Saturday, 17 March 2018

'Bunfight At The O.K. Tearooms'

'Bunfight At The O.K. Tearooms'

Our core team of contributors on 'Round The Archives' were all born either in the 1970s or the late 1960s, so there are a number of series that most of us have a connection with, and mention them in passing assuming that most of our audience will get the references.

'The Goodies' is one of those shows we could devote multiple issues to and it's simply a measure of how many great series there are to cover, that it took us until Episode 19 to do anything more substantial, with our look at the episode 'Bigfoot' and its connection to 'Arthur C Clarke's Mysterious World'.

I sometimes wonder how effective the jokes are for people who weren't there at the time as it constantly feeds off 70s popular culture. Stories such as 'Scatty Safari' or  'Goodies Rule - O.K.?' feature depictions of various Light Entertainment figures that now present problems if a repeat run were ever to be considered.

But you also get very imaginative, visually interesting episodes such as 'Bunfight At The O.K. Tearooms' that could be shown on BBC Two tomorrow.

It's the imagery that sticks in the mind with this one, especially the final shoot-out with the tomato sauce squeezers. There's an impressive amount of film work here showing great attention to detail. Low angle shots of Tim and Bill walking along the street, Graeme casts a sinister shadow, a high shot of their lifeless bodies at the end - it's all present and correct.

The design department are, as usual, earning their keep. Graeme's elaborate Cream Processing Machine is wonderfully mad and I wonder how long it took to set up on location.

But the dialogue-free gambling scene before this also showcases the skill involved with the writing, acting and direction. The use of toast and biscuits to simulate a game of poker is inspired and there's a camera situated directly above the table that adds an extra dash of style.

'Bunfight' is from the show's fifth season and sees the team confident and riding high. Ratings are hitting over 10 million (on BBC Two!) and 'Funky Gibbon' is getting a lot of airtime. The pace of production is astonishing, with this episode being studio recorded on 18th April 1975 and broadcast a mere ten days later. It's mildly exhausting just even thinking about that sort of turnaround.

I can well understand this story being chosen for both VHS and DVD release - every series has to attempt a Wild West episode at some point and the whole point of 'Bunfight' is the clash between the cowboy cliches and the Cornish village background.

The complete DVD set of 'The Goodies' will be very welcome when it finally arrives and this episode is one of those I`d suggest you look at first.

But you'll have to argue amongst yourselves as to the correct pronunciation of 'scones'...

(By Andrew Trowbridge)

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