Weekend Viewing: THE GOODIES

I have to admit I didn’t know much about The Goodies until it was brought up in comments. It was apparently shown on PBS, but I don’t think it’s as well-known, trans-Atlantically, as Monty Python’s Flying Circus, by which The Goodies is influenced, or The Young Ones, which seems to have been influenced by The Goodies.

The story of the series, which ran for years on the BBC and for one final season on ITV (yes, they have network switches in England too), is that there are these three idiots who will do anything for money. In every episode they either take a surreal job, or a conventional job that turns surreal. In this episode, “Cecily,” from the first series, they get a babysitting job that turns into a parody of every Victorian-governess story ever written. Like The Young Ones and other later shows, the format of the show allows for a fusion of sketch comedy and sitcom: we have continuing characters and relationships among them, but because there is no pretense to realism and no consequences from episode to episode, it allows every episode to be a completely self-contained half-hour sketch. (It also allows for plenty of digs at the conventions of sitcoms, like the joke early on about one-sided telephone conversations where a character repeats everything that’s being said to him.)

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