Bill listens to a Salvation Army band one evening as a cloud of fog suddenly rolls in, an eerie green light glows and the female trombonist is lifted high into the sky (while her hat falls to the feet of a puzzled Bill). As Bill walks along the street with the Salvation Army lady's hat in hand and ponders her strange disappearance, a male trombonist in a jazz band suffers a similar fate. Things become even more curious when a man in an outdoor toilet (who makes loud trombone-like noises after a hearty feed of baked beans!) is also lifted up through the roof into a strange glowing light.
A news bulletin on the radio reports of the strange disappearance of 76 trombonists from the U.S. Marines band at the Edinburgh Tattoo, but Tim is more concerned about preparations for the grand opening of his Knutters Knoll Knite Spot restaurant, which is located high atop a space shuttle-shaped hill that rises high above the surrounding plains. Tim's new venture offers "elegance and high-class ambience" (though he needs a "new chain for the spoons"!) and he is rather annoyed that Bill isn't there to help him out. Fortunately Graeme comes to the rescue and constructs a robot to assist Tim with various domestic duties in the restaurant ("This machine can do everything that Bill does. On the other hand, it has its compensations!") and Tim soppily christens it EBGB - the acronym of its full title 'Electronic Brain of Great Britain'. Graeme also offers to make "a few dozen" more robots for Tim if "you give me the money" (though Tim's laughing reply of "And you give me the EBGBs!" goes over his head altogether!)
Meanwhile Bill has parked his ute on a lonely road near Knutters Knoll and continues to quietly ponder the mysterious disappearances, and also the similarity between the shape of the Salvation Army hat and Knutters Knoll itself, when his vehicle is forcefully struck from behind by an empty van. Bill apprehensively examines the abandoned van, which had been driven by the 'Torquay Trombone All Stars' before they were all strangely abducted, and he takes a leftover trombone from the back of the van with him in a bid to solve the mystery.
The next day, Tim is extremely cross with Bill for not turning up at the grand opening of Knutters Knoll ("Thanks to you, our opening night was a shambles! At this time of year you should have known we'd have a huge influx of Druids!"), but Bill has other things on his mind ("Deep down inside I feel strangely troubled", to which Tim retorts that it's "Nothing a barrel of senna pods won't put right!") as he figures out the connection between the various incidents. While Tim serves a "cheeky" little Chateau Meths 1979 to a couple of tramps, Graeme also attempts to solve the puzzle and wipes out Tim's menu on the blackboard (much to Tim's horror – "It took me hours to do that menu! All in joined-up writing too!") with a list of the abductions. However Graeme still can't spot the bleedingly obviously connection until an incredulous Bill tells him that "they all played the trombone" (apart from the "man in the bog", who, according to Bill, had "poetic licence"!) Bill's theory is that all of these people have been "grabbed by the UFOs" (which prompts a rather pained wince from Tim!), but Graeme is extremely scornful ("They don't exist, UFOs!"), especially when EBGB chirps in agreement with Bill ("Oh great, so that proves your theory, just because you're backed up by a domestic appliance!"), while Tim is rather scared as Bill spookily claims that "the aliens are about to land".
Bill finally gets to work and prepares an order for the two tramps, but piles the food up in a shuttle shape on the plate, much to Tim's horror ("They can't eat this!" to which the hungry tramps plead "Yes we can!") and Bill utters "I just had to make that shape!" in a rather bewildered manner. Tim thinks that Bill has "gone loony", only for Graeme to surface from behind a bench with the Salvation Army hat on his head and with a kooky look on his face which worries Tim even more! Graeme declares that Bill has made the food in the shape of the hat because "He's in love with a Salvation Army trombone player. Problem solved!" (then proceeds to roughly dump the plateful of food inside the rubbish bin in EBGB's head, which in turn horrifies the two starving tramps even more!) However Bill disregards Graeme's "typical scientific short-sightedness" and takes his trombone to the local park at night in a bid to summon up the aliens. Instead Bill only manages to disturb the local flashers and attract some uncalled-for attention from a gay man until everyone flees from a spooky alien being which lurches towards them from out of the fog along a path.
Bill races back to Knutters Knoll and bangs hysterically on the door, but Tim is too frightened to let him in when he realises that Bill is being followed by an alien creature. In desperation, Bill calls out "EBGB, come here, good boy, open the door", and EBGB blasts the door off its hinges (which lets Bill in, but doesn't exactly help to keep the weird creature out!) and Bill yells at Tim for being a "coward" before he hides under the table with him. However the alien merely turns out to be Graeme (complete with red jacket, brown beret, thick glasses, scientific apparatus and a very silly geeky voice), who loudly proclaims "Gawd, I'm knackered!" upon his entry to the room. Bill growls "Graeme, that was extremely irresponsible!" as Graeme explains that he has been out doing a bit of "UFO spotting", which annoys Bill even more as "two-faced" Graeme had previously argued with him that UFOs don't exist. While Bill calms himself down with some trombone practice, Graeme asks Tim if he'd "Care for a demo, old chap?" and gladly chatters away about the capabilities of his UFO detection gear. However Graeme and Tim get so carried away with "mode reversal thrust indicators" and other technical stuff that they don't even notice Bill being lifted up through the roof while he sits on a stool and plays his trombone.
Bill is soon dumped back inside the building with his trombone unravelled and no memory of what has just taken place ("Where am I? What happened?") and Tim gasps "Look at his face!" (to which Graeme sneers "Must I?!") Bill has been returned with the word 'reject' stamped prominently on his forehead and Graeme theorises that the aliens snaffled him, but "sent him back because he couldn't play the trombone well enough". Graeme locates the alien ship as a "little green splodge" on his computer screen, which sends Tim into a state of mad panic (to the point where he even thinks that a trombone blast from the ship is the result of his own nervous state!) Graeme has trouble with trying to make contact, so he asks "EBGB, how do you talk to aliens?", only for EBGB to utter a Dalek-like "Exterminate!" and "Where are the aliens? We will kill them all!", before Graeme yells "Stop it, you fool!" and clouts EBGB over the head to shut him up!
A change of channels reveals that the aliens have tuned into the TV wavelengths (with the BBC logo, an agog Patrick Moore's hair and a clay pot in the interlude all being changed to the distinctive shuttle shape), while a concerned Graeme ponders "Just imagine, suppose they got their whole idea about human beings are like from watching television." Bill replies "Good grief, they probably think we're a race of Nicholas Parsons!" in disgust, which is immediately followed by a huge raspberry-like trombone blast from the aliens and the Goodies (looking skyward in unison) yell "Fair comment!" in reply. Graeme gasps "A race of Nicholas Parsons! If they've got any moral feelings at all …" and a worried Bill adds "They'll blast us out of the universe!"
To avert this fate, Graeme insists that "We've got to impress them, prove to them that we are in fact a race of supermen", so the Goodies head "to the phone booths" for a quick change of costume. Tim initially emerges clad only in his undies, while Bill has pumped up his muscles so much that he can't squeeze through the booth door. Tim takes off down the road faster than a speeding bullet (thanks to a skyrocket tied to his backside) only to plunge into a pond to seek relief, then even manages to fly through the air shortly afterwards (with the help of a hired crane, which hauls Graeme skywards unexpectedly as well!) However the Goodies' aching muscles afterwards tell them that they really need to send up "an ambassador of peace and goodwill" who even the aliens will respect ("but above all, someone who can fly like the clappers!") - Tim as Supernun!
The spiel for Supernun announces that she is "faster than an express hearse, leaps tall churches in a single bound, stronger than five archbishops …" and Graeme issues the liftoff instructions while Supernun stands on the launch pad. Bill launches Supernun into space (with the help of a few sticks of dynamite under her habit), but not before "mad scientist" Graeme has slyly asked him to fit a nuclear warhead to her. This means that Tim is now a "five megaton nun, son!", as Graeme admits that he's "made a bit of a boob" after Bill tells him that they "won't feel a thing" either when Supernun detonates, then quickly adds "But I am terribly sorry!" Bill is horrified by this, as he has just worked out the alien's trombone language and wants to make peace with them, so he takes to the skies in his Superman costume in a bid to stop Supernun from blowing up the alien craft (and the world in general). Graeme witnesses a game of outer-space tennis on his computer between Bill and the spaceship (with Supernun as the human tennis ball) and he rejoices when Bill manages to knock Supernun out of orbit and away from the alien ship ("He'll just go round and round until he burns himself out!")
The aliens wish to land on Earth and naturally choose the shuttle-shaped Knutters Knoll to park their enormous glowing spaceship on (crushing the Knite Spot to splinters in the process of landing), as Bill goes to greet them armed with only his trusty trombone, and to a 'loony signal' from Graeme for his efforts. After he initially gets a sharp flat response from a trombone on the spaceship (which appears from a porthole like a gun from a battleship to frightened gasps from the assembled crowd), Bill manages to get it to join him in playing 'The Goodies Theme' and then several trombones merrily pump along in harmony with him to the theme music of 'Monty Python'.
A huge entrance portal opens up on the side of the ship and Bill announces "They want me to go in there. And I'm going to, because I trust them, as they trusted us." In an inspiring speech, Bill tells everyone gathered around that these are the "sole surviving aliens in the universe" and that "we, all of us, the whole world … stand here now on the threshold of the most historic moment in the history of the entire univ… !", when he is rudely interrupted by something which plummets through the sky and back to Earth. Members of the crowd call out"It's a bird ... It's a plane ... ", but Graeme astutely observes that "It's a nun!" - Supernun in fact - who detonates with an almighty explosion upon impact and puts an end to all life in the universe in the process.
* Graeme: "In fact, I could sell you a few dozen of these (EBGBs). You could open up a string of cafes up and down the country."
Tim (curious): "Oh, like McDonalds hamburgers?"
Graeme (bluntly): "Not much!"
Tim: "Neither do I!"
* Tim (regarding Bill's theory that all the missing people played the trombone): "What about the man in the bog?"
Bill: "Hmm ... poetic licence!"
* Park Warden (announcing into megaphone): "All right, you Druids. Time's up. Druids off. Have you Druids got no homes to go to?! It's flashers hour as from now, 9 o'clock. Come on you flashers, let's have you!"
* Graeme: "EBGB, how do you speak to aliens?"
EBGB (as a Dalek): "Exterminate, exterminate!"
* Bill (angrily): "Come on, own up. That nun was loaded!"
Graeme: "Well yes, a bit."
Bill (demandingly): "How much of a bit?!"
Graeme (being a smart alec): "Quite a big bit. That there is a five megaton nun, son!"
(and a little later)
Bill: "Isn't there any way we can stop them (Supernun and the alien ship) colliding?"
Graeme (cheekily): "None ... nun! Ha!" (ducks for cover before Bill can whack him!)
* The opening sequence with Bill witnessing the strange alien abductions of trombonists from a Salvation Army band and a jazz group, (where they are lifted skywards towards a foggy green light), then seeing a man enter the outhouse and blowing off merrily after a big feed of baked beans (with his puzzled wife calling out "Dad, have you got a trombone in there?!", to his reply of "No, my dear!") before suffering a similar fate. The man's wife is quick to blame the beans though, casting the big empty beans tin into the rubbish bin with a horrified look after her hubby goes crashing up through the roof of the bog!
* The various scenes with Graeme's robot, the 'Electronic Brain of Great Britain' (EBGB!), especially where it gives Tim "a hand" - a round of applause - followed by the first of many kicks and thumps from a rather cruel and detached Graeme. EBGB also suffices as a rubbish bin for scraps, a tea maker (with it rather distastefully piddling the tea into a cup from a suspicious-looking little tube in its tummy!) a vacuum cleaner, a clothes dryer, and also a very suitable Dalek for good measure, before Graeme dongs it one last time with a hammer when it has the temerity to agree with Bill's speech when he says "even though instead of trying to talk to (the aliens), some of us tried to blast them out of the skies!", while looking accusingly in Graeme's direction.
* Bill sitting at the wheel of his ute in the moonlight staring at the Salvation Army hat with Knutters Knoll in the distance and pondering the connection between all of the disappearances, with a set of headlights coming ever closer down the hill in his rear-vision mirror before there is a brilliantly realistic collision. Also Bill spookily discovering that the van carrying the 'Torquay Trombone All Stars' has crashed into the back of his ute because all of the trombonists have been abducted and his gasp of fright when the back door of the van slams shut after he has slightly nudged it when taking the leftover trombone out.
* The entire scene with Bill practicing his trombone in a dimly-lit park which has strictly rostered times for its various users (kite fliers, grass skiers, Druids, flashers, Ufologists, dirty persons and tramps!), with a warden ensuring that the Druids and flashers are changing over at precisely the correct time ("Have you Druids got no homes to go to?!") and bailing up Bill with an authoritarian "Oi, what's your game? Are you a flasher?!", before demanding "Then off it!" after Bill politely answers "No, Sir." Bill's trombone-playing upsets several flashers (with one even screeching and flashing to the camera while still fully clothed!), with his desperate plea to the aliens of "take me, take me!" only succeeding in gaining some unwanted affection from a gay man who rapidly departs in terror along with several flashers, (including one who dutifully gives Bill an eyeful on the way before fleeing!) A weird alien being wanders out of the mist, later proving to be merely Graeme ("Sorry chums, I was out UFO spotting!") with his "special apparatus", much to the disgust of a petrified Bill, who is hiding under a table along with the panic-stricken Tim after EBGB has blown the door to Knutters Knoll clean off its hinges. This was upon Bill's command to "open the door" after a very cowardly Tim had refused to let him in once he found out that Bill was being pursued by a strange "alien thing from outer space".
* Tim and Graeme acting as loony Ufologists, with Graeme firstly explaining that his weird tone of voice is because "the normal human voice interferes with the vague signals" that might emanate from a spacecraft ("You'll find that all UFO spotters talk like this!"), hence encouraging Tim to adopt a similar voice, then telling Tim to "bung on the protective gear" such as the thick glasses (to "protect the eyes from radiation") and beret (which "stops the hair being tousled by the downblast"). All the while, Graeme's UFO detection apparatus is going berserk because Bill is being lifted through the roof by the alien ship while playing the trombone, and Tim and Graeme finally think that they notice a "little flicker of some sort" on the detector ("yes ...yes ... no!") as Bill comes crashing back through the roof shortly afterwards with a bent trombone and 'reject' stamped on his forehead because he can't play the trombone well enough, according to the aliens.
* Various cameos in the sections about making contact with the aliens and impressing them, including Tim freaking out with another "I'm a teapot" routine, then babbling "I want my teddy!" and cuddling a surprised Bill close to him, the 'BBC 9 O'Clock News' logo and Patrick Moore's hair turning shuttle-shaped, plus Graeme hurling a Moss Brothers costume into the Tim's booth (after he has leapt out wearing only his boxer shorts), then crossly knocking the top hat off Tim's head when he re-emerges. Also Bill getting cross with Graeme for loading Supernun with a nuclear warhead and Graeme's lyrical reply of "I didn't know the nun was loaded!" (and Basil Brush-style "boom, boom" to go on with), and the intergalactic tennis match on Graeme's computer screen between Superman Bill (with racquet in hand) and the alien ship (extending a big tennis racquet from its hull), with Supernun being belted around in-between as the ball.
* The dazzling final sequence with the huge disco globe-like spaceship landing on Knutters Knoll, Bill communicating with the aliens by playing 'The Goodies Theme' on his trombone followed by the Monty Python theme, and the huge portal opening in the ship. Also Bill delivering a stirring speech about his new friends being the "sole surviving aliens in the universe", and this being the "most historic moment in the history of the entire universe", until he is stopped in his tracks by the crash-landing of Supernun, who wipes everyone out upon impact.
Roger Brierley, Marcelle Samett, Ernie Goodyear, Richard Smith, Patrick Moore
MY 2 CENTS WORTH
Watching 'early days' sci-fi shows and movies has never been quite the same for me since I first saw this 'Close Encounters of the Goody Kind'. Even after all these years, its classic visual sequences and super script ensures that it remains as one of the great comic sci-fi send-ups.
BLACK PUDDING RATING