Still on a Kristen Schaal kick, I finally got around to tracking down a copy of Penelope: Princess of Pets, a pilot she co-wrote and starred in for Ch4. Apparently it was adapted from a series of short webisodes, and I couldn’t help feeling that I’d come in to the story late, as the eponymous princess had already discovered her ability to talk to the animals before the episode began, and been charged with a quest to kill an evil politician who was intent on starting a war between humankind and critter-kind… but there weren’t really any flashbacks to help bring you up to speed, so you just had to make do with a lot of expository dialogue instead! It was too much “tell”, and not enough “show”.
So, it was a little unsatisfying story-wise, but there was still plenty to enjoy on the comedy side of things… especially Schaal’s headlining performance, and the always-watchable Julian Barratt’s turn as her wily nemesis, ‘MP Thomas Stone’. There were also some fun supporting appearances by Barunka O’Shaughnessy (as a well-travelled ‘Tour Guide’), Simon Farnaby (as a wise ‘Old Man’), and Isy Suttie (as the voice of a puppety dog named ‘Josie’). Hurrah!
Overall, I didn’t find this show quite as hilarious as I wanted to, perhaps because seeing so many Mighty Boosh cast members on screen with a load of talking animals invited unflattering comparisons to that show’s first series… but it’s an appealing premise, and there were enough good jokes and silly bits of business here to make me hungry for more… I just wish that they’d rebooted the project properly, and let us follow Penelope’s journey from the beginning.