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

You're not only wrong. You're wrong at the top of your voice.

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
I’ve seen comments suggesting that John Sturges’ thriller hasn’t aged well, which I find rather mystifying. Sure, some of the characterisations border on the cardboard, but the director imbues the story with a taut, economical backbone. 

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…

She was addicted to Tums for a while.

Marriage Story (2019)
(SPOILERS) I don’t tend to fall heavily for Noah Baumbach fare. He’s undoubtedly a distinctive voice – even if his collaborations with Wes Anderson are the least of that director’s efforts – but his devotion to an exclusive, rarefied New York bubble becomes ever more off-putting with each new project. And ever more identifiable as being a lesser chronicler of the city’s privileged quirks than his now disinherited forbear Woody Allen, who at his peak mastered a balancing act between the insightful, hilarious and self-effacing. Marriage Story finds Baumbach going yet again where Woody went before, this time brushing up against the director’s Ingmar Bergman fixation.

My name is Dr. King Schultz, this is my valet, Django, and these are our horses, Fritz, and Tony.

Django Unchained (2012)
(MINOR SPOILERS) Since the painful misstep of Grindhouse/Death Proof, Quentin Tarantino has regained the higher ground like never before. Pulp Fiction, his previous commercial and critical peak, has been at very least equalled by the back-to-back hits of Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. Having been underwhelmed by his post Pulp Fiction efforts (albeit, I admired his technical advances as a director in Kill Bill), I was pleasantly surprised by Inglourious Basterds. It was no work of genius (so not Pulp Fiction) by any means, but there was a gleeful irreverence in its treatment of history and even to the nominal heroic status of its titular protagonists. Tonally, it was a good fit for the director’s “cool” aesthetic. As a purveyor of postmodern pastiche, where the surface level is the subtext, in some ways he was operating at his zenith. Django Unchained is a retreat from that position, the director caught in the tug between his all-important aesthetic pr…

You must find the keys for me!

Doctor Who The Keys of Marinus
Most of the criticisms levelled at The Keys of Marinus over the past 50 years have been fair play, and yet it’s a story I return to as one of the more effortlessly watchable of the Hartnell era. Consequently, the one complaint I can’t really countenance is that it’s boring. While many a foray during this fledgling period drags its heels, even ones of undeniable quality in other areas, Marinus’ shifting soils and weekly adventures-in-miniature sustain interest, however inelegant the actual construction of those narratives may be. The quest premise also makes it a winner; it’s a format I have little resistance to, even when manifested, as here, in an often overtly budget-stricken manner.

Doctor Who has dabbled with the search structure elsewhere, most notably across The Key to Time season, and ultimately Marinus’ mission is even more of a MacGuffin than in that sextology, a means to string together what would otherwise be vignettes to little overall coherence…

I just hope my death makes more cents than my life.

Joker (2019)
(SPOILERS) So the murder sprees didn’t happen, and a thousand puff pieces desperate to fan the flames of such events and then told-ya-so have fallen flat on their faces. The biggest takeaway from Joker is not that the movie is an event, when once that seemed plausible but not a given, but that any mainstream press perspective on the picture appears unable to divorce its quality from its alleged or actual politics. Joker may be zeitgeisty, but isn’t another Taxi Driver in terms of cultural import, in the sense that Taxi Driver didn’t have a Taxi Driver in mind when Paul Schrader wrote it. It is, if you like, faux-incendiary, and can only ever play out on that level. It might be more accurately described as a grubbier, grimier (but still polished and glossy) The Talented Ripley, the tale of developing psychopathy, only tailored for a cinemagoing audience with few options left outside of comic book fare.

Poor Easy Breezy.

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)
(SPOILERS) My initial reaction to Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood was mild disbelief that Tarantino managed to hoodwink studios into coming begging to make it, so wilfully perverse is it in disregarding any standard expectations of narrative or plotting. Then I remembered that studios, or studios that aren’t Disney, are desperate for product, and more especially, product that might guarantee them a hit. Quentin’s latest appears to be that, but whether it’s a sufficient one to justify the expense of his absurd vanity project remains to be seen.

So you made contact with the French operative?

Atomic Blonde (2017)
(SPOILERS) Well, I can certainly see why Focus Features opted to change the title from The Coldest City (the name of the graphic novel from which this is adapted). The Coldest City evokes a noirish, dour, subdued tone, a movie of slow-burn intrigue in the vein of John Le Carré. Atomic Blonde, to paraphrase its introductory text, is not that movie. As such, there’s something of a mismatch here, of the kind of Cold War tale it has its roots in and the furious, pop-soaked action spectacle director David Leitch is intent on turning it into. In the main, his choices succeed, but the result isn’t quite the clean getaway of his earlier (co-directed) John Wick.

It always seems a bit abstract, doesn’t it? Other people dying.

Game of Thrones Season Six
(SPOILERS) The most distracting thing about Season Six of Game of Thrones (and I’ve begun writing this at the end of the seventh episode, The Broken Man) is how breakneck its pace is, and how worryingly – only relatively, mind – upbeat it’s become. Suddenly, characters are meeting and joining forces, not necessarily mired in pits of despair but actually moving towards positive, attainable goals, even if those goals are ultimately doomed (depending on the party concerned). It feels, in a sense, that liberated from George R R Martin’s text, producers are going full-throttle, and you half-wonder if they’re using up too much plot and revelation too quickly, and will run out before the next two seasons are up. Then, I’m naturally wary of these things, well remembering how Babylon 5 suffered from packing all its goods into Season Four and was then given an ultimately wasted final season reprieve.

I’ve started this paragraph at the end of the eighth episode, No One (t…

To defeat the darkness out there, you must defeat the darkness inside yourself.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)
Easily the best of the Narnia films, which is maybe damning it with faint praise. 

Michael Apted does a competent job directing (certainly compared to his Bond film - maybe he talked to his second unit this time), Dante Spinotti's cinematography is stunning and the CGI mostly well-integrated with the action. 

Performance-wise, Will Poulter is a stand-out as a tremendously obnoxious little toff, so charismatic you're almost rooting for him. Simon Pegg replaces Eddie Izzard as the voice of Reepicheep and delivers a touching performance.
***