The Morecambe & Wise Show: Series 8
With 1974, we are getting to the pinnacle of Morecambe & Wise’s career, the 28 million viewer record and the eagerly awaited Christmas shows.
|Produced By: 2 Entertain|
Run Time: 255 minutes
Series 8 then should represent some of their best work, and although there is nothing bad or unfunny about it, personally I wouldn’t say it’s their definitive series. Tastes differ though, so you may find this to be the best yet.
The shows follow the now familiar and strangely comforting format with Eric and Ern coming out first for their little chat, laced with gags and silly costumes.
The first episode for example we find Eric trying to persuade Ern to move away from comedy and into serious acting roles such as Shakespeare. After all, they don’t have to thin up new jokes every week.
The one-off sketches are also present, Magnus Magnusson getting in on the act as they do a Mastermind spoof. Also prevalent, more so that in any other series, is Arthur Tolcher, trying defiantly to play more than a few bars with his mouth organ.
Arthur also gets a few parts in sketches and plays, playing background roles such as a railway porter or bar man. He also gets his own end-of-show running gag. Rushing towards the camera as Eric and Ern dance off, only to be cut short again.
Episode one also includes the routine that initially worried them. It consisted of Ern telling the audience how predictable they had become, especially Eric. As he mentioned each gag (hand on the throat, can’t see the join, short fat hairy legs etc) Eric prompt did them, much to his bemusement.
It is rumoured that they questioned this routine with their writer Eddie Braben, saying that it gave the game away and would turn the audiences away. Luckily they were proved wrong and the routine is still funny today.
Special guests are a bit thin on the ground though, especially A-listers. Andre Previn returns in one of the flat sketches and in a musical number, the aforementioned Magnus Magnusson plus June Whitfield are probably the only ones you may have heard of.
Dance routines were also sprinkled throughout, with the better ones being arranged by Ernest Maxin, the man who would later take over as producer from John Ammonds.
Some of the sketches seemed padded, especially in Episode 4 with Richard Baker (the then news reader) in the flat sketch. This routine relies heavily on flash backs to previous episodes with Glenda Jackson and Susan Hampshire.
Just as you think the whole show is slowing down though, they burst into a manic dance number which balances it out.
One point of interest is the sketch with Ernie auditioning for Opportunity Knocks with Hughie Green. After showing a picture of himself (which is really him) aged about 12, he then goes on to perform a song and dance he actually did at that age. For those avid fans, they know it as Lets have a tiddly at the milk bar.
This series is short on plays, with only one in the last episode, The Plantation of Passion with June Whitfield. This is a fitting end to this series and probably one of the funniest routines in the whole six episodes.
Now the downsides; Episode two is riddled with video freezes and glitches. This is acknowledged at the start of the episode, but because of the frequency of these problems, the episode is somewhat marred and less enjoyable. Also the cover is misleading, having screen shots on from another series and claiming 7 episodes.
They were 7 in this series, but the last one was the Christmas show which was released on the Christmas box set, and not on this one.
Despite these annoyances, and the video glitches in episode two, this is yet another fine series that no fan should be without.
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