Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Farewell Bear Facts - Molokai

Get dressed ye merry gentlemen! For it is both Christmas, and the half-way point of the whole show. I like this one. I like Christmas specials to be Christmassy, which this one is (but Zurich alas will not be, because I had no idea it was a Christmas special when I was writing it). I like how the various plots (Arthur's Christmas / secret santa; getting Alyhakin's business and the Petrus '05) affect each other, and merge together into a three part ending. And I like how everyone, with the possible exception of Martin, is back to doing their core thing - Arthur's enthusing and being unhelpfully helpful; Carolyn's doing battle with a passenger with one hand and trying to keep a lid on the mayhem in the flightdeck with the other; and Douglas is scheming up a scheme.

- If you try to keep track of who has whose name in the Secret Santa over the course of the episode, you will fail. That's because a long scene in which Douglas orchestrates a baroque sequence of swaps in order to get the one he wants got cut even before the recording on the grounds that it was a lot of hard-to-follow plot, for not many jokes. (Some tough love there, quite correctly, from Producer David.) But let's say that scene still took place, it just happened while we weren't listening…

- Mr Alyhakin's Massive Yachts are a reference to this sketch  and indeed this sketch, which I wrote for That Mitchell and Webb Look.

- The reason that Nigel is the first name that comes into Carolyn's head when she's making up pilots is that the captain at MJN before Martin arrived was called Nigel. (Also, 'Nigels' is an industry nickname for British Airways pilots. Presumably because a lot of them were either called Nigel, or looked like they ought to be. )

- I love Roger's delivery of '…and you mulled it?' Though it was scary to be on the receiving end of it. Is this the only time we see Douglas lose his cool, if only for a moment?

- Deleted scene:

1.   ARTHUR: Yes. Because I couldn't help thinking, it was a bit unfair on you with the Secret Santas, because everyone else got such great presents, but you ended up with wine you can't drink.

2.   DOUGLAS: Oh, don't worry, I-

3.   ARTHUR: So instead, I made you... this!

4.   DOUGLAS: ... Oh.

5.   MARTIN: Oh, that's nice, Douglas. We've got matching hats.

6.   ARTHUR: Yep! You didn't think I'd make Martin one and leave you out did you? Look, I've done you some gold braid on it, because I know how much you like Martin's.

7.   DOUGLAS: So you have. Using?

8.   ARTHUR: Mostly scrambled egg.

9.   DOUGLAS: But also?

10.  ARTHUR: Superglue.


Anonymous said...

Also contains the best Christmas song ever (possibly). Molokai is a great favourite (it's now starting to look like ALL of them are my favourite - also possible) especially because of "you took my Petrus 05 and you MULLED it". I'd love to have seen the expression that went with that.

Unknown said...

This episode never fails to make me happy, for which I will be eternally grateful to you. My older sister joins me each year in a rendition of Get Dressed outside my younger sister's bedroom door on Christmas morning. What better way to get into a Christmassy spirit. Love the usage of the orange tictacs in the mulled wine... and the idea of a citrus pocket.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. Didn't feel at all Christmassy until I listened to Molokai today and laughed until I had tears running down my face. If you based Arthur on someone real that you know, could you possibly point him in my direction as I think I am in love with him!

Crowen said...

Superglue and scrambled egg... that is just perfect ^_^ That must have been the cherry on the top of the cake for Douglas!

Anonymous said...

I had my parents (who have also been fans since I first played them some episodes) listen to this episode on Christmas a couple of years ago, and we all enjoyed ourselves muchly. I love it how Douglas tells us at the start that a flight deck Christmas is "an utterly stupid idea for two reasons, one of which is obvious" and yet Arthur, Martin and probably just about everyone listening to the episode for the first time fail to realize before the end that there was no need for flight-deck celebrations, because they weren't going to miss Christmas at all :-)

BradyB66 said...

Thank you for the explanation of the Secret Santa names. My brain hurts every time I listen to it, trying to keep track of which name is with which person throughout the show. Now I can sit back, listen and say "Forget it, Jake. It's Molokai."

Anonymous said...

Love the deleted scene, and I firmly agree with you on Roger's delivery at the end.

Unknown said...

I always really hoped the massive yachts were a reference to that sketch!! And now I know and can rest happy.

Lothiriel said...

I tried to make sense of the Secret Santa name swaps this morning, and I guess it could work if Douglas and Arthur had swapped their slip of papers right before the end? Unless I've missed something else along the way, that is.

Oh, and it's great to get to know that Nigel is indeed the name of Martin's predecessor at MJN. I was wondering why it's not a Christmassy name like all the others made up by Carolyn and Douglas.

May I ask what's with Arthur's age though? He seems to be twenty-eight and a half in one of the first episodes, and then he appears to remain twenty-nine throughout the rest of the series - while Martin is thirty-two at the start and thirty-six in Yverdon-Les-Bains, so I gather about four years went by in the meantime.
Has Arthur discovered the secret of perpetual youth, along with that of true cheeriness? Because, you know, that would be definitely brilliant! :)

MartinPic said...

"Mostly scrambled egg"

Such a shame that that line had to be cut. The hats play such a big part in the whole series, and especially this episode.

Lemon peel might have been good too, if only for the tie-in with Qikiqtarjuak (with apologies to Mrs Dimmont).

The Pink Lady said...

Molokai might be my favourite ( though I'm never sure... How to choose?) simply because it's The Christmas One, and I feel about Christmas the same way Arthur does about getting into a bath that's just the right temperature. I love all the things about it: Martin's inventiveness in creating Arthur's makeshift celebrations; the Petrus shenanigans; Carolyn's willingness to fleece Mr Aliyahkin; and lovely Arthur's carolling. If ever I have to miss the real thing, I hope that someone will create me a flight-deck Christmas. And I could listen to Roger's delivery of the list of mystery stewardesses forever! The plot is beautifully developed, and all the MJN staff come out of it as good guys, which befits the season of goodwill. I shall be singing Get Dressed... as soon as I wake on Christmas morning again this year, and every year.

BradyB66 said...

Disappointed that you didn't answer the other question that plagues me when it comes to Molokai. Why does Benedict pronounce it Molokwai?

Jovanka said...

BradyB66 - perhaps for the same reason he pronounces "penguins" as "penglings"?

Another favourite (although aren't they all!) - get dressed ye merry gentlemen has also become my de rigueur Christmas-morning-rousing song...

Jessica Marie said...

Jovanka I was going to answer with that same reason.

Molly said...

Wow - I love this episode. Just listened to it with my family as we decorated the christmas tree and as result ended up happier that I've been all week! And not to mention in an extremely Christmassy mood. I love Roger's "And you mulled it" line but my favourite is when Arthur just goes "No!" after hearing about the international date line. It's brilliant. Thank you so much Mr Finnemore!

Rach Cherryade said...

Just wonderful to read your thoughts on my favourite episode and very pleased that you cleared up the 'Secret Santa' conundrum, I will now fill in the gaps by imagining how the swaps took place! Also wonderful to read that hilarious deleted scene! I collect Christmas-themed radio comedy shows (since they combine two of my favourite things!) and remember how excited I was to hear you were making a Christmas episode of CP back in 2010 and I couldn't stop laughing from beginning to end the first time I heard it. I've listened to it many times since and never fail to find it extremely funny, sweet and clever! There are so many stand-out moments in this episode, Douglas' 'emergency citrus pocket', 'The Auspicious Pig and Whistle Old England Style Happy Pub' and of course Arthur's stirring rendition of 'Get Dressed You Merry Gentlemen'! As someone who is utterly obsessed with Christmas and is in a permanent state of festive enthusiasm from the beginning of November I really relate to Arthur in this episode and his attempt to remain stoical when he is told he is going to miss Christmas is heart-rending! Glad Martin comes to the rescue and that Douglas helps despite his initial scepticism! Thanks again for all the wonderful shows Mr. Finnemore!

Bigseach said...

When I first hear that they were heading to Molokai, I thought "really, the leper colony?" Then I was a bit disappointed that Douglas didn't mention it.

Of course, they have closed the leper hospital ( very easily treated now.) and have opened the island up a bit.

Brandy said...

I love Molokai because I am totally Arthur at Christmas.

However, the chicken santa burgers always bugs because they have totally fabulous sushi in Hawaii. A lot more asian influence in Hawaii than mainland American. However, I get that Douglas was looking forward to authentic Tokyo sushi.

Anonymous said...

I attended the recording of this so have a special attachment to it. I think it was the first 'post-Sherlock' recording and we had failed to anticipate quite so many people (and indeed quite so many, um, non-Radio-4-core-audience people) in the queue when planning our arrival time, and very very nearly missed the cut-off and got turned away.
Apart from all the obvious delights and great lines, the International Date Line twist is very, very cleverly handled. Live, at the end I've got to admit I thought, 'But hang on, surely Carolyn would have known that?' Only listening to it again did I realise that there's no indication whatsoever that she doesn't.
And there is, like Anonymous at the fifth comment says, the massive-but-ambiguous clue of Douglas's first, 'obvious' reason that a flight deck Christmas is an utterly stupid idea. Which it's easy to assume is, say, the fact that they haven't actually got any of the requisite stuff, but of course isn't. And wouldn't have been written like that if it was. You are a clever chap, Mr F. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I spent a lot of commute time once trying to figure out how that secret santa swap worked. Thank you, for leaving it confusing... anything to kill commute time.

Unknown said...


Here's a question in advance of the St Petersburg episode, as I hope you might be able to answer it then.

When you wrote the episode, did you have a moment in mind when Douglas realised that he might be able to scam Gordon Shappey out of an engine, or at the very least, the money for a new engine?

(Apologies in advance, but I would REALLY like this to be answered, so I will probably keep posting it in each of the subsequent blogs!)

Philippa Sidle said...

I've listened to Molokai innumerable times (well... I've listened to all of them innumerable times) and it had never before occurred to me to interpret Douglas's line about the reason not to have a flight deck Christmas as it being obvious that they were in fact heading into Christmas Day across the dateline. I thought he just meant it was obviously stupid. Still not sure that's not what's meant.

Great episode. Well... they all are, aren't they?

Alex G said...

Incidentally, having now seen the LEGENDACIOUS Christmas Double Issue of the Radio Times, I'm disappointed that Cabin Pressure barely rates a mention in passing in the radio highlights (it's described as a "big hitter" and... that's it). I thought there might be something more - an acknowledgement of its tremendous popularity, a picture of Arthur in a hat, an interview with the cast, accompanied by a little side-box recapping the events leading up to the cliffhanger at the end of series 4... but no. Nothing. Meh.

Anonymous said...

"Is this the only time we see Douglas lose his cool, if only for a moment?"

Hm, is that a hint for Zurich?
Anyway, thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts about each episode. It adds to the end-of-year/end-of-something mood that surrounds this time of year. But in a good way.

MartinPic said...

"Is this the only time we see Douglas lose his cool, if only for a moment?"

He kind of loses his cool when he becomes the Supreme Commander in Yverdon.

Unknown said...

One of my favourites :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Finnemore,
I've always wanted to ask you about the origins of Arthur. For someone who's quite settled, content, and almost “fully realized” in the spiritual sense, with relatively simple wants, Arthur still manages to be a fascinating, dramatically useful, and complex-in-his-own-way character. And of course he’s freaking hilarious, which is rather handy in a comedy. I know that the “wise simpleton” is a stock comedic figure, but Arthur seems far more substantive and satisfying than that role usually seems. I keep trying to put my finger on why he’s so much greater than the sum of his parts. As someone who's a master in the science of comedy, and who knows Arthur the best of anyone in the world, your thoughts on the subject would be very welcome!

Is Arthur based on anyone? Is he based on you? Is he a character-type you created earlier and then built into CP, or was he developed especially for CP? Did you always know you’d play him, or did the writing process make you want to play him?

I suspect we’d all love to hear more about how Arthur came to be, if you’d like to share. He is written beautifully, and you perform him brilliantly. Thank you for him!

~Diane in Nebraska

Luna said...

I first started listening to Cabin Pressure around Christmastime a couple of years ago. I was about one season in and all over tumblr I kept seeing references to "get dressed you merry gentlemen," and only knew that it was from the Christmas episode. My guess was that it was Carolyn bursting into the boys' hotel rooms on Christmas morning/eve announcing that, surprise, they have another trip (or some other plot-starting announcement). Get dressed, gentlemen, let's go.

Nearly choked laughing when I finally got to the episode and heard Arthur's breathless delivery of the line.

Simon said...

I was lucky enough to be in the audience for Molokai, so it has very special memories for me. Every Chrimbletide since then, I've woken my wife up with a rendition of Get Dressed Ye Merry Gentleman. It's a wonder she's still with me.

The one thing I never got (and, if you listen, I don't think the audience really got either) was the "Bert Christmas" joke. I assume it's a reference to Martin not having much of a sense of humour and I don't like laughing *AT* our heroes

Anonymous said...

No matter what time of year I listen to this, the 12:01 reveal brings a tear to my eye.

John Peacock said...

"'Nigels' is an industry nickname for British Airways pilots. Presumably because a lot of them were either called Nigel, or looked like they ought to be. "

Nigels With Altitude?

(I've wanted to have an excuse to say that for years.)

Anonymous said...

Last Christmas, my mother's friend came to Philly. We are all great Cabin Pressure fans, so I decided to give each of them an orange tic tac, a packet of sugar with a rabbit drawn on it, and a penny covered in melted chocolate chips inside a sock. It was amazing, and thank you for the idea!

ClosetDiva (aka Kate K) said...

Love this episode! It's a "must-listen" this time of year, if only for Arthur's enthusiastic "Get Dressed You Merry Gentlemen." As for Douglas' "you *mulled* it?" line - Roger's delivery of it scares me & I can't help but be reminded that he's performed Javert. Scary indeed!

Moony said...

I can't sing the regular version of the Christmas carol anymore so I just annoy people who are sticklers for correct verses with Arthur's version and tell them to listen to Cabin Pressure. They are usually okay after that.

Douglas's "you MULLED it" line is hands down the best delivery of any line on Cabin Pressure. So perfect.

Also, I adore that little bit with the scrambled eggs and superglue. Makes me want to try it for my own hat. :P

Tygra said...

Get dressed you Merry Gentlemen

Playing in Peoria said...

I'm with Simon Emms - Please explain the "Bert" joke Martin offers up in the list of Christmassy stewardess names. I've always wondered.

Many thanks!

Ursula said...

Get dressed you merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,
For it is Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Day,
It's Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Day,
It is Chriii-i-i-i-i-istmas Day, Chri-istmas Day,
It is Chri-i-i-i-i-i-istmas Day!
My friends are fed up of me singing that to them every day around Christmas, writing it in Christmas cards, and applying it to other days of the year (except the 5th of February).

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