Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Epic British TV Post Part 1 - Noel Fielding

In all the time I've had off "work" recently, I've succumbed to what has been a long campaign waged by my roommate to get me to watch British TV. It has been an epic battle partly because I am, on occasion, stubborn just to be stubborn. Sometimes you have to say "no" so that your "yes" has more meaning.

The major deterrent was my inability to appreciate the British version of the Office. I tried to watch it several times. I clenched my jaw through the first few episodes of the first series (for some odd reason, in the UK a television season is called a series. I suppose it’s classier.) However, the boss on the show made me so uncomfortable I had to stop watching. Had I not, I would have been forced to dig out my eyes and eardrums. So, back to square one which was ignoring British culture.

And then I got bored. And under the constant barrage, I became intrigued.

I relented slowly at first. After being sent numerous clips from Never Mind the Buzzcocks, I developed something of an affinity for a certain guest captain Noel Fielding. He appears in only three episodes (series 21 episodes 2, 3, and 4) and he is hilarious. For the uninitiated, Noel is the dark haired bloke who looks a bit like a British hobgoblin in this clip (which is my favorite of him):

So score one point for NMtB (well, one for Noel Fielding, really). Unfortunately, there is only a limited amount of Noel material available on this show. On the other hand, as you can see, the host of the show is also awesome. His name is Simon Amstell. And, as he pointed out, he has fact based jokes. But I suspect he'd be funny even without an autocue. Like he is here:

That is my second ever favorite clip from NMtB. It's funny! The BBC had to put up a disclaimer!

I digress. So Never Mind the Buzzcocks clearly snowed me. It took a bit to understand how the quiz itself worked since it appears as secondary to the chaos and chatter. As near as I can tell, NMtB is like 10% random British trivia, 10% quiz on aforementioned trivia and 80% British celebs (and sometimes American) screwing around. It's fun when guests take themselves too seriously (like when Preston stormed out). It’s also fun when guests refuse to take themselves seriously as seen here with Josh Groban. Note: on Youtube, all episodes are in three parts.

Thus, I had to grant that Sarah was correct about British TV.

But, despite being entertained by Simon Amstell, something was missing. I missed Noel Fielding and his ridiculously awesome hair. And then I discovered that he was also a contestant on the Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2006 and 2007. With Russell Brand serving as his partner-in-crime (or partner-in-goth-detectiveness, you'll see what I mean). AWESOME! This is a clip from 2007. The really funny bit starts around 2:40. But watch it all! It's worth it.

The Big Fat Quiz of the Year show is not nearly as hard to understand as Never Mind the Buzzcocks. I highly recommend watching the 11 or so parts that comprise each quiz. They’re very funny.

So after watching all of that, I was ready to try out Sarah’s original recommendation: the Mighty Boosh. This is Noel Fielding’s main comedic outlet (yes, we’re back to him, whatever, he’s awesome!). In the Mighty Boosh, Noel and his friend Julian Barrett play friends Vince Noir and Howard Moon and have an Ernie and Bert type of relationship. Clearly, because he's shorter (and more awesome) Noel is Ernie. This clip is from the first series. They used to do intros before the insanity ensued in the zoo (they played zookeepers, then in the second season they inexplicably didn't.)

See, just like Bert and Ernie. Julian/Howard even has a bit of a paperclip fetish in the second season when he builds Stationary Village. I am obsessed with Stationary Village! It’s super cool.

I’m not sure what else to say about the Mighty Boosh. I guess you could compare it to Flight of the Concords if you were so inclined. Like Flight of the Conchords, the Mighty Boosh has a lot of singing. Except they call it “crimping” but it’s basically the characters making up random, spontaneous songs. I like to do that too! Of course, my songs are nowhere near as quality as theirs. All the episodes are online to watch. I recommend because sadly, the Mighty Boosh DVDs are only in region 2 format which means they probably won't work in your DVD player. Alas.

And, in case you haven’t quite had enough Noel Fielding, he appears in a couple of episodes of the IT Crowd (but not in the clip below). Actually, another Mighty Boosh character stars on the IT Crowd as Morris (the poofy haired bloke). I like the IT Crowd because it makes me feel technologically adept. Somewhat, anyway.

Essentially, the show is about the IT department at a major British Corporation. It's staffed by two main geeks and overseen by their computer illiterate lady boss. There's a lot of chaos on this show, too. Here's a clip:

So that basically sums up why British TV is so awesome these days, in my opinion. Almost all of the good stuff can be traced back to Noel Fielding. Hooray. The stuff that can't is probably related to Doctor Who/David Tennant. We will cover that in the next post.

1 comment:

Craig said...

You may enjoy QI, hosted by Stephen Fry (I'm not familiar with NMtB, but your description of it reminds me somewhat of QI). For drama, give Life on Mars a shot (or maybe that will show up in Part 2).