Episode Reviews Part 4
This episode's plot is twofold—Captain Peacock's promotion and the staff lunch break's being delayed 1 hour.
Mr. Humphries' trademark "I'm free!" first occurred in the following exchange:
Peacock: "Mr. Humphries, are you free?"
In previous episodes, Mr. Humphries had merely replied "Yes, I'm free" in a matter-of-fact way to the query "Are you free?"
Humphries: "I'm busy pricing my ties, Captain Peacock."
Peacock: "The gentleman wishes to try on a dress."
Humphries: "I'm free!"
The Sensi-Touch Gloves display, which Mrs. Slocombe manipulates slightly to persuade Rumbold not to use it on the shop floor.
- Peacock's "up-and-down" attempt to receive his 20-years'-service badge and Grainger's reaction to Peacock's new privileges (key to the executive wash room, executive dining room access).
- The clip-on bow tie customer, who is unimpressed with Peacock's wealth of honors. Humphries and Lucas do a smash-up job convincing him to buy a £5 silk tie instead. After the sale, Mr. Humphries derives a great deal of satisfaction from showing the customer how to tie it.
- The gentleman looking for a dress for a fancy-dress party. (Humphries enjoys this customer almost as much as the bow tie customer.) Lucas manages to sell his old suit to another customer, forcing him to go to the gent's wearing a size 40 maternity dress.
- The late lunch affair. Grainger complains to the Factory Inspector, making trouble again! (He doesn't get into as much hot water as he did in "Coffee Morning", however.) Fortunately, Lucas arranges for emergency provisions to be brought to the floor (Mash serves soup out of the lift while Peacock's away).
- The contrast between the canteen lunch and the executive dining room menu (not that much difference between the two).
- Peacock's lunch in the executive dining room:
soup du jour, lentil
and an amusing little Peruvian beaujolais-type wine.
le rollmop herring
le pilchard salad et
le shepherd's pie
un après-huit mint
Captain Peacock is eventually brought down to earth during his lunch in the executive dining room when the wall separating it from the canteen is knocked down by order of the Factory Inspector due to the canteen's being too small for the number of people using it.
- Mrs. Slocombe's night out, as related to Miss Brahms:
—Well, I said to him quite sternly, mind you, I said "If you don't take your hands away, young man, I'm getting off this bar stool and going home!"
—And did he?
—He did not.
—And did you go home?
- Peacock: "Not another honor, sir? That would be too much."
Rumbold: "Yes, it would."
- Peacock: "I disapprove of your using this rude tone of voice to me in front of a junior."
Mrs. Slocombe: "Captain Peacock, I'm so sorry. (Turns to Miss Brahms) Miss Brahms, would you mind removing yourself a few paces and covering your ears?"
Miss Brahms: "Yes, Mrs. Slocombe." (leaves)
(Mrs. Slocombe motions for Peacock to come nearer.)
Mrs. Slocombe: "Pompous twit!"
With a clever plot and interesting customers, "Up Captain Peacock" is a neat little gem.
In this episode prominently featuring Mr. Lucas and Mr. Mash—which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your point of view—the staff must cope with seasonal illnesses and injuries, some real, some (Lucas') unreal.
Elsie the cleaner suddenly becomes Daphne the cleaner.
That nurse is no nun: she's a nursing sister (somewhat analogous to the German Krankenschwester, or "sickness sister").
- Mr. Humphries' walk—even funnier than usual because of an injury sustained while practicing yoga.
- Mr. Grainger's gastrics (he spends most of the episode in the gent's).
- Mrs. Slocombe's "cold remedy" (rum and peppermint) that eventually goes to her head. (One wonders if Mollie Sugden's drunk routine was inspired by Lucille Ball's.)
- Mr. Mash's proposed solution to Mr. Lucas' difficulty in getting the afternoon off: a Spanish onion under the arm and carbonic soap in the mouth. The tactic doesn't work as well for Lucas as it did for Mash on D-Day—instead of getting him the day off, it only gets him a case of the hiccups and some funny looks.
- The "shopping list" customer, who flees the store when he sees Lucas foaming at the mouth.
- The blue alteration customer, who is pressured into buying a dress she doesn't like by Mrs. Slocombe's pulling out the side seams ("You can't change your mind now; I've already started the alterations.")
- Because of Miss Brahms's flu injections, Mrs. Slocombe's cold and Mr. Lucas' alleged cold, Miss Brahms is sent to the men's department to assist Mr. Humphries (one of the strangest pairings in all of AYBS?) and Lucas is banished to Ladies' Wear and Mrs. Slocombe.
- Lucas using a mannequin to demonstrate his bra-removal technique to Mash.
- The drooping derrière customer, who thoroughly enjoys her amusing encounter with temporary Ladies' Wear assistant Mr. Lucas.
- The fawn trousers customer. Mr. Humphries is unable to take his inside leg, due to his injury. He requests help from Miss Brahms, who doth protest:
—It's not ladylike.
Thanks to Mr. Humphries' ingenuity and a strategically-placed umbrella, the job is accomplished.
—Well, I do it!
A desperate Lucas finally has to intentionally slip on spilled floor polish (courtesy of Mr. Mash) to try to get the day off. Thanks to Young Mr. Grace's benevolent intervention, he gets to go to the hospital instead.
- Mr. Humphries (limping): "You're probably wondering why I'm walking like this, Captain Peacock. I've done my back in."
Captain Peacock: "I haven't noticed any difference."
- Mrs. Slocombe (to the blue alteration customer): "Flowers are very much in vogue."
Miss Brahms: "Yes, and in all the other women's magazines."
- Nurse (taking Lucas' temperature): "You're normal."
Humphries: "Yes, but we're working on it."
- Miss Brahms and Captain Peacock discuss her flu injections:
—My doctor give 'em me.
—Your doctor gave them to you, Miss Brahms.
—No, he didn't; he charged me 8 quid.
- Peacock: "I take it you have no objection to having a lady behind the counter?"
Humphries: "I have absolutely no feelings on the matter whatsoever."
- Miss Brahms (to Humphries): "You live in a dream world, don't you?"
- Miss Brahms: "Do you have y-backs?"
Humphries: "No. Strangely enough, there's not much call for those, dear."
An irony-tinged surprise ending, with Young Mr. Grace's benediction "You're all looking very well" and topped off by a clever end credit sequence showing the door to the gent's in place of Mr. Grainger.
This episode, in which visuals are as important as dialogue, is the first of a pair in which the ever-man hungry Mrs. Slocombe almost gets married (well, in her own mind, at least), the other being "Do You Take This Man?"
First hint of Young Mr. Grace's "dirty old man" nature.
- Mr. Mash's "naughty knickers", which Mrs. Slocombe adamantly refuses to sell. Of course, after her "engagement" to Young Mr. Grace, it becomes an entirely different matter.
- After Young Mr. Grace announces his plans to remarry and invites Mrs. Slocombe to tea to discuss a ring, the staff fall over each other trying to win her favor, assuming she is his intended bride. Eager to take advantage of the situation, Mrs. Slocombe extracts every promise and privilege she can manage.
- Mrs. Slocombe's special coiffure for afternoon tea, with several shades of gold, blue, purple, green—very elegant.
- At tea, Mrs. Slocombe inadvertently gives Young Mr. Grace ideas (visions of young girls and yachts in the "Caribbino").
- Great close-up shot of the fallen expression on Mrs. Slocombe's face after she learns Miss Robinson was Young Mr. Grace's intended.
Sadly, Mrs. Slocombe's hopes are dashed, but she does get a clever last word:
- (Recounting her night's adventures to Miss Brahms)
Mrs. Slocombe: "Men don't stand me up, Miss Brahms."
- (Mr. Lucas and Mr. Humphries attempt to remove a very small sweater from the "small handicap" customer.)
Mr. Lucas (pulling from the front): "It's like pulling a Christmas cracker, isn't it?"
Mr. Humphries (holding down the rear): "I wonder who's going to get the novelty?"
- (After retrieving the small handicap's toupee)
Mr. Humphries (to customer): "What other colors did they have?"
- Miss Brahms: "I have never seen so much crawling since the last time I was at the reptile house in the zoo. Just because Mrs. Slocombe's going to marry the head of the firm, you're getting all smarmy…Have a sweetie, Mrs. Slocombe."
- (Mrs. Slocombe has just walked in on a male customer in the fitting room.)
Mrs. Slocombe: "There's a naked man in there in his underpants!"
Mr. Humphries: "That's nothing, Mrs. Slocombe; you wait 'til the honeymoon."
Captain Peacock: "When's the happy day?"
Mrs. Slocombe: "Today."
Captain Peacock: "Today?"
Mrs. Slocombe: "I turned him down!"
With its tidy surprise ending, "Wedding Bells" is a charming jewel of an episode.
Achtung, Einkäufer! Willkommen zu den Grace Brothers! This episode, a favorite of many fans, features one of Grace Brothers' most notorious (and disastrous) sales gimmicks: as if it weren't hard enough to push British goods, the staff are now required to push German goods for an entire week. The lack of success of Russian Cosmetic Week should have told them something, but….
Terminology: Our very own German Week Glossary lists German words and phrases used in this episode, plus some additional expressions that might have been useful if Grace Brothers had ever dared attempt such a stunt again.
Tsk, Tsk, Tsk: Stereotypical German accents, pejorative terms such as "Kraut" and "Jerry", plus German words chosen more for comic effect than accuracy ("Ausfahrt" is a highway exit, but it apparently has a greater titter factor for English speakers than "Ausgang").
First appearance of Miss Thorpe, the prettiest of the "bimbo" secretaries.
Joanna Lumley (Miss French, the perfume company representative in "His and Hers") makes a return appearance as one of the German customers.
Die besten Stücke:
- In the German dance extravaganza at the end of "German Week", Mr. Lucas and Mr. Humphries clash beer steins together. Both steins are supposed to break, but John Inman can be seen squeezing his beer stein to force it to break.
- Also in the final scene, Young Mr. Grace addresses Captain Peacock as "Mr. Peacock" without drawing any sort of reaction from the latter, so it must have been simply a mistake on Harold Bennett's part.
Die witzigen Bemerkungen:
- The German customers who only want English goods ("Ve are here for ze buying of ze Harris tweed.") When they are offered German goods instead, they leave in a huff, declaring that German goods are only for English tourists.
- The "lady for the ladies'", who, after taking Peacock by surprise ("Guten Morgen, meine gnädiges Bustenhalter"), is then shown a large variety of German merchandise by Mrs. Slocombe before Mrs. Slocombe discovers she only wants directions to the ladies' ("Turn left at the Ausfahrt").
- The after-hours think tank. Mrs. Slocombe and Mr. Lucas bicker; Miss Brahms and Mr. Lucas bicker; Mr. Humphries is his unique charming self.
- Mr. Rumbold "helps" Miss Thorpe with the bodice on her German costume.
- Mr. Humphries' German costume—possibly the smallest pair of Lederhosen ever made.
- The slap-and-tickle dance. Mrs. Slocombe samples a bit too much of the German wine and takes her "slap"-and-tickle dance with Peacock too far, while Mr. Humphries gleefully dances with Mr. Lucas. Definitely the high point of the show.
After seeing the chaotic demonstration, Young Mr. Grace decides to take Grace Brothers out of the Common Market. "American Sportswear Week", anyone?
- Rumbold: "Encouraging to see you're getting a grasp of the lingo."
Miss Brahms: "Yes, I even know the German word for 'corset'."
Rumbold: "Excellent! What is it?"
Miss Brahms: "Korsett"
- Mrs. Slocombe: "I haven't forgotten being flung flat on me back on Clapham Common by a land mine. And the German air force was responsible!"
Mr. Lucas: "All the other times she was flat on her back, the American air force was responsible."
- Peacock enters Rumbold's office wearing Lederhosen and a Tyrolean hat:
Peacock:"During our discussion, you did tell me that my costume would give me the proper air of authority. Well, I'm getting a lot of air but very little authority."
- Lucas: "I can't see that being dressed up like this is going to attract customers."
Humphries: "Oh, it will! Mind you, they'll be the wrong sort."
- (At the German dance demonstration for Young Mr. Grace)
Grainger: "Captain Peacock, are you free?"
Peacock: "Well, of course I'm free; we're shut."
- Young Mr. Grace espies Miss Thorpe serving behind the wine bar:
YMG: "Do you speak English, my dear?"
Miss Thorpe: "I work under Mr. Rumbold."
YMG: "You're doing very well, I'm sure"
No plot to speak of, but still an endearingly absurd romp. One of the best AYBS?'s ever.
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© 1997 Emily Jackson