Adam Buxton is one of my favourite human beings and it’s always frustrated that since The Adam and Joe Show he hasn’t found the fame he deserves despite creating content for the radio and online which is enormously funnier than the majority of British tv. At least he’s widely admired by many and still pops up on tv on occasion, though his much missed Bug series really should have been given more than one series by Sky considering much of the rest of their output. If you haven’t heard it yet his current podcast where he interviews various entertaining individuals is an absolute delight, and I really hope it transfers to tv which is sorely missing an in-depth chat show right now.
Back in 2008 he created the pilot MeeBOX for BBC Three and like the same channel’s Biffovision it’s incredibly frustrating it wasn’t picked up for a whole series. Based around the idea that the show is set on a youtube-esque video hosting site we’re presented with various sketches, spoof pop videos, fake tv clips and animations and it’s impressively innovative material. Amongst the various sketches “Famous Guy” is my favourite, where a supposedly well known Hollywood actor is interviewed about his films and we see a couple of clips of “They Crashed From Space There”, where he explains “It’s exciting. Do you like crashing and spaces? It’s got those.” I could watch a whole series based around this character alone, his daft arrogant ways are very funny stuff and Buxton lampoons the egotistical idiocy of many a Hollywood actor, with one sketch pointedly mocking the behaviour of Russell Crowe types as Famous Guy talks about a make up lady who tried to sue him for abusive verbal behaviour which ends with him admitting “I made it all good, I sent her a really nice…money”.
Adam’s sadly recently deceased father was a regular feature of The Adam And Joe Show and he makes a return here with “Baaaddad’s Clichéd Memories of Punk” – his stern and straight discussions of the subject works because he’s the exact opposite of the people who normally talk about punk, and both his declaration that “Oh Malcolm (McLaren) was just a bloody wanker, everybody knew it” and the claims that Billie and Scooch were both inspired by punk elicited laughter. Vaguely along the same lines there’s also a parody of tedious list shows in the form of “10,000 Things Which Are Sooo Crap” where a group of talking heads (including the incredibly lovely Tony Law and Matt Berry) mock fish and we learn “They are conceited, smug, arrogant and they’re underwater”, and in the best bit Baaaddad refuses to join in, highlighting the stupidity of many of the people who normally take part in such series. That said, I’m broke, so any tv producers reading this looking for such a person please do email me.
Another old favourite to return is Ken Korda who was first seen on Channel Four’s much missed Takeover Tv (which I’ll be covering for the site soon) and here he interviews a young actress called Tina Belcher (and yes, I know, but this was made three years before Bob’s Burgers debuted) who stars in Shooter Close, a deliciously cliched bit of British kitchen sink drama. It allows Buxton to not only send up the pretentious film critics who exist but also the worst of British film drama, and he does so with aplomb, with the latter highlighting the bland grittiness found in far too many such movies. In between the longer sketches there’s brief skits including a clip where mobile phone expert gets his head inflated and deflated, there’s no point to it other than pure silliness. There’s also a segment where Adam gives a fake commentary over some footage of a woman doing sign language, it’s the kind of thing he’s since done more of on youtube and is short and sweet but very funny too and never outstays it’s welcome. Which also applies to a hymn from the BBC’s long running religious show Songs Of Praise that’s given rude subtitles, again it’s something Adam’s also done on youtube since but I’ll never tire of it, especially when you get lyrics like “I want a spa from you as I cook beef” and “There is a nude czar in my mouth” and it’s impossible to ever hear it again without thinking of these altered lyrics. It also knocks the pomposity of such stupid songs, and that can never be a bad thing.
Another great moment in the show is “Today on Xantiar” where Buxton overdubs a BBC news report (and adds some cgi) to make it look like the Queen is on an alien planet that involves her Majesty being attached to a life drone and Prince Phillip with a sentient hat, as do the guards which “keep the heads of the guards smug and warm and in return they suck their brains”, it’s piss taking of the daftness of regal displays is gentle, perhaps, but still admirable and it (rightly) helps make the Royal Family difficult to take seriously, after Famous Guy it was my favourite sketch of the pilot.
Also included completely free of charge (um, unless you pay the licence fee) are a couple of songs including “Sausages” in which Buxton sings a song about the much loved food stuff whilst wearing them as a wig and necklace. And nothing else, though sadly because this is the BBC you don’t get to see his cock and balls. “Sausages, I would like to eat my sausages, but sadly they’re raw” is the lyric I’m fondest of due to it’s all round ridiculousness, but there are many other great ones within the song. Slightly less funny (though still fun) is “Don’t Make me a Target”, Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood provides the music (as he does throughout) and Dr Buckles makes targets out of paper and plays some instruments. As mentioned it’s not the most amusing part but it is strangely engrossing, and the song’s great too, and something I’d happily play out of context. Only one segment didn’t work for me, the alien General Tony who mocks the previous clips in a youtube comments-esque way, not that it’s in any way bad it just didn’t make me smile, and if the series had been commissioned hopefully he would have dropped the character. Then again in Adam Buxton’s Bug he perfected the idea (albeit without the use of General Tony) so I’m probably wrong about this.
Alongside Buxton it also starred Matt Berry, Leah Charles, Jo Neary, Emma Pierson, Nigel Buxton and Tony Law, all of whom are on top form, and given the quality of both the script and cast I genuinely can’t understand why it wasn’t given a full series, other than that whoever was in charge of BBC Three had a terrible sense of humour, if he had one at all. That Russell Howard’s Good News was the only comedy given a full series within a year of MeeBOX airing sadly seems to confirm this, but I suppose we should be grateful we at least got thirty minutes of Buxton’s immense talents.