Skip to main content

Biffy would not squirt the squirter, Jeeves.

Jeeves and Wooster
2.3: Pearls Mean Tears 
(aka The Con)

I can’t fault the competence and faithfulness with which this episode is siphoned out, but it doesn’t quite sing for me. As Bertie recounts, “Life can be delish, with a sunny disposish” and this is merely serviceable diner grub. Bertie falling for the manipulations of Soapy Sid, masquerading as a curate with his “sister” is engaging enough, and there’s good fun to be had from Aunt Agatha being hoisted by her own petard and unfairly accusing the lower orders of burglary, but the other plotline is one of the less scintillating Wodehouse inventions.


The Inimitable Jeeves (previously plundered in 1.1 and 1.3) provides the Soapy Sid plot, in which Aunt Agatha attempts to pair her nephew off (“You should be breeding children, Bertie”), to understandable disdain. Her choice of intended is Aline Hemingway (Rebecca Saire, veteran of The Quatermass Conclusion and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, as well as A Bit of Fry and Laurie), the aforementioned sister of Sidney (Graham Seed). Bertie’s nonplussed, (“Look, I don’t want to go to any blasted museum!”) and is berated for his coarseness (“Kindly mind your language, Bertie!”). In contrast to the short story, this doesn’t take place in Roville, France but rather non-descript seaside town Westcombe-on-Sea (some might say it’s a shame such choices weren’t made with the series’ American adventures), but mostly it follows course.


Sid manages to snatch Agatha’s pearls, as well as swindling £100 out of Bertie, despite Jeeves’ warnings that he has been seen selling tips at the race course. Jeeves comes through, of course (“Ere, that’s illegal that is” is Aline’s response on learning Jeeves has been through her luggage to retrieve the pearls) and Agatha well and truly has to eat humble pie after bringing a maid to tears and levelling accusations against the hotel (“These aren’t the chaps are they?” asks her nephew on retrieving the valuables) in a rare occasion of Bertie being able to hold court.


So that sequence is fairly satisfying. Less so is the predicament of Bertie’s pal Biffy Biffen, a less than a bright spark and a highly forgetful one, played with soporific tendencies by Philip Shelley. Biffy has gone and got engaged to Honoria Glossop but doesn’t really know why, since he is doting after his intended, who he managed to meet on his way to New York, then lose through forgetting her surname.


There’s a not-as-good-as-it-should-have-been rerun of a dinner with Sir Roderick Glossop, in which Biffy fails to assassinate the brain specialist with a water-filled plastic flower (“Biffy would not squirt the squirter, Jeeves”). We do learn that Jeeves has a niece (revelations of his family and intimate affairs are always welcome and often surprising), who just so happens to be Mabel (Jenny Whiffen), the object of Biffy’s affections. It’s an instance of Jeeves, not being in possession of the facts, doing an associate of Bertie’s an injustice (I feel as if this has happened several times, but I can’t recall other instances offhand).


Rather than the Palace of Beauty reunion of the story (Mabel was in a tank, wearing a muff, playing Queen Elizabeth or Boadicea, “or someone of that period”), this occurs at a full-on theatre, during a performance of “Woof Woof” (the accompanying song is amusingly literal) and all ends well. I think it’s Shelley, not the poet, who brings this one down a notch. The best man and manservant exchange finds Bertie asking “Do you know what I look for in a song?” to which Jeeves replies “I have often wondered”.



Sources:

Aunt Agatha Speaks Her Mind/ Pearls Mean Tears (Chapters 3 & 4) The Inimitable Jeeves
The Rummy Affair of Old Biffy (Chapter 6) Carry On, Jeeves


Recurring characters:

Aunt Agatha (1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.3)
Sir Roderick Glossop (1.1, 2.3)
Lady Glossop (1.1, 2.3)
Honoria Glossop (1.1, 2.3)
Freddie (1.1, 1.3, 2.3)
“Barmy” Fotheringay-Phipps (1.1, 1,2, 1.4, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3)
“Oofy” Prosser (1.1, 1.2, 1.4, 1.5, 2.2, 2.3)









Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

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…

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…

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…

I don’t think you will see President Pierce again.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
(SPOILERS) The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and other tall tales of the American frontier is the title of "the book" from which the Coen brothers' latest derives, and so announces itself as fiction up front as heavily as Fargo purported to be based on a true story. In the world of the portmanteau western – has there even been one before? – theme and content aren't really all that distinct from the more familiar horror collection, and as such, these six tales rely on sudden twists or reveals, most of them revolving around death. And inevitably with the anthology, some tall tales are stronger than other tall tales, the former dutifully taking up the slack.

Can you float through the air when you smell a delicious pie?

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
(SPOILERS) Ironically, given the source material, think I probably fell into the category of many who weren't overly disposed to give this big screen Spider-Man a go on the grounds that it was an animation. After all, if it wasn’t "good enough" for live-action, why should I give it my time? Not even Phil Lord and Christopher Miller's pedigree wholly persuaded me; they'd had their stumble of late, although admittedly in that live-action arena. As such, it was only the near-unanimous critics' approval that swayed me, suggesting I'd have been missing out. They – not always the most reliable arbiters of such populist fare, which made the vote of confidence all the more notable – were right. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is not only a first-rate Spider-Man movie, it's a fresh, playful and (perhaps) surprisingly heartfelt origins story.

You look like an angry lizard!

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
(SPOILERS) I can quite see a Queen fan begrudging this latest musical biopic for failing to adhere to the facts of their illustrious career – but then, what biopic does steer a straight and true course? – making it ironic that they're the main fuel for Bohemian Rhapsody's box office success. Most other criticisms – and they're legitimate, on the whole – fall away in the face of a hugely charismatic star turn from Rami Malek as the band's frontman. He's the difference between a standard-issue, episodic, join-the-dots narrative and one that occasionally touches greatness, and most importantly, carries emotional heft.

I'm a sort of travelling time expert.

Doctor Who Season 12 – Worst to Best
Season 12 isn’t the best season of Doctor Who by any means, but it’s rightly recognised as one of the most iconic, and it’s easily one of the most watchable. Not so much for its returning roster of monsters – arguably, only one of them is in finest of fettle – as its line-up of TARDIS crew members. Who may be fellow travellers, but they definitely aren’t “mates”. Thank goodness. Its popularity – and the small matters of it being the earliest season held in its entirety in original broadcast form, and being quite short – make it easy to see why it was picked for the first Blu-ray boxset.

Must the duck be here?

The Favourite (2018)
(SPOILERS) In my review of The Killing of a Sacred Deer, I suggested The Favourite might be a Yorgos Lanthimos movie for those who don’t like Yorgos Lanthimos movies. At least, that’s what I’d heard. And certainly, it’s more accessible than either of his previous pictures, the first two thirds resembling a kind of Carry On Up the Greenaway, but despite these broader, more slapstick elements and abundant caustic humour, there’s a prevailing detachment on the part of the director, a distancing oversight that rather suggests he doesn’t feel very much for his subjects, no matter how much they emote, suffer or connive. Or pratfall.

There's something wrong with the sky.

Hold the Dark (2018)
(SPOILERS) Hold the Dark, an adaptation of William Giraldi's 2014 novel, is big on atmosphere, as you'd expect from director Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin, Green Room) and actor-now-director (I Don’t Want to Live in This World Anymore) pal Macon Blair (furnishing the screenplay and appearing in one scene), but contrastingly low on satisfying resolutions. Being wilfully oblique can be a winner if you’re entirely sure what you're trying to achieve, but the effect here is rather that it’s "for the sake of it" than purposeful.

I don’t know if what is happening is fair, but it’s the only thing I can think of that’s close to justice.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
(SPOILERS) I think I knew I wasn’t going to like The Killing of a Sacred Deer in the first five minutes. And that was without the unedifying sight of open-heart surgery that takes up the first four. Yorgos Lanthimos is something of a Marmite director, and my responses to this and his previous The Lobster (which I merely thought was “okay” after exhausting its thin premise) haven’t induced me to check out his earlier work. Of course, he has now come out with a film that, reputedly, even his naysayers will like, awards-darling The Favourite