Worst to Best
The Goodies

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68 A Collection
of Goodies
(Special Tax

Clips shows are one of the banes of television, particularly earlier years where longer series meant a quota had to be filled even if the budget ran out. Star Trek: The Next Generation had its most derided entry with an episode set around Riker's induced flashback dreams, and a certain generation of US sitcoms couldn't go without a compilation package dressed up with five minutes of a framing device.
     Thankfully The Goodies do it better than most, largely because A Collection of Goodies isn't a filler episode, but a special edition, bringing together five skits the group performed for an Englebert Humperdinck series and presenting them to their own audience. Bridging them together with new material, there's a certain care gone into events, including much use of Lemon Sherbert and a game of strip Scrabble. The actual content isn't them at their most inspired, and many scenes from it went into the title sequence to series three, but this is a passable curio...

67 2001 & A Bit (6.6)

The idea of the Goodies playing their own sons around 25 years in the future (or now around 18 years in our past) is a good one, yet there's a somewhat underwhelming feeling surrounding 2001 & A Bit. It perhaps doesn't help that the script seems a bit like a revue at times, and the energy is a little flat compared to some other episodes. Giving the entire second half over to a game of cricket is a hard ask for laughs when they go to such pains to express how boring the sport is first.
     However, one thing the later BBC series really miss are the background songs by Bill that gave the series its own unique sense of identity. Disregarding the concert episode, then series six only has two episodes with song material in them; series seven and eight just one each. It seems as if the change of musical director from Michael Gibbs to Dave MacRae saw them concentrate less on the musical side, and the slapstick/action sequences here are just accompanied by fairly generic instrumental scores. It's a marked difference in the feel of the programme, and what songs are in the series ("One Note Rock" and "Flower Love" from Hype Pressure, and "MCC March" from this episode) aren't there as background music, but songs within the narrative.

66 Animals (8.5)

I imagine many of you reading were, like myself, just a small child when The Goodies was first airing. As a result, this episode, with its one joke - being cruel to animals is funny - struck me as hilarious at the time. 38 years after it first aired, the joke doesn't feel that funny anymore, certainly not to the heights of repetition here, and some of the more twee elements, such as a "The Doggies" payoff, make you wonder how Graeme and Bill's comic instincts abandoned them so badly.
     A mock Attenborough documentary goes on for nearly five minutes and gets only polite laughs from the studio audience, while they discard real presenters playing it straight in favour of Mel Smith as a newreader for "Not The News at Ten", a reference to their new contemporary. Often The Goodies would give references to their peers Monty Python (and indeed do so in this episode and in U Friend Or UFO?), but here they take the unusual turn of ushering in the new guard.

65 U-Friend Or
UFO? (8.4)

Set at night, and in the location of a mountaintop café, there's a different feel to this episode than many others. As with Saturday Night Grease, it dates itself hugely and shows a lack of real comic acumen by so closely spoofing contemporary culture (in this case Close Encounters Of The Third Kind/Star Wars/Superman), though does so with a bit more flair, at least in parts. Though with multiple fart jokes, there's a real tired feeling throughout, the signs of a series that was definitely winding down.
     The oddest moment occurs with a send up of forgotten US sitcom The Flying Nun. Not only had it finished airing before The Goodies even started, but it's hard to know why they tried to spoof something that was already comedic in nature. Possibly the reality is that this sequence has been misinterpreted by commentators who make the connection, and they just coincidentally happened to decide on a "Supernun" sequence? (Possibly the only time the principle of Occam's Razor has been applied to Tim Brooke-Taylor dressed up as a flying nun).
     Like series six's 2001 & A Bit, the episode ends with a nuclear explosion which, while a striking image, seems more a result of them lacking a real ending rather than something growing organically from the script.

64 Double
Trouble (2.13)

Also known as The Baddies, this is the series at its most childish, a tale of a mad scientist trying to undermine them with robot doubles. Doctor Who fans (which is probably a large percentage of this site's demographic) may enjoy seeing Patrick Troughton as the bad guy, but it's a hammy turn from him, floundering somewhat in an underwritten, 1940s serial villain characterisation. Arguably the most shallow Goodies episode ever made, it's always watchable, but no more demanding than the most banal Saturday morning kid's cartoon. Although this is the entire point, this is the kind of episode that was beneath them.

63 Black And White
Beauty (6.4)

An incredibly odd mix of humour styles, ranging from the inventive to the childish, the programme even pre-dating Rentaghost by two years by being first to bring in a pantomime horse. Some of the best episodes of The Goodies had an absurdity that was held up by carefully studied internal logic. At the risk of taking the programme too seriously, the pantomime horse is one that we're supposed to regard as a real horse... yet later Tim and Graeme step inside it and use it as a disguise. Is it a real horse within the fictional narrative, or just a prop? The programme can't seem to make up its mind, and nearly all of the scenes involving it are that rarest of things... too silly, even for The Goodies.
     In interviews regarding drugs, Bill has stated that he only smoked one joint in the 70s, Graeme just tried it and Tim never did. This perhaps explains why Graeme doing the stereotypical "stoner" voice seems so reactionary, and there's a shocking moment where Tim, devoid of any real context, uses the N word. Bill beating his "horse" with ever increasing violence (climaxing in machine gun fire) may get a laugh, but it's notable that of all their shows at the BBC, this is the one that got the lowest reaction from tested audiences, with an index reaction of just 58 out of a possible 100.

62 London To
Brighton (2.12)

Often cited as the worst episode of The Goodies, over a quarter of the screentime here is given over to guest characters interacting with each other, the three regulars not even on screen. When Tim, Bill and Graeme do appear, it's frequently as animated toothpaste tubes bouncing on space hoppers.
     Perhaps most troubling is one of their most inexcusably racist routines, where a group of East Asians are advertised in "The Yellow Pages". What makes this especially unsettling is the realisation that The Goodies was a left-leaning show that largely used racial mockery for satirical intent. This segment makes it clear that casual racism was so ingrained in 1970s UK culture that even a show on the side of racial equality like The Goodies was guilty of indulging in such cheap laughs without it being questioned.
     Far more commendable for this perhaps underrated episode are the shots at South Africa, including an all-white piano, a joke and theme they'd return to with more venom in series five. The episode is perhaps more commonly known under the title Charity Bounce.

61 Goodies Travelling
Instant 5 Minute

This 7-and-a-half minute segment wasn't strictly an episode, but a sequence that appeared on 1972's A Christmas Night With The Stars. Hosted by The Two Ronnies, it saw specially created sketches for Dad's Army and The Liver Birds, as well as appearances from Lulu and Mike Yarwood. The Goodies section here is one of their more child-orientated skits, as they present a Christmas roadshow for a small boy. Save for scenes where Bill tries to molest a woman holding caption boards, this is all very innocent stuff, comprising their family friendly slapstick and sped up film schtick. It's not without a certain amount of invention, but it does feel very quaint and old-fashioned, even for the era it was made, and the incessant kazoo soundtrack may grate after a time.

60 Give Police
A Chance (1.3)

The weakest episodes of The Goodies are usually the ones where they have a particular joke or situation and fail to expand upon it, instead performing variations on a theme. Give Police A Chance is one such episode, with the Goodies hired to improve the image of the police and finding that they're corrupt and violent. For the majority of the runtime this basic gag is reworked and repackaged, even though the introduction of hippy policemen is a nice effort.
     Paul Whitsun-Jones (who would be seen a couple of years later in Doctor Who as the Marshal of The Mutants) plays the chief of police, but it's not as developed a role as many later Goodies creations. Ultimately this is one to skip, unless you have a particular desire to see Bill Oddie's bare bum in the "nude bathing" scene.

59 Royal
Command (7.5)

A rather broad and over-the-top episode where all three Goodies have to stand in for the Royal Family, complete with silly costumes to draw cheap laughs from the audience. Although it's difficult to appreciate today, in a post-It's A Royal Knockout world where the Royals are openly criticised in the media, what now seems a fairly tame and affectionate episode was actually very controversial.
     Frowned upon by the BBC, particularly with the Jubilee and the birth of Princess Anne's first child in the news, the broadcast was delayed, and the episode pushed back in the schedules. (Comedy fan Prince Charles actually offered to play himself for a small part in Scatty Safari, but his advisors suggested against it).
     One change in the production during series seven was that, while Jim Franklin was still the producer, Bob Spiers was now directing... a joke at the end of this one sees Spiers with "O.B.E." after his name, and a line placed through it. The Goodies talking about how they'd like O.B.E.s was a frequent joke in the series, and, indeed, is repeated here. Although this episode obviously wasn't created with the intent that it would be viewed and dissected over 40 years later, it does make the gag seem somewhat antiquated in a post-2011 world, where they all now have O.B.E.s.
     Whether Spiers taking over as director changed the series for the worse can be debated... certainly the leads become even less restrained, Oddie frequently looking out to the studio audience during scenes, but then the trajectory of the series from its inception was to get generally broader anyway. It's notable that, aside from Earthanasia, there wouldn't be a classic Goodies episode after he took over, though this could be a coincidence and the path the series was going to take regardless... certainly no series has an infinite lifespan, and The Goodies, as classic as it had been, was definitely reaching the end. During the following series, Spiers joined Franklin as co-producer of the programme.