Worzel Gummidge 6.12 – The Bestest Scarecrow

Tonight we finally reached the end of Worzel Gummidge, and what a fun ride it was. The last episode sees the Crowman contracted to provide the best possible scarecrow to Zoo Nealand’s governor general, and so it turns into a competition, an Olympic Games if you like, between Worzel, Blighty Tater, Wattle Hearthbrush, and two others. This is interesting, because all five are barely competent messes without any self-control. As much as we like the local Crowman, we can’t help but notice that just about all of the scarecrows in Britain did what they were told for the most part, and stayed in their assigned fields. Worzel was the exception; down under it’s the rule.

So we bid goodbye to Ellie Smith’s and Danny Mulheron’s characters just as we were getting to know them. Jon Pertwee kept pushing to get somebody to make more episodes – after all, it meant lucrative personal appearance fees if he had a series on television – but 53 installments was the limit, which is more than a lot of British kids’ shows managed. Our son enjoyed them all, and even if I raised an eyebrow sometimes about the last two series, they were usually able to do something new and strange and, often, really funny. There’s a gag in this one about a sandwich gone green with mold that had us giggling uncontrollably. It’s an absolutely fine show, and even if I wish it all could have been restored properly before repackaging it, I’m very glad I bought the set. We had a blast.

Image: 45 Worlds.

Worzel Gummidge 6.8 and 6.9

Series six is definitely uneven, but the eighth and ninth episodes proved to be pretty good. “Dreams of Avarish” introduces the first new statue-comes-to-life character that we’ve seen in a while: a waxwork of a pirate who charms Aunt Sally into joining him on the high seas… or at least as far as the nearest island, where he thinks he’s buried his treasure. Weirdly, the production rented out the big calliope that we saw in “Ten Heads Are Better Than One” as part of the traveling fair, but the calliope’s character, Trudi von Crochet, doesn’t join the adventure. I think that’s a missed opportunity.

“Runaway Train” is even better. It introduces a French scarecrow, Aubergine, and gives Blighty Tater, who we met briefly in episode seven, a co-starring role with Worzel. These two bring out the absolute, hilarious worst in each other, getting into increasingly ridiculous and escalating trouble and instantly blaming the other. Not content with trying to pass themselves off as ticket collectors on a train, because they’ve somehow convinced themselves that titchy human passengers will reward them for their ticket-punching with cake and tea, they end up stealing the train and have no idea how to stop it. Our son absolutely loved watching this one build and build into chaos, likening it to “the butterfly effect.” It’s obvious that six series was just plenty for this program, but had they gone to a seventh, teaming Pertwee with Danny Mulheron for a full run of Worzel and Blighty causing havoc in tandem would probably have worked for another six or seven installments.

Image: 45 Worlds.

Worzel Gummidge 6.6 and 6.7

Well, I liked the second of these very much. It gives Jon Pertwee something very new to do as he dons a Sherlock Holmes head and costume, and he gets a one-off sidekick called Worty Yam. It also introduces Danny Mulheron, making the first of three appearances as Blighty Tater, and gives David Weatherly a second outing as Bulbous Cauliflower as the scarecrows try to deduce who stole the Crowman’s prized golden turnip trophy. The game’s afoot and it’s very silly and I laughed out loud several times.

Episode six was… less successful. It’s another example of the world suddenly not working like the real world, which is what Worzel Gummidge needs to feel right. This time, Worzel chases another scarecrow over a cliff for the sin of courtin’ Aunt Sally. Somehow he gets accused of murder for this and the police are offering a $3000 reward, which isn’t the sort of thing even small-town cops in Zoo Nealand would do if they can’t confirm there’s actually a corpse. I like that they’re building up a larger supporting cast, but they shouldn’t have done it at the cost of the show’s realism.

On the other hand, this one was so outlandish and full of slapstick that it turned out to be one of our son’s favorites in the whole run. He’s not quite viewing it through the same lens as I am. He just likes Worzel stabbing other scarecrows in the rear with pitchforks, and he is the target audience, after all.