Worst to Best
The Goodies

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48 Alternative
Roots (7.1)

A messy episode, whereby targets are confused and intentions blunted. As a parody of the US series Roots, used as a satirical barb to attack the BBC, its intent is noble, but in questionable taste. The idea of spoofing a series on slavery to deride light entertainment is something that would have been regarded as in extreme bad taste on the other side of the Atlantic, but then so would the BBC still making something like The Black and White Minstrel Show up to 1978.
     Yet at this stage lambasting said programme seems both pointless and an empty target: the series was on the way out, being cancelled just eight months after the broadcast of the episode; and despite worthy motives, it's lost in the mix and the need for childish slapstick, the Goodies fundamentally getting laughs from blackface and associated actions themselves. Whatever the intent of this unfocussed storyline, the biggest laugh of the episode comes from Tim, proudly declaring "I is a happy minstrel!", his actions producing roars of laughter from the studio audience.
     By ending the episode with a sequence of events that are inexplicably infantile it forces the blackface routines to merge into the freefalling slapstick, and so become part of the regular fabric of the episode, right up to the somewhat indulgent payoff of "Great! Give those boys a series!" (On a personal note, I saw this one as a small child when it first aired and was in hysterics... as an adult I have no idea what I saw so funny in Bill Oddie rolling LPs along a floor).
     The overall feeling is that, while it's commendable that the Goodies were prepared to slate the output of their own commissioning TV station, it seems less brave when they weren't doing it about a programme in its prime; also hugely hypocritical when all of their future output featured at least one of the leads blacking up without any real ironic intent.
     The real problem is that by this stage the Goodies were unable to successfully mock mainstream light entertainment, having begun to merge into the establishment themselves. At one point the variety show Seaside Special is mocked; yet sixteen months earlier The Goodies had appeared on it. Once barbs against the likes of Mike Yarwood, Rolf Harris and Max Bygraves may have seemed more pointed; yet in 1977 The Goodies had become practically of the same ilk.

47 Scoutrageous (7.3)

The best Goodies episodes operate under their own internal logic, and this can be said about Scoutrageous. But ultimately an episode like this asks if you find the idea of a 37-year-old man wanting to be a scout funny, and the idea of scouts becoming illegal, and hunted like Communists. If the answer to that is "no", then this far-fetched tale won't really have much to offer, save for a brief mistake where Bill goes to look at Tim's badges and accidentally slips on the floor. Tim's "don't slip" isn't the greatest ever ad-lib, but it's a nice moment that shows them still having genuine affection for each other as themselves.
     Scoutrageous is one of three Goodies episodes that has an atomic bomb as part of its resolution, none of the three using such a device as a particularly satirical one: here the bomb just deflates like a balloon, before limping towards a punchline-free ending. While it can be stated that the episode operates under its own logic, the premise behind it is one that is fundamentally shaky. With episodes like this it's questionable as to why the generally weak series seven was so well represented on DVD, with four of its six episodes available on compilation discs long before the 2018 Complete BBC Collection came out.

46 That Old Black
Magic (3.4)

A fairly witty take on suburban Satanism, a practise followed by the tabloid photographers of "The News of the Sun". With such a title, it was perhaps inevitable that this would be the first Goodies episode to utilise blackface, with Graeme putting on an Al Jolson mask and singing a few lines with the relevant performing style. This makes it the second image on this page to feature blackface, with apologies to those who may be offended... this is, of course, archive television, and such things will occasionally be pictured as well as discussed, in order to represent the subject matter.
     Such a comic trope wasn't used again until series four (Camelot), but from series five on seemed to become a Goodies staple, an impression not helped by Graeme as "Muhammad Ali" in the clips montage for all of the last three series at the BBC. Discussion of such matters may appear to be viewing The Goodies through the wrong end of history, but, while it wasn't as shocking at the time, reflecting then-societal norms, the Goodies themselves are aware of how a lot of the programme is problematical nearly fifty years on. Speaking with Stewart Lee in an extra on the boxset, Graeme remarks that people have said that the series couldn't be made today, "... to which the reply is, you wouldn't have to." It's a profound and accurate comment regarding a time long past.

45 War Babies! (8.6)

War Babies! was the final episode of The Goodies for the BBC, and it's perhaps an unfortunate irony that the last words heard in the episode are "So long, suckers." While not recapturing their peak years, War Babies! is a nice enough note to go out on, a series of twisted surrealism that features all three leads as adult-sized babies in World War II, Tim eventually converted into a clockwork Churchill double playing football against a German tank. Such flights of fancy develop and grow throughout the episode, and Tim giving an impassioned monologue to Land Of Hope And Glory - one of the series' most overused gags - is given a new lease of life when he tries to do it as a baby who can only gurgle.

44 Rome Antics (5.9)

For the first of just two instances (along with, coincidentally, the previous entry, War Babies!), The Goodies begin an episode as historical figures. Although still playing "Tim", "Bill" and "Graeme", it's the same three characters placed into ancient Rome, an odd conceit for a continuous sketch-sitcom, but one that had been visited years before by the team's beloved silent comedians.
     Wittily placing the leads into ancient Rome to use it as a parallel of the common market (which the UK had just joined in 1973), the organisation was created by the Treaty of Rome of 1957, so it's doubly apt. Roy Kinnear guest stars, and had history with the group: Bill had done some writing for That Was The Week That Was, and Tim had appeared with him in an episode of the series His and Hers, along with the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory; it was also his second Goodies appearance. Kinnear throws himself into the part of a stereotyped homosexual Roman, making racy innuedo with fruit.

43 Beefeaters (1.1)

The very first episode of The Goodies, and those who remember them from their mid-70s peak may be surprised by what they put out during November-December 1970. The series here features all three leads as friends, working together and never arguing, and dealing in plot-based stories that are less surreal and freefalling than what followed. The final line here is even a plot note that they're still in business (Tim using an inheritance to set them up as a "for hire" agency) and not a punchline. Laughs are often more gentle and less brash, the pacing more relaxed and less frenetic.
      Yet one way the earlier series did shock compared to the later ones is the fairly frequent use of female nudity, as well as the late-60s counterculture vibe still hanging over the series and imbuing it with fairly explicit drug references. It's not just the first, non-Yum Yum theme tune giving us "it's whatever turns you on", but Bill's visions as seen through his possibly coincidentally-named Lemon Sherbet Dip. Tim explains that "he's on a trip, he's away [...] It's perfectly harmless, but it turns him on. He'll start having visions in a minute." Later episodes see him described as having his mind blown, and although later years would still see him occasionally sucking on his sherbet (last seen in 1975's South Africa), it would only be series one where it would give him hallucinatory effects, as seen in four episodes.
     This particular episode was originally released in 2003 under the alternative title Tower of London. However, the 2018 boxset lists it under the title used here.

42 The Goodies -
Almost Live (6.7)

An episode containing 14 of The Goodies' songs, there's consequently no narrative to Almost Live, and so it's difficult to rank it amongst the other episodes. Although the majority of the tracks used as backing songs in the episodes are actually better than their novelty singles, some of them hold up reasonably well, though do so better without the visuals that accompany them... it's easier to listen to The Funky Gibbon on the radio than see Graeme looking uncomfortable in dungarees.
     The main feeling though is that this episode came too late. Their successful musical career had now passed, with four singles, two albums and an EP being released between 1976-1978, none of which charted. The catchy albeit inane "Bounce" wasn't released until May 1976, some five months after it featured in The Goodies Rule - O.K.?. By the time it's recreated in this special, it's been almost a year since it was first broadcast.
     If this had been made as part of series five it would have seemed like the Goodies riding high on the peak of their success; as it stands, it's like watching them trying to hang on to a musical fame that was already over. You can't help but wonder why they didn't try to cash in by making this episode when it was strictly relevant, though it may have caused problems with the BBC's then-strict rules about advertising. However, such criticisms can seem churlish when based against an episode that, watched in isolation, is actually fine entertainment.

41 Hype Pressure (6.2)

An unusual episode, in that it indulgently features the Goodies talking about their music career as if it existed within the canon of the TV show. Although there's a Goodies concert episode in series six, it's them stepping outside the fictional narrative, but here we're led to believe that the characters they play in the series (who coincidentally share their real names) also had the same hits. Without stretching this logic too far or taking it too seriously, it does mean that we're forced to accept that we're no longer watching Graeme Garden playing "Graeme", but that in real life they really did have battles with giant kittens.
      As for the content, then The Goodies in its later series did become more coarse and crass, and less reliant on genuine wit. While even the first series had ample nudity, it wasn't until series three's The Winter Olympics that we got the first "groin stamping" humour, with Bill thinking Tim was about to do such an act while practising driving. This is escalated here, with Bill kneeing Tim in the crotch, and one or the other kneeing each other in the genitals is used as a fairly frequent humour shorthand thereafter in these later episodes. Also look out for Tim as a stereotyped homosexual director, or blacked up as a mock Little Richard.
      This said, there are plenty of amusing moments, such as a cruel quiz show (rather childishly titled "New Faeces") where panellists make a man cry by telling him his wife has died, or Graeme going on a sofa-slashing rampage, brainwashed by rock and roll. Yet it's an episode with a relentlessly vocal studio audience, so much so that at one stage Bill steps outside of the narrative and acknowledges their involvement, with an ad-libbed "yes, quite!" between lines.

40 Lips, or
Cod (6.1)

Context in The Goodies is important, and while it's perhaps unfair to say, as some critics do, that the series is locked into the 1970s, this one is built around a very specific period. Those unaware of the second "cod war" between England and Iceland may very well be lost with this direct satire, though there's enough child-orientated visual and punning humour to keep everyone happy. Graeme growing a giant cod and the team repeatedly questioning its sexuality ("his mincing great poofy cod!") may also cause embarrassment or amusement today, possibly both at the same time.
     One motif that features in a surprisingly high amount of Goodies episodes is cruelty to animals - it's even the basis of more than one episode this series. Sometimes hilarious, other times overplayed, only rarely does it feature genuine animals in distress, and is reliant on amusingly fake puppets and Graeme manipulating inanimate objects. However, there are two instances where it does appear to cause genuine concern to animals, in a way that wouldn't be allowed today - one is the dog that's clearly alarmed to be placed in a basket in Kitten Kong, the other is here, with Tim punching his fist three times into a tank full of goldfish. As with all of these reviews of Goodies episodes, noting such elements is there not as express criticism, but to note to modern viewers that these programmes were made in a very different time.

39 The Winter
Olympics (3.3)

Far from The Goodies at their funniest, with even the studio audience only giving polite chuckles throughout most of its duration, The Winter Olympics is nevertheless one of the most charming episodes of series three. There's bits of what now seems unnecessary sexism (Bill's topless calendar, introduced at the start of the series, is prominently in shot but feels almost irrelevant compared to a bikini'd female eskimo who contributes nothing to the plot) but they're offset by the absurdity of trying to recreate the North Pole in a BBC studio, and flooding the ice caps to make Olympic events easier. Although there's no express attempt at satire here, and effects on the ozone layer weren't publicly highlighted until the mid-80s, this final development does make the episode seem fairly topical today.