Monkey Dust

When I was a kid my entire knowledge of British tv consisted of Monty Python, Benny Hill, and everything else- the weird stuff they showed on PBS that looked like it was filmed on VHS. These days, British tv has gained some ground with Americans with the success of Spaced, The Office and Doctor Who as well as BBC America and other channels rebroadcasting shows from the UK. My girlfriend is British, and I work with a bunch of Brits for a British organization so I've had the chance to find out about a lot of UK tv that I'd never heard of. I thought I'd share one of my favorites and if anybody's interested, in the future I could write about a few other shows that deserve some love in the US.

The humor in Monkey Dust is so pitch black it walks the fine line between making you laugh and making you cry in the corner of the shower with your clothes on. It's an animated show consisting of vignettes made in different styles by different animators that might seem familiar to anyone who remembers Liquid Television on Mtv. It touches on a variety of themes and characters with a few common threads- it's dark, twisted, sometimes even depressing, but if you have a peculiar sense of humor, very funny.

One of my favorite recurring characters is the Paedofinder General, based on the title character of the classic horror movie Witchfinder General (known as The Conquerer Worm in the US) as played by Vincent Price. The Paedofinder General tends to show up in everyday places and, by the authority of tabloid newspapers, accuse innocent people of being pedophiles.

One of the darkest recurring sketches on the show involves Timmy and his Daddy. Daddy has custody of Timmy for the weekend and tries to delight his son but is always outdone by his ex's new boyfriend, Roger. After continually failing to impress the boy and realizing that his son is growing up without him, Daddy comes to a tragic end that is almost an inverse of the last scene of The Mist. Who knows, maybe Frank Darabont is a fan.

It's not all misery and squirm-humor, though. They also did some spot-on movie parodies skewering the worst tendencies of Hollywood like the way they play fast and loose with historical fact or the way the bad guy in the movie is always British. Here's a "Jerry Brickhammer" take on The Diary of Anne Frank that hits pretty close to home in the wake of the recent spate of remakes-in-name-only.

That's only a taste of Monkey Dust. There's also terrorists, first-time cottagers, and Space Hopper-riding serial killers on parole. The show lasted for three seasons but so far only the first season has been released in the UK on DVD and unless Adult Swim picks up the series out of the blue (which they totally should, but won't), don't hold your breath for a US DVD release. Luckily, some kind souls have put the entire series up on Youtube so get it while it's hot.

John Shelton

Writer/Podcast Host/Professor

Born and raised in the back of a video store, Shelton went beyond the hills and crossed the seven seas as BGH's foreign correspondent before settling into a tenure hosting Sophisticult Cinema. He enjoys the finer things in life, including but not limited to breakfast tacos, vintage paperbacks and retired racing greyhounds.

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