Summer Winos»Uncategorized»Series 3 Episode 7: Isometrics and After

Series 3 Episode 7: Isometrics and After

In which Foggy yearns for physical jerks and Compo puts something nasty in a matchbox…

Bob: After everything I said about Series 3 having a distinctly different tone, we’re suddenly back to a very traditional Summer Wine episode – in fact, I’m even tempted to wonder if this instalment might have started life as a Blamire episode, it’s so reminiscent of that earlier style. There’s a lot of meandering and musing in the countryside, a typically lusty Wainwright diatribe in an extended library sequence, and more than a few gritty political references. 

Andrew: I get the impression that Roy Clarke is a hoarder of ideas and gags, stockpiling material that could come in handy later on. As you say, this does feel a little like an episode from the first or second series, but there are examples from much later on as well… the first feature length episode being based upon an older novel, or the characters of Howard, Pearl and Marina being extracted from a touring stage show. That’s the benefit of everything being written by one man, I suppose; nothing goes to waste!

Operation Swordblade won't help you now...

Operation Swordblade won’t help you now…

Bob: And to cap it all, we begin with a marvelously morbid speech from Compo… ‘When tha’s dead, tha’s dead,’ he ponders, ‘I saw our Walter when that safe landed on him, and if he was having any sort of afterlife, he wasn’t enjoying it’. Again, just beautifully economic writing – from a single line we learn about Compo’s atheism, his dubious family background, the grisly death of his relative and his gruesomely black sense of humour. When Roy Clarke is on form, his dialogue is just unbeatable.

Having described this episode as being evocative of the earlier style, there is one major difference – Clegg’s character. We were frequently surprised in Series 1 by Clegg’s swearing and his use of some surprisingly fruity (and grumpy) turns-of-phrase, but in this episode he deliberately swerves to avoid even the most minor of cussing… ‘People who want to be nice are a pain in the ar-r-r-m…’ he stammers. And, having been the main instigator of adventures during the Blamire years, he now steadfastly refuses to join in with Foggy’s exercise regime. The gentrification of Clegg is complete!

Andrew: And he’s clearly been scarred by Blamire’s canoeing scheme. Having been forced to walk through the town in a swimming costume, Clegg has no desire to go through a similar experience. I love the lines, ‘I should be reluctant to start anything that might involve taking me vest off,’ and ‘This latest plot of yours has the squeak of plimsolls and the flash of nipples about it. Or is it the flash of plimsolls and the squeak of nipples?’ That pretty much sums up the reason I’ve stayed away from the swimming baths for the past ten years…

Bob: There’s a lovely scene in this episode where Clegg and Compo wander to a babbling brook without the isometrics-obsessed Foggy, and we get a real impression of just how close a friendship they’ve forged over the decades. ‘There’s some good rabbit droppings here!’ exclaims a gleeful Compo. ‘Fill your pockets kid, there’s nobody looking,’ grins Clegg and the warmth between the two characters is a joy to behold… two very disparate characters on the face of it, but Compo’s enthusiasm for the base and grotty aspects of life seems to bring out a childlike glow in Clegg as well.

You wonder what their relationship was like during the decades when Clegg was married? I can only picture a classic Bob and Terry relationship, with Mrs Clegg surely disapproving of Compo’s presence in ‘her’ Norman’s life. And yet, in these latter years, they’ve absolutely rekindled what was surely a close childhood bond. And utterly regressed to those halcyon days. It’s great to watch, and Sallis and Owen make a fine double act.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!

Andrew: I can imagine the two barely seeing each other while Clegg was married, and don’t forget that Compo was married for a bit as well. It all contributed to the impression we have of them making up for lost time by spending so much of their retirement messing around in the countryside.

Bob: And brace yourself, but we have another historic Summer Wine ‘first’ to report… this is our inaugural sighting of Compo’s legendary matchbox! And it’s the mild-mannered librarian Miss Moody who has the honour of being his first female victim… screaming in horror as Compo shows her the terrors within. What a fabulous running joke, and how gloriously evocative of that bygone generation of Northern men – my childhood was filled with strange neighbours and elderly relatives who kept all manner of gruesome souvenirs for posterity… owl pellets, teeth, and full menageries of stuffed and pickled beasties.

Andrew: The tradition still continues. I’ve told you about my Mam and her box of loose teeth, haven’t I?

Bob: No. And you must feel absolutely at liberty to keep that information entirely to yourself.

Andrew: I genuinely have no idea of what Compo could have in that matchbox, though. I wonder if Clarke ever knew?

Bob: Interesting to see that Nora is now working in the café! There were suggestions in an earlier episode that she didn’t have much time for Ivy, but Sid (in a nice piece of continuity) now seems to have acquired the mobile chip van that he was saving for, and so Nora provides an extra pair of hands in the café – ‘because she doesn’t have recognisable boobs’, according to Ivy. I like to think the thawing of their relationship began during that idyllic weekend in Scarborough earlier in the series, but then it’s possible I think too much about these things.

Farewell, Mr Wainwright

Farewell, Mr Wainwright

Andrew: No, I think you’re on the money there. There was a nice sense of community in those episodes and, given that Ivy was on her best behavior at the Bed and Breakfast, I’d like to think she and Nora were brought together by forced civility. I think those two episodes actually kickstarted what later develops into the extended Summer Wine family, clearly marking out characters like Sid, Ivy, Nora and Wally as continuing regulars rather than guest artists.

Speaking of guest characters, we say goodbye to Mr. Wainwright once again, this time for good. It makes sense really, as the library isn’t used much now that the series has found its feet in the countryside and café, but I’ll miss his political spin on… well, pulling. It’s actually quite nice to leave him at this point. When first introduced, Wainwright was the intellectual dreamer with his eyes on a Eliza Doolittle protégé, but in this episode it’s clear that Miss Moody is more on the ball than he is.

Miss Moody: Elliot’s Wasteland is depressingly real, Mr Wainwright.

Wainwright: Absolutely. I can’t understand why the council doesn’t slap him with a compulsory purchase.

Bob: And, in a charming finish to a hugely enjoyable third series, our three heroes actually ride into the sunset on horseback. Surely Roy Clarke’s little homage to the golden age of the Hollywood Western? It’s amazing to contemplate that it’s barely half-a-dozen episodes since we were first introduced to Foggy Dewhurst, and yet the series now seems unthinkable without him – what a huge testament to Brian Wilde’s skills as a comic actor. We’re about to enter, arguably, the golden age of Summer Wine

One comment

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    September 14, 2016 2:04 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Simon S

    Foggy timing holding his breath reminds me of doing the same (though I don’t expect to be trying it at his age).

    Destroying a table is probably a fitting wrap-up for their library antics.

    “Compo was married for a bit as well” – there’s no answer to that! (sorry)

    It’s odd that Compo talks about “our Walter”, since that’s both Wally and Foggy’s name, too. Was this the equivalent of Terry Nation mentioning Rebeccas?

    I assume this episode also introduces the trope of horses/donkeys/mules/etc, which to my mind is a far more pertinent complaint to make than the one about tin baths.

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