Monday, 8 December 2014
Ah, poor old KL - the episode nobody loves, not even me. There are two or three episodes I would like to have the chance to replot and rewrite, generally because they're over complicated- Cremona and Newcastle spring to mind. But Kuala is the only one where, if I had a magic wand, I'd probably just replace it with a whole new episode.
On the plus side, the Carolyn and Arthur mystery passenger subplot is absolutely fine, I think. And there's some good stuff in the Arthur-learning-to-lie bits, too. But the whole 'secret pubs' main plot... hrrrr. Like the other problem episodes, it's over-complicated- I don't suppose many casual listeners followed exactly what was going on by the final scene. But it also manages to feel slow and repetitive. The real problem, though, is that neither Martin nor Douglas' Wants are clear, or, when they are clear, entirely believable. Martin's journey from wanting to shut the club down to wanting to be in it, to wanting to be out of it because it's not his style... It works in broad sitcom-logic terms, but it doesn't feel real. So even though Douglas' plan at the end is to help Martin rather than hurt him, we never really buy that, because we haven't bought Martin's journey in the first place. And whatever I decided was Martin's real, underlying Want for the episode - presumably community, or possibly respect- is left unresolved by the ending. Not that he has to get what he wants, of course, but he has to either get it or not get it. Or realise that he doesn't want it after all; or that he had it all along; or... something. Not just have a Douglas-ex-machina resolve it for him while he's off-stage.
Nor, for that matter, do I quite believe Douglas is always in the Flap and Throttle, and very much wants it to continue. I'm sure he could have a good night there, because he prides himself on fitting in anywhere, but I can't quite see him beetling off there after every flight to see George's latest fruit impression. That's more Arthur's style, if anything. So we end up with that sitcom cliche of something that everyone suddenly cares a lot about and says they always have done... but which is never mentioned before or since.
Lastly, though I am not as tender-hearted towards poor little Captain Crieff and his 'feels' as some listeners I could mention, and stoutly defend my right to have unpleasant things happen to him in the service of making an audience laugh... I have to admit in this episode, his various awkardnesses in the bar go on for too long, and are too uncomfortable to listen to. 'Yeah, ok, Finnemore, we get it- he doesn't know about football. Move on' is what I say to myself when listening, so God knows how you feel.
Ah well. You can't win them all. Arth-nold Man-a-cats-a-man was funny. And it'll be Limerick soon...
Posted by John Finnemore at 11:25 am