Skip to main content

Mr Wooster is an eccentric.

Jeeves and Wooster
1.2: Tuppy and the Terrier

Episode Two includes some comic gems, particularly an uproarious set piece at the conclusion, but it feels much more as if it has been stapled together than the opener. That maybe have been inevitable as, unlike The Inimitable Jeeves, Wodehouse didn’t thread any connective tissue through the three short stories sourced from Very Good Jeeves.


The first of these takes the meat of Chapter 3, Jeeves and the Yuletide Spirit, and a visit to Skeldings, but it isn’t Christmas in this version. Bertie is still “in love” (a rare case, generally he is running from any suggestion of congress) with Bobbie Wickham (Nina Botting, later played by Niamh Cusack) but he isn’t out for revenge on Tuppy. Instead Barmy (Adam Blackwood) acts as Wooster’s antagonist in a duel of hot water bottle holing (this is probably, understandably, because Tuppy is central to the third act).


Consistent is Jeeves’ disapproval of Miss Wickham, “a young lady with a keen sense of humour” who is frivolous and lacking seriousness (“larkiness”: she puts both Barmy and Bertie up to hot water bottle puncturing just for the giggle) as, is the outcome in which the victim(s). This was originally Sir Roderick Glossop, but now it’s the so-so original characters of Professor and Aneta Cluj (Michael Poole and Zulema Dene) who apprehend Bertie (his dressing gown caught on the door), take his room and then experience a repeat incident at Barmy’s hands. Jeeves is, of course, proved right when Bertie learns of Bobbie’s behaviour (“Love is dead”).


The double hot water bottle prank is effective, although we only see the first incident. The superior part of this section is actually the opening Drones golf tournament, in which Barmy suddenly becomes proficient due to a swing timer (so giving Bertie motive for revenge) and McIntosh’s barking puts Bertie of his swing. The comic highlight has Bertie send the ball flying off towards the marquee to the sound of metal and a silver platter going flying as waiter is brained.


Next adapted is Chapter 5, The Episode of the Dog Macintosh. Here, Bobbie gives away Agatha’s Aberdeen terrier to the son of stage producer Blumenfield (Billy J Mitchell). As ever, there’s a healthy contempt for rich spoilt brats on display (Anatol Yusef, who plays Sidney Blumenfeld, has recently guested as Meyer Lansky throughout the run of Boardwalk Empire). The Blumenfields will return in Season Three. The solution has Jeeves find a replacement pooch which he exchanges for Macintosh, when Mr Blumenfield calls, demanding to see Wooster. Who is hiding behind the sofa. For the second time in as many episodes, Bertie’s sanity is used as a get out of trouble card; “Mr Wooster is an eccentric”. Laurie gets to do some fake sleeping, which is funny.


The highlight of this plot thread sees Bertie turn dog-napper. Having put aniseed on his trousers to attract hounds, he enters the hotel where McIntosh is held pursued by pack of mutts (Young is very good laying down his untelegraphed visual gags). To a baffled Savoy hotel guest who can smell his legwear, Bertie announces “It’s alright – it’s the aniseed!


We have seen Tuppy, the George Costanza of Jeeves and Wooster, briefly in Episode One and being a sandwich guzzling sap in the first sequence of this episode. This is his first showcase, though, and Robert Daws is a perfect fit for his gluttonous, hotheaded bluster.  Jeeves and the Song of Songs is Chapter 4 and it’s such a choicely constructed piece, Exton needs do little but wind it up and let it go.


Tasked by Aunt Dahlia (the wonderful Brenda Bruce; Dahlia would change face each season) with putting an end to Tuppy’s interest in opera singer Cora Bellinger (Constance Novis) due to his disgracefully dropping cousin Angela “like a hot brick”, Jeeves devises a plan by which three recitals of Sonny Boy at a church hall concert (first Bertie, then Tuppy, then Cora) are met with hails of vegetables in the latter two instances (Jeeves later advises that there were two prior recitals before Bertie came on stage).


The delight of this is the slow reveal; we can tell something is up when Bertie goes on, and it’s only Reverend “Beefy” Bingham (a Blandings character, played by Owen Brenman) that keeps them in line. It seems that all is lost when Cora does not see Tuppy’s performance, since the point seems to be her witnessing his failure. But Jeeves’ suggestion that Cora sing the song, at Tuppy’s request, is the cherry on top. If the other segments are solid, this one is a classic.


It’s also littered with amusing comments on the lack of appeal of opera (“Isn’t she wonderful at the loud bits?” says an uncomprehending Tuppy; “Good God!” is his response to the news they have only reach the end of the first of four acts). Tuppy doesn’t seem on the verge of betrothal here, unlike in the story, but Bertie’s comments on her appearance are consistently mirthsome; “reminds me of a chap we used to play rugby with” he informs an unamused Tuppy. Later, asked what she’s like, he replies “Bit on the lines of the Albert Hall”.


There are more fashion choices in the mix; as a reward for services offered, Bertie invites Jeeves to dispose of the plus fours that met with his disapproval. This week’s song is Forty-Seven Ginger-Headed Sailors, to which Macintosh takes an evident fancy (“likes my singing”) and Jeeves’ “Sir” in response to “It really speaks to me, that song” is glorious.


Sources:

Jeeves and Yuletide Spirit (Chapter 3, Very Good Jeeves)
The Episode of the Dog Macintosh (Chapter 5, Very Good Jeeves)
Jeeves and the Song of Songs (Chapter 4, Very Good Jeeves)

Main:

Aunt Agatha (1.1, 1.2)
Barmy Fotheringay Phipps (1.1, 1.2)
Tuppy Glossop (1.1, 1.2)
Bobbie Wickham
Aunt Dahlia

Others:

Macintosh
Mr Blumenfield
Sydney Blumenfield








Comments

Popular posts from this blog

She writes Twilight fan fiction.

Vampire Academy (2014)
My willingness to give writer Daniel Waters some slack on the grounds of early glories sometimes pays off (Sex and Death 101) and sometimes, as with this messy and indistinct Young Adult adaptation, it doesn’t. If Vampire Academy plods along as a less than innovative smart-mouthed Buffy rip-off that might be because, if you added vampires to Heathers, you would probably get something not so far from the world of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately inspiration is a low ebb throughout, not helped any by tepid direction from Daniel’s sometimes-reliable brother Mark and a couple of hopelessly plankish leads who do their best to dampen down any wit that occasionally attempts to surface.

I can only presume there’s a never-ending pile of Young Adult fiction poised for big screen failure, all of it comprising multi-novel storylines just begging for a moment in the Sun. Every time an adaptation crashes and burns (and the odds are that they will) another one rises, hydra-like, hoping…

You’re never the same man twice.

The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970)
(SPOILERS) Roger Moore playing dual roles? It sounds like an unintentionally amusing prospect for audiences accustomed to the actor’s “Raise an eyebrow” method of acting. Consequently, this post-Saint pre-Bond role (in which he does offer some notable eyebrow acting) is more of a curiosity for the quality of Sir Rog’s performance than the out-there premise that can’t quite sustain the picture’s running time. It is telling that the same story was adapted for an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents 15 years earlier, since the uncanny idea at its core feels like a much better fit for a trim 50 minute anthology series.

Basil Dearden directs, and co-adapted the screenplay from Anthony Armstrong’s novel The Strange Case of Mr Pelham. Dearden started out with Ealing, helming several Will Hay pictures and a segment of Dead of Night (one might imagine a shortened version of this tale ending up there, or in any of the portmanteau horrors that arrived in the year…

Rejoice! The broken are the more evolved. Rejoice.

Split (2016)
(SPOILERS) M Night Shyamalan went from the toast of twist-based filmmaking to a one-trick pony to the object of abject ridicule in the space of only a couple of pictures: quite a feat. Along the way, I’ve managed to miss several of his pictures, including his last, The Visit, regarded as something of a re-locating of his footing in the low budget horror arena. Split continues that genre readjustment, another Blumhouse production, one that also manages to bridge the gap with the fare that made him famous. But it’s a thematically uneasy film, marrying shlock and serious subject matter in ways that don’t always quite gel.

Shyamalan has seized on a horror staple – nubile teenage girls in peril, prey to a psychotic antagonist – and, no doubt with the best intentions, attempted to warp it. But, in so doing, he has dragged in themes and threads from other, more meritable fare, with the consequence that, in the end, the conflicting positions rather subvert his attempts at subversion…

‘Cos I’m the gringo who always delivers.

American Made (2017)
(SPOILERS) This is definitely more the sort of thing Tom Cruise should be doing, a movie that relies both on his boyish™ charm and at least has pretensions of ever so slightly pushing the envelope of standard multiplex fare, rather than desperately attaching himself to an impersonal franchise (The Mummy) or flailingly attempting to kick start one (Jack Reacher: Never Go Back); remember when Cruise wouldn’t even go near sequels (for about 20 years, The Color of Money aside, and then only the one series)? American Made is still victim to the tendency of his movies to feel superstar-fitted rather than remaining as punchy as they might be on paper (Made’s never quite as satirically sharp as it wants to be), but it at least doesn’t lead its audience by the nose.

Two hundred thousand pounds, for this outstanding example of British pulchritude and learning.

The Avengers 4.18: The Girl From Auntie
I’ve mentioned that a few of these episodes have changed in my appreciation since I last watched the series, and The Girl from Auntie constitutes a very pronounced uptick. Indeed, I don’t know how I failed to rate highly the estimable Liz Fraser filling in for Diana Rigg – mostly absent, on holiday –for the proceedings (taking a not dissimilar amateur impostor-cum-sidekick role to Fenella Fielding in the earlier The Charmers). I could watch Fraser all day, and it’s only a shame this was her single appearance in the show.

By Jove, the natives are restless tonight.

The Avengers 4.17: Small Game for Big Hunters
I wonder if Death at Bargain Prices’ camping scene, suggestive of an exotic clime but based in a department store, was an inspiration for Small Game For Big Hunters’ more protracted excursion to the African country of Kalaya… in Hertfordshire. Gerry O’Hara, in his second of two episodes for the show again delivers on the atmosphere, making the most of Philip Levene’s teleplay.

I think we’ve returned to Eden. Surely this is how the World once was in the beginning of time.

1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992)
Ridley Scott’s first historical epic (The Duellists was his first historical, and his first feature, but hardly an epic) is also one of his least remembered films. It bombed at the box office (as did the year’s other attempted cash-ins on the discovery of America, including Superman: The Movie producers the Salkinds’ Christopher Columbus: The Discovery) and met with a less than rapturous response from critics. Such shunning is undeserved, as 1492: Conquest of Paradise is a richer and more thought-provoking experience than both the avowedly lowbrow Gladiator and the re-evaluated-but-still-so-so director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven. It may stand guilty of presenting an overly sympathetic portrait of Columbus, but it isn’t shy about pressing a critical stance on his legacy.

Sanchez: The truth is, that he now presides over a state of chaos, of degradation, and of madness. From the beginning, Columbus proved himself completely incapable of ruling these islands…

Old Boggy walks on Lammas Eve.

Jeeves and Wooster 2.5: Kidnapped  (aka The Mysterious Stranger)
Kidnapped continues the saga of Chuffnell Hall. Having said of 2.4 that the best Wodehouse adaptations tend to stick closely to the text, this one is an exception that proves the rule, diverging significantly yet still scoring with its highly preposterous additions.

Jeeves: Tis old boggy. He be abroad tonight. He be heading for the railway station.
Gone are many of the imbroglios involving Stoker and Glossop (the estimable Roger Brierley), including the contesting of the former’s uncle’s will. Also gone, sadly, is the inebriated Brinkley throwing potatoes at Stoker, which surely would have been enormous fun. Instead, we concentrate on Bertie being locked aboard Stoker’s yacht in order to secure his marriage to Pauline (as per the novel), Chuffy tailing Pauline in disguise (so there’s a different/additional reason for Stoker to believe Bertie and she spent the night together, this time at a pub en route to Chufnell Hall) and …

This is bad. Bad for movie stars everywhere.

Trailers Hail, Caesar!
The Coen Brothers’ broader comedies tend to get a mixed response from critics, who prefer their blacker, more caustic affairs (A Serious Man, Barton Fink, Inside Llewyn Davis). Probably only Raising Arizona and O Brother, Where Art Thou? have been unreservedly clutched to bosoms, so it remains to be seen how Hail, Caesar! fares. The trailer shows it off as big, bold, goofy, shamelessly cheerful and – something that always goes down well with awards ceremonies – down with taking affectionate swipes at Tinseltown. Seeing as how the unabashedly cartoonish The Grand Budapest Hotel swung a host of Oscar nominations (and a couple of wins), I wouldn’t put anything out of the question. Also, as O Brother proved, punctuation marks in titles are a guarantee of acclaim.

I’m an easy sell for Coens fare, though. Burn After Reading is very funny, particularly John Malkovich’s endlessly expressive swearing. Intolerable Cruelty makes me laugh a lot, particularly Clooney’s double t…

Thank you for your co-operation.

Robocop (1987)
Robocop is one of a select group of action movies I watched far too many times during my teenage years. One can over-indulge in the good things, and pallor can be lost through over-familiarity. It’s certainly the case that Paul Verhoeven’s US breakthrough wears its limited resources on its battered metal-plated chest and, in its “Director’s Cut” form at least, occasionally over-indulges his enthusiastic lack of restraint. Yet its shortcomings are minor ones. It remains stylistically impressive and thematically as a sharp as a whistle. This year’s remake may have megabucks and slickness on its side but there is no vision, either in the writing or direction. The lack of focus kills any chance of longevity. Verhoeven knows exactly the film he’s making, moulded to fit his idiosyncratic foibles. It might not be his best executed, but in terms of substance, as he recognises, it is assuredly his best US movie. Alas, given the way he’s been unceremoniously ditched by Hollywood, i…