Thursday, 18 December 2014

Farewell Bear Facts - Uskerty

…As previously discussed here, complete with entire deleted final scene. Which reminds me, that deleted scene will be one of several, such as  the bit from St. Petersburg in which Martin and Douglas talk about their fathers, included as a bonus track on the complete CDs, which will be released on January 15th, but which is available for pre-order here.

(Sorry, Amazon haters - I do take your point, but they're offering a 35% pre-order discount, and it seems unfair not to point people at the place with the cheapest price.)

- Anyway, back with Uskerty - finally the companion piece to Johannesburg, where the crew are split Martin & Carolyn / Douglas & Arthur for the first time. A split which worked so well, I rather wished I'd done it before -  though arguably the Douglas and Arthur duo, at least, wouldn't have been as effective before Douglas reached his Series Four evolution. 

- I've talked about visual jokes before, and how radio is actually the perfect medium for them, because you have such precise control over what your audience sees when. Generally, I give Douz as an example, because it has both the unfilmable final cricket team / firetruck / desert highway scene, and also the scene where it's revealed at the end of a tense and serious scene that Douglas has - for sound plot reasons - been in his underwear throughout. But there are examples of two more varieties of radio visual jokes in Uskerty. First, teasing the listener with deliberately withheld information. Finn McCool III is discussed, produced, and admired with the listener having no idea what he is, before it's finally revealed he's a sheep… and a stuffed one. This type of joke obviously can, and often is, done on TV; but it generally looks quite forced, as the camera deliberately avoids showing the thing we're interested in. Similarly, I suppose you could shoot the Douz scene with Douglas only visible from the neck up, but it would look odd, and would give away that something was up. 

The other type is my favourite, which is to remind the listener about something visual that they already know, but have forgotten to keep picturing. So, when Martin finally arrives at the airport, we picture him looking bedraggled, and because it's just happened we probably remember he's fallen in goose poo. But hopefully with each of Douglas' questions:

MARTIN  Douglas, quick. I need your help.
DOUGLAS  Martin … Good Lord, you’re soaking wet.
MARTIN  Yes, well, it’s raining outside. Look …
DOUGLAS  What happened to your uniform?
MARTIN  I tore it falling out of a tree …
DOUGLAS  Yes, but what’s that all over it?
MARTIN  Oh, er, goose droppings, but …
DOUGLAS  Is your hand okay?
MARTIN   No, a bee stung me …
DOUGLAS  What are you carrying?
MARTIN   What does it look like?! A stuffed sheep!
DOUGLAS  You see, Arthur? The master.

…we recall something else that we already knew happened to him, and revise our mental image of him accordingly. And that's a joke you can only do in sound only. 

- Ben's performance of the tree-climbing scene is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. That is all. 

- Sometimes people ask why Carolyn's bad mood at the beginning was never explained. Well, for some reason - probably because Roger and I were enjoying taking our… sweet… time… in the film noir scenes so much - this episode ran way, way overlong; and as well as the deleted scene in the other Uskerty post, and another deleted scene about opera which will be on the CD, we also had to lose the following dialogue between Martin and Carolyn as they're waiting for a lift. We were right to cut it, because it sort of over-explains things we already know, but just for your interest: 

5.   CAROLYN:         Good. Put it in your pocket
6.   MARTIN:          Yes, alright!
7.   CAROLYN:         I hate it that I can't pay you, you know
8.   MARTIN:          So do I.
9.   CAROLYN:         You deserve to be paid. And also, it makes me feel ... unprofessional. You know, silly old woman, thinks she can run a business, can't even pay her staff

1.   MARTIN:          Look ... it's alright. I know you would if you could.
2.   CAROLYN:         Yes. I mean ... actually ... I could pay you. If you'd like.
3.   MARTIN:          Er ... yes. I would like. Have I not made that clear?
4.   CAROLYN:         Not a salary. But I could give you a lump sum. Quite a big one, actually. As back-pay.
5.   MARTIN:          Really? But ... how?
6.   FX:              CAR APPROACHES
7.   C AND M:         Hello! Hello! Please! Hello!
8.   FX:              ... AND PASSES
9.   CAROLYN:         Gordon's made his annual offer to buy Gerti back.
10.  MARTIN:          What? After what happened in St Petersburg? He's got a cheek!
1.   CAROLYN:         Yes, that's a version of what I said. But still. He's offering seventy thousand for her. It's way more than I'd get anywhere else.
2.   MARTIN:          I hope you told him no!
3.   CAROLYN:         I told him many things, starting with no, and getting progressively more creative. But I could change my mind.
4.   MARTIN:          No! Of course you can't! He tried to steal Gerti, Carolyn! He doesn't ever get to have her now! (BEAT) When did he call you?
5.   CAROLYN:         In the taxi on the way to the airport
6.   MARTIN:          Ohhh ...
7.   CAROLYN:         What? What 'Ohhh'?
8.   MARTIN:          Nothing.


BradyB66 said...

Sometimes I don't know why I bother to put my hat on! Then I come here and remember why.

Roo said...

Wow! Brilliant! I hope Gordon Shappey never ever gets Gerti! He doesn't deserve her!
Thank you as always for the brilliant blog posts!

Lothiriel said...

The deleted scene definitely explains much when it comes to Carolyn's bad mood, thank you for sharing it!

Oh, and I completely second your opinion about Ben's performance; and not only his, but that of the whole cast. Another reason why I love Cabin Pressure so much - along with the fact that it cheers me up like nothing else does - is the way the entire cast deliver their lines.
(My favourite one is probably Roger Allam, he's absolutely great at delivering Douglas' sarcastic quips.)

Tealin said...

Prodigiously generous commentary on one of my favourite episodes – Christmas has come early! Thanks for yet another deleted scene, and the promise of more on the already enticing CD set. I'm glad you kept the full noir scene, but it is nice to get a taste of the bits sacrificed to fit it in ... finite runtime can be a blessing and a curse, often at the same time!

s w said...

I've had a pre-order listing for "Cabin Pressure A-Z" on the U.S. Amazon site in my cart(basket) for a little while now. Is this the same cd as the one that you linked to on the U.K. Amazon site? All the listing says is that it's being released on April 1st, nothing about deleted scenes or anything. I hope that it's the real thing.

The Pink Lady said...

One of my favourite episodes, too, largely for all the reasons that The Author sets out. I think Benedict's performance in this one is particularly fine, but then, Douglas and Arthur in the bar are also masterful performances... There's too much here which is perfect to list it all! I do find myself echoing Captain Winnie-the-Pooh and describing numbers of things as ' a lot a lot a lot of... ' whatever it is. More proof of the genius of writer and cast. I hope you're very proud of this creation, Mr F - you really should be.

I can't believe that it will all be coming to an end so soon... *sob*

Anonymous said...

I've wondered about how Ben acted the tree-climbing scene with bees and everything, especially since seeing the photos of Justin Edwards picking him up to be an aeroplane in Wokingham.
Are there any pictures?
Also, deleted scenes - ace!

Anonymous said...

This episode (and probably others) has changed my vocabulary... i love saying there is a bunch ( of something) like Martin when he saw the bees..."A lot, a lot, a lot of bees!!"
Thank you, thank you, a million times thank you!

Anonymous said...

Deleted scenes, rock on!

I also love Benedict's performance when Martin's up the tree. His delivery of Martin's bee panic is fantastic. There's a piece of photoshopped art somewhere with Benedict in the security guard disguise from "The Great Game" sitting in a tree and panicking at all the little hand-drawn bees.

Arthur's bad Humphrey Bogart is great. I love to listen to him trying to be all noir like he's in Casablanca or Maltese Falcon.

Elijah Granet said...

Will there be any CD/download of just Zurich 1 and 2 and the bonus content?

Gertifan said...

In my view, just as Hitchhiker's Guide didn't work on TV or film, neither would Cabin Pressure. The pictures you put in my head when Martin is up the tree could never be recreated! A superb episode throughout. Well they all are really. Thank you so much. By the way, I have pre-ordered the Zurich CD from Amazon (I already have all the other episodes on CD) - will the extras appear on that as well as on the complete set?

Jessica Marie said...

Another one of the episodes contending to be my favorite! I love the splitting up and interaction with both pairs. Your writing is absolutely brilliant and it's rather encouraging to know it doesn't just spew out a mile a minute. Thank you for all the extras that you are adding to the collection. Pre ordering my copy this weekend :)

Lee said...

I can't imagine how U.S. Amazon could be selling it for so much less than they are offering it in the UK and there is absolutely no description of it at all.

I'll keep checking and hopefully, all will become clear because I would so love to have a chance at buying this.

Can't believe the days are flying by so quickly that we are already here at Uskerty.

You've been such a peach to take this time to give fans these treats.

Thank you so much!

FrenchFan said...

Douglas' "series 4 evolution"? I am afraid that it must have been to subtle for me to grasp it (and I mean it, I really think some elements of the show are very subtle and demand several listenings before one notices it. And this one, for some reason - maybe beause I am thick - has still eluded me).
How Douglas did he evolve in the last series? (I do not suppose Mr Finnemore himself will do me the honour of answering, if he started indulging his fans' every wish it would be everyone's dream but his personal nightmare, and I do not ant that! But, anyone else had an idea?)

Anonymous said...

Terrific FBFs again, thanks particularly for that deleted scene! It does explain a lot, and if I'm not mistaken, something like this was also originally supposed to be in Q?

Ever since Uskerty I have been wondering just how close Douglas may be to starting to drink again. He is divorced again and no doubt well aware that if and when he loses the MJN Air job, it will be difficult for him to find another. But I expect Zurich will go somewhere with all this.

MartinPic said...

What a brilliant and insightful blog post, thanks so much JF.

Re the poster above: I don't think a serious and unfunny personal issue like Douglas drinking again would fit in with the show. It's not something that's crossed my mind anyway.

As for Douglas's evolution (my take anyway) - he's still a sky god, of course, but he's become more vulnerable as the series has gone on, and has a much warmer relationship with the other main characters.

Rather than antagonising Martin, he's become more of a father figure to him (with added gentle teasing), and his main antagonism now is with Hercules the Bercules.

Anonymous said...

so is it coincidence that Carolyn tells Martin to "swarm up it" (the tree). Which it turns out there is.

Jim Henderson said...

I have the same question about the version on Amazon's US site - ships in April, but no information about what extras are on it.

Please do let US fans know what you can find out (I know content providers don't always know) about availability in the US. I've pre-ordered it, but if it's not going to have the extras, I'll see about switching it to instead and have a friend ship it/bring it the next time they're coming to the US. :)

Dominic C. said...

I've always been a little upset that it was a goose that ate Martin's ring rather than a swan. If it had been a swan, then his signet may have been eaten by a cygnet.

Anonymous said...

As much as I love Cabin Pressure and have longed to see moments performed in some sort of visual medium, I agree that it wouldn't work that way. You could tell the same stories, of course, but the things that make it funny in radio don't work on television. On TV, all Douglas's questions would be superfluous when you could just show us Martin's appearance directly. You'd show Douglas's eyes widen as he fights a grin (or maybe doesn't bother), and then the next shot might be a slow pan from the floor up: cheap shoes in a puddle of rainwater, trousers smeared with goose poop, Martin's swollen hand steadying the dead sheep under his other arm, and finally Martin's face, hair scraggly, a pathetic drop of water dangling from the tip of his nose. A thousand words, and all that.

I fretted about what's going to happen to GERTI when I first saw Timothy West in photos from the recording of "Zurich." But I know that no matter what happens, it'll be great.


MartinPic said...

I've always considered it familial retribution for the St Petersburg bird strike.

Unknown said...

Re: USA CP followers ordering the forthcoming Cabin Pressure: A to Z (with Extras)from Amazon UK. Amazon UK ships CDs to the US in a timely way at reasonable cost. Just order from them. No need to wait until April.

s w said...

If the U.S. listing is correct, ordering from the U.K. would double the price after shipping and fees. It's only listed at about $30 currently. The show is worth 1000x that, but if given the choice. . . .

mizu said...

I wonder the same about the Amazons too! I'm from neither the US nor the UK, but noticing the price difference (US being much cheaper), if the product is identical I'd order from Amazon US.

So my question is: are they identical?

Jessica Marie said...

Oh my god that's brilliant!

Jessica Marie said...

I love how amazing, resourceful and helpful this fandom is :)

Anonymous said...

Pre-ordered via my country's Amazon, where it also has a 31% pre-order discount and comes to the equivalent of about £19 after tax and free shipping. Doesn't seem fair we'd get it cheaper than the UK, but that's Amazon for you.

Anna said...

At first I really hated this episode, but I gradually came to like it and now it even is among my favourites.
However, I think that deleted scene really should have stayed, because it perfectly explains why Carolyn behaves so uncharacteristically bitchy. That was probably the main thing I really did not like about this episode - and I still don't. Without the deleted scene Carolyn is so unnecessarily mean to people who do not deserve it (mainly the taxi driver, though Martin as well) that I really find it hard to feel for her.

Anonymous said...

This morning I listened to Uskerty and realized how very much I like your writing, those lovely sketched characters, and the great voices of all of you! Can't wait for Zurich - and had to preorder the complete series even though I'm not a fan of amaz... But I think it's the easiest way to get it for me here in Germany.
Have a lovely season!

Alex G said...

I love the Kilkenny Airport scenes in this. You probably don't want to hear this, but those scenes could have come straight out of Father Ted!

Unknown said...

Good to hear an advocate of radio comedy being sometimes preferable to TV. My other favourite show, fags, mags & bags (5p now) has many people keen to see it on TV but neither show would benefit I feel.

"Thats my truckload of swans".... beautiful

Katie said...

One of my absolute favorites in a whole series of brilliance! Thank you so much Mr. Finnemore, for your creativity and all the time you are putting into these posts. And I completely agree that radio is the best medium for CP - personally, I would never want to see it filmed, or even animated, for all the reasons you spell out above. The timing of the actors combined with just the audio cues is just perfect. Looking forward to (but kind of not) Zurich!

Jacky said...

Re the complete set of cd's: What about the people that already own all the cd's up until Zurich? I would love to have the deleted scenes/ special stuff but am not able and or willing to pay double... Is there any way for us to get hold of said items?

Btw Thanks for this extra added info on all the episodes. Brilliant read at times!

Cerys Byrne said...

I realised when listening to Uskerty last night that this is the point when it really begins to be about Martin. That moment up the tree when he tells Carolyn that he's not been looking for other jobs. Then we have the Princess, his family, the interview with Swiss Air and suddenly the whole future of MJN Air is in Martin's hands - it's Brilliant!

Philippa Sidle said...

This episode features another of those extravagantly specific sentences, Martin's last line. Removed from its context it would be utterly bizarre, and that's a part of its humour!

I too felt that Carolyn was on the edge of unlikeable in this episode, which she isn't usually, at all. It surprised me at the time. Very interesting to see that there's a missing scene that accounts for her mood.

Lee said...

They did sell one episode, the last Christmas special in 2010, for $2.95 (sorry, don't know the UK price) - on iTunes. Hopefully, they will do the same with the upcoming one.

Rach Cherryade said...

As an obsessive fan and collector of BBC radio comedy I personally think that comedy is always better on radio than on tv because it allows you to use your imagination and to set up jokes that, like you say, would look forced on tv. It also gives you the freedom to set your series anywhere you like without budget restrictions! I also just prefer the overall feel of radio comedy, it's so much more personal and direct and less lazy than tv comedies which principally rely on obvious visual gags.

Ali Hart, nice to see another 'Fags, Mags and Bags' fan, a wonderful series which is both funny and incredibly warm-hearted, hope it returns for another series soon and I agree that a move to tv would ruin the show for me, in my head I know exactly what all the characters look like and how the shop is laid out, I don't know what tv could possibly add to that!

Oh, and, I love this episode, Douglas and Arthur's interaction is beautiful, Arthur's attempt at grown-up conversation is incredibly funny, especially the lines about 'dames, horses and hats'!

bigseach said...

i have thought that arthur will gain custody of the goose. 'cause how would martin support a goose? i reckon that snoopagoose would live happily on the grounds of caroline's house. obviously arthur would make sure that the goose doesn't get cooked or "smoothed".

Marie said...

Can I ask what's with Arthur's fascination with pineapple juice??

Ab-Normal said...

Rach Cherryade, Sorry to say but they announced that there were going to be no more Fags, Mags and Bags about a year ago on their facebook page. It's always been a toss up between Cabin Pressure and F,M & B as my favourite radio comedy, I think Cabin Pressure just manages to pip it to the post as I think there's not a misfired joke in all bar one of the episodes (and even then I just don't personally like the episode, I'm sure others do). Although I've only ever done fan art once in my life and that was for F, M & B so there is that!

Moony said...

What I love most of all in this epic of an episode, right after Caroline complains about being stranded in the the middle of Ireland with "Captain Winnie the Pooh" the scene switches to Arthur and Douglas with a bit of an elevator version of Winnie the Pooh. In short, the details. Love the details and I love hearing about why we get certain bits like that whole end interrogatioin of Martin by Douglas. :)

Anonymous said...

I hope you don't mind me mentioning the one scene in four otherwise excellent series which I think doesn't really work but you say of TV comedy "it generally looks quite forced, as the camera deliberately avoids showing the thing we're interested in" and I think there is actually an example of that in Cabin Pressure.

The trouble is that the background sounds are usually so rich that we can almost always tell where the action is taking place and who is present without having to be told, so it sounds weird at the end of the Newcastle episode when Herc is telling a wall of complete silence that he was impressed with how it handled that day's delay.

I agree that CP would never work on television but I can't help thinking it would have been wonderful to do three series with a short red-faced actor playing Captain Crieff, and then to have BC himself appear as Paramount Martin.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a brilliant story. I look forward to your next. Hope it's just as funny, Jon.

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