20. The Baddies

The Baddies

14 January 1972

Series Two of the Goodies culminates in a glorious garnish episode—a fast, frivolous and wildly exuberant piece of comedic theatre. As demarcated by opening theme songs (specials aside), it signifies the end of the Goodies’ initial, most guilelessly fun-loving phase, and as a celebration encapsulates much of the joie de vivre of the Super Chaps’ first two years. The humour is self-referential and purposefully exaggerated, though at times also deliciously subtle. There are musical highlights and two sterling guest performances. ‘The Baddies’ may not make too many favourites lists, but probably deserves to!

The plot is centred around the Nicest Person of the Year Award, which the Goodies are running (and taking bets on!) and of course trying to win. Competition comes from the usual assortment of virtuous Samaritans and wholesome celebrities (Bill: “What a load of creeps!”), and, in a clever piece of foreshadowing, the mysterious Dr Petal (Bill: “Dr Petal? Who’s he?” Tim: “I don’t know, but he sounds nice.”). The lads are confident of victory, but when they go out to spread cheer and bolster their stocks, they find trouble afoot.

The people on the street have turned against them! In piquant counterpoint to a mostly instrumental rendition of ‘Needed’, the Goodies find themselves harassed and assailed by passers-by, and pelted with fruit. They chain their trusty, three-wheeled steed to a lamppost outside the Forde Cafe[1], seek sanctuary there, are admitted, thrown out, climb back on to an absence of bike and pedal furiously… before realising that the trandem has been pilfered! (The chain, notably, is still sticking out at right angles, attached to the empty space.) The angry mob pause their offensive while the Goodies perform this unintentional French mime, then resume the pelting. The Goodies flee to the nearest police station.

Here we are treated the first of two highly entertaining guest performances. John Junkin, who would co-star with Tim in the sitcom The Rough with the Smooth (1975), towers over the Goodies, playing a childishly unsympathetic police sergeant and hurling heartfelt playground insults at them. Junkin, whose father was a police officer, throws himself into the role and seems right at home in the Goodies’ world of skewed logic.

John Junkin as the Police Sergeant; the Goodies.

The scenes with Junkin are punctuated with quintessential Goodies humour, not least of all when it turns out that Brewer Street, where the fake Goodies have been reported carrying out their nefarious deeds, is right outside, and that the lads have in fact come to the Brewer Street Police Station! (Goodies aficionados will be unsurprised to find the lads’ trademark subtle touches hidden amongst such overt gags; evidence: the bike theft poster pinned to the noticeboard in the background!)

Graeme has a revelation. John Junkin’s police sergeant watches on; the notice behind him is a warning for people to lock their bikes!

The Goodies race outside and find a trio of dastardly Goodie doppelgangers riding about on their stolen trandem, wreaking havoc. These sequences are adroitly filmed (especial props to the wheelchair stuntman) and the lads are coolly convincing playing their robotic doubles. Whereas the Goodies were terrorised by the populace at large, the Baddies very much turn the tables. They are, as the accompanying song would have it—a catchy, gravelly, let-your-hair-down rock number full of soulful wailing and urgent, self-confident indulgence—a ‘Bad Bad Lot’. Appalled by the damage being done to their image, the Goodies track the robots back to their lair…

…whereupon we’re treated to our second guest star: Patrick Troughton as the snivellingly maniacal and misunderstood Dr Wolfgang Adolphus Ratfink von Petal! Troughton is gleefully over-the-top, hunched at the shoulder like his pet vulture Lucretia, a kind of Igor and mad scientist in one. His performance is deliberately heightened and quite outrageous, yet perfectly in keeping with the script’s insouciant spoof of weekly-serial cliffhangers.

The Goodies, tied up by Dr von Petal and having blithely escaped.

Furthermore, in reaching for von Petal’s (self-perceived) underlying niceness, Troughton allows inflections from his Doctor Who persona to seep through. The result is an aunt-giddying anti-Doctor, the likes of whom might have turned up in the Red Dwarf story ‘Demons and Angels’!

The masterplan, of course, is for von Petal to discredit his rivals and thus be crowned Nicest Person of the Year. Our heroes put paid to this, but then still have to tackle their doppelgangers. They do so in a madcap musical sequence (to ‘One More Chance’ from Series One’s ‘Give Police a Chance’), in which the Goodies and Baddies chase after and attack each other, becoming separated and thus allowing for various mistaken identities. Highlights include Graeme admiring himself in a mirror until the image turns bad and strikes out at him, and a fifteen-second sequence where the three Goodies beat the absolute stuffing out of Bill’s stunt doll… only to discover that this was the real Bill!

Ah, such wholesome cartoon violence!

All told, ‘The Baddies’ is a suitably riotous and uplifting finale to the bumper Series Two, and just the tonic to see us through to ‘Kitten Kong: Montreux’ and ‘A Collection of Goodies – Special Tax Edition’, the only other Goodies offerings to look forward to in the 1972/2022 gap year.

Montreux, you say? It seems Nicest Person of the Year isn’t the only prize to which those Super Chaps Three aspired…!

Tim with the Nicest Person of the Year crown, pouring champagne. Dr Wolfgang Adolphus Ratfink von Petal, having stolen it.

Jacob Edwards, 14 January 2022

Tweets:

The police sergeant (John Junkin) holds up a wanted poster featuring sketches of the Goodies.
A scout with a stick herds a little old lady across the road.
Patrick Troughton as Dr Wolfgang Adolphus Ratfink von Petal (clutching a vulture).
The Goodies holding up a large bomb, then hurled through the air when it explodes.
Graeme buys junk-shop items to smash over his doppelganger’s head.
The Goodies confront Dr Wolfgang Adolphus Ratfink von Petal... and their own evil doppelgangers!

[1] A nod to British silent film actor Walter Forde, perhaps? Or, given the Western imagery, to his American contemporary Victoria Forde?

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