‘Zimbani’ review

It’s surprising that, in the wake of The Mighty Boosh, there haven’t been more pretenders to the comedy crown of Mssrs Barratt and Fielding. Dave’s exclusive new show Zimbani tries, but epically fails.

It should be pointed out that an attempt to recapture the charismatic chemistry of the Boosh should probably be given the chance to succeed on its own terms, rather than include a cameo from Julian Barratt in order to associate it with such great comic antecedents, but Zimbani‘s problems are far more rife than such simple semantics.

This 15 minute short from creators and lead actors David McNeill and Colin Hoult presumably is a pilot hoping to achieve a full series. Dave’s programming, which features manifold comedy greats, has been far more chequered when it comes to in-house commissions; one only has to recall the appalling Red Dwarf: Back To Earth trilogy last year to revolt in disgust at the thought of another such turkey.

This show centres around agents Chester (McNeill) and Lanarkos (Hoult), the sole members of Task Force Zimbani, a collective determined to rid Africa of the criminal mastermind who strikes fear into the heart of the locals: “What Mozart did with piano, Zimbabi did with the gun”. With more than a nod to shows like The Man From U.N.C.L.E and Jason King from the late ’60s heyday of womanising secret agents, Chester and Lanarkos are buffoons who are unable to distinguish one another should one don their mother’s hat and then be wooed by the other.

The show is competently directed by Elliot Hegarty, who cut his teeth on the superior Star Stories show with Kevin Bishop, but the major issue is with the sleight script that shows little opportunity to develop the paper-thin characters much further than this short. When compared to the likes of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, which Zimbani evidently owes a debt, one longs for the skills of Matt Berry who can so effortlessly nail the genre which this so desperately tries to ape.

Airs at 10.50pm on Friday 4th June 2010 on Dave.