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

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 .

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.

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

A ship is the finest nursery in the world.

A High Wind in Jamaica (1965) (SPOILERS) An odd one, this, as if Disney were remaking The Swiss Family Robinson for adults. One might perhaps have imagined the Mouse House producing it during their “Dark Disney” phase. But even then, toned down. After all, kids kidnapped by pirates sounds like an evergreen premise for boy’s own adventuring (more girl’s own here). The reality of Alexander Mackendrick’s film is decidedly antithetical to that; there’s a lingering feeling, despite A High Wind in Jamaica ’s pirates largely observing their distance, that things could turn rather nasty (and indeed, if Richard Hughes’ 1929 novel  had been followed to the letter, they would have more explicitly). 

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.

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.

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.

Duffy. That old tangerine hipster.

Duffy (1968) (SPOILERS) It’s appropriate that James Coburn’s title character is repeatedly referred to as an old hipster in Robert Parrish’s movie, as that seemed to be precisely the niche Coburn was carving out for himself in the mid to late 60s, no sooner had Our Man Flint made him a star. He could be found partaking in jaundiced commentary on sexual liberation in Candy, falling headlong into counter culture in The President’s Analyst , and leading it in Duffy . He might have been two decades older than its primary adherents, but he was, to repeat an oft-used phrase here, very groovy. If only Duffy were too.

Just wait. They’ll start listing side effects like the credits at the end of a movie.

Contagion  (2011) (SPOILERS) The plandemic saw Contagion ’s stock soar, which isn’t something that happens too often to a Steven Soderbergh movie. His ostensibly liberal outlook has hitherto found him on the side of the little people (class action suits) and interrogating the drugs trade while scrupulously avoiding institutional connivance (unless it’s Mexican institutional connivance). More recently, The Laundromat ’s Panama Papers puff piece fell fall flat on its face in attempting broad, knowing satire (in some respects, this is curious, as The Informant! is one of Soderbergh’s better-judged films, perhaps because it makes no bones about its maker’s indifference towards its characters). There’s no dilution involved with Contagion , however. It amounts to a bare-faced propaganda piece, serving to emphasise that the indie-minded director is Hollywood establishment through and through. This is a picture that can comfortably sit alongside any given Tinseltown handwringing over the Wa