While Hollywood occupies itself with pillaging and rebooting the classic TV of the seventies, eighties and nineties, Julian Barrett (“The Mighty Boosh”) and Simon Farnaby (“Horrible Histories”, “Rogue One”) satirise both both originals and retreads by faithfully homaging a completely fictitious TV show: “Mindhorn”.
Richard Thorncroft (Barrett) is a washed-up, has-been British TV actor. At the height of his fame in the late eighties playing TV detective Mindhorn – blessed with an electronic eye that can literally see the truth – Thorncroft’s ego and high living got the better of him. Insulting the show, it’s Isle of Man Setting and his castmates, he left them all for the bright lights of Hollywood. Twenty-five years later, he’s overweight, balding and eking out a meagre living doing commercials. But when he is called back to help apprehend an Isle Of Man murder suspect who believes Mindhorn is real, Thorncroft senses his chance to turn his life around.
If you’re a fan of “The Mighty Boosh” then you’ll know Barrett is a master of wringing every last drop of comedy and pathos from the lives of self-important but ultimately underwhelming and unfulfilled men, but Thorncroft is more than just a warmed over version of Howard Moon with a jaunty eyepatch. Knowing nods to the antics of the great hellraisers of the past, like Oliver Reed, as well as an acute sense of the idiosyncratic ingredients which elevated ordinary TV shows of the past to pop culture icons make sure that the characters have a rich backdrop against which to play out their silliness. In fact, there’s something so endearingly, authentically naff about the recreated 80s scenes of “Mindhorn” that you almost start believing it was a real TV show and this is the latest trendy ironic reboot.
It may owe something to films like “Galaxy Quest” and it’s not just Steve Coogan’s presence which evokes aspects of “Alan Partridge” but it feels fresh thanks to the likeably daft and mildly grotesque performances of the cast. Its plot may be stretched thinner than Thorncroft’s girdle but “Mindhorn” relies on its characters, not its plot to drive things forward. It’s a delightfully bonkers, lighthearted comedy and, even if it never quite has the courage to fully commit to its own craziness, it’s still got bags of quirky charm.