Most people who grew up in the 1970s - except for the ones who are funny-bone deficient - will have fond memories of The Goodies. The incredibly silly adventures of Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie and Tim Brooke-Taylor - the eponymous trio who “only wanted to do good to people… Anything, anywhere, anytime” was almost mandatory family comedy viewing, and the gang kept the madness going for a full eight seasons on the BBC and a final hit-and-miss season on… erm… that other channel (so it wasn’t surprising the quality went down because, as any TV snob from that period will tell you, ITV could never do comedy as well as Auntie Beeb).
During their tenure The Goodies took on more lunatic assignments than it’s possible to count, from foiling a plot to steal the Crown Jewels by pilfering the beefeaters beef, to creating a sleep supplement campaign that threatened to send the whole nation to beddy-byes, to revealing the deadly Lancastrian martial art of Ecky-Thump, to skewering the Saturday Night Fever disco craze and discovering the diminutive secret of the giant who lives at the top of the beanstalk. And that’s not even scratching the surface of their infectious Goody-Goody-Yum-Yummness.
Their shows won awards too - mostly notably the Silver Rose of Montreux for a much-loved episode involving a giant kitten doing a Godzilla on the famous landmarks of London and (less understandably) for a goofball mugging of the British Film Industry called The Movies - and their novelty song “The Funky Gibbon” swung all the way up to No. 4 in the UK pop charts. But there was more to The Goodies than their madcapness. Like all great TV comedy, The Goodies played on one level for the kids and another for the grown-ups, and they weren’t afraid to slapstick their way through some controversial topics (a very early episode about police brutality doesn’t pull its truncheons) or avoid pie-facing the current news headlines (check out the episode Gender Education, when the boys really rip into the killjoy-we-all-loved-to-hate Mary Whitehouse) .
Considering the show was so successful, it’s strange that The Goodies have never enjoyed a revival on British TV. The occasional episode is played here and there, but if you sprouted up after the 70s were over you can be forgiven for wondering who they were and what all the fuss was about. So, in 90% of ways, it’s great that Network have released this complete collection of The Goodies BBC years which contains everything they did except the lost Kitten Kong episode (but don’t fret because the cut-down version that won at Montreux is included on this humongous set). The video and audio are very good too, although if you want some juicy extra supplements (which weren’t available for review) you’ll have to check out the prohibitively expensive A Binge of Goodies limited edition set that Network are peddling on their own site.
But what about the remaining 10% of ways? Well, speaking as a Goodies fan from way back when the show began, revisiting them was a bit of a mixed blessing. There’s at least one gem on each of the twelve discs, but the shows haven’t aged well. If you go into this set purely for smiles and a cuddly blast of nostalgia you won’t be disappointed, but if you’re expecting a return to the heydays when a Goodies episode actually caused a viewer to die laughing and sent another viewer into labour, you might wish you’d just held on to the memories.
THE GOODIES: THE COMPLETE BBC COLLECTION / DIRECTOR: VARIOUS / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: GRAEME GARDEN, BILL ODDIE, TIM BROOKE-TAYLOR / CERT: 12 / RELEASE DATE: 24TH SEPTEMBER 2018