick!
Conclusion and Final Thoughts
Welcome to the amazingly brutal world of art. I am your tour guide, Senior Master Junior Sergeant Rex Botray!