Minder S04E05, Car Lot Baggers is an excellent episode that gave Patrick Malahide some fine opportunities to show DS Chisholm’s dry wit. It is also made extra special with a very funny performance from June Whitfield.
Arthur’s friend Wally West(Harry Scott), a somewhat dodgy but likeable car-dealer, (no wonder they’re friends, they have so much in common) has just been heavily fined £1100 for knocking back the miles on his cars. To make matters worse, his lot has been repeatedly broken into. Wally convinces Arthur to loan him Terry for a while as protection. Traveling gypsies are under suspicion, but the real culprits are a bent civil servant named Fribbons (played to weaselly perfection by Colin Jeavons) and a well-to-do business man, Mr. Apsimon (James Faulkner) who are intimidating property owners into selling cheap.
Meanwhile, Wally has figured a “nice little earner.” Arthur is to purchase a hearse and two limos from a retiring undertaker, and then quickly sell them onto Tilly Murdoch, a funeral director in Fulham (June Whitfield), who winds up being more than anticipated. Wally’s assurances are pure poetry, “It’s like lifting pennies off a dead man’s eyes”, and “it’s as certain as February flu.”
Hold up, Here Comes Cheerful Charlie
Chisholm has the best entrances when entering Dave’s pub. He slowly slinks down the stairs (which are bit short for him), and scans the premises. There is something a bit ferrety about it, like he’s checking out a rabbit hole and Arthur, Terry and Wally are the rabbits. Terry is the first to notice, “Hold up, here comes Cheerful Charlie.” And for once, he really is cheerful. “What’s this then, a wake?” Well, OK, he’s more smug than cheerful, but we’ll go with it.
“Quite a write-up, Walter,” he says referring to newspaper reports about the recently fined Wally. “Bastard reporters,” moans Wally. Chisholm is in his element, “only doing their job, informing the public of the less salubrious sides of society.” When the car dealers point out how hefty the fine was, Chisholm takes particular glee in pointing out that Wally was ultimately fined a penny a clocked mile. “In the scales of justice, Walter, I reckon that is about right.”
When pressed as to why he is there, Chisholm just admits that when seeing those three together his “highly developed sense of curiosity and suspicion” got the better of him.
Who is Putting the Frighteners on Wally West?
Skipping ahead some, Terry has been sleeping at Wally’s car lot and was there when someone snuck in one night and set a car alight. The arsonist punched Terry out and left him as the car burnt. Fortunately, Terry was saved by a passing police man.
Chisholm is handling the investigation and arrives at Wally’s the following morning, where he is greeted by “the bold Terrence McCann,” who is the worse for wear. “Would it be indelicate to inquire how you received that facial discoloration?” Chisholm reminds Terry that he saw him the other day with Wally and Arthur. The next day he reads a report about a fire in a car lot owned by one of the dodgy faces and “included in the report, your good self, pulled from the flames by a uniformed constable, ahhhh.” The “ahhhh” is a nice, sarcastic touch, especially since he follows it up with a very nasty kick to shut the car door shut that Terry is leaning on, causing the battered minder to slosh his morning tea. Chisholm has such a mean streak 🙂
I also like this scene because Chisholm uses a bit of Latin legalese (which RFodchuk kindly helped me with) when pointing out that there was no way the fire was accidental. He knows the only reason Terry is there is because he supposed to be guarding the place, “therefore, quod erat demonstrandum, you are minding the business premises of Mr. Walter West, ergo, your very presence suggests Mr. West’s business premises are in some jeopardy.”
But, Terry remains defiant that it was all an accident. Chisholm then goes quickly from sarcastic to deeply serious, “Who is putting the frighteners on Wally West?” Chisholm shows he isn’t really that nasty because he is genuinely concerned about what is going on with poor Wally. “Whoever is doing this isn’t poncing about. Whoever is doing this is a very wicked person.” He firmly tells Terry that if he should get any information on who is doing this, he is to tell him right away. Not that Terry would ever listen to such advice.
It is a great scene and it is fun to see Chisholm quickly change gears when he realizes he is getting nowhere with Terry. He might not like Wally West very much, but he does take protecting him and the public very seriously.
What is Your Sign?
Skipping to the end: Terry, with help from Nathan, a gypsy traveler (Jimmy Nail), is able to ascertain it was Mr. Apsimon and Fribbons behind the intimidation. Rather than go to the police, Wally agrees to sell his lot to Apsimon, but at a rather inflated price.
The deal with the hearse went through just fine…sort of. It turns out that Tilly is a bit man hungry and immediately set her sights on the very dapper Arthur, who she claims reminds her of late husband, “same height; same build.” It is obvious that Wally knew she might do that, presumably because he was also set upon.
So, while Arthur, Wally, Terry and Nathan are enjoying a beer at Dave’s, Tilly shows up. They introduce her to Nathan, but she doesn’t seem to like him very much. It is when Chisholm shows up, that she does take notice. Arthur quickly susses that Tilly is intrigued by the DS and makes the introductions.
Tilly is very impressed, “ooh, isn’t he tall” and asks Chisholm what his “sign” is. She reveals she is a Leo, which is a good sign for a cougar. 😉 As Chisholm is well and truly trapped, the four make their escape before he can start asking any uncomfortable questions about Wally’s car lot situation. As they leave, Tilly is heard telling Chisholm that he reminds her of her late husband, “same height; same build.” Considering Chisholm looks nothing like Arthur (or Wally, for that matter), I have to wonder what did the late Mr. Murdoch look like 🙂 Poor Chisholm; he looks so bemused about the whole thing.
This is an excellent episode. There is lots of humor, especially from Chisholm who is in very good form. The writing is extremely tight and the dialogue is colorful and witty. Arthur shows an ugly side, though, with some derogatory slang used against the travelers who were innocent of the crimes and helped find the real culprits. Guest stars, June Whitfield and Jimmy Nail are both very good, with June especially turning in a very funny performance.