Episode Reviews Part 9
Like "Wedding Bells", this episode almost marries off Mrs. Slocombe as Mr. Mataxis and his bouzouki steal her heart. There's just one little problem, however…
- A stagehand can be seen straightening out Mrs. Slocombe's bridal train as she emerges from the fitting room.
- If Mrs. Slocombe got a new house out of the "wedding", why was she later living in an apartment in, well, "The Apartment"?
- Mr. Humphries once worked in Do-It-Yourself at Derry and Toms.
- This is one of the few episodes to not have the regular theme song playing during the closing credits (another one is "New Look").
- Kew Gardens
- The Royal Botanic Gardens, located in the London suburb of Kew.
- National Front
- Illegal right-wing organization.
- Long-necked stringed instrument resembling a mandolin.
- Colorless anise-flavored unsweetened liqueur.
- Appetizer consisting of a creamy paste of salted fish roe mixed with bread or potato and seasoned with lemon juice.
- Mr. Humphries: I don't do needlepoint…now that I'm doing the lace mats.
- Mr. Humphries: As my mother always says, there's always someone for everyone—well, almost everyone.
- Captain Peacock: Mrs. Slocombe's going to take a husband.
Young Mr. Grace: Whose husband?
- Miss Brahms: [Mrs. Slocombe's] worried about the cost of the wedding; it's the bride's family what pays and she's the only one what's left.
Mr. Humphries: Catering can cost a fortune these days.
Miss Brahms: Well, I know. She started out getting a quote for champagne and smoked salmon, and now she's working on meat paste and brown ale!
- Mr. Humphries (after the wedding is called off): I'd marry her myself, but I think she's got enough trouble.
- Mr. Rumbold's offering Mrs. Slocombe a staff discount on prams and layettes upon learning of her engagement.
- Mr. Humphries' being a darling pageboy at the age of 31.
- The Packing Department special: Japanese tinned champagne and a few dead things in jelly.
- Mr. Tomiades brings Mr. Mataxis' bouzouki to Grace Brothers and informs Captain Peacock that Mrs. Slocombe's fiancé has been ordered home to Greece by his wife. When Mrs. Slocombe finds out the wedding's off, she angrily dashes the bouzouki to pieces back in the fitting room and drowns her sorrows in brandy.
- The Wedding: To fool Mrs. Slocombe's rich American uncle, who had offered to pay for the wedding and to give the couple a new house if she married a Greek, the staff stage a fake wedding with Mr. Tebbs as a Greek Orthodox priest and Mr. Humphries as the "groom" ("playing against type", according to Mr. Lucas). A copy of the British Boys' Annual is used in place of a Greek Bible (the other alternative: Guinness Book of World Records). Uncle Wendel P. Clark (with one of the worst American accents ["CERmny?"] ever heard) arrives and mistakes Mr. Humphries for his "little niece Betty." The record of the "Bridal March" skips as Peacock leads a drunken Mrs. Slocombe down the aisle, and after a bizarre Greek chant, Mr. Tebbs pronounces the couple "manos and wifos." The traditional Greek bridal dance concludes the episode.
One of the most memorable of the post-Grainger episodes; probably Mr. Tebbs' finest (half) hour.
Downsizing (to use a distinctly 90s expression) hits the venerable department store. But who'll have to go?
For only the third time in the history of the show, Mr. Lucas' first name is mentioned (in this episode and "The Old Order Changes", it is Dick; in "The Clock", James).
The "Iron-Clad Hosiery" display, complete with steel wool brush, which eventually gets a little too intimate with Mr. Humphries.
- Mr. Rumbold's blaming the country's economic problems on then-U.S. president Jimmy Carter (Young Mr. Grace isn't quite sure who he's referring to—perhaps Carter from bedding?)
- Mrs. Slocombe's adventures at the police station reporting her missing pussy.
- The latest awful after-hours-meeting snack: water biscuits [cookies] ("made with real water", according to Mr. Harman). Mr. Tebbs then cheerfully informs the others that British biscuits do not meet strict U.S. sanitary standards (it's nice to know that filthy cookies are being kept out of the country).
- When Mr. Tebbs walks away from the after-hours meeting, the rest of the staff think he is sacrificing his job so the younger staff members won't be made redundant. Actually, he was only going to the men's room.
- The store's Draconian economy cuts: the Ladies' Wear staff resort to painted-on stockings à la World War II as their clothing allowance is cut, while Gent's Ready-Mades lose their shirts literally. Meanwhile, Captain Peacock is issued for his top pocket a Japanese handkerchief that is not exactly suitable for fluting.
- To try to look younger (and keep his job), Mr. Tebbs dons a bad wig (with price tag still attached).
- The staff meet for a second time to state their cases to Young Mr. Grace:
|Humphries||"a good each-way bet"
- Which qualifications are more important for Ladies' Wear staff: long, sexy legs or lots of experience?
- Peacock (about the new hosiery display): I deplore the sight of female figures without knickers!
- Harman (on democracy in trade unions): And when we wish to make a momentous decision—like getting rid of the government—we hold a secret ballot.
- Mrs. Slocombe (in a rare display of anger directed at Mr. Humphries): Right! Fairy-cake!
- Humphries (on whether Mr. Tebbs is "past it"): Certainly not, Mr. Tebbs; there's minutes left in you.
- (Should Mrs. Slocombe be forced to show her legs to keep her job?)
Humphries: I cannot have her subject to this unseemly exhibition.
Mrs. Slocombe: My legs are not unseemly!
Humphries: Oh, shut up; I'm on your side!
Until I saw this episode for the first time (with the characters' names written on a blackboard), I thought Mr. Tebbs' name was "Mr. Thames".
In the end, the store's gallant staff members all volunteer to be the one to get the sack. When Mrs. Slocombe and Mr. Humphries pour cream and sugar on Rumbold's head to provoke him to fire them, a delighted Young Mr. Grace ("I've always wanted to do that!") cancels the economy cuts and institutes the three-day work week—for himself.
Fairly entertaining, but not quite one of the classics.
In this rewrite of 1973's "His and Hers", the Bliss Perfume girl fails to show up for an in-store promotion, forcing Mr. Humphries (the obvious choice) to man the perfume display.
Because of London's worst fog since 1953, Mr. Lucas has to spend the night in the camping department (shades of "Camping In").
Even though the episode takes place on a Monday, Mr. Lucas spends the night before (Sunday night) in the store's camping department. Grace Brothers isn't open on Sunday, according to "Roots?"
- The plain secretary (a rarity at Grace Brothers) who bends over in Young Mr. Grace's office and is promptly fired for not being enough of a "turn-on."
- Mr. Humphries' account of a night out with a woman (fancy that)! Unfortunately, his mother put an end to the date with her rolling pin and a demand of the young lady to "make an honest man" of her son.
- A plethora of staff rebellions: first, Mrs. Slocombe is ticked off by Captain Peacock's wiggling his finger at her; later, Mr. Tebbs is upset by Peacock's insistence on using titles and last names only during working hours for staff members.
- Bliss perfumes:
- Lady and the Tramp
- Gay Divorcée
- Butch Cassidy (cancels out the above)
- Secret Rendezvous
- To his chagrin, Peacock is assigned to the Men's Wear counter to take Mr. Humphries' place while the latter is busy selling perfume. (Peacock: "Mr. Lucas will still be under me, will he not?…Good!")
- Mr. Humphries' bra-stuffing scene with the mannequins—one of the classic AYBS? scenes.
- Humphries' amazing rapport with the stocking customer ("I could start a whole new way of life"), who is eventually persuaded by his "unique" sales presentation to also buy a hat and fur coat.
- Harman (describing Rumbold): A bald-headed person with one or two other outstanding features.
- Miss Brahms: Blimey! It's gonna be one of them days, innit?
- Rumbold: Do you want my wife?
Young Mr. Grace: You'd do anything to get on in this firm.
- Humphries (to Lucas): If you're going to mock me, I shall not let you be privy to my confidences.
- Mrs. Slocombe: Captain Peacock, I do not respond to any man's finger!
- Humphries (after sampling some of the perfume): My old headmaster would give a fortune to smell me now. He'd say, "I knew; I told you so!"
- Miss Brahms: What sort of a school did you go to, Mr. Humphries?
Miss Brahms: Oh, yeah; girls and boys.
Humphries: No, just boys.
- Peacock: May I remind you that first names are used only in the canteen and after and before the bell.
Tebbs: In that case, I don't want to talk to you.
- Harman (to Peacock): We [in the stockroom] always debag new boys.
- Mrs. Slocombe (trying to sell a fur coat): …suitable for day wear, a night at the opera…
Humphries: I remember Groucho Marx wearing one.
To better model the hat and coat for his new-found friend, Humphries removes his pants and dons a ladies' wig. Just as he makes the sale, Young Mr. Grace comes in and asks the "Bliss Girl" out to dinner!
A slow start to this episode, but a strong finish. We see Mr. Humphries' heterosexual side (somewhat)—but he doesn't actually sell any perfume.
In this quasi-Christmas episode [it originally aired Boxing Day 1978], the staff celebrate Young Mr. Grace's birthday with the customary free lunch and "generous" birthday bonus, followed by a performance of "The Ballet of the Toys."
Last episode featuring Mr. Tebbs (James Hayter). [Hayter either resigned or was bought out of his contract; in either case, his association with Mr. Kipling's Cakes adverts led to his departure.]
- O level
- "ordinary level"; lowest of three levels of examinations given to British students testing their grasp of secondary-school subjects (which presumably do not include "collecting dinner money").
- an English silver coin worth 2 shillings (10p).
"The Ballet of the Toys"
- Crisis! Mr. Rumbold's got odd socks on!
- The traditional birthday bonus: a silver florin (not adjusted for inflation).
- Young Mr. Grace's serving the birthday gruel to the most junior staff member, Mr. Lucas, and actually getting some of it in the plate.
- The traditional birthday champagne: a 1962 vintage, bottled by British Railways and bought up as a job lot when they switched over to diesel—connoisseurs preferred the diesel, however. After a heroic effort by Young Mr. Grace, the cork finally comes out (YMG: "The waste! The expense!")
- During the "Ballet of the Toys" rehearsal, Mr. Humphries explains how an egg (Humpty Dumpty) ended up in the nursery playing the piano (it bounced out of the refrigerator, landing on a tea towel left on the floor by the maid.)
- Humpty Dumpty: Mr. Rumbold
- Teddy Bear: Mr. Tebbs (has a couple of small problems with his costume)
- Little Boy Blue: Mr. Lucas (wears a plastic mac to hide his skimpy costume)
- Little Girl Alice, aged 4: Mrs. Slocombe
- Miss Muffet: Miss Brahms ("This spider's driving me bonkers!")
- Tin Soldier: Captain Peacock
- Fairy Prince: Mr. Humphries (Lucas calls him "Fairy Queen")
After the staff's rehearsal of "The Ballet of the Toys", a professional cabaret arrives to perform…"The Ballet of the Toys." With the help of some fairy dust, the staff magically change into silver lamé costumes to do "Steppin' Out." Young Mr. Grace then gives a singular rendition of "Bread and Dripping." Finally, the staff serenade Young Mr. Grace with "Happy Birthday" and shower him with gifts as the episode ends on a festive note.
- Mr. Humphries: I find that if you dunk them [biscuits into coffee], they don't fuff about.
- Miss Brahms: I came top in school in joined-up handwriting. What was you best at?
Mr. Humphries: I got an O level in collecting dinner money.
- Mr. Humphries: Look how nicely they've decorated the edge [of the cheese wedge]!
Mr. Lucas: What do you mean, "decorated the edge"? Those are mice's teeth marks!
- Young Mr. Grace (saying grace): For what you are about to receive, may you be truly grateful.
Mr. Rumbold: Surely, sir, you mean "for what we are about to receive, may we be truly grateful."
YMG: No, no, for what you are about to receive. We're lunching at the Savoy.
Bread and Dripping
Bread and dripping, bread and dripping
Makes the stuff for me.
If it's given me every day,
Stowing it away.
I think there's worse off except for me
As I eat my bread and dripping,
A lump of bread as big as your head
To dip in the drip drip dripping!
This episode has a little bit of everything—costumes, musical numbers, slapstick comedy and even a sentimental ending (the cast members seem to be having the time of their lives during the celebration at the end).
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