27. For Those in Peril on the Sea

For Those in Peril on the Sea

4 March 1973

‘For Those in Peril on the Sea’, more commonly known as ‘The Lost Island of Munga’, is one of those entirely frivolous Goodies episodes where the lads have nothing to say and say it well!

The episode does touch on some serious points, such as:

  • colonialist imposition (Tim: “Yes, that lost island will become a bastion of the Great British Commonwealth. The primitive people will learn how to wear detached collars and ties, and how to beat us at cricket.”)
  • nuclear testing (Graeme, reading from Viking Journeys: “The island was lost… until 1965 when the French found this island paradise untamed and unspoiled, and tested an H-bomb on it.”)
  • ocean pollution by way of irresponsible industry practice

This last, in particular, could have been given a less flippant treatment. Yet, the Super Chaps had already covered that ground in Series 2’s ‘Pollution’, producing a sombre, rather chilling depiction of where environmental abuse was heading. Here, in contrast, the problem elicits only throwaway humour (oil tankers in the form of home-use oil cans, for instance). And while Nasty Person’s wicked plan involves deliberately pouring oil into the sea, his objective is no more sinister or impactful than to explode into existence an enormous batch of fish and chips (not unlike the ending of Series 6’s ‘Lips, or Almighty Cod’).

As with ‘Pollution’, Tim tests the medium and comes away with a hand covered in gloop:

…but whereas in that instance the discovery launched the Super Chaps upon a crusade to set things right, here they merely accept the problem as something they’ll have to endure.

Again, there is a sense throughout this episode of harking back while contemplating the evolutionary jump forward to Series 4. Most obviously, we’re given the bona fide character reprises of ‘Nasty Person’ aka ‘Stavros Monopolopolous’[1] aka ‘The Music Master’ (Henry McGee) and his henchman Gerald (Norman Mitchell). Both actors do a fine job, and the renewed villainy comes with an undeniable thrill of recognition—but also with the slightly hollow aftertaste of re-chewed cud. The search for the Lost Island of Munga also evokes the lads’ Series 2 expedition to find The Lost Tribe of the Orinoco—again by way of deliberately re-enacting a doomed venture! (Graeme: “We have been blown off course. We are lost. So far, everything going as expected.”) We’re also treated to a nowadays rare use of the (new and improved) quick-change closet:

‘For Those in Peril on the Sea’ offers plenty of laughs. There are the usual visual puns (ship’s log, flying fish with parachute and moustache, moulded jellyfish on the beach), verbal puns (‘Costa Munga’), astute use of signs (‘The Lost Island of Munga’ receives a ‘Found’ makeover!), meticulous attention to background detail (the recreated Viking ship—and even its bathtub model—have Goodies ‘G’ emblems on their flags), and delightful little logical twists. Nasty Person, for example, in proclaiming himself a master of disguises, capitalises the title by adding the source of his qualification (Sussex University). Even more absurd is the lads’ attempt to send for help when their boat becomes becalmed:

The filmed sections are as impressive as ever (evidence: the shark’s fin chasing Bill through the water and then sawing its way up the beach; the wind-blown dismantling of the hut), and there are few more quintessentially Goodies sequences than when the hapless castaways try to find purchase on a piece of driftwood with a door in it for them to keep falling through.

(Another gloriously subtle touch here is that, while the lads wave farewell to the island girls as soon as their respective halves of the raft begin drifting away, the girls only wave back once the Goodies capsize—a rather more pointed goodbye!) Much of the episode’s lasting appeal comes from the musical backdrop to these scenes: the swaying, laid-back tropical toe-tapper ‘Desert Island’ and Bill’s growly, apocalyptic blues rock number ‘Storm’.

All told, then, a nice bit of filler. Not a classic, but very watchable (and re-watchable!).

Jacob Edwards, 4 March 2023


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[1] The Goodies going one (or in Graeme’s case, three) syllables better than Hergé’s Rastapopoulos.