On November 8th 1970, 'The Goodies' made its debut on B.B.C.-2. How do the B.B.C. intend marking this anniversary? Repeats? A documentary? Both? Nope, they're doing something on Radio 4 ( thanks a bunch, B.B.C. The Goodies always did look great on radio ), and that's about it. Luckily, there's a new book - 'SuperChaps Three' - by television historian Andrew Pixley coming out, and Network must have made its peace with Auntie at last because they're releasing a further D.V.D. compilation in addition to a bumper package of previous releases. So that's something.
'U-Friend or U.F.O.' hails from the team's penultimate season ( their last for the B.B.C. ) and spoofs science fiction, a genre last tackled by them in the splendid 'Invasion Of The Moon Creatures' from Season 4. On that occasion, the specific targets were '2001: a Space Odyssey', 'Star Trek', 'Dr.Who' and 'A Clockwork Orange'. By 1980, 'Star Wars' had ushered in an era of expensive sci-fi epics such as 'Superman', 'Alien', and 'Close Encounters Of The Third Kind'. The episode begins with Bill playing in a Salvation Army band. Suddenly the trombone player is spirited away by a mysterious unknown force. Others ( including a man in an outdoor toilet ) go the same way. While Bill tries to work out what has happened to them, Tim and Graeme prepare for the grand opening of the Knutters Knoll Knite Spot - a restaurant at the top of a mountain. To help out, Graeme has built a robot, and it looks oddly familiar - actually, it is R.2.D.2.' from 'Star Wars', renamed 'E.B.G.B.' ( I wonder if George Lucas knew about this? ).
Bill has become obsessed to the point of fanaticism with a particular shape, that of the Knutters Knoll mountain itself. To get himself abducted, he goes into a park at night with a trombone. The park keeper ( the late Roger Brierly ) is coordinating troublemakers through a megaphone. Once the Druids leave, the flashers take their place...
While not quite as funny as 'Moon Creatures', this nevertheless is a better spoof of U.F.O. lovers than Nigel Kneale's 'Kinvig' ( 1981 ). All flying saucer buffs seem to wear granny glasses and a beret and talk like John Major. Bill is cast in the Richard Dreyfuss role from 'C.E.3.K.'. When Graeme discovers the aliens' existence, he suggests he and the others try and scare them away by pretending to be superheroes, leading into a nice film sequence of the boys jumping into phone booths and emerging in 'Superman' costumes ( except for Tim. He comes out only wearing shorts ).
The climax where the mother ship touches down on the mountain nicely evokes the spirit of Spielberg's classic despite being shot on a much smaller budget. Bill's communicating with the space men with music echoes what happened in the film, only instead of John Williams compositions he renders Eric Spear's 'Coronation Street', 'The Goodies' theme itself, and 'Liberty Bell' from 'Monty Python's Flying Circus'! Bill and Graeme must have liked the idea of a robot 'Goodie' - they introduced another in their L.W.T. series, in an episode titled appropriately 'Robot' ( voiced by the late David Rappaport ).
Funniest moment - Bill calling out to the aliens: "Take me! Take me!" when suddenly a gay man puts a friendly arm round his shoulder!
Second funniest moment - Tim, fitted with a nuclear weapon, and dressed as 'Supernun', is fired at the approaching vessel. Bill goes after him, and a bizarre game of ping-pong ensues in outer space with Tim being used as the ball!
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