Monday, 15 December 2014
Rotterdam is nice straight-forward, old-fashioned sitcom episode. It even starts with the classic workplace sitcom inciting incident: 'Mr Alyakhin has decreed from his dacha…' Or in other words 'There's a new directive from head office…' It's also an episode that's very big on set-pieces: everybody's various attempts at welcome and / or safety announcements; the filming scene, and of course Herc and Douglas' syrup-off.
But at heart, it's the story of Martin and his magic mirror, Paramount Martin, in which at first he sees everything that he wishes he was; and then eventually realises is a more exact reflection of him than he thought. One of my favourite lines from this episode (along with 'So you keep saying, but the tape-measure tells a different tale' and 'Not so fast, man cub') is when Douglas enters to see a tall, handsome man in a captain's uniform introduce himself as Martin, and asks 'What happened? Did you find a magic lamp?' That's really what the episode is about. Gus Brown does a lovely job as Paramount Martin, fielding Little Martin's increasingly weird and frantic questions with a sort of desperate good humour. And I love his 'bad acting' acting. It's very good bad acting acting. If you follow me.
People have been asking why Douglas dislikes Herc so much, when they seem so friendly at the beginning of Newcastle. I think Martin more or less gets it spot on in the first scene of Rotterdam - Herc is nicking Douglas' act. The last thing Douglas wants around the place is someone who shares many of his qualities… but is also still a captain, at a proper airline. Sometimes I even wonder if Douglas is a little jealous of Herc's relationship with Carolyn. Not that he wants to go out with her himself, exactly, but that doesn't mean anyone ELSE should think they're allowed to… And remember when he meets Herc in Newcastle he a) doesn't expect him to be in his life for more than about an hour, and b) is planning to trade on their friendship to ask him for help getting a job. (Help which Herc, in the end, refuses to give.) All of which is, of course, a large part of why I decided to introduce Herc as a recurring character - a love interest for Carolyn, certainly; but also the most irritating imaginable fly in Douglas' ointment. Sitcom writers are cruel Gods…
Posted by John Finnemore at 11:53 pm