In this Funkhouser installment, I rummage through a hodgepodge of television shows and films, some of which are so obscure, you might be discovering them for the first time, others, simply forgotten about, several possibly mothballed and finally a few that just vanished into the ether altogether. This is Lost and Found: Episode 2.
Imagine it’s 1985, you’re a ten year old latchkey-kid, bored, but apprehensively anticipating the arrival of your parents, knowing that means you’ll be forced to confront the brutal reality that is–your unfinished homework, and the school project you should’ve started a week ago. As your Cheetos-stained fingers mash the buttons of your tv remote, your caffeinated eyes constantly search the channels (your parents still haven’t sprung for Cinemax or HBO, but you’ll keep searching–you’ll always be searching) for something exciting enough to hold your attention. While you’re always up to watch music videos, including your personal favorite, David Lee Roth’s “California Girls” on MTV for the hundredth time, something new and strange flashes across the 27″ screen of your Sony Trinitron television, and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before in your young, impressionable, little life.
Fast forward to just last month when those much older, now Grippos stained fingers, searching for something to watch, suddenly find the very same show that captured your imagination so many years earlier, streaming on Hulu, and all the feels and laughs come rushing back.
The Young Ones, is a punkish and raw, Britcom, which lasted only two seasons. First airing on BBC Two in the UK in 1982, the show eventually made its way across the pond in 1985, running on a variety of US networks including: MTV, USA Network and PBS –that channel that broadcasts that popular zombie show, Downton Abbey. If you’re into 80’s anti-Thatcher political satire, then The Young Ones is the show for you. If you have no idea who or what a Thatcher is, or simply don’t care, not to fret, there’s a lot more to appreciate in the series. At its core, The Young Ones is an outrageous and utterly brilliant, alternative comedy sitcom, brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible. It has a number of abiding qualities, namely its impeccable writing, courtesy of the late legendary comedian, Rik Mayall, Lise Mayer, Alexei Sayle and Ben Elton, whose credits also include: Blackadder, Mr. Bean and The Man from Auntie. Likewise, the show’s characters, a foursome of complete misfits, give the show a real and palpable anarchic energy. Notably, the show features a number of live musical acts which serve as overlays between filmed segments, including some notable 80’s bands such as: Madness, Dexys Midnight Runners, Nine Below Zero, ‘memba them?!? And my own personal favorite performance by MotÃ¶rhead, which is featured in one of the funniest episodes, called “Bambi” below.
Young Ones–Episode 7: “Bambi”
The Young Ones was shot in front of a studio audience, therefore the laughs you hear are authentic, a direct reaction to the comedic timing and delivery of its actors and the widely spontaneous gags that were frequent in the show. Genesis of the show and its characters grew out of the alternative, improvisational comedy movement of the late 70’s and early 80’s much like The Groundlings of today. Primarily set in a student housing apartment, the series follows the lives of four flatmates living in complete squalor, while attending the aptly-titled Scumbag College. The main cast includes: Vyvyan Basterd, played by Ade Edmondson, an unpredictable and oftentimes volatile, punk-rocker, complete with spiky, ginger-hair and four metal stars permanently affixed to his forehead, Rick, an anti-government, narcissistic poet with a speech impediment, portrayed by the late Rik Mayall, Neil, a long-haired, monotoned, depressed hippie, played by Nigel Planer, and lastly, Mike, the older “cool guy” with a penchant for snappy clothes and straight man of the bunch, played by Christopher Ryan. In addition to the primary players, The Young Ones features non-humans as well, such as: humping teddybears (seen below), Vyvyan’s pet, a savage looking hamster with a Scottish accent, named SPG, along with talking vegetables, rats, and other non-sentient items including a chatty bannister.
The Young Ones–Episode 9: “Nasty”
Unfortunately, as of last week, the show is no longer available on Hulu–Bollocks to that! Although, you can find it on DVD, the comedy-centric streaming service, Seeso, along with YouTube and Daily motion. While the show might not be for everyone, it’s considered by many Britophiles to be one of the greatest sitcoms ever made. Regardless, its non-sequitor plotlines, The Young Ones, combines the silliness and surrealness of Monty Python along with the slapstick humor of The Three Stooges, only more violent, making it a program you can pick up Ã la carte or easily find yourself binge-watching from start to finish.