Drummer, podcaster, and awesome guy Tony Thaxton joins Joseph to obsess on Jim Henson. Topics include the insanity of the Rainbow Connection, the annoyance of Miss Piggy, the metaphorical size of Mr. Henson’s balls, and much more.
Monthly Archives: September 2014
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of online reviews of TV shows. I like reviews. There are many awesome reviewers out there, but I’ve also read a lot of reviews that are very consternated because the show is not what they want it to be. I decided to take this a step further by forcing myself to review a show that never even existed. Enjoy!
Today I’ll be reviewing that classic BBC mystery show, The Vicar of Murder Village. As fans of the show know, it ran on the BBC from 1969 to 2002. It was broadcast in America on PBS for most of the 1980s and became a fan favorite for the kind of people who watch British murder mysteries at 3 pm on a Sunday afternoon.
This groundbreaking show about a nice lady investigating an endless serious of brutal yet quaint deaths just made its debut on Netflix so a whole new generation is learning that great catchphrase: “Tsk, tsk, don’t kill people.”
If you’re one of those weirdos who are so culturally challenged you’ve never even heard of The Vicar of Murder Village, the premise is pretty simple. The star of the show is Dame Margaret Heatherstone. She played the character of Heather Margaretstone; a feisty female Vicar who is appointed to a sleepy Yorkshire town called Murder Village.
It’s called Murder Village because a minimum of six people are murdered there every week and, of course, it’s up to our kind yet irreverent Vicar to figure out whodunit and still make it home in time to have a nice cup of tea and some mild sexual tension with her gardener, John Trowel. This is a very literal show.
I’ve been reviewing every single episode and today I’m tackling an episode called “Death Leaves A Stain Because It Doesn’t Put A Doily Under Its Tea Cup.”
That is the actual title.
It is the third episode of the twenty-seventh season and let me tell you it is a fucking stinker. This won’t even be a review, it’s going to be an execution so strap on your hate pants and buckle up, fuckos, because you are in for a kill ride.
I don’t even know what those words mean. Did I mention I’ve reviewed every single episode of this show up to this point?
Anyway, this episode was written by an absolute hack named Lawrence Thortonberry. Lawrence was a prolific BBC writer. He died just a few months after writing this episode, probably out of shame.
The characterization of the Vicar is inconsistent at best. He has her eating a chocolate biscuit BEFORE she solves the murder when every knows she ONLY eats a chocolate biscuit AFTER she solves the murder OR if she’s working extra hard to deny her desire to knock boots with John Trowel who isn’t even in this episode until Act Three and then he doesn’t even take his shirt off.
What bullshit! Screw you and every single one of your descendants, Lawrence Thortonberry!
To make matters worse, you have the Vicar’s friend, Constable Jenkins, remark on the fact that there’s been a lot of death lately in Murder Village.
That’s insane. INSANE!
The whole premise of the show is that no one in the town acknowledges the massive death rate of a place called Murder Village. The charm of this show is that it’s basically a village full of people who wouldn’t understand the concept of irony if you beat them over the head with a manual typewriter and then during the beating the typewriter spells out “mUrdEr!” (This actually did happen in Season Seven, Episode Twenty-Two AND NO ONE FUCKING COMMENTED ON IT!)
The point is: the good citizens of Murder Village have never even heard the word “meta” and yet you have Inspector Constable Dumb-ass practically bashing his giant forehead against the fourth wall!
If you’re not rolling in your grave, Lawrence Thortonberry, you should be. I’m tempted to have you exhumed so I can personally install your skeleton on a spit and make sure you are rolling over throughout eternity.
This episode is also jaw-droppingly derivative.
Here’s the plot: A jealous sheep farmer discovers his wife is cheating on him with the local cheesemaker and suffocates him by sticking a block of Wensleydale down his throat. The sheep farmer then goes insane and claims the sheep told him to do it.
HELLO? WHAT? ALL CAPS! RAGE! JESUS! WHAT?
This is the EXACT same plot as Season Fifteen’s masterful classic “Death Takes A Riding Lesson And Gets A Little Chafed” in which the jealous cheesemaker discovers his wife is cheating on him with the sheep farmer and chokes him to death with recently sheared wool. The cheesemaker then goes insane and claims the goats told him to do it.
I mean, what the actual ever living fuck, Lawrence Thortonberry? How could you do this to me? How could you not foresee that this quaint British murder mystery would eventually be streaming on Netflix? That your putrid shit fondue of an episode would be beamed through space to my laptop where I would write a review of it?
And to what end? I mean, why am I even writing this? What is the point of this critique? The episode can’t be changed. The show can’t be improved–it’s been off the air for over a decade. Everyone involved in its production is dead or trying to wipe the show from their IMDb page.
This was not a show that was meant to be reviewed. It’s like reviewing a light wind. It just passes by you. It’s a pleasant half hour of murder based treacle you were supposed to use to fill the time until your bladder could withstand another cup of tea.
It wasn’t meant for me. It wasn’t meant for some angry thirtysomething steeped in irony, student loans, and complex opinions about the shot composition of Reservoir Dogs. I’m offended by this show’s very existence!
And yet there are episodes that make me feel good. It takes me away from my problems and transports me to a lovely little village where all is right with the world because no death goes unpunished and even if it did it wouldn’t matter because all the characters are so emotionally repressed they can only express themselves through their biscuit choices.
And I like the show that way! But you had to fuck up even that small bit of bliss, didn’t you, Lawrence Thortonberry, you hack bastard? I hope you rot in hell with a constantly full bladder and never, ever have access to your preferred style of biscuit.
GOD, I JUST WANT TO KNOW WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE TO NOT HAVE AN OPINION ABOUT SOMETHING FOR FIVE FUCKING MINUTES! IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK? I AM OF THE OPINION THAT IT IS NOT!
In conclusion, I give this episode a B+.
Not the greatest episode, but it could be worse.
That’s it for this review. Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing another episode written by Lawrence Thortonberry. The review will be LONG so if you have kids get a fucking sitter before your start reading. I’ll see you tomorrow for a thoughtful analysis of “Death Fertilizes The Field Behind Mrs. Witherton’s Hydrangea Bush.”
Until then: “Tsk, tsk, don’t kill people.”
If you enjoyed this post FEEL FREE TO LEAVE AN EMOTIONALLY CONFLICTED REVIEW but more importantly, consider supporting me on Patreon. Sincere thanks for your time!
And for seven years of my life, I performed in an incredibly special show.
I’ve done a lot of different kinds of comedy performance.
I used to do a lot of sketch and improv comedy in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In particular, I did a monthly late night variety show called Look Ma, No Pants. It was filthy. Just filthy. The cast regularly polished off an entire jug of Carlo Rossi wine on stage during the show.
One epic show, I was supposed to jump across the stage and land on my knees, but we had spilled so much booze, I hydroplaned and almost slid off the stage. Later in the show, when we were doing some stage combat, one of the other highly trained professional actors accidentally punched me in the face and cut my lip open. Another sketch called for me to tear the white dress shirt I was wearing off my body, which I did. By the end of the show, I was topless, bleeding, and my pants were soaked through with wine.
My friend, who had just bought a theater in Wisconsin, looked at that and said, “Hey, I should ask him to do children’s theater.”
I needed the money so I said yes. I drove out to Wisconsin with some fellow Minneapolis actors and did a nice wholesome show about Johnny Appleseed.
I didn’t even play Johnny Appleseed. I played Johnny Appleseed’s silly friend, Bill. I was made to wear overalls and full body long underwear with the opening in the butt region so I could defecate in an historically accurate manner.
The show itself wasn’t exactly historically accurate.
All of the actors and the director had decided–without any actual discussion–that even though this play was set in 1850s Wisconsin, all the characters should have horrible, vaguely Southern accents.
So I said lines like, “Well, gosh n’ golly, Johnny! You sure done planted a lot of apples today! What you going to do with all of them apples, Johnny?”
None of us knew why we were talking like that. But we all kept doing it FOR SEVEN YEARS.
The cast used to have a joke that if you forgot your line you could just say the word “apple” or “Johnny” and you would probably be right. Because here was the plot:
Johnny Appleseed has a dream to walk the Midwest and share apples with everyone he meets. And he does. The end.
He thinks apples can solve everything. There was a scene where his silly friend Bill was attacked by a bee.
I would say, “AHHHH! It’s a bee! Get it off me!” and dance around like an idiot.
Johnny would say, “Calm down and have an apple.”
Nothing in this show was true. I described the show to my friends as a collection of apple-based lies.
Here’s the true story of Johnny Appleseed:
He did walk the land helping people plant apple trees. But the trees bore bitter, inedible apples that could only be used to make hard, alcoholic cider.
The only reason Johnny planted the trees was so he could give strangers pamphlets about his weird religion. He was a Swedeborgian. Johnny believed that if he never had sex on earth he would be gifted with as many wives as he wanted in heaven.
That didn’t make it into the show. Bill never got to say, “Hey kids, it’s time to talk about our favorite alcoholic religious zealot, Johnny Appleseed! How many wives you gonna have up there in heaven, Johnny?”
Also, did I mention the show was a musical?
In the course of this hour long show, we sang seven songs about apples. In Southern Wisconsin accents.
I can’t sing. I’ve starred in three musicals. Acting is a weird profession.
Here’s a sample of one of the lyrically complex numbers:
Pick an apple, put it in the basket
Pick an apple, put in the basket
Fill that basket – HIIIIIIIGH!
We’re gonna make an apple
We’re gonna make an apple
We’re gonna make an apple – PIIIIIIIIIE!
And of course these songs featured show stopping, Broadway level choreography. All performed at 9 AM by exhausted, hungover actors from a different city.
We would end the songs on our knees. Hands out! Panting! Our sweat reeking of alcohol, having given everything we had to selling our fifth song in a row about apples!
And the audience of 200 second graders would just stare at us as if to say, “What are you doing with your life?”
No applause or anything. And we would fight our way to our feet and continue with our conflict-free apple narrative.
The thing that really made me mad about the kids not applauding is we had told them to do it. At the top of every performance, we did a pre-show speech telling the children exactly how to react to the show.
First, we would do fun little warm-ups. We would ask them if they liked apples like it was a rock concert.
DO YOU LIKE APPLES???!!!???
And they would lose their little minds. Except that one poor kid who would shout out, “Actually, I’m allergic to apples!” No one listened or cared. Because it’s Fall in Wisconsin and you’re going to like apples or GTFO.
Then we’d ask the kids a bunch of leading questions like: What do you do when an actor says something funny?
And the kids would yell out answers like: REPEAT IT!
And what do you when the actors are on stage talking?
THINK ABOUT OTHER THINGS!
And when the actors are done singing and dancing, what do you do?
These are all real answers shouted at me by children.
After that, we would practice applauding and laughing and listening. Then, no matter how horribly the children had behaved during the warm-up, we always said, “Wow. I think this is the best audience we’ve ever had. Even the kid in the front row who’s flipping me off right now.”
We didn’t say the second sentence out loud.
But all of the absurdity, the lies, the warm-ups, and the hangovers were worth it because I discovered I loved performing for kids.
There were many parts of the show where Johnny Appleseed’s silly friend Bill would fall down or shake his butt at the audience. The children would die with laughter.
Kids are the most honest audience in the world. If they liked it, they laughed. If they were bored, they would let you know in some subtle way like screaming, “I’m bored!”
We would often get cards sent to the theater by kids. The children’s notes scrawled in big crayon letters said things like:
I liked it when Bill fell down and hurt himself!
I enjoyed some of the show!
I have a cat!
My mother is praying for you!
Again, all real examples.
Every day at the end of the show, we would stand outside and greet the kids as they left the theater and got on the bus. They would yell, “It’s Johnny Appleseed and that other guy!”
I would say goodbye to them in my dumb southern accent. “Bye! Bye! Thanks for coming!”
About 90% of the children had a picture of Spider-Man somewhere on their clothing so I would compliment them on their Spider-Man paraphernalia:
Bye! I like your spider-man t-shirt!
Bye! I like your spider-man shoes!
Bye! I like the spider-man stickers on your cast!
And then one day, I was enjoying myself just a little too much.
A child walked by wearing a truly great Spider-Man watch. It was really cool. Not just “for a kid” cool. I wanted it for myself as a mature adult. It was dark red and the actual watch part was like a big spider and the hands of the watch were webbing and I lost myself in the moment and I said:
“WOW-EEE! THAT’S ONE [BLEEP] OF A SPIDER-MAN WATCH!”
But I didn’t say [BLEEP]. I looked around quickly. Luckily, no adults had heard me. But the kid did. He stopped in his tracks. He looked at his watch. He stared up at me.
He looked deep into my eyes and said, “I like it when you fall down.”
I know he meant my literal, physical falling down in the show, but it felt like he was saying, “I know something’s gone wrong in your life that you’re standing on a public sidewalk wearing long johns with a hole in the butt, speaking in a Southern accent, swearing at children about their Spider-Man watches, but you know what? It’s okay, because you made me laugh when you fell down. So maybe it was worth it.”
And maybe it was.
Maybe it [BLEEPING] was.
If you enjoyed this please APPLAUD, DAMMIT and consider backing me on Patreon. Thanks!
BAM! BIFF! CHAT! Special guests comic book artist Christopher Jones (Young Justice, Parallel Man) and cartoonist/game designer/human Kickstarter stretch goal John Kovalic (Dork Tower, Apples to Apples) join Joseph for a thrilling discussion of all things superheroes and a surprising amount of Bill Cosby impressions. Recorded live at the wonderful Geek.Kon convention in Madison, Wisconsin.
For more than a year I’ve been doing a series of daily tweets. First tacos, then monkeys, then daily affirmations, then daily etiquette tips, then incorrect quotes, then fake TV shows, horoscopes, horror, writing tips, holiday tweets, resolution tweets, Hey Girl tweets, Urban Myth tweets, pastry tweets, boring tweets, social media tweets, incorrect facts, and now slogans. Enjoy!
You can also follow me on Twitter to enjoy September’s series of Conspiracy tweets!
Day One – Beer! It’s autocorrect for your mouth!
Day Two – Kale. You can’t fucking escape it.
Day Three – Brunch! It makes your day-drinking socially acceptable!
Day Four – Nostalgia! If things seemed simpler when you were a kid, it’s because you were a kid.
Day Five – Cilantro. It’s what’s stuck between your teeth.
Day Six – Books. Because you have to look at something while Netflix is buffering.
Day Seven – Time Warner Cable. It works sometimes.
Day Eight – Futons! The furniture of visiting in-laws and sad breakups. What went wrong for YOU to be on a futon?
Day Nine – Existential Dread. You could try to get rid of it, but what’s the point?
Day Ten – Mimosas. The drink that says, “Hey, Sunday. Fuck you.”
Day Eleven – Facebook. It’s a great place to complain to your friends about Facebook.
Day Twelve – Cartoon Bears. Without them we would have no knowledge of forest fires or toilet paper.
Day Thirteen – Student loans. The herpes of higher education. Once you get them, you’ll always have them.
Day Fourteen – Autocorrect. Making your communists pervert every shingle tampon since 2007.
Day Fifteen – Low-Fat Twinkies. When you want to eat a lie.
Day Sixteen – Unicorns. Making horses feel shitty and inadequate since 1872.
Day Seventeen – Interrobangs. The sexiest punctuation mark in the world?!
Day Eighteen – Water. I bet you can’t waste just some.
Day Nineteen – Cats. Not giving a shit since 8000 BC.
Day Twenty – An Extra Space After A Period. A great way for humans to fight over literally nothing.
Day Twenty-One – Pedants. Their very easy too annoy.
Day Twenty-Two – Hotel Coffee. Our unique blend of dirt and hate makes all of our guests feel like they’ve been impregnated by a demon!
Day Twenty-Three – Emails. They’re like texts you don’t have to answer.
Day Twenty-Four – Mullets. Business in the front, cry for help in the back.
Day Twenty-Five – Paranoia. It’s always right behind you.
Day Twenty-Six – Hyperbole. It is literally everywhere and it’s made of giant shark-bats.
Day Twenty-Seven – Comedy Podcasts. Without them, we would have no knowledge of stamps.com.
Day Twenty-Eight – Your Own Private Thoughts. They’re like a twitter feed you can’t unfollow.
Day Twenty-Nine – Time. It’s a predator stalking us all.
Day Thirty – ProcrastiHaters. They’re gonna hate eventually.
Day Thirty-One – Guilt. If you don’t have some, you should be ashamed.
Yours in Marketing,
If you enjoy my work, you can check out all the comedy words and things I’m making via Patreon.