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…

Well, we took a vote. Predator’s cooler, right?

The Predator (2018)
(SPOILERS) Is The Predator everything you’d want from a Shane Black movie featuring a Predator (or Yautja, or Hish-Qu-Ten, apparently)? Emphatically not. We've already had a Shane Black movie featuring a Predator – or the other way around, at least – and that was on another level. The problem – aside from the enforced reshoots, and the not-altogether-there casting, and the possibility that full-on action extravaganzas, while delivered competently, may not be his best foot forward – is that I don't think Black's really a science-fiction guy, game as he clearly was to take on the permanently beleaguered franchise. He makes The Predator very funny, quite goofy, very gory, often entertaining, but ultimately lacking a coherent sense of what it is, something you couldn't say of his three prior directorial efforts.

Right! Let’s restore some bloody logic!

It Couldn't Happen Here (1987)
(SPOILERS) "I think our film is arguably better than Spiceworld" said Neil Tennant of his and Chris Lowe's much-maligned It Couldn't Happen Here, a quasi-musical, quasi-surrealist journey through the English landscape via the Pet shop Boys' "own" history as envisaged by co-writer-director Jack Bond. Of course, Spiceworld could boast the presence of the illustrious Richard E Grant, while It Couldn't Happen Here had to settle for Gareth Hunt. Is its reputation deserved? It's arguably not very successful at being a coherent film (even thematically), but I have to admit that I rather like it, ramshackle and studiously aloof though it is.

Never compare me to the mayor in Jaws! Never!

Ghostbusters (2016)
(SPOILERS) Paul Feig is a better director than Ivan Reitman, or at very least he’s savvy enough to gather technicians around him who make his films look good, but that hasn’t helped make his Ghostbusters remake (or reboot) a better movie than the original, and that’s even with the original not even being that great a movie in the first place.

Along which lines, I’d lay no claims to the 1984 movie being some kind of auteurist gem, but it does make some capital from the polarising forces of Aykroyd’s ultra-geekiness on the subject of spooks and Murray’s “I’m just here for the asides” irreverence. In contrast, Feig’s picture is all about treating the subject as he does any other genre, be it cop, or spy, or romcom. There’s no great affection, merely a reliably professional approach, one minded to ensure that a generous quota of gags (on-topic not required) can be pumped out via abundant improv sessions.

So there’s nothing terribly wrong with Ghostbusters, but aside from …

Dude, you're embarrassing me in front of the wizards.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
(SPOILERS) The cliffhanger sequel, as a phenomenon, is a relatively recent thing. Sure, we kind of saw it with The Empire Strikes Back – one of those "old" movies Peter Parker is so fond of – a consequence of George Lucas deliberately borrowing from the Republic serials of old, but he had no guarantee of being able to complete his trilogy; it was really Back to the Future that began the trend, and promptly drew a line under it for another decade. In more recent years, really starting with The MatrixThe Lord of the Rings stands apart as, post-Weinstein's involvement, fashioned that way from the ground up – shooting the second and third instalments back-to-back has become a thing, both more cost effective and ensuring audiences don’t have to endure an interminable wait for their anticipation to be sated. The flipside of not taking this path is an Allegiant, where greed gets the better of a studio (split a novel into two movie parts assuming a…

My pectorals may leave much to be desired, Mrs Peel, but I’m the most powerful man you’ve ever run into.

The Avengers 2.23: The Positive-Negative Man
If there was a lesson to be learned from Season Five, it was not to include "man" in your title, unless it involves his treasure. The See-Through Man may be the season's stinker, but The Positive-Negative Man isn't far behind, a bog-standard "guy with a magical science device uses it to kill" plot. A bit like The Cybernauts, but with Michael Latimer painted green and a conspicuous absence of a cool hat.

I think World War II was my favourite war.

Small Soldiers (1998)
An off-peak Joe Dante movie is still one chock-a-block full of satirical nuggets and comic inspiration, far beyond the facility of most filmmakers. Small Soldiers finds him back after a six-year big screen absence, taking delirious swipes at the veneration of the military, war movies, the toy industry, conglomerates and privatised defence forces. Dante’s take is so gleefully skewed, he even has big business win! The only problem with the picture (aside from an indistinct lead, surprising from a director with a strong track record for casting juveniles) is that this is all very familiar.

Dante acknowledged Small Soldiers was basically a riff on Gremlins, and it is. Something innocuous and playful turns mad, bad and dangerous. On one level it has something in common with Gremlins 2: The New Batch, in that the asides carry the picture. But Gremlins 2 was all about the asides, happy to wander off in any direction that suited it oblivious to whether the audience was on …

Bring home the mother lode, Barry.

Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010)

If Panos Cosmatos’ debut had continued with the slow-paced, tripped-out psychedelia of the first hour or so I would probably have been fully on board with it, but the decision to devolve into an ‘80s slasher flick in the final act lost me.

The director is the son of George Pan Cosmatos (he of The Cassandra Crossing and Cobra, and in name alone of Tombstone, apparently) and it appears that his inspiration was what happened to the baby boomers in the ‘80s, his parents’ generation. That element translates effectively, expressed through the extreme of having a science institute engaging in Crowley/Jack Parsons/Leary occult quests for enlightenment in the ‘60s and the survivors having become burnt out refugees or psychotics by the ‘80s. Depending upon your sensibilities, the torturously slow pace and the synth soundtrack are positives, while the cinematography managed to evoke both lurid early ‘80s cinema and ‘60s experimental fare. 

Ultimately the film takes a …

Anything can happen in Little Storping. Anything at all.

The Avengers 2.22: Murdersville
Brian Clemens' witty take on village life gone bad is one of the highlights of the fifth season. Inspired by Bad Day at Black Rock, one wonders how much Murdersville's premise of unsettling impulses lurking beneath an idyllic surface were set to influence both Straw Dogs and The Wicker Mana few years later (one could also suggest it premeditates the brand of backwoods horrors soon to be found in American cinema from the likes of Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper).

The possibilities are gigantic. In a very small way, of course.

The Avengers 5.24: Mission… Highly Improbable
With a title riffing on a then-riding-high US spy show, just as the previous season's The Girl from Auntie riffed on a then-riding-high US spy show, it's to their credit that neither have even the remotest connection to their "inspirations" besides the cheap gags (in this case, the episode was based on a teleplay submitted back in 1964). Mission… Highly Improbable follows in the increasing tradition (certainly with the advent of Season Five and colour) of SF plotlines, but is also, in its particular problem with shrinkage, informed by other recent adventurers into that area.