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…

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 am so sick of Scotland!

Outlaw/King (2018)
(SPOILERS) Proof that it isn't enough just to want to make a historical epic, you have to have some level of vision for it as well. Say what you like about Mel's Braveheart – and it isn't a very good film – it's got sensibility in spades. He knew what he was setting out to achieve, and the audience duly responded. What does David Mackenzie want from Outlaw/King (it's shown with a forward slash on the titles, so I'm going with it)? Ostensibly, and unsurprisingly, to restore the stature of Robert the Bruce after it was rather tarnished by Braveheart, but he has singularly failed to do so. More than that, it isn’t an "idea", something you can recognise or get behind even if you don’t care about the guy. You’ll never forget Mel's Wallace, for better or worse, but the most singular aspect of Chris Pine's Bruce hasn’t been his rousing speeches or heroic valour. No, it's been his kingly winky.

It was one of the most desolate looking places in the world.

They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)
Peter Jackson's They Shall Not Grow Old, broadcast by the BBC on the centenary of Armistice Day, is "sold" on the attraction and curiosity value of restored, colourised and frame rate-enhanced footage. On that level, this World War I documentary, utilising a misquote from Laurence Binyon's poem for its title, is frequently an eye-opener, transforming the stuttering, blurry visuals that have hitherto informed subsequent generations' relationship with the War. However, that's only half the story; the other is the use of archive interviews with veterans to provide a narrative, exerting an effect often more impacting for what isn't said than for what is.

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.

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.

You kind of look like a slutty Ebola virus.

Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
(SPOILERS) The phenomenal success of Crazy Rich Asians – in the US at any rate, thus far – might lead one to think it's some kind of startling original, but the truth is, whatever its core demographic appeal, this adaptation of Kevin Kwan's novel taps into universally accepted romantic comedy DNA and readily recognisable tropes of family and class, regardless of cultural background. It emerges a smoothly professional product, ticking the expected boxes in those areas – the heroine's highs, lows, rejections, proposals, accompanied by whacky scene-stealing best friend – even if the writing is sometimes a little on the clunky side.

It seemed as if I had missed something.

Room 237 (2012)
Stanley Kubrick’s meticulous, obsessive approach towards filmmaking was renowned, so perhaps it should be no surprise to find comparable traits reflected in a section of his worshippers. Legends about the director have taken root (some of them with a factual basis, others bunkum), while the air of secrecy that enshrouded his life and work has duly fostered a range of conspiracy theories. A few of these are aired in Rodney Ascher’s documentary, which indulges five variably coherent advocates of five variably tenuous theories relating to just what The Shining is really all about. Beyond Jack Nicholson turning the crazy up to 11, that is. Ascher has hit on a fascinating subject, one that exposes our capacity to interpret any given information wildly differently according to our disposition. But his execution, which both underlines and undermines the theses of these devotees, leaves something to be desired.

Part of the problem is simply one of production values. The audio tra…

Believe me, Mr Bond, I could shoot you from Stuttgart und still create ze proper effect.

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
(SPOILERS) Some of the reactions to Spectre would have you believe it undoes all the “good” work cementing Daniel Craig’s incarnation of Bond in Skyfall. If you didn’t see that picture as the second coming of the franchise (I didn’t) your response to the latest may not be so harsh, despite its less successful choices (Blofeld among them). And it isn’t as if one step, forward two steps back are anything new in perceptions of the series (or indeed hugely divisive views on what even constitutes a decent Bond movie). After the raves greeting Goldeneye, Pierce Brosnan suffered a decidedly tepid response to his second outing, Tomorrow Never Dies, albeit it was less eviscerated than Craig’s sophomore Quantum of Solace. Tomorrow’s reputation disguises many strong points, although it has to be admitted that a Moore-era style finale and a floundering attempt to package in a halcyon villain aren’t among them.

The Bond series’ flirtations with contemporary relevance have a…

He mobilised the English language and sent it into battle.

Darkest Hour (2017)
(SPOILERS) Watching Joe Wright’s return to the rarefied plane of prestige – and heritage to boot – filmmaking following the execrable folly of the panned Pan, I was struck by the difference an engaged director, one who cares about his characters, makes to material. Only last week, Ridley Scott’s serviceable All the Money in the World made for a pointed illustration of strong material in the hands of someone with no such investment, unless they’re androids. Wright’s dedication to a relatable Winston Churchill ensures that, for the first hour-plus, Darkest Hour is a first-rate affair, a piece of myth-making that barely puts a foot wrong. It has that much in common with Wright’s earlier Word War II tale, Atonement. But then, like Atonement, it comes unstuck.