Worst to Best
The Goodies

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18 Farm Fresh
Food (2.9)

One of the episodes that can most be classified as "ahead of its time", this one sees Tim visit his Uncle, only to find him running a high tech sci-fi farm where animals are experimented on for the best produce. Although one criticism with The Goodies is that it can be preachy when it has a point it wants to make, it's such an over-the-top programme that it manages to get away with it, and win you over with charm.
     A thoughtful episode that's lightly amusing rather than laugh-out-loud funny, it contains a higher-than-average reliance on visual humour, and, with John Le Mesurier as Tim's Uncle, a guest star who does fine work, but perhaps seems unsure how to pitch his performance.
     One thing about guest stars on The Goodies is that to truly excel, they not only have to be good comic actors, but they have to be tapped into the off-centre world they inhabit, and have chemistry with the three leads. Although creditable, he doesn't quite "click" with the group as well as some later guest stars, and what should have been a freakish, macabre ending - the Goodies lay eggs - is rendered somewhat lightweight by them playing too broadly to the audience at the resolution.
     Despite such criticisms, and a feeling that the series is still finding its feet at this stage, Farm Fresh Food is undeniably inspired, and contains some unique visual images, with a commendably thoughtful script, earning its high spot here.

17 The Greenies (1.5)

As with Radio Goodies, this is a series one episode where the "for hire" plotline is put to one side... in this case, completely abandoned, as they stumble on the plot while trying to take a holiday. Said plot involves the army trying to organise nuclear testing in the sea, only to be foiled by the Goodies who replace their plans with blueprints for a children's playground. Although the first series of The Goodies can feel very much like a late 60s "bash the authority figure of the week" show, this one has far more to say than Give Police A Chance, and even contains the series' first reference to Apartheid in South Africa.

16 For Art's Sake (2.6)

With virtually no repeats on the BBC since the show finished, British culture has been allowed to forget The Goodies, a hugely popular programme that, at its peak, broke 15 million viewers. While their contemporaries Monty Python have become lauded, The Goodies have become overlooked, and underrated. What's notable in For Art's Sake (AKA Culture For The Masses) is that the audience reaction is more muted, and seems confused by an episode that has a higher than usual intellectual content, with many of the gags based around 17th century art.
     A show that features slapstick sequences and the credo "anything, anytime" was always going to get overlooked for any real artistic merit, and instalments like For Art's Sake seem to suggest that The Goodies had unwittingly installed its own "glass ceiling", deviations from which the audience weren't quite prepared to accept. That said, this is, after all, an episode where Graeme urging Bill to "patch up your Botticelli" is mistaken as a reference to his anus. While The Goodies are underrated today, it can't be denied that they sometimes brought it on themselves.

15 The End (5.13)

Although more people saw them in the BBC's 1972 Christmas Night With the Stars, The End had the biggest audience for an actual Goodies episode... 15.2 million people tuned in to an Autumn repeat on BBC1 to watch this studio-bound story. Featuring just the leads being sealed into their office by concrete, the commentary track tells us that Bill finds it takes too long to get going, while Tim cites it as a favourite. Note that the DVD commentary tracks for the BBC material were not included on the new 2018 boxset, so if you really want to hear them, you'll have to get a copy of the earlier compilation DVDs.
     With the episode seeing them at the peak of their powers, the absurdity of the situation is used to its full effect, including discussions on religion and politics. Less commendable, perhaps, is Oddie as "Rastus Watermelon", and the ending with Tim, Bill and Graeme playing an alien expedition force arriving to dig the Goodies out. With the Goodies dying onscreen, the episode could have opted for a fully dark, offbeat ending that intentionally distanced the viewers... instead it sees Graeme in Spock ears, sending up Star Trek for some cheap, crowdpleasing laughs, the final lines of dialogue barely audible over the roars of studio audience approval.

14 It Might
As Well Be
String (6.5)

A superbly inventive and witty satire of the advertising industry that takes in still-topical swipes at the state of the Middle East, and deconstructions of the programme itself. The ending sees the Goodies watching their own series on television in a state of confusion, with Tim noting of the producer's credit "he's probably just trying to win a prize".
     A reference to the two Silver Roses that The Goodies won at Festival Rose d'Or for Kitten Kong Redux and The Movies, then the latter clearly informs some elements of this and Hype Pressure, with attempts to rework the clever frames and perspectives sequences. In a wonderful moment of self-depreciating humour, Graeme remarks "he won't" and switches the television off. Also look out for Tim accidentally switching on his own unsuccessful, now largely forgotten, comedy series Hello Cheeky, observing "Well nobody's perfect... just put it out at the wrong time of night, that's all."
      From 1970-1974 The Goodies released 28 episodes with spoof commercials in them. It Might As Well Be String consolidates every idea they had relating to advertising, and contains a string of mock adverts that are arguably funnier than any they did earlier. This being a later series, then they're more savage than before, with Graeme delivering a great performance as psychotic "Captain Fish Face", though the opening ad, which has Bill enacting domestic violence against a woman (complete with a realistic-looking slap) may offend modern sensibilities. The only question is, with the ads such blatant parodies of existing products, then how did they get away with it without being sued?

13 Earthanasia (7.6)

The greatest of the single-set episodes they did, Earthanasia takes a dark turn, with world leaders deciding to end the world as a way to solve all its problems. Set in real time, the characters and acting are now so broad that Tim is an emasculated manchild of limited intelligence, and Oddie is frequently acknowledging the audience, even, at one point, being dragged back into the narrative by Tim.
     Although there's plenty of boom mikes in shot and much playing to the gallery, there's a bleak undertone where they realise that they don't have much to live for when knowing that the end of the world is due. The final punchline of Graeme saying it was all just a joke, then revealing that the "joke" was that he just put the clock forward by half a minute, is a strong one. Even better is the downbeat ending, with the world exploding.
     In many ways this would have made an even better episode if it were made during one of the less showier, early series, but even despite this it's a minor classic, and the last great Goodies episode. There were maybe three or four okayish instalments after this one, but after seven years on air and 61 episodes, the loose format had perhaps been stretched as far as it would go, and without a major change to the comic set up, Earthanasia would have been a high note to bow out on.

12 Scatty Safari (5.6)

Curiously, this very parochial episode was one that was released exclusively in America, with a DVD release in 2004. While it had been issued on VHS in both the UK and the US, Britain would have to wait another 14 years for it to appear on DVD. The basis of the episode is the entertainer Rolf Harris, which makes it an incredibly controversial entry after he was jailed in July 2014 for sex offences. Harris, a regular target of the series, is the whole focal point of the story, an alternate title even giving it the name The Existence of Rolf Harris.
     Taking the utterly ludicrous premise of the Goodies owning a safari park full of middle-of-the-road celebrities, you'll either laugh along with the increasing silliness of the plot or wonder what all the fuss was about. Although real life issues surrounding its main subject may have tainted the episode somewhat (Bill, listing known facts about Rolf, states "often found with the young generation", and there's also a shot of "Jimmy Saville" in the wild), it's hard not to be amused at the utter absurdity of egg-laying Rolf Harrises in captivity. Look out too for Bill once more cracking up onscreen, genuinely amused by Tim's OTT "Australian" accent halfway through...

11 Kitten Kong

The Goodies fared better than most series with the BBC's junking policy in the 1970s, the original Kitten Kong (episode 2.7) being the only one missing. Much of the filmed footage found in this remade version was taken from the original, with changes estimated to be relatively minor, such as the addition of the singing dogs. One element that was presumably improved upon was how slickly edited this edition is compared to other series two entries, with scenes mixing seamlessly into one another, even making use of a double for Graeme so that a "quick change" scene can be done in one take.
     Revised as an entry for the Rose d'Or Festival, it received the Silver Rose, and is almost inarguably the most famous episode of the series, helped by references in many later instalments, to say nothing of the shot of the kitten on the Post Office Tower featuring in the title sequences of all the following BBC series. It's also the most-repeated episode, its most recent screening in June 2014. Although in some ways shamelessly crowdpleasing, it's hard not to feel admiration for three men in their mid-30s getting to homage their favourite Warner Bros. cartoons as a live action TV show.

10 Goodies Rule - O.K.?

A 50 minute Christmas special that aired on 21st December 1975, The Goodies Rule - O.K.? fared less well in the ratings than expected, with just 6.1 million people tuning in. Although the other channels had reasonably heavy competition, sandwiching it between the ITV movie and BBC1's original Poldark, it signalled an end to the extreme success of the series, with ratings generally falling for the remainder of their run at the BBC, albeit still far higher than the first four series.
     In terms of trivia, then this is the first episode of The Goodies without Tim Brooke-Taylor's name on the official writing credits, though he would continue to make suggestions until the end of the series. The episode itself, mixing the Goodies becoming a successful pop act and a government run by puppets, is undoubtedly indulgent, but after their huge success during the year, they'd earned the chance to be indulgent for an evening.
     It contains some of the programme's most-recalled and iconic images, and is frequently amusing, even if it's an instalment that perhaps doesn't stand up as well to repeat viewings as others.

9 Invasion Of
The Moon
Creatures (4.2)

One of The Goodies' rare excursions into a pure SF story, this one sees Tim and Bill go to the moon, only to be captured and brainwashed by intelligent rabbits. One thing the leads, Bill particularly, have been critical of was their own decision to dub other characters, especially extras, in filmed excerpts with no sound. This is never more distracting than here, with a renegade "Big Bunny" talking exactly like Graeme, yet it's a reasonably small point in an episode that produces plenty of chuckles and smiles throughout.
     However, as discussed in other entries, the modern viewer has to remember that this was made during a very different age with very different sensibilities in comedy and society. Possibly the most shocking thing in the entire series is Bill and Tim as violent rabbit thugs (wittily spoofing A Clockwork Orange) who at one point drag a woman into a rabbit hutch to spend 25 seconds of screentime forcibly raping her. When they finally leave her alone, she sees them off by gratefully waving, having enjoyed the experience. While a satire of a film that had recently been banned, the question is whether satirising rape in a family friendly sitcom was a sensible thing to do... it was truly a different time.
     Lastly, while the new boxset presents the episodes better than they've ever been seen, there may be some small music and content substitutions, probably due to rights issues. The proverbial "fine toothcomb" hasn't been deployed on the set as yet, but it's notable here that a brief insert on a TV of Mr. Spock from Star Trek has been removed and replaced with Jon Pertwee as Doctor Who.