Skip to main content

I wish I had a daughter. I wonder what the procedure is?

Jeeves and Wooster
2.6: Jeeves the Matchmaker 
(aka Wooster with a Wife)

A veritable smorgasbord of short stories went into the season finale, and it just about emerges as a congealed piece of work, thanks in large part to the ever-reliable Robert Daws’ performance as the ever-enraged Tuppy Glossop. It’s more successful and full of incident than 2.3, which also utilised stories from Carry On, Jeeves and Very Good, Jeeves, although this one has additionally rummaged through The Inimitable Jeeves.


Bertie Wooster: I wish I had a daughter. I wonder what the procedure is?
Jeeves: Marriage is, I believe sir, the preliminary step for those willing to undergo its rigours.

The episode construes to revolve around Bertie’s blithe desire for parentage, much to Jeeves’ consternation, after realising his life is tired and empty. As such, the most eventful passage finds him speaking at a girls’ school and incurring the disapproval of headmistress Miss Mapleton (the distinctively featured Janet Henfrey, who played Miss Hardaker in Doctor Who’s The Curse of Fenric a couple of years earlier and more recently Mrs Pitt in nu-Who’s Mummy on the Orient Express; she was also a teacher in The Singing Detective) at his inappropriate choice of message and anecdote.


This part of the episode is adapted from the final story in Carry On, Jeeves, Bertie Changes His Mind, singular for being the only occasion where Jeeves himself narrates events, and in a decidedly more jocular and informal manner than we’re used to (one might almost think it was the natural Wodehouse-ian first person style…)


So, we have the desire for Bertie to adopt a kid from that story, and the necessity of a lesson in how inadvisable that is, but the kid herself, Clementia, Bobbie Wickham’s niece, is lifted from another short story, as is the means of getting her back into her school establishment, namely Jeeves and the Kid Clementia from Very Good, Jeeves. The stitching of the two tales is actually relatively seamless, with Bertie becoming embroiled with the ever-dozy plod (Alex Leppard) and Jeeves volunteering his master to give the aforementioned school talk on account of his being “a renowned orator on a tour of the home counties”.


Bertie Wooster: Am I wrong in think that all little girls are hard-bitten thugs of the worst description?

The talk, in which the girls all make faces at a baffled Bertie when Miss Mapleton isn’t looking and burst into uproarious laughter when he begins a tale “It seems, that there was this chorus girl…” having already recounted how he made a lot of money betting on being able to see the time on an obscure clock tower, is particularly amusing, even if it can’t reach the heights of Gussie’s sozzled prize giving at the end of the previous season. If there’s a weakness here it’s that Niamh Cusack never really makes a mark as Bobbie Wickham (“chock full to the brim with fizz and ginger”), at least not as much as Nina Botting in the first season.


There isn’t much in the way of adhesive applied to the other two subplots, in which Tuppy is wooing his latest prize, Daisy Dalgleish (Katherine McQueen), a largish, corn-fed girl, “typical Tuppy fodder”, aside from Bertie and Jeeves comporting a large Irish wolf hound with them for much of the proceedings, unable to procure the Irish water spaniel Tuppy wants to give her. It’s a shaggy prop that leads to several amusing lines (“Do you think Patrick would be sick if we give him some ice-cream?” asks Clementia. “Yes” replies Bertie decisively. “Can’t you spend an evening with an improving dog?” asks Bertie when Jeeves says it his night off, and he wishes to read an improving book rather than dog sit).


Tuppy: Daisy was rather keen that I help Upper Bleaching out.
Bertie Wooster: So you’ll be playing for Hockley.
Tuppy: Very funny.

The Ordeal of Young Tuppy, also from Very Good, Jeeves, recounts his involvement in a village rugger match, albeit the wolfhound doesn’t make an appearance there, and the attempts to sever his yen for Daisy come at the behest of Aunt Agatha (in the interests of Angela, whose hat Tuppy has insulted: “All I said was that it made her look like a raccoon peering out from underneath a flowerpot. Which it did”). Nevertheless, the manner in which events pan out is much the same (Tuppy’s broken leg excepted). This is a rare instance of Tuppy, despite things turning pear-shaped, having a triumph of sorts, as he gets into the spirit of the very violent game and actually scores (the first time since 1883).


Jeeves: Mr Little’s tie. It has little horseshoes on it. It is sometimes difficult to shrug these things off, sir.

Which leads to the first two chapters of The Inimitable Jeeves being utilised, fairly accurately but somewhat disappointingly, as there’ll be a two-year gap before the Rosie M Banks saga begun here reaches its conclusion. Bingo (the reliably returning Michael Siberry) has fallen for waitress Mabel (Charlotte Avery) but needs his uncle’s blessing to propose. To which end, Jeeves suggests he read him Rosie M Banks novels, which “make light, attractive reading” (Only a Factory Girl was voted one of the 100 best Random House novels by Wodehouse fan wags until the compilers got wise). En route, Bingo persuades Bertie to pose as the author (“I said Rosie M Banks was your pen name”) and is required to speculate on the number of words on a page over dinner. Lord Bittlesham’s (Geoffrey Toone) heart melts at Bingo’s readings and he proposes to his cook, class divide be damned.


The most shocking reveal of this story is what a sly dog Jeeves is, as he’s been conducting an affair with Lord Bittlesham’s cook, whom he is quite happy to sever ties with in favour of the very waitress Bingo had his eye on. One might suggest he’s not only devious but a little underhand, since he moves straight in on the girl.


Of course, Bertie ends up unencumbered, except for “another small whisky and soda”. Season Two might be the most satisfying season of the series overall. At any rate, the next suffers from spending half its time “in New York”, complete with broad versions of accents and limited sets (the elevator one gets a frequent outing). Jeeves and Wooster is on firmer ground when it gets back to home shores.



Sources:

Bertie Changes His Mind (Carry On, Jeeves Chapter 10)
Jeeves and the Kid Clementia (Very Good, Jeeves, Chapter 7)
The Ordeal of Young Tuppy (Very Good, Jeeves, Chapter 11)
Jeeves Exerts the Old Cerebellum (The Inimitable Jeeves, Chapter 1)
No Wedding Bells for Bingo (The Inimitable Jeeves, Chapter 2)


Returning characters:

Tuppy Glossop (1.1, 1.2, 1.4, 1.5, 2.6)
Bingo Little (1.1, 1.3, 2.6)
Bobbie Wickham (1.2, 2.6)
Lord Bittlesham (2.6)







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…

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…