Sunday, July 8, 2007

Jeeves and Wooster

All through the damp Spring and early Summer we have enjoyed watching episodes of the BBC's four seasons of "Jeeves and Wooster", based on the humorous novels by P.G. Wodehouse. I managed to lure my kids into watching them after explaining that the hapless, bumbling Bertie Wooster was played by the same actor as now stars in the mordant medical series "House" (Hugh Laurie). Also impeccable is Stephen Frey as the omnipotent butler Jeeves. Keeping this all book-related, I can vouch for Stephen Frey's talents as an author (his boarding-school memoir "Moab is my Washpot" is very interesting and astonishingly honest) and Laurie is no slouch at the writing desk either with cult favorite "The Gunseller".

Laurie's own description of how Wodehouse changed his life when he read him as a gormless teen is very amusing and can be viewed here.

For the uninitiated, Bertie Wooster is a young gentlemen of means but no discernible occupation who travels about country estates, golfs, hangs out at his club with Gussie Fink-Nottle, Barmy Figgy-Phipps and Stilton Cheesewright, among other improbably-named mooks, and fends off innumerable marital engagements and other kinds of entanglements from various formidable aunties. Jeeves is his lifesaver and friend, who always rescues Bertie from these fixes and keeps him from even more dangerous fashion faux-pas. The Wodehouse novels themselves are a treat, but the four seasons of this television series bring the characters and scenery to life vividly, especially when Laurie tickles the ivories and belts out ridiculous 1920s pop song lyrics. The fashions are a hoot, the toe-tapping jazz intro swings, the convoluted upper-crust lingo is hilarious and the toothsome automobiles are a visual feast.

It takes a long while to digest this madcap series, but it is highly recommended for dreary days when a bit of escapism is required. Put on a nice pot of tea, rustle up some scones and enjoy this delightful retreat.

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