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

Mondo bizarro. No offence man, but you’re in way over your head.

The X-Files 8.7: Via Negativa I wasn’t as down on the last couple of seasons of The X-Files as most seemed to be. For me, the mythology arc walked off a cliff somewhere around the first movie, with only the occasional glimmer of something worthwhile after that. So the fact that the show was tripping over itself with super soldiers and Mulder’s abduction/his and Scully’s baby (although we all now know it wasn’t, sheesh ), anything to stretch itself beyond breaking point in the vain hope viewers would carry on dangling, didn’t really make much odds. Of course, it finally snapped with the wretched main arc when the show returned, although the writing was truly on the wall with Season 9 finale The Truth . For the most part, though, I found 8 and 9 more watchable than, say 5 or 7. They came up with their fair share of engaging standalones, one of which I remembered to be Via Negativa .

Isn’t it true, it’s easier to be a holy man on the top of a mountain?

The Razor’s Edge (1984) (SPOILERS) I’d hadn’t so much a hankering as an idle interest in finally getting round to seeing Bill Murray’s passion project. Partly because it seemed like such an odd fit. And partly because passion isn’t something you tend to associate with any Murray movie project, involving as it usually does laidback deadpan. Murray, at nigh-on peak fame – only cemented by the movie he agreed to make to make this movie – embarks on a serious-acting-chops dramatic project, an adaptation of W Somerset Maugham’s story of one man’s journey of spiritual self-discovery. It should at least be interesting, shouldn’t it? A real curio? Alas, not. The Razor’s Edge is desperately turgid.

You have done well to keep so much hair, when so many’s after it.

Jeremiah Johnson (1972) (SPOILERS) Hitherto, I was most familiar with Jeremiah Johnson in the form of a popular animated gif of beardy Robert Redford smiling and nodding in slow zoom close up (a moment that is every bit as cheesy in the film as it is in the gif). For whatever reason, I hadn’t mustered the enthusiasm to check out the 1970s’ The Revenant until now (well, beard-wise, at any rate). It’s easy to distinguish the different personalities at work in the movie. The John Milius one – the (mythic) man against the mythic landscape; the likeably accentuated, semi-poetic dialogue – versus the more naturalistic approach favoured by director Sydney Pollack and star Redford. The fusion of the two makes for a very watchable, if undeniably languorous picture. It was evidently an influence on Dances with Wolves in some respects, although that Best Picture Oscar winner is at greater pains to summon a more sensitive portrayal of Native Americans (and thus, perversely, at times a more patr

Schnell, you stinkers! Come on, raus!

Private’s Progress (1956) (SPOILERS) Truth be told, there’s good reason sequel I’m Alright Jack reaps the raves – it is, after all, razor sharp and entirely focussed in its satire – but Private’s Progress is no slouch either. In some respects, it makes for an easy bedfellow with such wartime larks as Norman Wisdom’s The Square Peg (one of the slapstick funny man’s better vehicles). But it’s also, typically of the Boulting Brothers’ unsentimental disposition, utterly remorseless in rebuffing any notions of romantic wartime heroism, nobility and fighting the good fight. Everyone in the British Army is entirely cynical, or terrified, or an idiot.

It’s not as if she were a… maniac, a raving thing.

Psycho (1960) (SPOILERS) One of cinema’s most feted and most studied texts, and for good reason. Even if the worthier and more literate psycho movie of that year is Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom . One effectively ended a prolific director’s career and the other made its maker more in demand than ever, even if he too would discover he had peaked with his populist fear flick. Pretty much all the criticism and praise of Psycho is entirely valid. It remains a marvellously effective low-budget shocker, one peppered with superb performances and masterful staging. It’s also fairly rudimentary in tone, character and psychology. But those negative elements remain irrelevant to its overall power.

My Doggett would have called that crazy.

The X-Files 9.4: 4-D I get the impression no one much liked Agent Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish), but I felt, for all the sub-Counsellor Troi, empath twiddling that dogged her characterisation, she was a mostly positive addition to the series’ last two years (of its main run). Undoubtedly, pairing her with Doggett, in anticipation of Gillian Anderson exiting just as David Duchovny had – you rewatch these seasons and you wonder where her head was at in hanging on – made for aggressively facile gender-swapped conflict positions on any given assignment. And generally, I’d have been more interested in seeing how two individuals sympathetic to the cause – her and Mulder – might have got on. Nevertheless, in an episode like 4-D you get her character, and Doggett’s, at probably their best mutual showing.

You’re a disgrace, sir... Weren’t you at Harrow?

Our Man in Marrakesh aka Bang! Bang! You’re Dead (1966) (SPOILERS) I hadn’t seen this one in more than three decades, and I had in mind that it was a decent spy spoof, well populated with a selection of stalwart British character actors in supporting roles. Well, I had the last bit right. I wasn’t aware this came from the stable of producer Harry Alan Towers, less still of his pedigree, or lack thereof, as a sort of British Roger Corman (he tried his hand at Star Wars with The Shape of Things to Come and Conan the Barbarian with Gor , for example). More legitimately, if you wish to call it that, he was responsible for the Christopher Lee Fu Manchu flicks. Our Man in Marrakesh – riffing overtly on Graham Greene’s Our Man in Havana in title – seems to have in mind the then popular spy genre and its burgeoning spoofs, but it’s unsure which it is; too lightweight to work as a thriller and too light on laughs to elicit a chuckle.

I tell you, it saw me! The hanged man’s asphyx saw me!

The Asphyx (1972) (SPOILERS) There was such a welter of British horror from the mid 60s to mid 70s, even leaving aside the Hammers and Amicuses, that it’s easy to lose track of them in the shuffle. This one, the sole directorial effort of Peter Newbrook (a cameraman for David Lean, then a cinematographer), has a strong premise and a decent cast, but it stumbles somewhat when it comes to taking that premise any place interesting. On the plus side, it largely eschews the grue. On the minus, directing clearly wasn’t Newbrook’s forte, and even aided by industry stalwart cinematographer Freddie Young (also a go-to for Lean), The Aspyhx is stylistically rather flat.

The best thing in the world for the inside of a man or a woman is the outside of a horse.

Marnie (1964) (SPOILERS) Hitch in a creative ditch. If you’ve read my Vertigo review, you’ll know I admired rather than really liked the picture many fete as his greatest work. Marnie is, in many ways, a redux, in the way De Palma kept repeating himself in the early 80s only significantly less delirious and… well, compelling. While Marnie succeeds in commanding the attention fitfully, it’s usually for the wrong reasons. And Hitch, digging his heels in as he strives to fashion a star against public disinterest – he failed to persuade Grace Kelly out of retirement for Marnie Rutland – comes entirely adrift with his leads.

You know what I sometimes wish? I sometimes wish I were ordinary like you. Ordinary and dead like all the others.

Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) (SPOILERS) Bryan Forbes’ adaptation of Mark McShane’s 1961’s novel has been much acclaimed. It boasts a distinctive storyline and effective performances from its leads, accompanied by effective black-and-white cinematography from Gerry Turpin and a suitably atmospheric score from John Barry. I’m not sure Forbes makes the most of the material, however, as he underlines Séance on a Wet Afternoon ’s inherently theatrical qualities at the expense of its filmic potential.