Tonight’s episode was a very silly and very different change of pace. On Halloween – the episode was actually shown in February 1978, but you can’t have everything – Gudgin moves a piano in the hall. Naturally, it turns out to be haunted. The ghost of Ludwig Schtupp comes with the piano, but instead of a half-hour of mild mayhem and what you’d normally see with a guest star, in this case John Ringham, it’s a musical episode, with the characters doing a few silly music hall numbers.
Our son was a bit restless this afternoon and a couple of the performances left him doing a bit of clockwatching, but it ends with a tremendously fun tune where they each take turns singing a song where they’re not meant to say the word “dead” but somehow manage it anyway. Call it a cute little detour, done playfully with goofy charm.
The bulk of this episode is built around twin brothers, played by John Ringham, and an endless game of telephone problems across three locations and one brother’s unfortunate wife, hanging up on each other, calling back before the other has put down the receiver, and so on. Our son absolutely adored it and laughed through the phone silliness, except he was really unhappy when one of the brothers “steals” Catweazle’s familiar, the toad Touchwood. Because Touchwood is not feeling good and not eating, he and Cedric take him to a zoologist in the village. It turns out Touchwood’s species has been extinct for hundreds of years and they think it’s a great discovery.
The phone shenanigans reminded me of a terrific gag about Call Waiting in the second episode of Ellen / These Friends of Mine in 1994. I pulled it up on YouTube to show our son the setup to the gag so he could laugh about how silly and strange landlines and all their “Custom Calling Features” were. I didn’t actually show him the gag itself, in which Ellen unwittingly insults Clea Lewis’s character, because it’s really a crueler humor than I’d like our kid to see so young, but the horrified noise that Ellen makes once she realizes what she’s done is extremely funny! The scene is about two and a half minutes into this clip, if you’re older than our kid.