After a two-year gap, Palin and Jones' 'Ripping Yarns' returned for a second, shorter season ( it was an expensive show to make ), of which 'Whinfrey's Last Case' was the first. It is 1913, and British Intelligence has learnt that the Germans intends to start The Great War a year early. Britain is not ready yet ( not enough spoons, for one thing ), so in desperation, that dashing adventurer 'Gerald Whinfrey' ( Palin ) is called in. To everyone's amazement, he passes on the job despite it being of great national importance, saying that he is tired and in need of a holiday. He goes to Cornwall to take up residence in Smugglers Cottage. But there is a mystery waiting for him...
Alan J.W. Bell ( of 'Last Of The Summer Wine' and 'Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy' ) took over as producer for this and the next episode 'Golden Gordon'. It boasts some stunning location shots of Cornwall and the strong supporting cast includes Maria Aitken. the late Edward Hardwicke, Richard Hurndall, Jack May and Mark Kingston. As well as the Bulldog Drummond-like Whinfrey, Palin also reprises the role of 'The Introducer' from 'Tomkinson's Schooldays'. He gives a lecture about Whinfrey's London home, completely unaware that a large van has pulled up behind him and the house can no longer be seen by the audience.
The episode received complaints on its original transmission due to the louder-than-usual laugh track. George Harrison attended the taping, and it is his laughter than caused the problem. It was mixed off the soundtrack in time for the repeats.
Despite its many plus points, 'Whinfrey's Last Case' is never as funny as it ought to be. At times it resembles a period 'Avengers' ( 'The Town Of No Return', in particular ). The movie 'Bullshot' ( made by Handmade Films, also responsible for 'Life Of Brian' ) covered the same genre a few years later and was funnier by far.
Funniest moment - Whinfrey, trapped in his bedroom at the cottage, discovers not one but 23 different exits!
Second funniest moment - at the inn, Whinfrey is introduced to several local men, all of whom have beards and are named either Tony or Eddie. "Good to be among sane people again!", remarks Whinfrey. The camera then cuts to a man who looks anything but.
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