Tonight at 2030 BBC will screen the 27th Dad’s Army episode – The Big Parade.
Perry and Croft seemed to be mining an aquatic theme at this stage of Dad’s Army series 4. The previous episode, Sons of the Sea, saw the platoon adrift in a rowing boat while the next episode, Don’t Forget the Diver, has Cpl Jones in a diving suit in the river. In The Big Parade Private Pike merely gets stuck in a bog – but more of that later.
Some Dad’s Army episodes have a very clear story arc – others are more a series of vignettes, and this one has that feel to it. So we start in the cinema with a newsreel which gives the Captain the idea that the platoon needs a mascot for an upcoming parade. He shares this notion with the platoon and after a bit of fooling they settle on trying to catch one of farmer (Private) Sponge’s rams for the role. This gives rise to a lovely moment in which Frazer and Walker narrowly avoid having to explain the facts of life to young Pike.our
The platoon’s attempts to capture the ram are predictably chaotic – first Wilson gets caught (by the crotch) in a barbed wire fence, then Pike gets stuck in a bog requiring a rescue operation during which Jones goes missing and they all assume he too is lost in the quicksand – leading to a second rescue mission which is interrupted by Jones turning up with a rope to rescue Pike!
They return in failure to the hall, minus the ram but Walker assures Mainwaring he can get him a magnificent specimen for ‘only a fiver’. What he turns up with is apparently a mangy lamb which they try to dress up with “the vicar’s ‘orns” but the effect does not please Mainwaring and he is even less happy when the sheep eats his fiver.
The episode closes on the parade itself, with the mascot-less platoon trying to outdo Hodges’ wardens by racing them to be first in the parade.
There is a lot going on in this episode and some lovely Dad’s Army set-pieces and visual gags (the sign warning ‘Beware of the Bog’ being a great example). But it falls down a bit because it lacks the compelling storyline and implied danger of an episode like Sons of the Sea. But who can watch this without enjoying the knowledge that Ian Lavender got a frog up his trouser leg during the filming of the bog sequence – stupid boy.