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Episode six of Blackadder Goes Forth is called ‘Goodbyeee’. It was written by Ben Elton and Richard Curtis. ‘Goodbyeee’ is set in World War One, at the battle of the Somme; in the trenches. World War one is a difficult subject but the writers decided to add a humorous edge to highlight the serious issues of war.
Blackadder was always shown before the nine o’clock watershed therefore it is suitable for all ages of viewers. There are many types of humour used throughout programmes over the years: Firstly – the physical world letting people down. This is often houses collapsing, or cars running away.
An example of this type of comedy is featured in “The Chuckle Brothers”. Secondly – the absurd. This type of humour is typical in cartoons, where injuries are never permanent.
Commonly used in “The Simpsons” or “Tom and Jerry”. Thirdly – sexual innuendos. This is where one character will say something innocent; this could be “Show us your jugs love”. It is implied to the audience that this is a sexual comment, but as the camera turns to the female, she would be holding two jugs of water. Sexual innuendos are used throughout “Carry On… ” films.
Fourthly – satire. Institutions such as the Government, or the Royal Family, are poked fun at. Have I Got News for You” revolves entirely around satire.
Finally – self criticism or self depreciation. For example, Ronnie Corbett is famous for using this type of comedy. He was constantly cracking jokes about his personal flaws or un-favoured features. The first type of humour that is used in ‘Goodbyeee’ is; verbal humour. Verbal humour could be puns, sarcasm, insults or wisecracks. Other than in Blackadder, this type of humour is used by Frank Skinner and Paul Merton. The second type of humour that is used in episode six of Blackadder Goes Forth is visual humour.
It may also be known as slapstick. This could be a custard pie in the face, or somebody’s trousers falling down. Other than in Blackadder, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and ‘Laurel and Hardy’ are famous for using visual comedy in their acts. Overall, Blackadder is known as Black comedy. This means making serious issues or subjects into something amusing. The serious issues may be death, food shortage or war. The first time we hear verbal humour being displayed in ‘Goodbyeee’, is when Lieutenant George talks about the Pal’s Battalion that he signed up for the war with.
All of George’s friends had rather strange nicknames, e. g. Bumfluff, Jacko and Badger, Sticky and Drippy and Mr Floppy. We hear Lieutenant George tell us that he and his friends had “beaten the ‘Oxford Tiddlywinkers’ only the week before”. George then goes on to tell us that, unfortunately, all of his pals had died during the war, although he talks about their deaths in sporting terms. This tells the audience that George has no real concept of war, and even though he is well educated, he has no real life learning’s; he is very nai? ve.
Due to his naivety, George is like a walking, talking propaganda poster. He is very nationalistic and uses jingoistic language gathered from the propaganda at home. The second time we hear verbal humour, is when Edmund Blackadder, gets ‘cold feet’ about going to war. He decides that he is going to act like he has mental problems, in order to be sent home. He repeats words such as “wooble”, “cluck cluck gibber gibber” “pah pah” etc. Obviously Blackadder is petrified of going to war, unlike educated, middle class Lieutenant George. Blackadder understands that if he ‘goes over the top’ he faces certain death.
Later on Baldrick demonstrates that he doesn’t actually know why the war started, “a bloke called Archie Duke killed an ostrich ’cause he was hungry? ” he questions. The audience knows that the war started because Austro-Hungary invaded Germany. We can instantly tell that Baldrick is ill educated, and easily confused, but also, Baldrick is very loyal to anyone in a superior position to himself, I think this because he fights in a war that he doesn’t even know why it began. In the next section of the scene, we are introduced to General Melchett.
He does not have to live in the trenches; he is a higher ranking member of the army. Like Lieutenant George, General Melchett is a public school boy, who is well educated, but has no real understanding of war and death. General Melchett thinks that the men who are fighting in the war are just numbers, not lives that are being thrown away. He talks about war in sporting terms “we ducked and we bobbed and we wove and we damn well won the game 15-4” Earlier in the scene, we hear Baldrick tell Blackadder what he has been making coffee from for the last thirteen months; since they ran out of real coffee.
It had been made from “hot mud, saliva, and dandruff”. At this point in the scene, Baldrick offers Officer Darling a cup of coffee. Being unaware of what the coffee is actually made from, Officer Darling gladly accepts, adding that he would like a ‘milky one’. This is dramatic irony because only the audience realise what Darling is going to receive in his coffee cup. Baldrick disappears to make the coffee, the camera cuts from the room, but a horrible ‘throaty’ noise can be heard from outside the ‘dug-out’.
When the camera returns to the scene, Baldrick gives Darling the cup of coffee; Darling takes one sip and immediately spits it out. This may be very funny, but it is also outlining the serious issue of rationing and food shortage. Whilst verbal humour is used frequently throughout the episode, several references to war are highlighted by visual humour. The first example of visual humour we see in the final episode of ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ is Baldrick eating a cigarette. Edmund Blackadder had offered all of the gentlemen present a cigarette.
They all gladly accepted, and all except Baldrick, lit their cigarettes and happily puffed away. However, Baldrick willingly “chomped” his gift. This is uproarious to watch, but also gives an insight into Baldrick’s character. He is loyal as he doesn’t want to refuse a gift from a peer, but also because he is probably starving due to the serious issue of rationing during the war. Further on in the episode, another serious issue is highlighted by visual humour. Blackadder put two pencils up his nostrils and a pair of underpants on his head; trying to demonstrate that he has gone mad and should be sent home immediately.
Blackadder had changed his mind about ‘going over the top’; he was scared of the certain death that awaited him there. Blackadder was being pro-active, but unfortunately his plan failed. Towards the end of the episode, we see General Melchett talking to Officer Darling. Whilst Melchett is wearing his bed time attire, he is also sporting and unusual looking item: a hairnet covering his moustache. To the audience this reinforces the fact that they think his is disillusioned; an unusual character.
A lot of dramatic devices are used to add to the significance of one specific part of the episode. The social and historical context and the serious issues surrounding war. Dramatic devices are added to the visual humour to reinforce the significance of the scene. For example, Field Marshall Haig takes a sweeping brush and knocks down several toy soldiers off a mock battlefield, and into a dustpan. This dramatic device signifies how senior members of the army rank, who were not fighting on the front line, didn’t care how many men were being slaughtered by the German soldiers.
Serious issues, such as: rationing, water-logged trenches, the Christmas Truce and the fact that Baldrick didn’t even know why the war had begun. The serious issue of rationing is highlighted by the previously mentioned coffee scene, involving Baldrick and Officer Darling, and Baldrick eating a cigarette. “The Somme Public Baths, no running, shouting or piddling in the shallow end”, this entertaining speech that Blackadder recites into the telephone receiver is immediately informing the viewer that is would be possible to swim in the trenches.
Again highlighting a serious issue, this time the issue is water-logged trenches. We hear the three main characters – Blackadder, Lieutenant George, and Baldrick – talking about the previous Christmas, when there had been a ceasefire. The English and German troops played football on ‘no-mans-land’. The gunfire had stopped they attempted to swap cigarette cards, and had broken Christmas greetings for each other. When asked if he could remember the Christmas Truce, Blackadder replies “Remember? How could I forget? There was no way I was off-side”.
This again is adding a humorous edge to a serious situation. At the end of the episode, the soldiers take their positions at the bottom of the ladders that they will climb to go “over the top”. A steady drumbeat is played; this is intended to give the effect of an approaching execution. The whistle is blown and all men advance up the ladders and “over the top”. All the characters yell, the German soldiers open fire before they’re even off the ladders. The scene changes to slow motion and explosions happen all around them.
An echoed piano slowly plays the theme tune; this is a very emotive device, as it creates a sombre atmosphere. The view of the soldiers on the battlefield surrounded by barbed wire, slowly changes into the field as it was in 1989. Overgrown with poppies, grasses and other flowers; peaceful with chirping birds. This emotive dramatic device creates a very dark and sombre atmosphere for the episode and series to end on. I would like to think that the writers purposefully showed the image of the battlefield with poppies, to pay respect to all those who died in the war.