Series 1, episode 2 - "Jack in the Box"
This is the first proper "locked room murder" type episode - more than a locked room, in fact, because it's a nuclear bunker set into a cliff, and the victim in question is Jack Holliday, a Carry On / Benny Hill type actor with crippling arthritis that means he couldn't possibly have shot himself.
Interesting Fact Time! This episode was at one point re-written as the pilot episode of the American 'version' of the series. Ages ago, a snippet from the script used to live on the BBC website, and frankly, it was awful. Apparently it never caught on anyway, as the network executives to whom the script was pitched decided that their demographic would not appreciate a 70-year-old man being on screen for more than five seconds. By that logic, we can safely assume that their main characters would not look like Alan or Caroline, and it would have been just as bad as Life on Mars. And in any event, it didn't even matter because the one and only version was shown on BBC America and loved by many. :)
Anyway. Not quite so many screencaps this time around, but plenty of thoughts nonetheless.
So, Jack Holliday's body is found inside his nuclear bunker, dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Meanwhile, Alan Rokesmith has been released from prison after much campaigning by his sister and one Maddy Magellan, in the pursuit of justice. Alan Rokesmith was imprisoned for the murder of Jack Holliday's first wife, Jennifer.
Cue Jonathan at his windmill, pottering about doing his own thing, when the phone rings. Even though we never get any confirmation of such, the caller is Maddy. Jonathan seems rather pleased by this development - we get the impression this is the first time they've been in contact since the last episode. She asks about Adam and Jonathan mentions that he has labyrinthitis (we are treated to an amusing anecdote of Adam coming on stage and falling into the orchestra pit), and jokes that the brain scan "didn't find anything". It's a really quite rubbish joke, as he seems to realise himself if the nervous laugh is any indication - it's obvious he's a bit trepidacious about speaking to her and is trying hard to be clever. Bless. She apparently enquires if he's free on a specific day. He says he'll "look at the diary" (which is precisely what he does - looks at it, closed, on the table) and agrees to meet her. The diary gives us a nice placeholder for the year (1997), aside from a glimpse into Jonathan's (lack of) social life when Adam is indisposed.
Next, Jonathan arrives outside Maddy's block of flats (which makes it sound grottier than it really is - we can only assume that at some point the crime writing was a nice earner, as her flat is very posh) and notices her car is clamped. So of course, his first instinct is to pick the lock - at which point she comes downstairs to meet him.
"Morning! You're useful to have around."
"This is illegal..."
Whilst attempting to unlock the wheel-clamp, he enquires about Trevor, to which her response is that they were getting on each other's nerves so she "did the mature thing and set fire to his underpants". So, that's that. She then asks if he'd like a trip to the coast to flush out the carbon monoxide, but he says he'll have to put the clamp back on once he's figured out to unlock it.
Sometimes, it takes her that long with the key. ;)
"Where did you get hold of this?"
"Sorry, good journalist - I have to protect my sources."
I'm sort of torn in this scene over whether he's removing the clamp as a gesture towards impressing her (and indeed if he would have put it back on again afterwards if it was genuine), or whether it really is just to see if he can pick the lock. He notices it as he approaches the car and immediately gets down on the floor to get rid of it, timing his progress. Maddy neglects to mention it belongs to her until he's got the padlock off, and clearly does look impressed with his lock-picking skills (it won't last, trust me!). I just like the fact he carries his little tool kit around with him, just in case he has to pick a lock. Geek it up, Jonathan.
Later on, in the car, Jonathan admits he's been thinking of calling her, which definitely implies her phonecall earlier in the episode is their first contact since "The Wrestler's Tomb". His reason for wanting to ring her is entirely different, it transpires, to her reason for calling him. His intentions are to be sociable (perhaps more?), hers are... well, the locked-room murder. Or suicide, as she happens to think it is. I got a cap of this for that lovely moment where he admits wanting to ring her, whilst staring in the other direction. It speaks volumes over how much he's wanted to get in contact, but is too shy to do so. *squish*
"I nearly rang you..."
Anyway, he also says one of the things holding him back has been 'fearing the worst' about getting embroiled in one of her murder mysteries, at which point he realises that's precisely what's happened, and demands she stop the car. Which she does, kicks him out, and leaves him behind. :D
Back in the car again, Maddy explains what's going on - she's received hatemail from Kirsten Holliday, Jack's second wife, because of her involvement in getting Rokesmith released. Maddy wants to prove Jack wasn't murdered but knows Kirsten won't let her anywhere near, so has already been in contact to sell Jonathan's services as the solver of impossible mysteries. Whilst Jonathan endures a guided tour of Jack Holliday's museum of a house (he's not a fan), Maddy goes to bug the contractors who bulit the nuclear bunker. Inside the bunker is a half-built toilet which Jonathan becomes rather too attached to. (Only. This. Show.)
Later on, Maddy is trying to access her answering machine messages and Jonathan is being a passenger-seat driver.
"Yes, could you just glance at the road, do you think, then we might get there with all of our limbs and organs?"
Anyway, Maddy accesses a message on her machine from Rokesmith, a couple of days old, and tries to call him back, but there's no answer. She then remembers he was going to rent a cottage on the Welsh coast and "relish his freedom", hence why he wouldn't be there.
Oh yeah. I had to get a picture of this. The "Irritating Crinkled Look".
A day later, Maddy goes to visit the production company making the advert which Jack Holliday was to star in (for bananas), whereupon it transpires they had to use body doubles throughout as his arthritis was so bad he couldn't even peel a banana. This seems to prove that he couldn't have killed himself.
Rokesmith's sister goes to visit him and finds the cottage empty. She is then visited by the police (the very non-Welsh sounding police!) who say they've discovered the remains of his boat. Later on she provides Maddy with all of Rokesmith's letters, including three from a confectionary company regarding an order of fudge, which he didn't even like. The plot thickens.
Later on, Jonathan is cooking and on the phone to Maddy. This scene is relevant for only two reasons: (i) she hears him cooking and asks what he's having, and (ii) he mentions Crosse&Blackwell. I just find it fascinating how we forget all about this stuff until it's suddenly thrown at us - like Kwiksave last week. :)
Jonathan and Maddy enjoy (or not, in her case) a coastal cliff walk as they discuss the facts. This scene has one of my favourite Maddy lines ever (it's the tone of voice.)
"I'm sorry - do you mind if I just lie down here for a minute and die?"
As they have a rest, she comes up with her own version of how Jack might have killed himself - he pulled the door shut using some kind of mechanism on elastic, which disappeared down the hole where the toilet should be. And used an "arthritic suicide aid" (Jonathan's wording) to pull the trigger on the gun, which then also disappeared down the hole. Jonathan shoots her theory down in flames (politely) by asking why he did something so complicated rather than shooting himself in the living room. She looks quite crestfallen by his logic. Jonathan asks to see the letters about the fudge. As they head back towards the car, he clarifies that he definitely thinks Jack Holliday was murdered, he just doesn't know how.
On the walk back to the car, it's started hammering it down, and Maddy cannot find her keys - because she's left them on the rock at the top of the cliff, when she emptied her bag out finding the letters. There's actually a missing scene here (an out-take from it apparently once turned up on Auntie's Bloomers and people were really confused because it didn't happen in the show) where they're huddling together in a phonebox to keep dry. Maddy complains about being hungry and Jonathan offers her his last Rolo (I kid ye not!), which she refuses, then when he eats it himself she kicks off, so he goes off to find the car keys.
This segues into the next scene at the hotel and explains her latter comment of him earning points for getting the keys. I've read the script of the missing scene (see end of entry) and was dearly hoping it would find its way onto the DVD extras when they got released, but BBC are the suck.
Anyway, after they've dried off, they're having dinner in the hotel.
At this point, Paul pointed out something (on his second viewing, no less) which I've apparently neglected to notice before now. He said that whenever we see them having a meal together, Maddy is eating but Jonathan is not. In other words: she's finishing his leftovers, having swapped their plates over. It hadn't occurred to me before, but he might well be right - in the previous episode she finished off his onion rings, too. And frankly, she does seem the sort of person who would finish someone else's leftovers just to leave clear plates. The show often makes an overt joke over Maddy's eating habits, but perhaps there's a lot to be said for subtlety, too.
I should also point out - the above screencap is pretty much how I envisage the scene in my "A Lot to Answer For" story, when they first arrive at Sparrowdown and have dinner at the inn, except their places are switched, and Maddy is drinking water. ;)
After dinner they go upstairs and steam the postage stamps off the letters. Of course.
I've been quite lucky with some of these caps - that was actually a split-second incident of her gazing at him. Jonathan transpires to be useless at removing stamps so Maddy takes over. "You do that rather too well," he comments. "Just improvising," she says.
Stamps removed, they read the secret messages underneath - which is a moot point really considering they're lying on the bed to do so.
The next bit is interesting. Maddy is entirely too subtle, and Jonathan is entirely too oblivious when he's focusing on the problem at hand. His little eye-roll as Maddy leaves the room says quite a lot, I think - for all his noises about wanting to call her up and see her again, apparently he has no time for her flirting when there's a murder afoot... which is an entirely reasonable reaction, in some respects, but it's hardly surprising they never get anywhere. Mind you, it's early days - there's still time to figure out an appropriate way of communication. :P
During the night, neither of them can sleep. We see Maddy leave her bed, and someone get into Jonathan's (he seems quite pleased about that), but the next morning he wakes up with a watermelon skewered to his pillow. Obviously, his first reaction is to call Maddy and ask if she did it. (I just... WHAT? :D) She accuses him of being drunk. "Drunk?! How can I be drunk at eight-thirty in the morning? You were the one knocking back the Chianti last night, you did everything but suck the corks!"
"Three glasses," she reminds him, coming into the room, "and they were small ones."
"I could have come in here and found you with your throat slit..."
They discover a note under the melon reading "BACK OFF" (a particularly Renwickian play-on-words before the full note is revealed and all you can see is "CK OFF"). Jonathan then has A Moment with the toilet and realises the significance of it, promptly getting dressed and attempting to run off. Maddy accuses him of being a spineless cretin (actually, he counters, he's just your average cretin - no special kind) and blocks his exit from the room:-
"Deep breaths now, Jonathan."
Not sure why I like that bit so much... Maybe because, if he wants to leave that room he's going to have to move her out of the way, which leads to a whole level of physical contact he wouldn't be comfortable with, and which would inevitably lead to awkwardness and/or potential tension. ;)
Jonathan and Maddy go back to see Mrs Holliday and Jonathan does the Big Reveal, explaining the significance of the toilet and uncovering the grisly secret behind a re-built back wall. (Creepy.) Also: another period placeholder in the fact that there's a 100watt bulb in a 40watt packet - back in the day before energy saving bulbs were everywhere. :P
Later on, Maddy is playing with a matchbox magic trick whilst Jonathan proves his point that it's physically impossible to slip on a banana skin. He says the trick cannot be baffling because there's not enough scope - the word "baffling" is quite significant here as that's what she throws back at him much later in "Black Canary" during their row. Jonathan's banana peel experiment is quite sweet - there's something of the junior scientist about it. I like how Maddy makes no effort to catch him when he slips on the dog's mess, just mocks his scientific curiosity. Thus far my remembrance of every episode ending with a J/M moment is holding up. The sequence is quite random, really - not sure if there's enough to play with to make a tag, but I'll have a think. ;)
So, 'ship-wise, things are definitely getting interesting. There's an admission on Jonathan's part that he wants to spend time with her, and Maddy seems to be of a similar mindset. Her interest is apparently more professional, but that doesn't stop her dropping subtle hints. (The missing scene would have added a whole extra level to what already occurs in the episode, but alas it was cut for time...)
Last night, we also watched the two extras on the first disc - namely the "Long Hair and Duffelcoat" featurette and Alan Davies's screentest with Caroline - who, eminently professional, smokes like a chimney throughout. :D The featurette was quite interesting (though very little documentary content in amongst the episode clips) but also weird. It includes the talking heads of David Renwick, Alan Davies, Verity Lambert and the director, but nothing with Caroline Quentin. All the clips are from series 1, but her very absence makes me wonder if it wasn't filmed after she'd announced her departure. It's almost as if she doesn't exist. Weird.
Nevertheless, Alan's anecdotes are sweet. Like not doing anything at all on his first day of filming, being told that they would be filming at Kensington, trying to figure out how to get there and then having a car turn up to collect him, and the nudity clause in his contract for "House of Monkeys" - and Caroline trying (and succeeding) to embarrass him. :D Hard to believe it was his first foray into television acting - he was the sixth or seventh person they'd seen. It says an awful lot that it was his screentest with Caroline that clinched the role, because BBC high-ups saw the potential in both him and the fact that they clicked on-screen. You can't force that kind of dynamic; sometimes, magic happens.
Also interesting were Renwick's repeated mentions of things having to be cut because they were "too expensive" - a story we hear constantly when it comes to BBC shows. The director also notes that Alan would act his socks off all day every day, whereas Caroline would start off laid-back and build up, and the trick was finding the point where they intersected.
The screentest footage was also really cool, in terms of hearing what got cut from the scripts. In "The Wrestler's Tomb", for example, there was quite a bit omitted from Jonathan and Maddy's getting-to-know-you conversation at the windmill. He assumes Trevor is her brother, and she does not correct him (which goes a long way to explaining his pissed-off-ness when he sees them entering her flat later), and she asks if he has any "brothers, sisters, wives, ex-wives or wives to be". Covering all your bases there, Maddy?
There's also a really bizarre exchange omitted when they're first in the car in "Jack in the Box" where midway through the conversation she asks if he's wearing perfume and he admits it might be bath oil. :D
So yeah - definitely worth watching, and I can't believe I hadn't done so before now!
That's that. Next week: "The Reconstituted Corpse". BE AFRAID.
Here's the transcript of the missing scene in the phonebox, as taken from The World of Jonathan Creek, who were kind enough to print it.
INT. PHONE BOX - EVENING
CREEK and MADDY squashed up in an old-fashioned phone box, the rain still bucketing down. MADDY has nodded off for the moment, her head tipping over onto CREEK's chest. We sense CREEK slightly warming to this, as he looks down fondly... and he is just softly extending his arm round her shoulder when she opens one eye at him, pointedly. And he converts the movement into a stretching action. Another dismal pause.
MADDY: Starving now. Absolutely starving.
CREEK: [fishing into his pocket] I've got two Rolos. If you want them.
MADDY: No thank you!
CREEK shrugs, detaches them from the sticky paper and deposits them both in his mouth.
MADDY: [glaring in disbelief] You - bastard.
CREEK: What? You said you didn't w-- What!
Vindictively, MADDY turns to face the other way. CREEK glances at his watch, opens the door and strides off in the pouring rain along the cliff to retrieve the keys.
ARGH DAMMIT WHY WAS THIS OMITTED WHYYYYYYY.
Click here for "The Reconstituted Corpse"...