TV Cream

Films: D is for...

Down Among the Z Men

There’s really no denying it: this early (very early) Goons feature is bloody awful. Once you get past the excellent and very promising opening minute, with the Hairy, Spike, Pe’er and Mike sticking their heads through the title card to explain who they’re playing and what they’ll be getting up to (plus one nondescript bird they all moon over) there’s not much to be had. Major Jimmy Grafton is on script duties and though he may well have been KOGVOS in Civvy St he’s not doing the lads any favours here. The plot is pretty much non-existent, and what little there is hardly matters, which wouldn’t be so bad if there was more of the typical nonsensical Milligan schtick on show but really it’s all just an exercise in, “Oh, so that’s what they look like!” An unbelievably sophisticated comedy team reduced to standing around leaking canisters of laughter and tear gas and, erm, laughing and crying in turns does not make an edifying spectacle. Really the only thing of interest comes right at the end when Bentine gets the chance to perform his demented Windmill chair back routine and Sellers does some impressions. The rest of it is just Television Toppers, stuffed badgers and Andrew Timothy. But don’t be fooled by the prospect of that tantalising combination, it isn’t nearly as good as it sounds. It has some value as a curio in that where muso wonks love to bob on about the progression of style and ability between Cavern Club era and White album period Beatles, it’s worth watching this and then The Great McGonagall and wondering how Milligan and Sellers managed to trace a path from one to the other.

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  1. Lee James Turnock

    October 6, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    I recently watched this back-to-back with the Case of the Mukkinese Battle Horn and, much as I love Spike to shreds and will defend the Q series to the death, these two films are indeed funereally unfunny.

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