5 November 2017 | kmoh-1
Much of the 1970s were spent in TV-land trying to find a starring vehicle for David Jason. Everyone agreed he was very talented and versatile, and he excelled in particular as a foil for Ronnie Barker. But that leading role escaped him. Pathos didn't work with Lucky Feller, and slapstick didn't work with Edgar Briggs.
Not that Briggs wasn't funny. Some of the stunts are wonderful, the timing excellent. The pratfalls and verbal tics come at you bam-bam-bam, Airplane-style. If there is a drink, Briggs will spill it; if there is a telephone, Briggs will get himself tangled in the wires; if there is a hat, Briggs will cram it down ludicrously on his head; if someone else has a line, Briggs will misinterpret it.
The gags are more miss than hit, but most scenes have one or two splendid moments. The verbal jousting is less effective; situations can't build up slowly and hilariously, because Briggs gets absolutely everything wrong. He forgets who he is talking to, he forgets the orders he has just given. A typical scene might involve Briggs ordering Spencer to conceal his identity and pretend to be Smith; Spencer introduces himself as Smith, and Briggs will immediately call him Spencer loudly, and wonder who Smith is.
So it's not, as some reviewers have suggested, a work of genius. Neither is it, as other reviewers have suggested, a childish load of nonsense. In style, it's probably closest to the Piggy Malone and Charley Farley strand in the Two Ronnies. It is easier to enjoy this if you're not feeling sophisticated. Its very amateurishness is quite endearing. I can certainly understand why David Jason was embarrassed to let it out. But it's fun.