Guys With Terrible Game (Played by Patrick Malahide)

It’s hard to believe, but for a gentleman who’s played all manner of cads (both Classic and Modern) in his career, Mr. Malahide has also played a few gentlemen who… let’s face it… have terrible game.  By this, we mean that they have strategies they’ve come up with for wooing the opposite sex, and either their strategies are terrible or the way they go about using them is terrible – with oddly fascinating results.  So, here are some Guys With Terrible Game that Admin and I have found strangely compelling and/or entertaining to watch.

Mr. Quarles  |  Sir Hugo Carey-Holden  |  Sir Richard Lovell  |  Jeremy Boynton  |  Magnus  |  The Most Terrible Game of All


RF:  My choices for Guys With Terrible Game:

Mr. Quarles
(“After the War“, 1989)

Who Is His Usual Quarry?

Scoping out Mrs. Hirsch upon her arrival at the school. Note raised eyebrow Guys With Terrible Game (Played by Patrick Malahide)

Scoping out Mrs. Hirsch upon her arrival at the school.
Note raised eyebrow.

Mr. Quarles is an embittered schoolteacher, reluctantly invalided out of army service in World War II.  In this case, his quarry is the mother of a new boy at his school, Mrs. Hirsch (Haydn Gwynne).  She’s a Jewish refugee and is working as a “skivvy” at the school, which automatically seems to set some boundaries in Quarles’ mind along class lines – and therefore, how he can acceptably treat her.  She also doesn’t seem to be the slightest bit interested in him, which appears to sting a bit since he’s already comparing himself to men who have been judged fit to fight.

How Terrible is His Game?

Ill-met by moonlight: Quarles treats Mrs. Hirsch to a speculative leer

Ill-met by moonlight: Quarles treats Mrs. Hirsch
to a speculative leer

Pretty terrible.  It mostly seems to consist of a lot of creepy leering and staring, and lots of innuendo-laden remarks delivered with an overall air of infuriating superiority.  Quarles makes sure to let Mrs. Hirsch know that she’s beneath him in every way, while at the same time insulting her character for spending time with American G.I.s – which suggests he keeps a closer eye on her activities than might be expected, and also suggests his bitterness over being invalided out of active service.  It all serves to make him incredibly unappealing to her – or indeed, likely to any woman.

Does He Ever Realize How Badly He’s Blowing it?

Checking out Mrs. Hirsch as she serves lunch, while carrying on a conversation with someone else.

Checking out Mrs. Hirsch as she serves lunch, while carrying on a conversation with someone else.

Nope.  But on the other hand, he doesn’t seem to expect much from it, beyond asserting some sense of dominance and trying to make Mrs. Hirsch feel acutely self-conscious, ashamed, and uncomfortable. [Spoiler:  It doesn’t work.]  Quarles seems attracted to her, but in his mind the class divide requires him to treat her with as little respect as possible.  It would never occur to him to treat Mrs. Hirsch as he might treat a woman he perceived to be of his own class and background.

What Does His OKCupid Profile Say?

“Devoted, patriotic history teacher currently employed teaching young minds the strict discipline, order,  and competitive spirit necessary to succeed in today’s world, seeks like-minded young lady for educational discussions, museum visits, and attending various lectures and events for personal improvement.”

Does He Have a Sensitive Side?

Herding his charges out of the way

Herding his charges out of the way

The only hint of a sensitive side that we see is Quarles’ concern for his young charges when a bomb disposal lorry comes down the very narrow road they’re also on.  He quickly herds them out of the way, up the embankments.  But other than that,  he seems perfectly content to watch them beat the stuffing out of each other, Lord of the Flies-style, likely because he believes it will help them develop the “competitive” nature he thinks they’ll need.  Any sensitivity Mr. Quarles ever had seems to have been worn off by many years of teaching.

Does He Ever Succeed Despite His Terrible Game?

He doesn't care if he ever finds love. He's his own best friend.

He doesn’t care if he ever finds love. He’s his own best friend.

Not that we see – but again, Quarles doesn’t seem to really be trying.  I think he’s already written himself off as a bad prospect because of his leg injury, so he’s thrown himself into molding the “young minds” of the next generation with all the patriotic fervor he couldn’t apply to a military career.  He doesn’t expect to succeed with Mrs. Hirsch (at least, I don’t think he does), but he seems to get some cold satisfaction out of reminding her of his existence, and the fact he’s one rung higher than her, whenever possible, instead.


Sir Hugo Carey-Holden
(“Lovejoy:  The Italian Venus“, 1991)

Who Is His Usual Quarry?

Moving in on his quarry, Lady Jane Felsham, under the pretense of looking at her earrings.

Moving in on his quarry, Lady Jane Felsham,
under the pretense of looking at her earrings.

Usually the well-to-do friends of his wife, Lady Felicity (Celia Imrie), fondly(?) nicknamed “Flickers”. But that might be because Sir Hugo seems to rarely leave his house and the only chances he gets are when people are invited over to visit.  So he’s sort of like a trapdoor spider, waiting for an opportune moment to snag his prey.  Admittedly, he’s a rather inept, tipsy trapdoor spider.

How Terrible is His Game?

Sir Hugo pounces on his prey

Sir Hugo pounces on his prey

Pretty terrible.  Sir Hugo doesn’t seem to have heard of subtlety, or if he has, he’s decided it doesn’t apply to him.  Or he’s so tipsy that he thinks he is being subtle, and he can’t understand why it never works.  In any case, his usual strategy is to eel over to his quarry as quickly as possible, invade their personal space by draping or wrapping himself around them, and make sure they can’t escape through the cunning use of natural terrain, like ice buckets (see above), all while engaging in drawling conversation about something else to distract them.  He has to be quick, because he knows if Flickers spots him, he’s done.  It does make one wonder if he tried the same thing with Flickers, and she just happened to be the only woman it ever worked on.

Does He Ever Realize How Badly He’s Blowing it?

A strategy-planning session underway

A strategy-planning session underway

Nope.  He’s boozily unaware.  I’m sure Sir Hugo chalks up his lack of success to Flickers’ interference alone.  He doesn’t seem to have the self-awareness to realize he’s never going to succeed with his current techniques – which doesn’t stop him from continuing to try.  Mind you, if he ever did succeed, I’m not sure he’d know what to do next!  He might have to stop and have a nap first.  😉

What Does His OKCupid Profile Say?

“Aristocratic gentleman with an appreciation for the finer things in life, who has grown apart from his current spouse (who doesn’t understand him), seeks exciting young woman from a good family for ongoing companionship.  Interest in vineyards, fine old homes, antique furniture, and art and a keen appreciation for vintage wines and spirits are absolute musts.  Proper discretion is also a must.”

Does He Have a Sensitive Side?

An eyeroll as Flickers cramps his style, yet again

An eyeroll as Flickers cramps his style, yet again

Mostly when it comes to losing his money, although Sir Hugo does drop a muttered remark or two that seem to indicate he feels Flickers is cramping his style [Spoiler:  She is.]  But his sensitivity is reserved exclusively for his own well-being; Sir Hugo doesn’t seem too concerned about what happens to anyone else.  That said, he and Flickers do seem to suit each other quite well.  They’ve been together so long that she knows all of his foibles and is ready for them, and truthfully, he’d probably be lost without her.

Does He Ever Succeed Despite His Terrible Game?

He'll always have Flickers.

He’ll always have Flickers.

Nope, but that doesn’t seem to deter him!  Okay, as mentioned, he did manage to land Flickers at some point, but either he was sober then, or it was mostly arranged by their families.  Or both.  He’s also managed to acquire a well-known reputation for boozy lechery, so most ladies (like Lady Jane Felsham) know enough to bring someone to run interference for them whenever possible – so he’s likely doomed to ongoing failure.  But hey, Flickers still loves him!  😉


Admin:  And my choices for Guys With Terrible Game

Sir Richard Lovell
(“Endeavour“, 2012)

Who Is His Usual Quarry?

Sir Richard Lovell and a dubious backdrop.

Unfortunately, Sir Richard has a strong preference for under-aged teenage girls.  He is a member of an illicit underground club that hosts parties featuring gambling, orgies, and gosh knows what else.  In this Morse prequel, Lovell is suspected of murdering a fifteen-year old girl, Mary Tremlett, after it is discovered he had written his phone number on her hand, likely at one of those parties.

How Terrible is His Game?

He has looks, wealth, power…but wastes it all.

OK, it isn’t so much that he has “terrible game”, to be honest.  The reason I include him is because he completely and utterly wastes any potential game he might have.  I mean we have this incredibly handsome, wealthy, privileged, and powerful government minister who takes advantage of vulnerable girls who have gotten in way, way over their heads.

The girls have fallen under the sinister influence of a disgusting used-car salesman (played brilliantly by a very slimy Charlie Creed-Miles), and Lovell callously uses them for his own entertainment.  So, it is a waste (with dire consequences on all sides) of what could be a magnificent game if he were to set his sights to, you know, women who are considerably more legal and willing.   A good game is a terrible thing to waste!

Does He Ever Realize How Badly He’s Blowing it?

MI5 guy Dempsey explains just how terrible Lovell’s game is.

Like he cares.  He proves himself to be incredibly self-centered and heartless.  Eventually, Lovell learns the error of his ways to some extent after an MI5 type agent tells him that he has to either retire from public life or be shot.  Fun choice.  Seems Prime Minister Harold Wilson knows about Lovell’s illicit activities and doesn’t want any more Profumo Affair type scandals complicating matters, especially since they know Morse has taken the bit between his teeth and won’t rest until justice is done.  So, it is time to clean house, and Lovell is swept unceremoniously out of the door.  But, I somehow doubt he will ever have the insight to realize how much easier his life would be if he had just played a more conventional “game”.

What Does His OKCupid Profile Say?

Likes: Backgammon, booze, parties. Dislikes: Eager policemen and MI5 agents.

“Elegant and suave older gentleman seeks much younger uninhibited lady who enjoys backgammon, informal gatherings, and telephone conversations.  Beatles fans OK.  Absolutely no undercover MI5 agents, please.”

Does He Have a Sensitive Side?

Talking about a teenager’s death. Nope, not the most sensitive guy going.

No.  When young Morse and his superior DI Fred Thursday tell him that young Mary Tremlett had been killed after one of the illicit parties, Lovell remains completely unfazed.  He denies any involvement with Mary or the underground club with a sickeningly blithe, “dear, dear….most unsavory.”

He genuinely doesn’t seem to care about anyone other than himself. When confronted by MI5 agent Dempsey who makes no bones about his disgust over the club’s use of teenage girls, Lovell obviously doesn’t care, describing his behavior as a “harmless bit of fun”.

It isn’t until he realizes the ride is all over that he shows any sense of sadness, and that is only because he is feeling sorry for himself.  Even after resigning his position at Dempsey’s gun wielding behest, I doubt Lovell ever shows anything near a sensitive side.

Does He Ever Succeed Despite His Terrible Game?

He used to enjoy his life.

Yes, but mostly because the teenagers don’t have much of a say in the matter.  And, obviously, it only lasts until he becomes too much of a risk for the government to endure.


Jeremy Boynton
(“Inspector Morse, Driven to Distraction”, 1990)

Who Is His Usual Quarry?

He likes cars, women and selling cars to women.

Attractive women who have enough income to buy one of his cars.  Yes, the caddish Jeremy Boynton is a swanky car salesman.   He has had a few affairs with his customers, and unfortunately some of them have now wound up dead.  Is he a real lady killer or just a figurative one?

How Terrible is His Game?

It helps if you don’t make them hate you.

Well, he’s married and he’s clearly managed to rack up a few affairs with his customers.  But, I have to say based upon the evidence given that his game is utterly awful.  He is smug, intimidating, and completely overbearing.  He tries to convince his now-deceased lover Jackie Thorton’s best friend, Angie (Tessa Wojtczak), not to tell the police about the affair.  But, he does it in the most horrible, unthinking, obnoxious way possible.  He shows almost no remorse whatsoever about the death of their mutual friend and instead menacingly suggests that Angie might want to keep quiet about his affair with Jackie if she doesn’t want him blabbing to the police about her marijuana plants.

It gets worse.  While he’s making those not-so-subtle threats, he also manages to sexually harass her at the same time.  He openly leers at her mini-skirt and makes snide comments about how revealing it is.  Honestly, she’s wearing black opaque tights, so even if was OK to call women out for revealing dress (and it isn’t), well, she’s not even guilty of that.  Ugh…Jeremy.  Anyway, his lousy technique completely backfires because Angie tells the police about his involvement with Jackie and even fesses up to her pot plants.  Things go so downhill for him after that.   Take that, Jezza!

Does He Ever Realize How Badly He’s Blowing it?

You shouldn’t have picked on Angie then.

I don’t think he had a care in the world before the murders, but afterwards he certainly learns that his technique with Angie was indeed the wrong one.  Being an overbearing, sexist bully doesn’t impress all women, apparently.

What Does His OKCupid Profile Say?

He might want to go easy on the cigars…especially when they become clues.

“Gentleman seeking generous well-to-do woman for casual relationship with no entanglements.  Must appreciate the finer things in life such as luxury automobiles…a love of Jaguars is a huge bonus.  Must not mind the smell of cigar smoke.”

Does He Have a Sensitive Side?

He’s still mad, but he likes his steering wheel.

Perhaps he has a teeny-tiny one….maybe.  He is married with a daughter, so he obviously isn’t a great family man, but he does have one.  Plus, he went back to them in the end, so maybe there is hope after all.  Maybe.

Because of Morse’s over enthusiastic investigation, Boynton is attacked, having what could have been a near death experience.  Not only that, it turns out he was actually innocent of all the murders.  A guilt-struck Morse tries his best to make amends by giving Boynton the steering wheel from the Jaguar that won the ’56 Monte Carlo Rally.   Boynton meditatively touches the wheel, clearly feeling something.  He does like his Jags after all.  But, he then (very deliberately it seems to me) hardens up and tells an injured Morse that he deserves to be in his arm sling.

Does He Ever Succeed Despite His Terrible Game?

Not exactly the face of innocence.

Apparently, yes.  He has had a few girlfriends and he managed to get married.   But, he certainly didn’t succeed with Angie.  His attempts to manipulate her backfired spectacularly.  I can only imagine then that he has had considerable past failures with his smarmy wooing technique.  But as even the blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while, so Jeremy finds a mistress.


And One Honourable Mention:

Magnus
(“The One Game“, 1988)

Magnus wooing Jenny the conventional way

Magnus wooing Jenny the conventional way

RF: Magnus is a bit of a paradox, since he seems to have an idea of what good game should be.  He’s a romantic at heart, woos Jenny (Pippa Haywood) with dinners and presents, and overall seems vastly more suave and interesting than Nick Thorne (Stephen Dillane), but then he takes it one step (or several steps) too far when he resorts to kidnapping Jenny and insisting that she and Nick take part in his live role-playing/puzzle-solving game.  It’s all part of Magnus working out his frustration at Nick’s failure to save his (Magnus’) wife, Megan, from drowning, as well as trying to sort out his feelings about Nick and Jenny’s relationship, but Magnus is willing to go to some pretty extreme lengths to achieve his ends.  Not only does he go to those lengths, he gets rather pouty and downright angry when Jenny and Nick don’t want to play, and essentially keeps forcing the game on them even when the consequences can be deadly.

Getting angry when things don't go as he's planned

Getting angry when things don’t go as he’s planned

RF:  So, I think we have to say that Magnus has great game up to a point, but then things quickly take a nosedive when they aren’t going his way – which is why he’s an Honourable Mention on this list.  He feels things very deeply and likely was a very loving husband to Megan (we’re not told much about their marriage), but her death and his feelings of loss over being dumped by Jenny (again, we’re not told why) seem to have pushed him over the edge – so he goes back to what he knows, which is gaming.  And in this case, it’s both literal and actual terrible game.

Admin:  Indeed, Magnus is very romantic and can be utterly charming.  But, his controlling ways wind up hurting the situation.  He is clearly someone not to be trifled with and compromise doesn’t seem to be in his vocabulary  whatsoever.  So, while he has some truly amazing qualities, he is still a vengeance seeking control freak.  It also doesn’t help that he has somewhat idealized Jenny into being his very own image of “Guinevere” (The One Game plays huge on Arthurian imagery) so their relationship is pretty much guaranteed to be less than he desires.


Who Has the Most Terrible Game of All?

RF's pick: Jeremy Boynton!

RF’s pick: Jeremy Boynton!

RF:  This is a tricky one, but I have to go with…  Jeremy Boynton, blue-eyed cad extraordinaire.  He’s just so sleazy, with so little self-awareness and such an incredibly ham-handed yet completely despicable way of trying to get what he wants, with absolutely no regard for the effects on the women.  He was a master of the “neg” before it was a thing.  The other guys are terrible, but Boynton is quite happy to resort to blackmail and threats.  The real mystery is why Jackie stayed his mistress for so long, or why Mrs. Boynton is still married to him!

Admin’s Pick: “The name is Lovell….Sir Richard Lovell.”

Admin:  I love the “master of the neg” reference. That describes what we saw between Jeremy and Angie perfectly.  Obviously it occasionally works for him, but when it backfires it backfires beautifully.   But, my choice is Sir Richard Lovell simply for choosing to squander his game.  It doesn’t just ruin things for him, which he pretty much deserves anyway, but his behavior winds up hurting lots of innocent people too.  People that he as a government minister should have been looking out for no less.   But aside from the morality issue, he really could have done brilliantly had he upped the ante and gone for more sophisticated and canny partners.  He’d be the James Bond of Westminster.  It would seem Morse knows a jerk when he sees one, right? 😉

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