Series 2, episode 2 - "Time Waits for Norman"
This is one of my favourite episode titles, though the episode itself doesn't rank highly in my personal list of favourites. It's still a brilliant episode, just sparse on shippiness - it involves neither a locked room nor a murder, though it does include one of Renwick's less-than-subtle sight gags... I only have seven screencaps for this episode, which is probably just as well because the next one has 25. (Our hiatus actually couldn't have come at a worse time, episode-wise - I've been sitting on lots of Thoughts in readiness for "The Scented Room" so hopefully they won't fall out of my head!)
So: Maddy is visiting Antonia Stangerson. JonathanCreek.Net informs me that Antonia is her publisher and Barry Opper is her agent; I always assumed Barry was the publisher and Antonia was just someone they collaborated with for the book covers (indeed, that seems her primary function in the episode). Not sure who is right but I'm fairly sure the publishing company is called "Opper and [Someone]". Anyway, that's a minor point (we may never know); Antonia is one of the key players of this episode. Antonia collects clocks, which is rather unfortunate considering her husband, the eponymous Norman, is tempraphobic - he has a fear of time passing and thus his life slowly ebbing away.
This episode contains a really interesting bit of brain-melting meta, in that Antonia shows Maddy some mock-ups for the book cover (both predicably awful and hilarious), assuming that Jonathan Creek is just a "narrative conceit for storytelling purposes". Upon finding out he's a real person (and yes, he does actually live in a windmill) she states that he has become somehow less believable for actually existing. When you consider that actually Jonathan Creek IS a narrative conceit for storytelling purposes (i.e. the show itself), your brain starts to hurt.
Meanwhile, Jonathan is with a VAT inspector (Rebecca), going over his receipts. Apparently he keeps his tax returns in a magic briefcase, which is obviously the very best kind of security system one could have. ;)
In the car on the way home, Maddy and Barry have a conversation about her relationship (or whatever-it-is) with Jonathan, wherein she bemoans the fact that they're not officially 'together' but she still doesn't feel single, and that they're actively abstaining from hooking up with other people - which isn't fair on Jonathan, she says. It then - of course - transpires that Jonathan has fallen into bed with the VAT inspector. So, not abstaining that well, then? Cue also a particularly unsubtle sight gag - she's actually bald.
Back in the Stangerson household, Antonia makes the rookie mistake of chopping a chilli and then rubbing her eyes (ouch!), only for a strange man to approach the house. Norman returns home to find Antonia apparently crying and said mysterious man in his living room - the man transpires to be Lewis (with a somewhat misplaced Birmingham accent, apparently), who works in a fast-food restaurant and is returning the wallet Norman apparently left there yesterday, after spilling coffee on his foot - even though Norman is adamant he wasn't there, and the American company for whom he works confirm he was in Manhattan at the material time. Curious. Later, Antonia notices a scald mark on Norman's foot, which he blames on a too-hot shower at the hotel.
The next day all of this is recounted to Maddy, who goes snooping around the house for clues and accidentally walks in on Norman in the bath - he does not seem remotely surprised or shocked by this turn of events, merely peering around his newspaper and explaining again that Lewis must be mistaken. Heh. Later on she goes through the wallet and finds an old business card from when Norman worked with Mel Porthropp, and a piece of paper containing some apparently random words.
Obviously, Maddy shows the paper to Jonathan, who is equally as stumped. At her flat, he recounts his experience with the VAT inspector, naively expecting some kind of sympathy, though obviously Maddy is only capable of displaying her usual territorial jealousy. (Also quite interesting: in the car beforehand she pronounces "migraine" as "mee-graine", which is something my grandmother does - one of those things I thought was limited to Birmingham / my family.) Jonathan does make it quite clear that he's trying to find a nice way to dump the girl, because now she thinks they're an item, and describes is as one of those "irresistible moments". So, obviously he is entirely capable of impulsive gestures, just not where Maddy is concerned! Although given her usual volatility, it's not hard to figure out why...
They arrange to meet at the branch of Wimpy (LOL - if that doesn't date the show, I don't know what does!) at 8.00am. Maddy is late, of course, and we have the following absolutely brilliant exchange of snark:-
Jonathan: Twenty past ten! Thanks!
Maddy: It's a bad time of the month.
Jonathan: You said that thirteen days ago.
Maddy: Yes, all right, then: I overslept. Trust you to keep count.
Actual LOL. WTF Jonathan? Why are you counting?! I just... what? :D
Anyway, inside the Wimpy they track down Lewis, who doesn't want to talk; Maddy tailgates him into the gents' toilets, whereupon Sandy Johnson (the director) reappears as a random extra again. Jonathan interrogates the two serving wenches behind the counter, who correctly identify Norman Stangerson from the picture Jonathan shows them - which is actually of Newt Gingrich, speaker in the House of Representatives. (I'm pretty sure that would be a suitably aging element if I knew anything about it.) His point being, of course, that they're unreliable witnesses and it could have been anyone that Lewis saw - though there is also the possibility that someone paid him to keep quiet.
I like the fact that PowerDVD felt the need to put borders around these for me...
Across the street they espy a homeless man and buy him some meths in return for information. He correctly identifies Norman and advises them that someone from an estate agent had been taking photographs of the building next door at the same time Norman was seen in the Wimpy. Later at Antonia's, they are in possession of the photographs and Norman is indeed seen leaving the Wimpy. Norman still denies he was there and thinks someone is messing with him; Antonia simply doesn't know what to believe any more.
Later that night Maddy rings Jonathan, who is trying to figure out what the words on the slip of paper mean... Whilst on the phone she's banging around the kitchen making dinner because she's got "someone coming round" - at one point Jonathan winces when she puts the pan down. It reminds me a little of that early scene where she (unseen / unheard by the viewers) asks him what he's cooking on the phone. Anyway, apparently she's rung around in New York with Norman's company and has come to the conclusion that the whole thing's a wind-up and is going to drop it; Jonathan says that's a wise decision and hangs up. Then she immediately rings him back and accuses him of being condescending, demanding he tell her what he's thinking. The lack of communication continues. Anyway, Jonathan has a theory that Norman was plotting to kill his wife but his alibi was compromised by being seen in England when he was supposed to be in America (assuming he managed to pull off some nifty trick with the time difference.)
Another of those little glimpses into Jonathan's world...
Later that night she rings him again, getting him out of bed, and flirts vocally and unsubtly with her dinner guest in an effort to make Jonathan jealous. It transpires she's actually playing chess; Jonathan twigs immediately and advises her to concede the game. (I can only imagine the hilarity if they were to play chess against each other!) Ruse foiled, Maddy says that they have another lead to chase up on - namely Norman's old business partner, Mel Porthropp.
Next morning, that's where they go. Spotting a man doing gardening outside, Maddy asks if he knows where Mr Porthropp lives, and he transpires to be the man in question - Maddy then shoves Jonathan out of sight and in the direction of the house so he can snoop about inside. Inside the house he has a rather unfortunate encounter with a small, angry dog (where once again he proves the point about dog's mess being more slippery than a banana skin, and we discover that they should probably have cut away from the stuntman a bit sooner than they did...) It then transpires not to be Mr Porthropp's house but that of a little old lady - he's just doing the hedge as a favour!
In the car later Jonathan is nursing a bleeding wrist and worrying about rabies when he gets a phonecall from Rebecca. Maddy offers to dump her for him (heh) but he ends up agreeing to visit her parents instead. At Rebecca's parents' house she is showing him pictures of the various cows she helped to deliver whilst they await her parents, and we're given a very obvious date placeholder of 5th July - Rebecca's parents' anniversary, the day after Independence Day and thus the way her father remembers the date. A penny drops.
At Maddy's, Jonathan explains that the cryptic message on the slip of paper is actually a mnemonic for a telephone number, written phonetically.
She's just about to ring it when she gets a call from Antonia, hysterically advising her that Norman is dead. However, when they visit Antonia's house Norman miraculously appears, very much alive...
The reveal on this one is genius - despite the actual episode not being a favourite, it is one of my favourite solutions. :)
The J/M scene at the end of the episode is amusing, if a little frustrating. Maddy asks Jonathan if he saw Kojak the other night and he snaps at her: "I said I'd end it, and I ended it." The situation with Rebecca has reached an end point by virtue of the fact that he managed to upset her and her parents and was forcibly ejected from the premises. So that's that. Maddy innocently explains that she was referring to the television show - yeah, right. (Also, there's a bit I really like where he's trying to find room on top of a pile of washing up in the sink to put down his plate and just sort of... hesitates, despairingly. :D)
Given that there are pans in the sink and an open bottle of wine knocking about, I will assume this is another adventure in Maddy's cooking, even though at the point we join the scene she's typing something up for the book. Anyway, then he spots the mock-up for the book cover (with their heads photoshopped - hilariously badly - onto completely inappropriate bodies). Maddy lies and says she hasn't approved it, but then he finds the letter thanking her for the approval. (In later episodes the book cover is X-Files-style green with their faces on the back, so we can only hope she changed her mind.) He does have a point though: where did she get the photograph from? We've seen her half-inch stuff before so it's not a massive leap of faith to imagine she either coerced it out of Adam or simply nicked it from the windmill...
Interestingly, it has taken Maddy this long to admit / work out that they're "a team". In the previous episode we saw her ring him up to discuss the Emma Lazarus case, vastly different to all the scenarios in series 1 where they would fall into the mysteries in the course of doing other things (with the exception of "Jack in the Box" anyway). This episode is the same - the mystery comes about because of Maddy's association with the Stangersons and Jonathan only gets involved later on when she gets stuck. The professional partnership comes secondary to their personal relationship - though I suspect that after "House of Monkeys" there is a lot of unseen awkwardness resulting out of Ingrid's meddling. I can't imagine they would slip so easily back into the burgeoning friendship (or potentially more) after the incident at Alsager House. I've always said that series 2 is quite interesting because they're no longer on a tentative footing of trying to work each other out, because there are Actual Emotions involved and a Tangible Something which they're both trying to avoid...
Anyway, at this point it's all moot - she reminds Jonathan he's missed his last train, implying heavily that he might have to stay the night, only to hand him his coat and advise him of the six hour wait at the station.
"Isn't that what they say, Jonathan? Time flies?
GRRR. Oh well: next week they make some progress, so all is not lost. Let's just call this a blip and move on. :P
Right, thankfully the self-imposed hiatus means I can catch up on my screencapping, so I'll toddle off and do the rest of series 2 now...
Click here for "The Scented Room"...