Released by: Severin Films
Released on: October 11, 2011.
Director: Michael Cumming
Cast: Matt Berry, Rich Fulcher
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This short lived six episode British comedy series stars Matt Berry and Rich Fulcher, probably better known to North American audiences for their work on the cult hits The IT Crowd and The Mighty Boosh respectively, as The King Of England’s Executioner and his American right hand man. When they’re not executing people, they spend their days hanging out in ‘The Hangman’s Lounge’ where they more or less get into trouble. They’ll occasionally leave the main area of the lounge to head outside, walk down long white hallways or travel through time, and if that weren’t enough, they’re prone to breaking into musical numbers seemingly at random.
If this all sounds odd, it is, but Goddamn if it isn’t one of the funniest shows this writer has ever seen. Like most good comedy, it isn’t going to appeal to the masses as it’s just too far out there and too prone to general profane nastiness. The comedy here runs pretty dark in spots, so those who are easily offended might take issue however those with a taste for the bizarre and the more original, outside the box style of comedy that can and does exist outside the mainstream TV networks, this is about as good as it gets.
There are running gags spaced throughout the six episodes, the most obvious being a bit in which Berry will meet and woo a good looking lady and get her back to his place only to find out they’re already attached. In one sketch the more dashing and suave Fuller steals his ‘prey’ out from under him and get in her pants first. There are more betrayals than that throughout the series, with one man generally scheming against the other when they’re not working in tandem at their grim occupation. A sketch in which one character’s diary is stolen and then read in front of him and in front of the rest of the men inside the lounge stands out as remarkably funny while the musical numbers, made up of tracks as varied but consistently odd as ‘Rapper With A Baby’ (in which a rapper roams the streets with a baby mounted to his chest) and the fairly self explanatory ‘Fuck Song,’ keep things unpredictable throughout. And that unpredictability is a key factor in what makes this show as surprisingly hilarious as it is. They also manage to work the show’s catchy theme song into many of the musical numbers performed here – you might not notice it at first, but by the time you get to the second or third episode you’ll be listening for it. If you haven’t seen it before you really will not figure out where it’s going next and if you have seen it before, well, you might now where it’s going but you’ll probably never figure out why.
Whether it’s a sketch involving a trip to the past wherein a character goes on an unwitting search for tits or it’s a bit with Charles Manson being asked to fix a coffee maker, the show works on the same level as established classics of bizarre sketch comedy like Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Kids In The Hall and Mr. Show but delves so far into left field that those comparisons, while accurate to an extent, seem unfair. Snuff Box is, quite simply, unlike anything else you’ve probably ever seen.
The six episodes that make up the series are: Rich's Mother / Matt's Diary / Punchline / Oh Brothers / Love Triangle / Wedding
If the show has one flaw it’s that, yeah, there are only six episodes and by the time you’ve made it through them (it’ll take you longer to get through a showing of Star Wars than it will to get through this entire show) you will be wanting more. On the flip side, well, it’s better to burn out than fade away.
There are no major problems here with the 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, though some minor trails pop up from time to time. Detail is acceptable if sometimes soft, colors look nice and black levels are fairly strong. A few minor compression artifacts pop up here and there in the darker scenes but if you’re not looking for them you won’t notice them.
The only audio option is an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track but it gets the job done without any hassles. It would have been nice to see some subtitles included but that didn’t happen. Regardless, the dialogue is well balanced and the musical numbers and songs all sound very good.
The best extra of the many included with this release is an all new thirty-two minute featurette entitled Taking Control of Your Body which is a collection of interviews with Simon Pegg, Paul Rudd, Noel Fielding, Rob Coddry, Rob Schrab, Weird Al Yankovic, and Paul Scheer who wax nostalgic about their love for the show and discuss their appreciation for Matt Berry and Rich Fulcher’s bizarre rand of humor. Also worth checking out are the three episode commentary tracks that include input from Berry, Fulcher and series’ director Michael Cumming. These are as funny as you’d expect them to be and simultaneously interesting and amusing.
Berry and Fuller themselves pop up in the twelve minute Locations Walking Tour which is basically just what it sounds like, the two stars showing us around some of the streets and locations where some of the show was shot. Berry flies solo for the five minute The Score in which he sits in front of the camera and talks about, you guessed it, the score for the series. Inside the Snuff Box Featurette is a solid eighteen minute look behind the scenes of the show while the Testimonials section is fifteen minutes worth of interviews with celebrity fans of the series like the perpetually cool Janene Garofolo and Steve Agee. There are also eight minutes worth of outtakes here, animated menus and episode selection.
Last but not least, Severin have also included a bonus CD of music written for and used in the series – there are twenty three songs included on the disc and while they’re not as funny without the visuals, this is still a pretty awesome inclusion and a nice way to round out an impressive collection of extra features.
The Final Word:
It’s rare to find a show as laugh out loud, piss your pants funny as Snuff Box is, but here it is on DVD with a load of extra features to be enjoyed over and over again. Like many great things, it went before its time but let’s be thankful that it ever made it to TV in the first place. Highly recommended.