Some years ago "Dad's army" was voted the best British comedy and rightly so. Great Britain faced imminent invasion by Germany in 1940. The British army was destroyed on the beaches of Dunkirk. To counter an invasion the government decided to raise local militias consisting of individuals unfit or too old for military service called the Home Guard. Dad's Army is the story about such a local militia in the (fictious) little town of Walmington-on-Sea. Dad's Army is British comedy at his very best. Some good points are* The Brits are masters of ridiculing other nations but are grandmasters in ridiculing themselves. They do it with gusto in Dad's Army. * The ensemble cast has no weak links. Arthur Lowe (as capt. Mainwaring) is a giant, and John Le Mesurier (as sgt Wilson) plays himself, the quintessential English gentleman. *The writing is superb, the humour as British as British humour can get *There is so much to discover, the relationships between the characters, living in Britain during the war, the class-struggle, so many actors from other series make an appearance.It is all wonderful to be honest.
Without any doubt, 'Dad's Army' the show about the efforts of the Home Guard during the Second World War is undoubtedly the greatest TV show ever made. It combined so much greatness- in scripts, acting, pathos, social snobbery and slapstick, it was just a dream of a show. Without going into great detail with the synopsis (that would be careless talk), 'Dad's Army' was about a Home Guard unit lead by Bank Manager Captain George Mainwaring (Arthur Lowe). His Seargent is the mysterious Wilson (John Le Mesurier) and his Corporal is Jones (Clive Dunn). These are in charge of Frazer, Walker, Godfrey and Pike (John Laurie, James Beck, Arnold Ridley and Ian Lavender). The shows humour came from the social snobbery between Mainwaring and Wilson, with Mainwaring constantly seeing Wilson as a threat to his power as Wilson went to public school, yet in reality Wilson had no wishes whatsoever to run the platoon Mainwaring so proudly was in charge of. There was also the enemy within, in this case the Chief of the ARP, Hodges. This also led to much of the humour.Yet the reason why 'Dad's Army' worked so well was the dream combination of the scripts and the actors. So many sitcoms have failed or not been as good as they could have been due to decent scripts but not so good actors or vice versa. Yet in 'Dads Army's' case, both were top class. The scripts were of fantastic value by Jimmy Perry and David Croft, Perry having been in the Home Guard during the war drew on past experiences. The scripts were full of great dialogue and wonderful characterisations.The cast was absolutely superb. Arthur Lowe and John Le Mesurier were an absolute dream team acting together, a superb partnership. Arthur Lowe's facial expressions were brilliant as was his comic timing, he was a master of comic timing. Le Mesurier's wonderful dreary laid back personality was also fantastic and this led to a great partnership with Lowe being totally unimpressed by Le Mesurier's casual manner. The rest of the cast were also great, Clive Dunn was fantastic as the old Butcher Jones. Dunn was a good few years younger than the man he was playing, but he brilliantly played old men, a speciality which Clive Dunn, still living, did in many shows. Then the privates were also great, John Laurie and Arnold Ridley the two oldest members of the cast were outstanding. John Laurie would look at the camera rolling his eyes, being extremely pessimistic. He knew how to capitulate an audience. A richly experienced actor when 'Dad's Army' first went out, John Laurie brought in great experience and gave the show so many laughs. Arnold Ridley as Private Godfrey who was older than John Laurie was also a brilliant character, so gentle and in my view the funniest bar Captain Mainwaring. He was so innocent, yet would come out with hilarious lines. For example in the episode 'Keep Young and Beautiful' Godfrey goes round to Frazer's dark morbid house, where he won't use electricity, he just has candles. Ridley brilliantly expresses 'I like candles. They're more romantic' Also the younger actors in it, James Beck as Private Walker and Ian Lavender as Private Pike also gave great value to the show, the former for his wheelin' and 'dealin' and the latter for his naivety. Also it's difficult to forget the support cast who were also great, such as Bill Pertwee's Hodges, Frank Williams Vicar, Edward Sinclair's Verger, Janet Davies's Mrs Pike and of course though we never see her, Elizabeth Mainwaring.The first series was something of a saga, going through a week by week progression from the platoon being formed in the first episode, to the increase of uniforms and weapons being delivered throughout the first series to finally them meeting Winstone Churchill. Then from Series 2 onwards, it was more traditional, with different situations each week.In 1973, just before the end of the sixth series, James Beck who played Private Walker sadly died aged a mere 43. His role as Walker as the lovable rogue emptied the show of two prize assets in my opinion. Firstly was the way quite interestingly, Mainwaring was prepared to get involved in black market activity. The other asset gone in my opinion which was the biggest loss was Walker being a constant thorn in the side of Mainwaring, interrupting his lectures with witty comments, thus leading to great comic rapport between Lowe and Beck. When he died, Welshman Taflyn Thomas was brought in as Private Cheeseman who was a journalist, having excelled in playing the role in a previous episode. In my view, Cheeseman was a decent character, but he simply wasn't strong enough to be lining up alongside Lowe, Le Mesurier, Dunn, Laurie, Ridley and Lavender. He was dropped after one series, a decision which was in my view a right one. It went on for two more series and continued to be excellent, yet not as good as say Series 4,5 and 6 where the show was quite clearly in its peak.'Dad's Army' lives on to be the only television programme which dates back to the 1960's that is still gets a prime time repeat on terrestrial television. According to the autobiography of sitcom writer Vince Powell, he had submitted an idea of a sitcom about the Home Guard to his superiors in 1968, his idea had just been beaten by Jimmy Perry. I say thank God for that. Powell's effort might have been decent, yet I doubt very much it would have been in the same league as Perry and Croft's effort and wouldn't be as strong today.'Dad's Army' will undoubtedly be remembered as a sitcom that brought laughter to many peoples lives. Long may its legacy live on.
Dad's Army is still played again and again, and it's easy to see why. Dad's Army created some of the most memorable characters on British television. The hilarity is still there. Even after seeing a lot of episodes 7 or 8 times over, I still laugh. That is a hard thing to achieve in comedy. Jimmy Perry and David Croft came up with something that surpassed anything created before and after. The central core actors executed their parts PERFECTLY. I still can't picture anyone than Arthur Lowe being the pompous captain, or Le Mesurier as the polite Sgt. This is the type of series where, when asked to pick your favorite character, you just can't. And that's because every character is very different from its fellow characters. There's Corporal Jones, the hilariously "wooly minded" butcher. And Private Walker, the spiv who would sell his own grandmother. Sadly James Beck died, and no matter how hard the writers tried, they couldn't replace him. There's Private Pike, the mommy's boy, who is constantly having the famous "You stupid Boy!" line directed his way. Then there's Frazer, the frugal Scottish mortician. And Godfrey, the gentleman, and the one who always needs to be excused. Then the afore mentioned Capt. Mainwaring, and Srgt. Wilson. The ARP Warden Hodges, the uncouth green grocer, who has a fierce feud with Capt. Mainwaring. The Vicar and the Verger, the troublemaker, and Mrs. Pike.Even the more minor characters in this epic comedy are just so well done. It is a comic story set in the small seaside town of Walmington-On-Sea which is doing its bit to fight off the boche.Dad's Army highlights a golden age for British Comedy. It's famous lines such as "Don't Panic!", have pervaded other areas of T.V. and culture. Dad's Army will keep marching on and on....