Thursday, 11 December 2014

Farewell Bear Facts - Newcastle

Well, that's a nice surprise - I haven't listened to this episode for a while, and it works much better than I thought it did. It's a good introduction for Herc - the first time in the show I was deliberately introducing a new recurring character - and Martin's embarrassments with both Eddie and Linda are justified (and therefore funny), I think, because in both cases it's entirely his own fault - Linda is extremely patient with him, really; and Eddie only torments him when challenged. I've said before, though, that one episode per series is always more of a headache than all the others to write, and for some reason this was series three's. What I've always thought about it is that I'd like to go back, take it apart, and expand it into two episodes - that Herc and Linda deserve an episode to themselves, and so does Mark Williams' wonderful Eddie. But listening back now, I'm not so sure - I don't think anyone's under-served in this episode. True, Douglas reaches new heights of helpful mellowness... but they're in character, and he still has that rather nice scene where it turns out he's printed out a CV as well.

- Sometimes people ask me if the cold open was written specially when we knew Tom Goodman-Hill would be stepping in as Martin. To which I always think… what sort of sense do you think it would have made otherwise?

-I've already posted a deleted scene for Newcastle, here.

- This midway point seems a good time to mention a couple of people who have been pointed out to me  as doing unexpected and delightful things with this Cabin Pressure advent calendar thing (Which is, of course, these guys' idea in the first place.) The first is All Things Linguistic, a blog which is improbably managing to find a linguistically interesting detail about each episode, and thereby making my jokes sound far, far cleverer than they actually are, for which I can only thank them. The second is Tealin, a professional animator who is somehow finding time to do a daily, full-colour picture which basically look like stills from an imaginary Golden Era Disney movie of Cabin Pressure (I hope she'll take that as a compliment, I certainly mean it as one). They're extraordinary - do have a look. Here's my favourite so far (reproduced without permission, do tell me if you'd like me to take it down, Tealin.) [UPDATE: In fact, Tealin has kindly given me permission to reproduce all her pictures from this exercise, and so I've included each one in the relevant blog post. Thank you!]


Christen said...

I forgot how funny Newcastle was! I've not heard it in ages!

The Pink Lady said...

I adore Newcastle. Martin's nadir, in the romance stakes, from which things can only, and indeed do, get better; Anthony Head's gorgeous voice joining the equally gorgeous voices already in the cast; love, intrigue and a brilliant turn from Mark Williams. I think it's beautifully written as usual, and everyone gets their opportunity to shine. Tom G-H did a wonderful job at standing in as Martin, creating a seemingly familiar voice and delivery whilst not attempting to imitate Benedict.

It's fascinating to hear how the audience noise has changed, post-Sherlock, from the usual mixed, slightly older, and more male, to much younger and more female. Despite being a very long standing and enthusiastic Cumberfan, I am delighted to report that I'm one of the people who fell in love with Cabin Pressure when I first heard Abu Dhabi on its first broadcast, and have heard every one as it was aired since. Still disgruntled that I couldn't get in to the audience for Zurich, but hey ho, you can't have everything.

Dawn D said...

I like love those pictures.

Emmet Bryan said...

This was the episode that really made me realize just how Martin-y I am. And that last joke always gets me! Maybe a spin-off where Arthur took the job....? :P

Anonymous said...

Nice to know I'm not the only one who sees old Disney in Tealin's artwork. I think it looks a lot like Bill Peet's concept sketches for The Sword in the Stone, particularly the drawing of Arthur up on top of the plane, looking for the rabbit ears.

Tealin said...

Wow! Thank you so much for your very very kind words on my drawings! It's an enormous honour to be noticed by one whose work I've admired so much and for so long – thank you for putting those pictures in my head in the first place (and many more which I haven't yet found time to draw). And thanks also for these great blog posts, something new to look forward to every day!

Rach Cherryade said...

I enjoy 'Newcastle' greatly (there isn't an episode of 'Cabin Pressure' that I don't love!), but, for some reason, I have noticed that I revisit this episode, Cremona, Helsinki and Wokingham less than all the other episodes. I think your post explains why this is the case as I seem to prefer the episodes with less locations. However, there are, as always, countless shining moments in 'Newcastle' and Tom Goodman Hill (whose radio work I have always enjoyed) does an excellent job and I am hardly aware when listening to the episode that it is a different actor playing Martin since he really seems to understand what makes the captain tick! It was also great to meet Herc and Linda, Anthony Head is a brilliant actor and Mr. Gently Benevolent is definitely one of my favourite radio characters of all time so it was a great pleasure to hear him added to the MJN crew!

I have a question that is partly related to 'Newcastle' and partially related to series 3 and 4 as a whole which I would be interested to hear your thoughts on and this is about Douglas' seemingly sudden change in attitude towards Herc. When they are reunited in 'Newcastle' Douglas seems pleased to meet his old colleague but, by 'Rotterdam' Douglas seems to have become quite hostile towards Herc, a state of affairs which only worsens in series 4 culminating in the flight deck showdown in 'Yverdon-Les-Bains'. I was wondering what your interpretation of this change of heart was due to, was it because Herc refused to take Douglas' CV, because Douglas is jealous of Herc's career or is there some other wrong that Herc had done to Douglas in the past? Also, while I have never been particularly prone to 'shipping' (as I believe the kids call it) fictional characters, I did wonder if Douglas was a little jealous of Herc and Carolyn's budding romance since his dislike of Herc escalates after their date in 'Ottery St. Mary'. You may have addressed some of these questions in deleted scenes or be planning to answer them in 'Zurich' or you may be wanting to leave them open to listener interpretation so please excuse this question if this is the case!

Unknown said...

I'm a philosophy student, so Arthur's confusion of Jean-Paul Sartre and Jean-Claude Van Damme is one of my favorite moments in the whole show; it never fails to crack me up.

Unknown said...

Would ever consider publishing a book with the scripts from all the episodes and maybe a few cartoon-y pictures to go with it?

Anonymous said...

ISN'T TEALIN AMAZING? She's done some other Cabin Pressure animation character studies too and they've really helped me get a mental visual for Martin that isn't a 6 foot tall Cumberbatch. XD

Paul H said...

Tealin's artwork is staggeringly good - and while I agree with the Golden Age Disney comparisons, I think she takes inspiration from Will Eisner too. Her blog is terrific. Sorry, that was just the comic book nerd in me that I rarely allow to comment...

And John, Kuala Lumpur is in no way a bad episode. I've lost count of the number of Cabin Pressure marathons I've done, and at no stage do I ever think 'Oh, not this episode again...'

Merry Christmas all!

Anonymous said...

Newcastle is genuinely one of my favourite episodes. You may be right that you could have got two episodes from the ideas, but the fact that they're all in one is what makes it so beautifully packed with good things. Eddie and the widowmaker! Herc, and the beginning of a beautiful relationship! Fantastic regular-listener-in-joke in the pre-credit scene! Arthur's panicked 'I'm not cooking anything, Skip'! Martin's views on lesbians! What's not to love?

Philippa Sidle said...

I love Newcastle for the introduction of Herc, who is just such an enjoyable character. I think it takes real skill to bring in a character who shares so many characteristics with an existing one, and then differentiate him and use those similarities to comic and dramatic effect.

As a huge opera fan (and as someone who's been involved in performing and administrating opera at a semi-professional level) I half-bristled and half-laughed at Carolyn's classic uninformed objections to the art form. I was really chuffed when it transpired in a later episode that Herc had managed to convert her, and she was willingly subjecting herself to Puccini!

Lolly-pop Guild said...

I always thought it was such a shame Benedict couldn't be available for Newcastle, because there are some killer lines in there! "Do you like... anything?" springs to mind as particularly Martin-y. I shall probably be inserting Ben into that episode in my imagination forever.
What's interesting about reading this comments section is that everyone's favourite episode seems to vary wildly. I had no idea people felt that way about Kuala Lumpur, John included, because I'd always seen its quirks as deliberate rather than less brilliant writing. I'd always seen it as a kind of alternative universe episode, in which the usual rules of physics/play are suspended. It's like the crew slip into this strange other world where airfields are littered with pubs in various unlikely locations.
John mentioned that Martin's indecisiveness in this episode is distracting, but I'd always thought that was true to human nature. Does he want to be part of the gang, or is it too much trouble? We've all been through this situation.
Personally, I've always been most fond of Qikiqtarjuaq (you're not a real Benedict Cumberbatch fan until you can spell that), St Petersburg (because Martin is a hero), and Uskerty, if only for Martin's quick fire Q&A session with Douglas and the climax of the long-build-up joke:-
"I carried the sheep, I climbed the tree, I rode the back of the truck, but now... now I have to x-ray these geese."
I will never not laugh at that. Thank you John for bringing such a wonderful work of art into our lives.

Alex C said...

Is anyone else ashamed to admit that they went into this with the intention of listening to one a day, and have now finished them all already?
I listened to Yverdon-les-bain on my way into work this morning.

On the upside I clearly do have time to go round again before Christmas...

Alex G said...

Wait, Carolyn was willingly subjecting herself to Puccini? What did I miss?! I thought it was a running gag that she let Herc think that, but always managed to get out of it!

Anonymous said...

Alex G, see Xinzhou:

CAROLYN: Oh, nothing. I … I just realised I-I’m not going to be back in time for Tosca.
DOUGLAS: Oh dear. That won’t go down well with Herc the Berk.
CAROLYN: Do you mind not calling him that?
DOUGLAS: I’m sorry. Hercules the Berkules.
CAROLYN: Anyway, I wasn’t going with him. He’s in Zurich."

Anonymous said...

Newcastle has always been one of my favourite episodes. :) Maybe because of Linda. I love her accent. I also enjoy Martin awkwardness whereas in Kuala Lumpur and Qikiqtarjuaq the second hand embarrassment is just too much for me to handle and I just feel very sorry for him. Herc's introduction is also one of the things that make me like this episode so much. It's nice to have someone who can compete with Douglas. :D I think Tom Goodman-Hill did an excellent job as Martin. I didn't even properly notice what was going on when I was new to the series.

Alex G said...

Damn, I hadn't registered she was going without Herc. And now I'm disappointed in Carolyn. And Finnemore.

John Peacock said...

Listening to this today, I have what might be a slightly boring question: Are we to see Martin and Linda as a lot more evenly matched than might originally appear (in airline stakes, rather than human interaction, which Martin obviously has a considerable handicap at)? Since the Airline Pilot game is one that only posh, rich white blokes can play, really. Martin has trouble getting in because he's not posh or rich enough, Linda because she's a woman (and now hugely guilty that she has the mitigating advantage of being the boss's daughter). It's not something I'd really have noticed were it not for the parallel conversation between Herc and Carolyn.

I hope that makes sense. I'll now try to prove that I'm not a robot and be on my way.

Justine Lark said...

I love that the "cold open" was created because of Benedict's cold.

Anonymous said...

This is one of my favourites. Arthur's line about "by not going anywhere, you will go to Newcastle," gets me every time. And of course, I can't go near a stepladder anymore without feeling as though I should shudder in the presence of the Widowmaker. -Molly

Anonymous said...

I know it’s not obvious from how it’s written, but it always stands out a bit when Douglas pronounces “Penicuik” as “Penny-quick”, when it is in fact “Penny-cook”…

Pony girl Fi said...

Yeah, the Penicuik mispronunciation is probably the only thing in the whole series that I don't like. On the one hand it's great that it gets a mention, but on the other hand it does raise my hackles every time I hear it!

Fi, in actual Penicuik

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