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Series / The Olden Days

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I blame you for this Olden. [...] You're always making me look the fool! And worse still, you're continually going out of focus!
Governor Frontbottom

The Olden Days is a recurring Gag Dub sketch that aired on the Australian sketch comedy series The Late Show (1992). It was based on the historical drama series Rush (1974), set during the Victorian Gold Rush of the 1850s. The sketches mainly used the voices of Tony Martin as Governor Frontbottom and Judge Muttonchops and Mick Molloy as Sergeant Olden.

After the first season of The Late Show, this sketch was discontinued and replaced with another Gag Dub, Bargearse.

A trailer for the DVD release, with several clips quoted below, can be found here.

The Olden Days contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: All over the place.
    • In Governor Frontbottom's first scene with Sergeant Olden, he mentions that they met last year at auditions for Play School. John Waters (1948), Sgt. Robert McKeller in Rush, was on Play School from 1972 to 1990. A later scene has a conversation between Caroline and McGuire which brings up several of John Waters' later roles, though when Caroline mentions Rush, McGuire doesn't think he was in it.
    • Judge Muttonchops (Alwyn Kurts) reveals to the Governor that he's been offered the lead role in Homicide. "It's a new cop show. It's set in the future, and the best thing is I don't have to wear these sideburns!"
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: After a man (Andrew McFarlane) tries to sneak onto the mudfields without a license by claiming to be an Automatic Teller Machine, the policeman replies, "Next you'll be telling us you're one of The Flying Doctors!" The weird part is that he makes beeping noises like an ATM when the other guy pokes him in the chest.
  • Argument of Contradictions: Olden and Frontbottom have one of these when Frontbottom claims that their dialogue exchanges are too simplistically written. It goes for about twenty seconds.
  • Berserk Button: Frontbottom shoots a man for calling him "Old Mr. Tightpants."
  • Blatant Lies: At dinner, Judge Muttonchops asks if anyone has seen the two bread rolls he was saving. Caroline (who appears to be wearing them in her hair) feigns deafness, which seems to fool him and Frontbottom, who blames the mud-diggers.
  • Bond Gun Barrel: Used in the scene where Olden insists on getting his own theme song.
  • Brick Joke: One episode has Governor Frontbottom randomly suggest holding a Reg Gorman Lookalike competition. It's forgotten about until the next one, when the winner (the real Reg Gorman) shows up.
  • Chase Scene: One of the mud-diggers tries to escape being arrested for not wearing a Stupid Hat, complete with "Yackety Sax".
  • Courtroom Episode: "No Singing Allowed", in which William Minogue is arrested for his poor attempt at writing a new theme song.
    Frontbottom: Now, before I proceed to sentencing, are there any courtroom cliches we've forgotten?
    Minogue: (standing up) It's a lie! A damn stinking lie!
    Frontbottom: Guards, scuffle awkwardly with that man!
  • Deadly Dodging: Olden does this when a man has a gun to his back. He also tells him and Raymond, the guy in front of him, that he's going to do this, but they dismiss it because "That only happens in old ABC drama programs." Nevertheless, it works, with Raymond not even trying to get out of the line of fire.
  • Dreadful Musician: William Minogue, whose attempt to write a new theme song gets him arrested because off-key singing is a hanging offence. He instead gets sentenced to a lead role in Holiday Island, which gets an Anything but That! reaction.
  • Dub Name Change: Most of the major (and a few minor) Rush characters.
    • Sergeant Robert McKeller becomes Sergeant Luke Olden.
    • Commissioner Edmund Fitzalan becomes Governor Marmaduke Frontbottom.
    • Lansdowne becomes Judge Muttonchops.
    • Sarah Lucas becomes Caroline Chisholm.
    • George Williams becomes John Warneke.
    • Dr. David Woods becomes Edward McGuire, who may or may not also be a doctor.
    • Corporal Colvin becomes Corporal Hatstrap.
    • Brendan O'Hara becomes William Minogue.
    • Yin Soong (a one-shot Chinese character played by Burmese actress Patricia Stephenson) becomes Yoko Ono, a possible parody of Interchangeable Asian Cultures.
  • End-of-Series Awareness: In the last episode, the characters learn that The Olden Days has been axed. At first, one of them is glad to learn that maybe they can do something in colour next, but then he learns that in future they'll be expected to provide their own voices. Using the original actor's voice, he replies, "Oh no! The man's mad!" then switches back to the dub for, "That'll never work!" (Incidentally, Rush did get a second season, in colour, though with few returning cast-members and a completely different setting. And ironically, the scene being dubbed appears to be from the first episode, since it features Decoy Protagonist Richard Lucas.)
  • Epunymous Title: Achieved by renaming the main character Luke Olden.
  • Expository Theme Tune:
    Men come from Cooper's Crossing,
    And Darwin in the south
    From the dusty plains of Innisfail
    To the Murrumbidgee's mouth
    Through bush fires, snakes and tinea,
    Drizzle, drought and flood
    None of those will hold them back,
    When someone cries out 'Mud!'
    (Oh) Mud, boys, mud;
    We'll give our sweat and blood
    Though our backs may break,
    Our beards are fake
    We'll all pretend the sets don't shake...
    Mud, boys, mud;
    We'll deck them with a thud,
    The fires may burn,
    the floods may drench
    But we'll still have a buxom wench
    And keep on shouting 'Mud!'
  • Every Scar Has a Story: A group of miners ask Olden about his unconvincing scar and whether it has "a sort of colourful but slightly boring bullshit story."
  • Failed a Spot Check: An indigenous tracker is hired to find a missing ABC camera. He ends up walking into it.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: McGuire is thrown out of a nightclub for not wearing a false moustache or beard like everyone else, because he has a real beard. The Governor has No Sympathy for him.
  • Fight-Scene Failure: Invoked a few times.
    "Unrealistic fight scenes are a piece of piss! First I'll tip over the table, then I'll stagger into the crowd. Then the fat guy will pull me you in the corner, propel yourself across the room for no apparent reason!"
  • Flashback: After being asked about his scar, Olden reminisces about his experience on a chain gang, which gets him in trouble with the Governor for staging an unauthorised flashback sequence without his permission. The people he's talking to help set up the Flashback Effects, with one of them getting a harp from his tent and another telling the cameraman to go out of focus.
  • I Resemble That Remark!:
    • Governor Frontbottom reads a review of the series which takes aim at it for ridiculous stories (specifically the ATM man from the previous scene), mystifying cutaways (cue a pointless cutaway to a painting on the wall, his own increasingly pooncey performance, and the fact that he spends too much time sitting behind a desk and telling people to come in (which he immediately does), while Sergeant Olden spends too much time standing around swilling his tea (he is).
    • Another scene has Frontbottom reading a letter complaining about inappropriate sound effects, pointlessly speeding up the film for a cheap laugh, and appalling continuity with costumes changing in mid-scene. Frontbottom sees no such problems even as they happen around them, leading him to respond with a Dear Deluded Viewer letter In-Universe before he gets interrupted.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: One scene has a group of natives called the Myopic tribe, infamous for their poor spear throwing.
  • Inner Monologue Conversation: Frontbottom is thinking to himself about how to deal with the mud-diggers, when an unnamed sergeant walks out of a tent and asks him to keep his thinking down because he can't sleep, "not with you walking around wrestling with inner demons."
  • An Insert: A few of these were added for the sake of a joke, in particular when a sign that two Rush characters point out is replaced with "Crap Actors Required - False Moustaches Preferred".
  • It Will Never Catch On: The first episode begins with a man trying to show off his newly invented "platform shoes" (regular boots, but he's standing on two tree stumps). "Do not mock my vision of impractical footwear, my friends! One day, I see a world full of stupid shoes! All sorts! Clogs, moccasins! Bata Scouts with the compass in the heel. Clown shoes, this long!"
  • Medium Awareness: To the point of No Fourth Wall. The characters are aware they're in a TV series, occasionally referring to "the last scene" or mentioning when there's about to be an establishing shot. They're also aware that they're being dubbed over years later. They're also occasionally shown to be aware of their own future roles, though in one case Alwyn Kurts' character reveals that he's just been offered a role on Homicide (which is a bit of a plot hole, since he'd already been on Homicide for a few years before Rush started).
  • No Budget: The sketches have numerous jokes at the expense of Rush's shaky sets, crappy props and poor makeup jobs.
  • Oblivious to His Own Description: Frontbottom suggests that someone needs to sort out the mud-diggers. "For starters, he'd have to have absolutely no idea how to smoke a cigar. [...] He'd need to be a bit pooncey, slightly foppish, and quite keen to spend a lot of time alone with a lot of rough, sweaty well-built miners." When the other man points out that he seems to be the man for the job, he seems surprised but doesn't hesitate to accept it.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Madam Frontbottom is based on footage of Miss Hawk (Mary Ward), who had no relationship to Commissioner Fitzalan.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Governor Frontbottom seems to consider himself the star of the show despite Olden pointing out that it's his name in the title.
  • Swiper, No Swiping!: When the characters run into the Myopic Tribe, the Reg Gorman lookalike calls out, "Please don't attack! I'm with the guy that hosts Play School!" Olden adds, "And the barman from The Sullivans!" It works.
  • Tempting Fate:
    Olden: (thinking) I really hope some fat bald guy doesn't walk in with a plate of bad food.
    Fat bald guy: (walks in with a plate of presumably bad food) Morning, Sarge!
    Olden: (thinking) Oh, how predictable was that?
    • In another scene Trev claims that he's so drunk he wouldn't know if someone chucked a spear through him. Someone does, and his friends are drunk enough they don't seem to notice.
  • Unfortunate Names: Governor Frontbottom, which leads to him being temporarily replaced because no one can take him seriously. However, Governor Funbags only lasts for one scene because that was all the footage they had of his Rush counterpart played by Barry McQueen.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Played for laughs when Governor Funbags compliments everyone at the table on their superbly dubbed voices. Caroline replies "Thank you Governor" in Judge Muttonchops' voice. Funbags continues, "With one or two exceptions."
  • Who Writes This Crap?!: One of the miners angrily tells Frontbottom that he's unimpressed with the serial's style of comedy so far. "Do you think people really want to hear jokes about sideburns and stupid hats? No! They want jokes with a bit more spice! Big tits! Small dicks! Poofy blokes in military uniforms!"
  • You're Insane!: Caroline tells Frontbottom he's displaying all the classic symptoms of insanity. Frontbottom starts clucking like a chicken for a moment before replying, "I can't imagine what gives you that impression."