Sunday, 7 December 2014

Farewell Bear Facts - Johannesburg



This episode is very much about me, a series and a half in, experimenting with splitting the foursome up in a different way from the usual flighdeck / cabin crew division. Interestingly (to me, anyway) the effect of that is that it becomes an episode all about Douglas. The Martin / Arthur story is all about the absence of Douglasn- what happens to Martin  when, on the one hand, he doesn't have to worry about being constantly put down; but on the other hand, he can't rely on Douglas to find the clever solution and sort out any problem. And the answer the episode seems to provide is that he grows in confidence, and finds those solutions for himself - and after all, as early as Boston we saw him 'pull a Douglas' in the authoritative and creative way he persuades the paramedics to take Leeman away.

Meanwhile, back at the airfield Carolyn and Douglas are experiencing a more straight-forward 'Freaky Friday' style role reversal, with Douglas discovering what it's like to really care about the success or failure of the company, and Carolyn enjoying getting to play the Douglas role, and 'chip in from the sidelines'. Overall, looking back at it now, it's a surprisingly anti-Douglas episode, certainly more than I realised at the time. Even Arthur, who famously thinks everyone is brilliant, guiltily confesses he's enjoying the 'holiday' from sarcasm. And then look at the final scene, and how Douglas is torn (and Roger, of course, plays this perfectly): he clearly really wants to take off on time, and thus beat Carolyn; but he also really wants Martin to fail, so as not to disturb the flight deck hierarchy. I would say that over the twenty-six episodes, Martin is the character who changes most obviously; but there's also no way Douglas would have behaved the same way had the events of Jo'burg taken place in series four.

All of which is not to say I don't like Johannesburg- I actually like it very much. I think it's got one of the most cunningly laid endings to any episode except maybe St Petersburg - I'm sure many first time listeners wondered why I kept stressing that the newly washed BMW was parked behind the plane, but I like to think most of them will have forgotten the wine bottle on the engine exhaust, even when they hear the smash.

I also like it that both the Spanish airport characters are, I think, funny- but neither is in any way obstructive or unhelpful, a la Douz or Newcastle. They both just do their job.

(If you think this has all got a bit back-slappy and self congratulatory, by the way, do not fear - the antidote is on its way. My least favourite episode is just around the corner...)

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

I stayed up for this.

Christen said...

10 minutes to spare today! we've had blog posts on time (in the day time even!) for the last couple of days, I forgive a place holder! Can't wait for the facts!

Anonymous said...

This made me giggle.

Anonymous said...

Don't know what's funnier, the facts or the place holders.

Christen said...

1:20! Well done for writing this late! I'm surprised I'm still awake. YAY BEAR FACTS!

Kate said...

My favorite scene is Martin, Arthur, and Diego singing together on the drive to the airport. It's fantastic to see Martin happy in a non-competing against Douglas way at this point in the series, and the song always reminds me of the ones we learned in Spanish class.

I'm sorry to have missed the placeholder.

Anonymous said...

Again, this is another episode I would love to see animated, if only for the shot of the wine bottle exploding and smashing into the BMW. Martin's scream at the end is so dramatic that I often forget that the pilots are in the cockpit and I misremember it as Martin falling down to his knees with the broken shades and throwing his head back in anguish while Douglas looks on dispassionately. And Johannesburg as written in season 4 would have been very interesting.

Marie said...

This episode always makes me smile, because the elephant sound Diego makes - "Prra, prra" - is the exact same sound my Cuban grandpa used to make when imitating an elephant for us as kids. Actually, all of Diego's Spanish animal sounds are spot-on. Although I'm curious to hear what sound a Spanish squirrel makes!

I'm also enamored of Martin's Spanish accent, which is equally (and unsurprisingly) horrendous as his French accent. :)

Anonymous said...

Johannesburg is my joint favourite along with Uskerty! I guess I must like the "unusual character combination" episodes. And it is indeed a delightfully laid ending!

Anonymous said...

I love this episode, exactly because of Martin's character.

Brandy said...

Next ep is probably my leat favourite in the series but then comes Limerick and Molokai. So happiness is... :).

Joberg is fun. I particularly enjoy the boys with Diego.

Bedders said...

It's also a good call back that they badly damage a BMW after narrowly miss Douglas' ex's BMW with the "sugar brick".

I think almost all listeners will forget about the bottle, but the car as a target pops back perfectly when Señor Quintanilla gets upset over the missile :)

P.S. Surely the whole series is about Douglas? :P

Philippa Sidle said...

The bottle is a perfect bit of ... whatever you call it when you make everyone forget about something you've neatly seeded earlier. How do you do it??

I guess Kuala Lumpar is your least favourite.

Wobblybrighton said...

"Spot-on" Spanish animal sounds were provided by the gorgeous Javier Marzan. I highly recommend checking out Peepolykus theatre company for the best laughs you'll ever get on a night out. See Javier and the others in live and exhausting action.

Luke said...

"Kik-karikee!"
"Yup, that's... that's my favourite one."

Anonymous said...

Quiquiriqui.... If you want to spell it right

Max Marnau said...

Interesting - Kuala Lumpur is also my least favourite episode - I don't enjoy Martin being unkindly (as opposed to kindly) made fun of. In fact I occasionally skip it when listening to CP on a loop in the car.

Max Marnau said...

Limerick, on the other hand, and the sublime Molokai...

afailedjournalist said...

It's interesting how mixed it sounds you feel about this. Mostly on the good side, but that it doesn't feel deep enough or something and that it's missing something.

This is my second favourite episode because it's so fun to listen to. Between the suspense of will they make it on time, Douglas and Carolyn's snarkiness to each other, and the fun the guys have with Diego it is my go to episode to cheer me up.

When most people who are Friends fans say that their favourite episode is one where absolutely nothing happens except one of the characters getting absolutely fed up with everyone else and their selfish indecisiveness, I think this comes out on top easily!

Jessica Marie said...

This is a close second to Limerick being my favorite. I love the unusual separation of characters, Martin's developing confidence, Douglas struggling and getting a taste of the "real life," Carolyn getting to relax, the animal noises, Martin's adorably horrendous accent, Arthur raising his hand to speak, forgetting about the wine bottle, everything!

I love that anonymous pointed out the correct spelling of quiquiriqui ;)

Anonymous said...

Totally justified self back-slapping is different.

Strafing the kids' party conjured a lovely image too. (In a comic way, I mean!)

Moony said...

I love this one for the character separations and let's not forget...that wine bottle. Interesting that you've called it an anti-Douglas episode, I just see it as one which gives them a taste of the other's roles for a change and thereby gives lots of room to develop. Plus, those animal sounds are just the cream overall.

Aj said...

Gerty is alive and well and working at nasa :-)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-30816253