Worzel Gummidge 6.1 – Stage Struck

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. I’ve had this HP laptop for years and would have retired it in January 2020, except I learned to my chagrin that certain Region 2 DVDs from Network and Fabulous are copy-protected. All the years I was plugging in my Region 2 drive and using the PowerDVD that came loaded on it, I had no idea these things were copy-protected, because the laptop just ignored it and played away. Sadly, as the darn thing got older and crankier and a lot more tired, I bought a bright and shiny new HP which, maddeningly, pays very close attention to what the labels copy protect and what they don’t.

So the old laptop sat on a little side table to make screencaps, starting up each new time like an asthmatic walrus, spinning the disk impotently for two minutes while PowerDVD decided whether or not it wanted to open. I got a little tired, as we watched series five of Worzel Gummidge, of squeezing blood from a turnip, and now, six weeks of collecting dust since the last time I started it up, I decided life is far too short to spend twenty minutes getting it to work every time for twelve more screencaps. So from now on, you get a set image from 45 Worlds.

Anyway, “Stage Struck” is a pretty interesting little relaunch. Series six would be the longest series of Worzel Gummidge yet, with twelve episodes, but they were made without Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, who had written every previous episode. So these twelve had several different writers. They were filmed in 1987-88 and shown in the UK from January through April, 1989. This one is written by Fran Walsh, who’d go on to write or co-write a whole bunch of movies that Peter Jackson has directed.

The kid thought this one was terrific, but it’s really all a buildup to one set piece. Happily, the buildup is extremely amusing, and our son was in stitches just waiting for Worzel, making one terrible decision after another for about ten minutes, to dump a big bucket of fertilizer on somebody. It’s inevitable, and they did a great job milking it. I’m not sure the payoff was as hilarious as the buildup, but that’s okay, because the buildup is just fine.

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