Last night, Carol and I decided to watch an episode of “The Mighty Boosh,” the British cult TV show, as a way to relax before we went to bed. We put the laptop computer on a chair and settled back on the couch to watch. But although we have access to the most recent episodes, from the third season just now being released in Britain, we decided not to watch them. As happens to too many television series, the characters have now shrunk into crude caricatures of what they originally were.
Carol pointed out that this happened with “Sex and the City”: in the first season, she said you could almost believe that these were real women talking to one another, but as the show progressed they looked more and more like caricatures. We agreed that the same thing happened with “Will and Grace”: in the first couple of seasons, the four lead actors did some wonderful, fresh, spontaneous ensemble acting; but as time went on, the acting got stale, and by the last few seasons the show had become hard to watch. As for “The Mighty Boosh,” by the third season, you can no longer believe that the two lead characters would ever be friends or even spend any time together, and so the whole premise of the show becomes unbelievable. In each case, the characters became what I think of as “TV zombies”: they move around and talk to one another and almost look alive, but inside they are dead and rotting away. John Cleese did the right thing when he pulled the plug on “Fawlty Towers” after only twelve episodes; it would have been almost impossible to keep the characters and their interactions alive and fresh, and what a zombie horror that show could have become had it continued.
So Carol and I watched an episode from the first season of “The Mighty Boosh.” No stink of death then; the old shows remain delightfully free from TV zombies.
There are parallels to preachers here — preachers need to keep reinventing themselves on a regular basis to keep from turning into preaching zombies — but that’s kind of close to home for me, and, not wanting to be tarred with my own brush, I really don’t want to go there right now.