The Goodies was like nothing so much as a live-action cartoon; the boys' situation changed with every episode (based on the thin premise) and they would change themselves to suit the circumstances. Normally, Tim was the middle-class patriot with upper-class pretensions, Graeme the somewhat nerdy inventor of the group, and Bill the free-spirited anarchic hippie. But the boys would grab any excuse to don outlandish costumes (Tim especially seemed to enjoy dressing as a woman) and their adventures took them to far-flung locations, even if those mostly did look like parts of rural England dressed up to resemble someplace else.
The show was more or less G-rated, even for the time. There was plenty of slapstick humor, with lots of things falling on people's heads, and every episode would contain a montage of humorous activity, as well as speeded-up film of the boys chasing someone or being themselves chased (a post-Benny Hill technique, and one which they certainly knew they were aping, even donning the trenchcoat and beret of Benny's character Fred Scuttle to chase bikinied girls around at the end of one episode). Sight gags were very common, and terribly cleverly done - one episode had the Goodies making their own films, and featured them jumping into and out of a movie screen at a theater, running around a set painted black and white to resemble a silent film, etc. The BBC props and effects deparment must have either loved or hated the trio, given the myriad visual trickery involved in every single show.
In addition to the main plots and the hammers bopping people on the head, the Goodies also did their own parodies of television commercials - years before Saturday Night Live, of course. (The Heenz Means Beans ads featured a boy (Tim) perpetually trying to "Get it right!" while making a commercial for baked beans, and punished when he didn't, inevitably.) The ads didn't have the biting social commentary one would come to expect from later comedy shows, however. Instead, they were simply goofy and full of slapstick & obvious gags, humor which could be appreciated by viewers of any age. In fact, the Goodies didn't go for quite a lot of social criticism at all, although a faint strain of left-leaning anti-authoritarianism is present, and Bill's character is obviously an aging hippie.
Although the show lasted ten successful years, the humor changed very little over the course of that time. Not that the boys didn't tackle topical subjects: during the height of interest in the paranormal in the early 70's, they did a turn at parodying Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World; they would later take on martial arts movies imported from China and Japan, as well as, toward the end of their run, the punk movement (which they spoofed by having, among other things, giant diaper pins going through their heads). Even Godzilla got his turn to be ridiculed; the Goodies spent an episode fighting a gigantic white kitten named Twinkle.
Some gags practically became Goodie trademarks: in most episodes the boys got to their destination riding a 'trandem,' i.e., a bicycle built for three. Most episodes ended with them being airlifted out of the scene, with the guys hanging on for dear life as an unseen helicopter spirited them away. Each show also featured original pop songs, mainly provided by Bill; these often proved to be fairly major hits for the show's fans, with successful album releases and charting singles (including such tunes as "Black Pudding Bertha" and "Funky Gibbon"). The Goodies also released books based upon their adventures, written in an anarchic style to match their humor.
Although the Goodies' humor is quite far from that of the Monty Python gang, the two groups nevertheless have several threads connecting them. Tim and Bill were members of the Cambridge University Footlights Club along with, among other, John Cleese and Graham Chapman. Graeme and Eric Idle were also part of the same group, though in the following year. Tim later took part in the proto-Python At Last the 1948 Show which featured Cleese and Chapman, as well as Marty Feldman; he was also part of the comedies Twice A Fortnight, Marty Feldman's Marty, and One Foot in the Grave, celebrated British shows of the past. Oddie was also in Twice A Fortnight as well as That Was The Week That Was.
The three guys had originally been in a show called Broaden Your Mind, which only lasted two seasons, but which served as perhaps the final training ground for both The Goodies and Monty Python. Tim and Graeme starred, with Bill joining in the second season; acting and writing for the series included such soon-to-be stars as Cleese, Chapman, Feldman, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, and Barry Cryer. After the end of the show, the three elected to keep working together and proposed a newer, cartoonier show entitled Narrow Your Mind, as a counterpoint to their just-ended series.
Despite their success, critics seemed to hate the Goodies - their humor was seen as old-fashioned, especially after the comedy renaissance begun by such shows as the afore-mentioned SNL; to be fair, the boys did always lean toward silent films as a great part of their inspiration. John Cleese even appeared in one episode as a genii, taunting the boys by referring to their show as nothing more than a kids' program. Despite such criticism, however, the show was beloved by fans, even winning two Silver Roses at the Montreaux (the humor being such that it exported quite nicely). In 2005 at Christmastime, a reunion special was aired after many years of neglect without reruns or much mention in the press.