Analysis of a Scene XVII: Singing Detective — Puttin’ On the Ritz

...don't you think you're a teeny bit too old.

The perfect 80s cad.

Here is the final installment of our Analyses of The Singing Detective scenes: A scene from from episode 6, Who Done It, link goes to recap,  featuring 80s cad Mark Finney.

Puttin’ On the Ritz

Marlow imagines himself at Finney’s.

Marlow, in his hospital bed, is once again having a weird fantasy about Nicola and her “paramour” Mark Finney. This time Marlow (meta)physically is a witness to the scene. He sneaks up the stairs and spies a very nifty stereo system blaring “Puttin’ on the Ritz” as Nicola and Mark, in lingerie and a robe respectively, dance while sharing a cigarette (probably not a tobacco one).

Showing her some hot moves.

Showing her some hot moves.

RF:  I couldn’t help noticing that Marlow set this particular scene after any sexual activity had already taken place.  I still think he couldn’t quite bear to imagine it, even though that didn’t stop him from envisioning similar scenes with Sonja/Mrs. Marlow/Nicola and Mark and Raymond Binney.  Also, Finney appears to have rather old-fashioned taste in music for such a modern, up-to-date guy – or is he just being fashionably retro?  ;-)

Admin:  That’s right, Finney would listen to Duran Duran or the like.  But, since we can safely guess that Marlow doesn’t know Duran Duran from The Bay City Rollers we have to make do with Irving Berlin. :-)

Admin: Finney’s carpet illustrates the monochromatic color theme that RFodchuk noticed. Even his shimmery robe is gray and black.  He looks fantastic in it, by the way. The dance, though, manages to be a wee bit creepy and sexy at the same time. It is a weird combination, but it really works for these two. I do like them. They are so entertainingly wicked that what happens next is a bit crushing. Stupid Marlow. :-/


RF:  You’re right, it’s an oddly creepy dance.  Maybe it’s the incongruity of their attire versus the uninhibited dance they’re doing (must be some cigarette  ;-) ), or the fact they’re so nastily gleeful at having put one over on Marlow, or a combination thereof.  But yes, Finney’s love of monochromatic “nice things” does seem to extend to his bedroom apparel.  ;-)  Once again, Nicola’s necklace provides an accent of red and the only colour in the room (okay, besides the drinks), although there’s even less red than there was before.  This is also the first time we see Marlow physically present (sort of) in order to “watch” the scene he’s creating in his head.

Admin:  It is their OTT approach to evil that I like best.  :-)  I guess it stems from Marlow being a pulp writer which is a genre that often has villains openly discussing their plans.  They really are great together until it goes all wrong.

RF:  Tsk tsk, all because of different priorities!

Continue reading

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Patrick Malahide as John Poole in Five Days S01E03

For previous episodes, please click here.

Five Days S01E03

Admin: Five Days S01E03, is called Day Twenty Eight so everyone is now giving up hope that Leanne is alive.  Barbara, who is helping Matt out, blames John (and Matt also) for giving up hope.  It is clear John is starting to unravel; she mentions that he isn’t going out much and how badly he needs a haircut.  For a smartly styled, outgoing man like John that is likely sign of depression.  But, he did make a pretty spiffy birthday cake for Matt.  Ethan is impressed by it.

Clever Granddad baked a cake.

Clever Granddad baked a cake.

RF:  Unfortunately, Barbara’s still very much the same person we saw in the previous episodes.  After mentioning that John won’t even leave the house, Barbara’s dialogue to Matt is again all “me”-centric:  “Don’t.  Please don’t lose it now, I need your support.  I can’t have you caving in on me, too.”  It’s all about how John’s depression is causing her to have problems, not the fact that he’s depressed.  Maybe it’s not such a surprise that John wanted to opt out of the party.  Barbara also manages to blurt out in front of the kids that the police believe Leanne’s dead; they obviously hear her, but she tries to gloss over it as though it never happened.  Grrrr!

At the Hair Salon

She's a chatterbox.

She’s a chatterbox.

Admin: John Poole is finally getting his haircut, and Barbara wasn’t kidding; he is pretty shaggy. The hairdresser is a sweet, chatty type but not knowing who he is makes an unintentionally callous comment by laughing about how her father spends her inheritance on his holidays. John bluntly, but with some politeness, asks her not to talk to him. At that point another hairdresser calls her over and tells her who he is.

She's been called away

She’s been called away

RF:  John’s really shaggy, the poor fellow.  :-(  He’s also visibly uncomfortable sitting in the chair and barely holding it together, especially when the hairdresser mentions she’s her father’s “only daughter”.  It’s too much to take and I can’t blame him for asking her not to talk to him.   Of course, John overhears the other hairdresser revealing who he is, which just racks up his tension and discomfort.  There’s a nice bit of wordless acting by Mr. Malahide as we see him struggle with his reaction before deciding he just has to get out of there.

Admin: Absolutely, the look on his face shows that he knows exactly what is going to happen next.  Even though they mean well, he is in no state to handle them right now.

Admin: The girl is very distressed and starts crying and apologizing. He is kind and understanding, telling her she wasn’t to know, but she runs off in a state. In a resigned fashion he pays the other girl who says she is very sorry. He has a mini breakdown laughing ruefully and flinging the money down, “Oh, we’re all sorry, I mean everyone is so bloody sorry.”

"Oh we're all sorry"

“Oh we’re all sorry”

RF:  I think it’s characteristic of John that he’d first try to comfort the hairdresser even while he’s in the midst of misery himself, similar to the way he comforted Tanya in the previous episode.  Then we see an unusual flash of temper and frustration with his “everyone is so bloody sorry” line.  Or maybe it’s not so unusual if it’s been building up inside for the previous twenty-eight days, but I got the impression it was rare for him to let his feelings emerge like that.  It’s another sign of the huge amount of stress he’s under. Continue reading

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Patrick Malahide as Colin Bennett in “The Chinese Detective”

Colin Bennett: Up-and-coming villain and snappy dresser<br>(for the early Eighties)  Patrick Malahide as Colin Bennett in "The Chinese Detective"

Colin Bennett: Up-and-coming villain and snappy dresser
(for the early Eighties)

Time to get into the Wayback Machine for a trip to 1982, for Patrick Malahide’s guest-starring role as Colin Bennett, one of a gang of crims in an episode of the BBC’s “The Chinese Detective” titled “Secret State” (S02E08).  I had never heard of this series before, but it seems to have been remarkable for its time for featuring a Chinese protagonist in a leading role.  The titular detective, D.S. John Ho (David Yip), has to contend with a lot of prejudice and conflict in his job, both from his superiors as well the criminals he’s trying to apprehend.  In the process, we get a lot of the “You’re on thin ice!  Get ready to turn in your badge!” dialogue that’s so common it’s now a cliché in today’s police dramas, although it was relatively new then.  But how does Ho meet up with Bennett, who reminds me an awful lot of a young Jack Turner who’s left the docks, but hasn’t built his criminal empire yet?

Starting Off with a Murder

Inconspicuous outfit for a hit job.

Inconspicuous outfit for a hit job.

After a rather McCloud/Columbo-like opening, we get right down to things with a murder.   Three men in a red Mercedes are watching a fourth in a grey anorak.  The youngest of the four, Liam Doyle (Oengus MacNamara, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the late Neil Hope from Canada’s “Degrassi High” series), hails the target with a familiar “Charlie!” while the others look on pensively.  Bennett is dressed inconspicuously for the occasion in a bright red tie and red and blue striped shirt which can surely be seen from blocks away, even in the dark.  Actually, my eyes were so riveted by the tie that I didn’t notice at first that it was Mr. Malahide wearing it!  The hit doesn’t go quite as planned, so there’s a short chase before Wheels Liam shoots Charlie Miller (Peter Spraggon) in the back.  Unbeknownst to him, the entire thing has been witnessed by a batty, budgerigar-loving old lady, Alice Walden (Anna Wing), who calls the police.

D.S. Ho is On the Case

Watching Ho investigate the body.

Watching Ho investigate the body.

D.S. Ho shows up to investigate and, after persuading Miss Walden that it might be safer to wait in her flat, calls the station to report a dead body.  Unfortunately, he’s not parked anywhere near the corpse and can’t keep an eye on it while on the radio, so Bennett, Doyle, and Pollitt (Tony Caunter) have a chance to sneak back and steal it away.  The rest of the police arrive and, finding no victim nor even a bloodstain, give Ho some static.  Perhaps the corpse was only wounded a little bit, then got better and walked away?  (I’m resisting the urge to quote Monty Python here.)  Luckily for Ho (if it’s “lucky” to be backed up by a known crazy lady), Alice and her budgies saw the whole thing, saying the body was picked up by three men in a red Mercedes (the budgies are particularly helpful when it comes to car colour).  However, the rest of the cops aren’t inclined to place much credence in either Alice’s or Ho’s testimony without some evidence.
Continue for synopsis and a gallery

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Random Malahide Picture 6

Here’s a lovely picture of Mr. Malahide as Sir Francis Walsingham that I found on HBO’s “Elizabeth I” site. Click for a larger size:

Patrick Malahide as Sir Francis Walsingham in "Elizabeth I"

Admin and I reviewed what we considered to be Walsingham’s finest Top Ten Moments in an earlier post.  He’s a fascinating character.  You can tell just by looking at him that he’s an incredibly ruthless, extremely effective spymaster, although even he can be intimidated by a shoe-throwing Queen.  But in his defense, her aim was pretty good.  ;-)  It was a really well done production, and Mr. Malahide’s Walsingham was a vital, indelible presence.

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Analysis of a Scene XVI: Singing Detective — The End (not really)

Continuing our Analyses of The Singing Detective scenes, here is another good one from episode 5, Pitter Patter, with Mark Finney and Nicola.  Our earlier analyses can found here.

Marlow: “The Singing Detective”

The action begins in the hospital ward with Nicola asking Marlow about his screenplay. He daydreams a scene set at Finney’s place where Nicola and Mark Finney are discussing their nefarious plans to steal The Singing Detective.

Nicola: (typing “The End” into Finney’s computer) That’s it. All done.

The Singing Detective, an original screenplay by Mark Finney!

Finney: ‘Bout time, too. (removes floppy disc) The Singing Detective, an original screenplay by Mark..

Nicola: Mark Finney! (cut to Marlow in the hospital bed humming a tune) (Finney nuzzles her) Ages since I did any typing and this gadget of yours, my God, you think it could pour you a drink while I sit back.

Finney: Ahhh, that’s my job. Would you like a drink?

Nicola: Why not.

Admin: About time too?  Is that a comment on the speed of her typing?   ;-)  Finney’s nuzzling is surprisingly gentle and, dare I say, cute.  Pity it is slightly ruined by Marlow’s interruption.   Finney keeps up his charming routine by offering to get her a drink while she relaxes.  Awwww.  I bet things don’t stay so sweet.

The Singing Detective. An orignal screenplay by Mark Finney.

The Singing Detective. An orignal screenplay by Mark Finney.

RF:  Maybe she was typing slowly so as not to ruin her nails.  ;-)  Ooohhh, I got such an Eighties flashback just from the sound of that keyboard, and also from that monochrome monitor and huge 5.25″ floppy disc.  Why, you can store a whole 360KB on those!  ;-)  I suppose it’s  symbolic that The Singing Detective is going from a stained, hard-copy manuscript in a ratty shoebox to a super high-tech (for the time!) computer file, and being “corrupted” in the process.  It’s the purity of art versus cold, impersonal, money-making technology.  I think Marlow’s primary concern is not necessarily Nicola’s fidelity or loyalty (he seems to fully expect that she’d gleefully betray him for enough cash), but the integrity and loss of his magnum opus.  It’s the last thing he has that’s totally his. Continue reading

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Patrick Malahide Narrating Goodnight Mister Tom

In 1997, Patrick Malahide narrated Michelle Magorian’s Goodnight Mister Tom. It is an abridged version of the novel, but it works beautifully, allowing for increased characterization and intensity. This won’t be a full recap, for that Wikipedia has an excellent synopsis.

"If we're not ready for these characters after the war, Headmaster, we shall find them more than ready for us, I fear."

Nothing to do with Goodnight Mister Tom, but it has WWII and kids.  Besides, I love Mr. Quarles ;-)

Set during WWII, Goodnight Mister Tom is the story of young London evacuee William “Willie” Beech. All his life he has been abused by his mother, so when he is sent to widower Mr. Tom Oakley he is a shell of a boy. Willie can’t read; he wets his bed, is covered with bruises and malnourished and is in a very bad way.

With patience and love, Mister Tom and his dog Sammy give Willie new confidence, and together they begin living life to its fullest. When Willie wets his bed, Mister Tom never chastises him but simply and with kindness cleans up the mess.  His method involves patience, allowing the boy to develop at his own pace.

Widowed Mister Tom also grows as a character as he re-enters village life by asking for assistance in helping Willie and lending a hand to various village concerns. The entire community befriends Willie who we learn is a born artist.  The details of his drawings and acting are wonderfully portrayed. The boy who was thought of as a silly sissy at his school in London is actually brilliant and insightful.

...which he flings with great accuracy: " spread WHAT, Jordan?" He's just making sure they're awake.

Willie’s village school was lot nicer than this one.

William’s journey is a powerful one, both uplifting and terrifying. Sammy the dog plays a big part in his early development by providing a comfort for him. Later he learns to talk to other boys and girls who genuinely appreciate his company. The chapter where he picks berries for the first time is especially sweet. He is a little ashamed that he can’t carry his large bucket of blackberries, but his new friend George is very pleased to help him.

While most of William’s village life is wonderful, the story becomes incredibly bleak, depressing and even horrifying when he is recalled back to London to visit his mother. Mrs. Beech is a singularly terrifying character, and Mr. Malahide gives her a cutting and brittle voice. Fortunately, the story has a happy ending despite all the sadness William has to endure.

Mrs. Hirsch: "I am not a thief! He is not a thief!" Quarles [mockingly]: "We are not thieves... They are not thieves..."

Don’t roll your eyes.

Mr. Malahide captures all the characters, from the gruff, loving Mister Tom to William’s young and exuberant friend Zach whose catchphrase “wizzo!” will stick with you. One thing I especially like is that there is no attempt to juvenilize the children with high,  squeaky voices. Their slightly raspy tones add to the audio experience. It reminds me, in a way, of early Peanuts comics in which the children were most certainly children (Charlie Brown can be nothing but), but they are so very well-realized with an ageless aura of wisdom about them. I hope that makes sense, click this if it doesn’t. :-)

Although abridged, this is still a very lengthy and fulfilling audio book.  Mr. Malahide always does an outstanding job in all his book narrations and this is no exception. link (only 12 left in stock at the time of this posting!) link


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Something Neat XXI: The Byre Theatre Saved


Reminiscing about the Byre.

The Byre Theatre in St. Andrews, Scotland is one of the early places where Patrick Malahide cut his acting teeth.  He worked as stage  manager and actor.  You can read a bit about that here in a previous post.

Well, the theatre had closed, but good news as St. Andrews University will now be running it.

In the Herald Scotland, Ken Smith writes about the theatre and Mr. Malahide,

THE mothballed Byre Theatre in St Andrews has been saved by the university, which will take it over.

We remember when actor Patrick Malahide was taken on as an inexperienced stage manager at The Byre many years ago and dabbled in acting at the same time. He later explained that, whatever role he was given, there had to be a pressing reason written into the play as to why his character had to leave the stage just before the end, so that he could bring down the curtain.

They were certainly very creative.  And it is good to know the historic theatre, and a key piece of Mr. Malahide’s early forays into acting, is being kept alive.

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Patrick Malahide as John Poole in Five Days S01E02

Made to back off. He does that hands in the air gesture a lot.

Made to back off. He does that hands in the air gesture a lot.

We are continuing our look at Patrick Malahide’s performance as John Poole in the series Five Days. This is will be for Five Days S01E02, our previous recap can be found here.

Five Days, S01E02

Episode two, starts on day three (obviously the days are not sequential). Tanya is staying with the Pooles as she waits to her from her biological father in France. She fully expects to be staying with him shortly, but it seems he isn’t much of a father to her at all.

Meanwhile, Matt is trying to cope with not knowing what has happened to his wife Leanne and daughter Rosie. Sarah Wheeler, the woman who found his son Ethan, is working her way into their lives. Also, Mrs. Poole and Matt attempted to give statements at a press conference, but Matt stormed out and Mrs. Poole had a panic attack, so it was cut short.

RF:  Although it looked to me like one of the oddest, most self-conscious panic attacks ever.  Barbara was… sort of screaming, but her gaze was level and none of the volume or supposed anguish was actually reaching her face.  She even shifts her gaze from side to side to gauge how it’s going over.  The whole thing looks like an insincere, badly acted put-on.  I’m not even sure what it was for – a sympathy ploy, maybe?

Admin:  She does pause to shift her gaze while kind of licking her lips; I noticed that.  It splits up her cries which seems odd.  Admittedly, I’ve not had any experience with such things, but I would have thought some real screaming, the shrieking kind, and smashing of glasses and general effing and blinding would be more demonstrative of a panic attack.  I think it could be Barbara is so absolutely self-involved that she can’t even have a fully natural panic attack.

Admin: Again, this is a complex series with a huge cast and we are focusing primarily on Mr. Malahide’s work, so for a more comprehensive recap, Wikipedia is the place to go.

‘Straberry’ Jam and Cake Batter

Tanya: "Don't look at me like that."

Tanya: “Don’t look at me like that.”

Admin: John Poole makes his first appearance in a scene with Tanya. They are working in the kitchen, Mr. Poole working on a cake while Tanya makes his labels. Tanya is chatting away, defending her father Daf. She seems to be trying to convince herself that the reason he hasn’t even phoned her from France is because he’s a “rebel” and lives his life his own way. She notices her grandfather’s skeptical face and chastises him on it. “I’m not looking like anything,” he responds with his arms out. Oh, he was totally giving her a “yeah, right” look about dad Daf.

RF:  Yes, the “rebel” label is obviously meant to be in the “oooo, sexy!’ sense, which tells you a lot of what you need to know about Daf as a father.  I can’t blame John for being skeptical, even from what little we hear.  Obviously his dad/grandad Spidey sense is working quite well as far as Daf is concerned.  However, he backs down on discussing it further, realizing that Tanya has enough to deal with right now as it is. Continue reading

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Patrick Malahide as Uncle Adrian in “Living With Dinosaurs”

Uncle Adrian comes equipped with Dutch subtitles!  Patrick Malahide as Uncle Adrian in "Living With Dinosaurs"

Uncle Adrian comes equipped with Dutch subtitles!

In 1989, Patrick Malahide had a very brief part in “Living With Dinosaurs“, part of the short-lived (and now very hard-to-find) “Jim Henson Hour” series.  Mr. Malahide plays Uncle Adrian to Dom Marshall (Gregory Chisholm), a lonely and bullied boy who struggles with severe asthma, doesn’t get on well at school, dislikes his father (or possibly stepfather) Lee (Michael Maloney, last seen as Sir George Hardwicke in “New Worlds“), has a phobia about his father’s artwork, and worries about the imminent arrival of a new baby brother or sister.  Dom’s only allies are his stuffed dinosaur, Dog (Brian Henson), who comes to life when no one else is around, “Calvin and Hobbes“-style, and his mother, Vicky (Juliet Stevenson, who would go on to play Nora opposite Mr. Malahide’s Dr. Rank in the excellent “A Doll’s House“).

The show is only 46 minutes long, which is a real shame as there are enough story hooks and plot developments for an ongoing series.  The writing, by Anthony Minghella, is compact without feeling rushed; within those 46 minutes we learn a great deal about ten-year-old Dom,  his family, and the struggles he’s facing.  Dom feels so put-upon (with some justification) that one of his favourite activities with Dog is to make up “Enemies Lists” and describe, in gruesome detail, exactly how they’re going to get their revenge on their various nemeses.  I suspected Uncle Adrian might be trouble when he was #2 on Dom’s list.

A Shiny Car and a Loud Sweater

Making an entrance

Making an entrance

Our first introduction to Uncle Adrian tells us almost everything we need to know about him at a glance.  He’s better off than the Marshalls and has great taste in cars, arriving at Vicky’s house in a silver Mercedes (although he does seem a bit worried with all the seagulls flying overhead), blaring rock music.  However, his taste in sweaters may be a bit more questionable.  Well, it’s a very Eighties sweater anyway, and I suppose it has the advantage – or should that be “disadvantage” – of making him extremely hard to lose in a crowd.
Continue reading

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Analysis of a Scene XV: Singing Detective — Shadows

Feeling persecuted

It was  a dark and stormy night. (Images courtesy of RFodchuk)

Yay!  We finally get face-to-face with my personal favorite character in  The Singing Detective, the slick Mark Finney.  His (ummm) existence is somewhat meta to say the least, but who cares when he looks as good as he does.  Here he is in all his weird glory in a rather creepy scene from episode 4, Clues.  A recap of the overall episode can be found here, and our previous Analyses here.



 The scene opens at Finney’s place with Nicola making shadow puppets as a thunderstorm rolls through outside.
Finney: Doesn’t any of this seem peculiar to you?
Nicola: No.
Finney: Well, I’ll tell you something that gives me the creeps, I half expect him to be out there looking at me.
Nicola: Shadows.
Finney: I’ll tell you something else, he knows too much. He’s got hold of too many details. Where’s he coming from? What is his game?
Nicola: (making a nice parrot shadow puppet) Parrot.
Finney: What?
Nicola: I just made a parrot. Wak-wak-wak.
Finney: Are you listening to me? Am I talking to myself here?

Admin:  The rolling thunder noise in the background is a sweet touch.  The “it was a dark and stormy night” theme works perfectly with Marlow’s cliched pulp novels, and his style of writing is a key element in this scene.  Anyway, Finney is busy freaking out about his resemblance to “Mark Binney” (we all know him from the previous episodes), but Nicola is tuning him out with her impressive shadow puppets.  She’s had practice tuning annoying (not that Finney is annoying to me) men out.  Finney’s “what?” reminds me of the way both Binney (the Fin-Bins get confusing, I know) and Nicola would say “what?” when their respective Marlows unsettled them with his non sequiturs.

He likes a monochrome palette.

He likes a monochrome palette.

RF:  The “dark and stormy night” is a perfect touch, perhaps conveying Finney’s internal turmoil which is, naturally enough, Marlow’s as well.  But even if the storm isn’t metaphorical, it’s fitting for a pulp novel.  I find it interesting that Nicola is the only flash of colour in the entire room.  Everything else is a fashionable monochrome, including Finney’s “nice things” (some of which he seems to have inherited from Binney) and his clothing.  Maybe because Nicola’s the only real person there?

Admin:  Good point.  Finney’s monochromatic style gives him his own shadowy noir air. Continue reading

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