Post by Alan Hayes on Sept 16, 2020 11:16:10 GMT 12
My Dad's Army viewing marathon has just burst into glorious colour!
I find I'm in two minds about it, actually, much to my surprise. Although I came to Dad's Army with the colour episodes in the 1970s (if I saw Series 1 and 2 as a nipper I was too young to appreciate it or now remember having watched it), I've greatly enjoyed watching the first two series in 'marvellous monochrome'. Generally, when I've watched DA over the years, I've jumped about, not regularly watching the show in a sequential way, dipping into a favourite episode here or a less well remembered one there, so to have come to this having been immersed in two runs of black-and-white episodes, suddenly this is a big change.
Now, the colour recording gives the show more intimacy, brings it closer to the viewer, and opens out the canvas somewhat too. But conversely, one of the things I really liked about the B/W episodes is how they feel like something that could have been made during the war - a proper historical document (albeit a humourous one). The change to colour discards that aspect of the experience and even though the sets are good (the studio reconstruction of Nether Row is particularly good), there's more of a feeling of artifice. It's funny, but in going to colour, it all feels that tiny bit less real because of the limitations of the production and the colour pictures not hiding the unreality of the studio sets as well as B/W photography did. Maybe it's just me...
Anyway, on to the episode itself, which almost feels like a greatest hits show as it has so many great sequences (Mainwaring's muffled lecture about chemical warfare / Jones and Walker in the cold store / the women in the butcher's shop / practicing firing from inside Jones' van / Frazer tricking the Vicar into thinking they are filling his fire with gas rather than taking gas from it / Jones and Walker being affected by the leaking gas / Mr Bluett being manhandled into the van in its guise as an ambulance) - so many classic scenes, all within 28 minutes! You're breathless by the end as a viewer. It's relentlessly funny.
It's also a pivotal episode in the series, with many classic characters and elements being introduced (or in the case of Hodges, seemingly reintroduced and promoted to Chief Warden): Frank Williams as the Vicar, Pamela Cundell as Mrs Fox, Oliver Mercer as Mrs Casson (who we presume later marries the Verger, Mr Yeatman) and Harold Bennett as the as yet unnamed Mr Bluett (or Blewitt, depending on which part of the series you believe!). We also meet Raymond, Jones' assistant at his butcher's shop, and Queenie Watts appears in her second consecutive episode though her character is either intentionally different or has been renamed from Mrs Keen in Under Fire. As well as this we are also treated to our first view of Dad's Army's most famous vehicle, Jones' butcher's van, here lent to the platoon and (much to Walker and Jones' chagrin) converted to run on gas.
For many years in repeat seasons The Armoured Might of Lance Corporal Jones would become the de facto starting point of the series, with the black-and-white episodes relegated to the archive shelves (or wiped, destroyed completely or lost), and there is a feeling that Croft and Perry have written this episode with that in mind. It's a relaunch in some ways and expertly done.
Finally, before I deliver my rating, let's go back to that classic scene in the cold store, where Walker and Jonesy get colder and colder, icier and icier, to the point where Walker snaps off the ends of the butcher's moustache. Every time I see that scene I smile as the moustache suddenly grows about a centimetre longer at each end, and the breakable moustache looks like it is covering the usual one. Why am I thinking "It is I, Leclair!"
And the rating? A perfect 10. My first such rating in Dad's Army to this point. Classic.
Last Edit: Sept 16, 2020 11:23:56 GMT 12 by Alan Hayes