Minder: The Balance of Power, S05E07
The Balance of Power is a quirky Minder episode. Arthur Daley takes an active interest in his government. Terry McCann is interesting enough to warrant a newspaper story. You can buy votes with chocolates. And DS Chisholm is a married man. Wait! What?
The episode opens with Daley and McCann discovering an “Officer of the High Sheriff of Greater London”, complete with outsize bowler hat and clipboard, ordering cars lifted off the lot. Seems Daley has been issued a compulsory purchase order. Oh dear.
Daley goes to find answers, parks in the Mayor’s spot, and runs afoul of the Commissionaire (played by Hammer star Michael Ripper). Eventually he finds his way to the planning dept. and meets a couple of stereotypical bureaucrats. Notices have been sent out in duplicate, maybe even triplicate, by registered mail. Too bad Daley ignores registered mail; it’s usually parking tickets. Well, we did see him park in the Mayor’s space.
Daley has his dander up now, so he becomes an independent candidate in the upcoming by-election. This is a very bad thing for the establishment because there are 14 Tory seats and 14 Labor seats. Should Daley get in as an Independent, he’d have “the balance of power.”
Oh, and McCann gets a beautiful reporter girlfriend, Julie Walters (Caroline Langrishe) from out of the blue. She wants to interview him about his boxing career. Why? Because it is convenient to the plot, that’s why.
Arthur Daley: Big Time Fence
Poor Chisholm. The last thing he wants to do is become involved in political chicanery, but West End Central have received some information (fed to them by Daley’s new-found enemies) that Daley is involved in diamond smuggling. “With the greatest respect, sir, I do know my local villains. The notion that Arthur Daley is a big time fence is risible.”
After flexing his jaw a few times, he and Jones head out for a merry raid. Daley arrives at his lock-up to find a posse of police boxing up his “merchandise” and a cheerful (at this juncture) detective sergeant sitting at his desk.
Daley: “Mr. Chisholm! What are you doing here?” Chisholm: “Shopping. Wife instructed me to look for some chocolates.” Wife?!? Does that contravene the scene featuring Chisholm’s flat in Minder on the Orient Express? Perhaps Minder does not follow canon?
Back to the chocolates, they play a huge part in this episode. They are also stale, which Chisholm finds out when he takes a bite. Looks like he found a soft center one too. Yuck!
While Chisholm and Daley are discussing the provenience of the chocolates, Max from Morse enters the room. Actually, he’s Lent (Peter Woodthorpe) from The West London Gazette, and he’s been commissioned to write (a hatchet job) on Daley. Chisholm realizes that Lent’s presence is a tad too convenient, so he is happy to say that Mr. Daley and Mr. McCann (he’s there too) are helping the police with their inquiries.
Chisholm: “…and in order to show how reasonable I am, going to take you down to the station in one of our nice big cars with the flashing blue lights!”
It is a fun scene; Chisholm is so ebullient and perky. I think the brief sugar rush agrees with him.
Six Dozen Musical Monkeys
At the station, patiently awaiting questioning, Daley promises Terry that if he wins the election he’ll get himself on the police committee and have DS Chisholm just where he wants him. Tsk-tsk. Vengefulness is an ugly quality, Arthur.
Meanwhile, Chisholm and Jones are going over the results of the swoop. Chisholm is back to being tense. His sugar rush has worn off.
The best things they found are six dozen musical monkeys that play Scotland the Brave. Daley has receipts for those. The look on Chisholm’s face is priceless. “You mean he actually bought six dozen musical monkeys that play Scotland the Brave?!?” The police even ripped one open, but there were no diamonds inside. Musical monkeys and 800 boxes of chocolates do not a jewel fence make. No wonder Chisholm was so incredulous earlier.
After letting them sweat a bit, Chisholm gets around to questioning Daley and McCann. “Have you been over to Amsterdam lately?” “What about…..Hamburg?” Daley protests that he hasn’t time for questioning; he has a political rally to attend. We get another prize look from Chisholm when he learns Daley is running on a “law and order” campaign. “I bet you’re after the police committee to sort me out, aren’t you?” “The thought never entered my mind, Mr. Chisholm.”
Intrepid Girl Reporter
The interrogation is cut short when Chisholm is called to the front desk by Julie Walters (Terry’s reporter girlfriend). I don’t know why she wants to write a story on Terry, pay him £200 for said story (money laundering? tax evasion?), or takes such a vested interest in Daley’s campaign, but she has. She intimidates Chisholm into letting her see them by threatening to splash his name all over her Fleet Street newspaper. He acquiesces, and we are treated to another intense jaw flex. Lovely!
Chisholm is now in a bind. “On one hand we have the big white chief of West End Central who wants me to transform Arthur Daley into Raffles,on the other, we have an investigative journalist who is to serve me up on a plate to 13 million readers.”
He handles the situation with aplomb, by allowing Terry and Lois Lane to go to the political rally but keeping Daley for further questioning. Chisholm is all blue-eyed innocence, “I’m sure, Miss Walters, you and your editor would agree that a criminal investigation must come before political interest.”
Chisholm admits to Daley that he doesn’t really believe he’s a jewel fence but points out it wouldn’t look too good to his superior officers if he doesn’t take their tip-offs seriously. Plus there is the matter of the chocolates: “I don’t know whether to do you for receiving bent chocolates that have seen better days, or charge you with contravention of the health act.”
Come on, Mr. Chisholm – On Your Flat Feet
Chisholm finally gets Daley to his rally via a police car with a very loud siren. “You done this on purpose, didn’t you, Mr. Chisholm?”
Daley gets his own back by pretending Mr. Chisholm gave him the ride out of support for his election. It is so funny, everyone is applauding (Jones loudest of all), and poor Chisholm has to stand up in acknowledgment. “Come on, Mr. Chisholm…on your flat feet.” We get a beautiful lip curl as he stands in front of the least flattering campaign poster ever. Chisholm shoots a warning glare at Jones. Awwwww, I’m sure his applause was purely out of love.
It’s those Bloody Boxes of Chocolates, Again
Fast forward to polling day. Chisholm is once again on the phone being instructed to investigate Daley. “Someone wants Daley very badly indeed.”
He heads out to the polls to take Daley and McCann back to the station. The charge this time: “Chocolates. I’m doing you both for receiving.” McCann angrily tells Chisholm that they gave all the chocolates away and even produces a witness (Edward Kitchener, best known as Grandad from Only Fools and Horses) to confirm it. “They did wonders for my gout!” And they gave hundreds more boxes all over the borough. Chisholm pulls a somewhat stunned face (he’s just figured something out) and with a “come on, Jones” departs.
The election results are in and Independent candidate Arthur Daley wins by a very healthy margin. Only there is one problem: By handing out all those free boxes of chocolates, he overspent on his campaign. He is disqualified, and a new election has to be held. Score one very big point for Chisholm! 🙂
It is wonderful to see Chisholm actually win for a change. As always, Mr. Malahide turns in a perfect performance. His frustration with being used as a political pawn is evident. Although he enjoys inconveniencing Daley, he is well put-out by being made to waste time on something he knows Daley lacks the where-withal to commit.
It is also fun to watch him go through such a range of emotions. He’s practically playful when he first discovers the chocolates, incredibly frustrated when caught between his superiors and a newspaper reporter, and his sneering vexation at the rally is brilliant.
All-in-all, The Balance of Power is an excellent episode for Chisholm (and Jones!) fans.