Monday, 15 December 2014

Farewell Bear Facts - Rotterdam

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…


Bianca said...

*Stops pressing F5*

Yay! Another placeholder!

Anonymous said...

Damn you rotter,

Anonymous said...

Another Placeholder? Not to worry, we have your rather superb rendition of 'Sexual Healing' from ISIHAC to be getting along with

Anonymous said...

Cue Arthur: "Hello? Hello? HellOOOoo!"

(I can't hear it without giggling.)

Anonymous said...

No. No he definitely wouldn't. He definitely wouldn't use a place - holder again, would he? That's why I'm just going comment on how funny a certain Mr John Finnemore was on "I'm sorry I havent a clue" today... Rather than pointing out the place he's currently holding :)

Alex G said...

"Since you ask me for a tale of Rotterdam, for which I am at present unprepared, I believe I have a placeholder which may for the time being suffice. Good night!"

The Pink Lady said...

I shall make my comment here, in due course.

Luna said...

I've been catching up with the episodes! On Limerick now. Looking forward to Rotterdam - my favourite episode of all! <3

BradyB66 said...

I feel like Arthur going through the metal detector in Uskerty. It's like a game show! I come to the blog, click F5 and chant, "Will it be a placeholder, will it be a placeholder? Yes, it's another placeholder!"

Looking forward to hearing about Rotterdam, too. It's one of my favorites. Everyone shines in this episode. Martin's audition tape as the guy who "flies some plane" never fails to make me laugh. His indignant squalk whenever he's called Little Martin is brilliant. Arthur's safety demonstration, Carolyn's uncanny impression of Queen Victoria leaving an answer phone message, and Douglas and Herc's smarm off, it's all just wonderful.

Sorry, I'll stop gushing now.

Anonymous said...

The placeholder is paramount.

Jessica Marie said...

On the 18th day of the countdown to Zurich our dear John gave to us, another brilliant place holder!

Jennifer said...

See on the flip side... of the placeholder post. Ciao!

clanca1234 said...

In the absence of some farewell bear facts, I'll say that it was good (but unexpected) to hear you on ISIHAC, especially as you managed to have a go at Belgium again. A timely reminder that "Belgium, Belgium, Belgium must be stopped". Let's hope that Zurich doesn't see the MJN crew stopping off in the Low Countries and meeting an unexpected end at the hands of the netherworldly denizens from another dimension.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, he would.

Olivia said...

By the way, you were fabulous on ISIHAC yesterday. And I heard an ad for Zurich at the end of the Comedy of the Week Podcast, and I may or may not have and a little dancing fit...

Anonymous said...

Placeholder chat can be pleasant
Entertaining and effervescent
Keeps us in good cheer
Until John gets here
Via Mornington Crescent.

:-) PollyTheWasp

Mark K said...

Thank you so much for revealing
Your rendition of 'Sexual Healing'
Marvin Gaye would be proud
As he sits on his cloud
It really was rather appealing.

Philippa Sidle said...

I'm looking forward to this one particularly as I think it got missed out when you did almost-weekly comments on season three as it was being broadcast.

Rotterdam is one of those episodes where they never even begin the journey towards the title destination. There are plenty where they don't get there in the course of the episode, but there are only a few where they don't even try. (Middle-of-the-night CP trivia).

Anonymous said...

Hello John!

I just wanted to say thanks so much for these farewell bear facts. I have been enjoying them very much. Even the place holders are fun. But really, it's a busy time of year and you'd be forgiven for dropping your very high standards a little. You could just list the biscuits you ate while writing the episode and that'd be interesting. Everyone likes to hear about biscuits.

Cabin Pressure has been a favourite of mine since season one and I'm both sad and excited to hear the final episode. And, somehow, I feel like I've achieved something listening along with the advent calendar and reading your farewell bear facts. It's nice to think that I've got something done in December because I still haven't done my Christmas shopping, but I'm pretty sure everyone likes those balsa wood dinosaur kits and I get got those down the road from work.

Thank you again for sharing your brilliant mind.

All the best,


Alex G said...

That's why it's one of the episodes where I didn't recognise it from the title. This one and Johannesburg.

I think of this one as a bit of a placeholder episode itself. No episode is all bad (even Kuala Lumpur!) but I suppose the plot just doesn't grab me.

Alex G said...

Also, I think this may be the one episode that would really benefit from being on television.

Anonymous said...

I'm enjoying cabin pressure advent calender and bear facts combination ever so much -almost, almost but not completely makes up for my grief that the end is coming

The Pink Lady said...

Stop talking about the end, people. If we don't talk about, it can't happen.

*resumes sobbing and howls of grief*

Gertifan said...

Come on come on John Finnemore
More bear facts please display
For it's not Christmas Christmas Christmas
Christmas Christmas Day...

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? If so, at what point was that?

(Apologies for the repeated asking of this question, but today is the last time, as it's St Petersburg tomorrow!)

(Or maybe St Placeholder instead... ;-)

MartinPic said...


Caroline said...

...and also - Go!

Anonymous said...

I'm beginning to suspect that Mr F is hoping for more PP (Placeholder Poetry) from his readers so that he can bring out an anthology and get credit for inventing a new and moving art form.

(Either that or he is busy at a very busy time, and I agree with an earlier commentator that he shouldn't feel under any pressure to provide us with non-placeholder entries.)

John Finnemore said...

Hello chaps. Thanks for your patience, and your poetry! Today is the dress rehearsal of a show I'm in, and so there has been little time for bear facts. I will fill this entry in eventually, though- cross my heart and hope to die, Terrapins tickle me if I lie...

Anonymous said...

We could make up some Farewell Bear Facts for you, if that would help?

Weez said...

I seem to recall a long wait for a blog entry the first time round with this episode. John, do you just really hate talking about Rotterdam? ;)

Mark K said...

Dear Mr F do not fret
'Bout writing these blogs in a sweat
We'd all like to say
Good luck with your play.
No need for the terrapin threat!

stepfordgeek said...

Surely he would not go for the trifecta of placeholders, now would he?

The Pink Lady said...

There once was a comic called John
Who wrote us a classy sit-com
He came every day
Giving secrets away
For us fans, he can do no wrong.

His bear facts lead up to the end
Of the programme we all would defend
Though some come in late
We're happy to wait
To brilliant we know they will tend.

So fear not, John F, we don't mind
If the blog gets a little behind
We know you'll come back
Giving us what we lack
All the gems still to come - you're so kind.

Tygra said...

This could be Rotterdam or anywhere
A plane can fly
As Mr Finnemore
Gets ready to say goodbye

Anonymous said...

My favourite line in the whole of CP is in this episode:- Then you have your choice of the Martins. Hahahaha, I can't even type it without laughing.

Steve said...

"cross my heart and hope to die, Terrapins tickle me if I lie..."

You'll be doing the teapot next!

urcool91 said...

Oh, you're in a play? Break a leg, from one actor to another! Funnily enough, I am auditioning for one tonight. Tell us how your performances go!

Verity said...

I listened to Rotterdam just yesterday, and enjoyed myself immensely. Carolyn's withering address to "Professor Fonz" is perfection.

Is this one of the episodes where Benedict was having throat problems? It sounds a bit like it, but he does have to do a lot of indignant squawking in this episode, so that might have contributed.

Warren Terra said...

It's time to take a lesson from Molokai and whip across the International Date Line so you'll have a whole extra Rotterdam Farewell Bear Facts Day.

You live and work in East Asia, right?

Tealin said...

Good lord, you've been posting during tech week? You are generosity itself; please don't feel bad taking some time off to sustain vital signs!

Anonymous said...

I'm impressed you found time to do so much as a place holder if it's tech week. Break a leg!


Anonymous said...

Ooh lovely, here at last! I like Rotterdam lots better than my fan friends do - neat plot, great lines (Carolyn's "So you keep saying..." is an ouchy favorite), and in the end Douglas gets what he was asking for (he had, after all, spent the episode being more than usually insufferable to everybody). Also, gotta love Martin's trod-on mouse yelp - which we hear again in the next episode.

Jessica Marie said...

I always thought Douglas was a bit jealous of Herc's and Carolyn's relationship! At first I thought in a "he secretly loves her" kind of way, but then realized he is jealous of the fact that although their relationship is not perfect, they make it work.
I love the dynamic between Paramount and Little Martin!
Arthur being referred as "man cub" is hysterical.

Kris said...

Awww. Douglas is protective of his people. And Carolyn is somehow people.

I always thought Douglas hates Herc for Herc's many annoying qualities, but primarily because Herc *humiliated* him by not helping him with the job. That's a huge betrayal of the boy's club. Douglas exposed a large vulnerability -- that he's stuck in a dead-end job that's beneath Air England, and he can't get out on his own.

He expected Herc to kindly ignore all that and help Douglas out, with the gracefully unmentioned assumption that Douglas now owes Herc a favor. This would be humiliating enough, but to turn down a gentleman's deal? Is essentially kicking Douglas out of the club. It's treating Douglas like *Martin*, like he doesn't have enough cred or isn't enough of a *man* to enter into a deal.

THAT is a humiliating betrayal that Douglas could never get over.

Anonymous said...

Rotterdam is probably the episode that makes me laugh out loud the most. I have loads of favorite CP eps, and they're all so funny, but this one makes me LOL throughout, starting with the opening scene and the way Douglas says, "Can we do anything in particular for you, Hhhherc?"

I'd also rank this as Martin's funniest episode, though the interview scenes in Yvredon give it a run for its money. But this ep wins, due to the "cool teacher" welcome message, the "Captain duh-duh-DUFF" lines, and the creepy stalker quiz show. The clincher for me is the great way BC delivers the line "Runway B? What's that? That's not a runway!" Makes me laugh every. single. time.


Philippa Sidle said...

Three updates at once! Brilliant!

I love the way that Douglas is immediately protective of Carolyn, in the way that he interrogates Herc about his marital status in Ottery St Mary. Nice to have a little Word of God hint in a Douglas/Carolyn shippy direction!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful retroactive Douglas subtext! Adds a certain richness to an already fantastic episode.

I quite hope that Martin and Paramount Martin get together every so often over pints of stout to commiserate about how no one appreciates them, and that they help each other out by providing business references for each others 'living job'.

Anonymous said...

I simply must specially mention Carolyn's "But surely this combines your twin passions" line. Perfect. As the whole episode demonstrates, she certainly knows Douglas inside out by now!

Moony said...

The whole "cool teacher" thing, the syrup-off and the Captain "Duh duh duh duh duh duh" lines absolutely make this episode.

I still wonder if Martin and Paramount Martin ever got together for that pint?

Also, paramount has ever since been a favourite word of mine.

Justine Lark said...

The dueling announcements are just so awesome and I adore the little things like Martin mentioning that he "spent the whole of yesterday" recording his demo and Arthur earnestly trying to convince Douglas that he could really do quite well if he gave it a try.

Savanna said...

I have to agree with the general consensus when I say that I loved this episode. It is, to this day, my favorite of the series for several reasons, one of which being the way Benedict delivers the line "Runway B??? What's that? That's not a runway!" I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who still finds that moment particularly hilarious. But this was, all around, a phenomenal episode.

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