Tonight BBC2 will repeat the episode War Dance.
Mainwaring is planning a dance to bring the platoon and the town together. Walker and Jones are organising the refreshments while Mrs Mainwaring is baking sausage rolls. Meanwhile Pike is planning on bringing his girlfriend, Violet Gibbons, much to the disapproval of Mainwaring who regards her as common . Wilson is deputed to persuade Pike to find a more suitable companion. However Wilson is embarrassed and keeps putting it off; when he does try, things only become more complicated when Pike announces that he intends to marry Violet.
The night of the dance comes round, and the guests arrive, to be greeted by Mainwaring who has turned-up sporting a black-eye courtesy of his wife who objected to him dressing her down after she burned the sausage rolls. Walker has brought a pair of twins, Doris and Dora while Wilson is accompanied by Mavis Pike.Frank Pike arrives with Violet (Wendy Richard) and determined to announce their engagement. Wilson tells Walker to prevent Pike making the announcement as he knows Mavis will be horrified.
As the evening wears on it become more and more difficult to keep Pike from making his announcement and eventually he gets hold of the microphone. The dance ends in chaos and the episode closes with Mainwaring, Wilson and Pike taking refuge in the office: Mainwaring locked out by his still angry wife, Wilson blamed by Mavis for Frank’s announcement and Frank himself having been doused with cold water by his mother in an attempt to cool his ardour. Frank reflects that being grown-up is not all it could be.
I think War Dance is an important episode as it is really the first time that the storyline is devoted to the non-military lives of the platoon and focuses on the characters. This approach would become more important as the series developed: a few episodes later Branded would focus on Godfrey’s history as a conscientious objector in an episode that is touching and thought-provoking as well as bring very funny.
War Dance does not explore character in as much depth, but we begin to see the maturing of young Frank Pike, and also the increasing prominence of his character. Whereas in the first 2 series Pike was very much part of the second row (along with Godfrey, Frazer and Walker) from this episode he begins to move more to the front row alongside Mainwaring, Wilson and Jones.
All in all a nice episode that demonstrated that Dad’s Army could be more than just a sitcom based in the ranks of the Home Guard, but a comedy series populated by characters that are rounded and three-dimensional.