You, Me and the Apocalypse: 24 Hours to Go – And Now a Word From Our Sponsor (Review)

You Me and the Apocalypse is a black comedy. Up to this point the one-off series (in the UK at any rate) has focussed on the comedy with the darker elements either glossed over or tinged with humor. In 24 Hours to Go It is as though the show is taking a break from the humor and allowing a word from the sponsor; death.

 You, Me and the Apocalypse - Season 1

You Me and the Apocalypse is a black comedy. Up to this point the one-off series (in the UK at any rate) has focussed on the comedy with the darker elements either glossed over or tinged with humor. In 24 Hours to Go It is as though the show is taking a break from the humor and allowing a word from the sponsor; death.

Overall the episode was fairly grim with a look at how the world would react at the apocalypse.  Jude’s murder, obviously done by Father Christophe at the orders of the Cardinal, is called a suicide and the clergy cannot wait to put him in the ground at Rome. Celine takes the body back to Slough so Jude can be buried near his family.

Sutton learns of Jamie and Ariel blackmails his grandmother. Everyone begins the episode in celebration believing that the Saviour program worked.  General Gaines shoots the president the moment they arrive at the Genesis bunker and allows the poppet the US leader  brought in place of the first lady to escape.

Rhonda has been sentenced to death and amazingly, Leanne (Megan Mullally) is brought in and placed in the cell next to the librarian. The white supremacist provides the comedic highlight of this more somber episode as the guards have her cuffed up like Hannibal Lector.  (She later wolfs down her last meal telling the guard that she is going to “poop like you’ve never seen” when she dies.) 

General Gaines tells the world that Saviour failed and that he will die with them.

Celebrations turn to hysteria and panic, except in the Slough pub where Jude’s wake is held. This is England and the group decide to have a knees-up to see out the end of the world. Celine goes along with this.

Later, after imbibing too many shots, Celine heads to the loo (restroom) to throw up. There she sees God (June Whitfield)  who tells her that Jude is in heaven and that he says hello. God also reveals that she still needs Celine and that she is:

“part of my plan. Always have been and always will be.”

Sidenote: It is fitting that June Whitfield was chosen to be God, the woman is an institution in England.  June has been a household name since 1953, where she became known for working on radio.  American audiences may not “get it” but this reviewer was excited to see the performer and (to be honest) June’s portrayal brought a  little tear.

Ariel kidnaps Jamie right after he meets Sutton (Diana Rigg) and gets the invite to her “family” bunker.  The evil twin puts Jamie in his bank vault and then impersonates his good twin to take Layla and Frankie to the bunker and leave Jamie to die.

Jamie’s mum (played so wonderfully by another English treasure Pauline Quirke) is completely fooled by Ariel, as is Dave (her new fiancee) and all three indulge in a group hug while Ariel cringes.

Spike shames Scotty and Gaines into rescuing Rhonda.  Gaines bullies his way onto the military base where she is being held.  The general provides another comic moment when he threatens to go Mount Vesuvius all over a prison guard:

“Is that what you want? You want me to erupt and spray my hold molten lava upon you? Is that what you really want? To be my Pompeii?”

(Easily the most sexual threat in the history of television.)

He succeeds in getting Scotty’s sister out but she then demands the release of Leanne. The guard gets suspicious and pulls his gun, Scotty leaps in front of his spouse and is shot. Gaines kills the guard and Leanne gets out.

This leads to a running gun battle between the remaining military and the rescue team, which now has a wounded Scott,   along with Rhonda and Leanne. Rhonda’s friend is  pretty formidable taking out soldiers while still cuffed and she is last seen disappearing around a corner in her Hannibal Lector chains.

Celine goes back to the church and is once more Sister Celine. She tells Jude that soon she will be with him.

You, Me and the Apocalypse has saved its darker moments for near the end. This penultimate episode was less about the laughs, although the black humor is still there, and more about bringing everyone together for the end.

You, Me and the Apocalypse - Season 1
Layla and Jamie

The death of Jude is still a shocker and so too is the possible death of Jamie in that bank vault. Although it appears that Jamie will survive and it is him doing the narration at the start of each episode.

We know that he makes it out of the vault because of his attire while watching the end of the world “on telly.” Pink shorts and a blue vest (t-shirt) is what our narrator is wearing, the same clothes Jamie  had on in the vault.

The last episode will show who made it to the bunker and who did not. There have been teasing little glimpses through out the series. We’ve seen Rhonda, Frankie and Gaines as well as Jamie, but there are still others who have not been seen.

You, Me and the Apocalypse suffered from a loss of viewers in the UK where it originally aired and one wonders it that was down to Jude Laws’ character being killed off.  It could well be that the the finale will carry on with the grim tone and lose most of its comic flavor which could well be the real reason the show was not brought back.

The season finale airs next Thursday on NBC.

 

You, Me and the Apocalypse: Episode 6 Bruce Willis and Diana Rigg (Review)

Episode six of You, Me and the Apocalypse; Home Sweet Home, finally brings that long awaited Bruce Willis reference (Armageddon anyone?) and finally Dame Diana Rigg appears; not hidden behind an oxygen mask either.

 You, Me and the Apocalypse - Season 1

Episode six of You, Me and the Apocalypse; Home Sweet Home, finally brings that long awaited Bruce Willis reference (Armageddon anyone?) and finally Dame Diana Rigg appears; not hidden behind an oxygen mask either. In the intro, one question is answered, the voice over and the twin in the show’s opening could have been Ariel or Jamie, this episode makes it clear that it is Jamie.

The plot thickens as does the amount of familial connections in this “end of the world” scenario.  In fact, all the players appear to be related to such an extent that it feels like a “knee bone connected to the shinbone” type scenario.  Ignoring the main storyline, for just a moment, lets us look at who is related to who.

Father Jude is Jamie and Ariel’s father, literally, and Sutton (the crazy lady that Jamie refers to in the intro) is Grandma to the twins.  The family ties do not stop there, Scotty McNeil is Ariel’s Uncle. (This is revealed in Sutton’s private Slough bunker, just prior to Sutton starting to have Ariel put down, aka kill him, due to his having impure blood.)

This means that Father Jude, Rhonda, Scotty, Ariel, Jamie and Frankie (Jamie’s daughter) are all related, and…It seems that there may be another “love-child” of Jude’s running around. Ariel, in an attempt to keep from getting that deadly injection, reveals that there may well be one more addition to the family, apart from the “pure-bloodbank” great-grandchild.

This oh so English comedy is twisting and turning in all the right places. Apart from all the  players being  related as a major plot point the series also has the youngest “Sutton” being the “messiah” (maybe). This young girl; Frankie, is  the one that Great Grandma wants as her personal blood bank.

You, Me and the Apocalypse - Season 1
Dame Diana Rigg as Sutton, aka Crazy lady, aka Grandma

Now before going any further some translation may be in order for those who live this side of the big pond:

Muppet: Stupid or incapable person.

Prat: Prick.

Finger: Cadbury finger biscuit (cookie).

Fish fingers: Fish sticks.

These words are used by Jamie’s adoptive mum, played brilliantly by Pauline Quirk, and while these terms and items  are well known in the UK, they may confuse the American audience.

Now the Storyline:

This week in You, Me and the Apocalypse: Mary meets Paula and is then crushed to death by a load of bricks. Jude and Celine head to Slough, in time for Mary’s funeral, and Jamie learns that the Father is his father. Ariel meets the madly eccentric, and apparent very rich, Sutton who needs him for his blood.

Rhonda heads home only to be turned into the police by her neighbors and she runs to the high school library.  Spike chews out his uncle Scotty for not helping and the boy then meets his mother at the library.  The Arkansas FBI agent arrives with the local police and Scotty saves the day.

Jude, Celine, Jamie and Paula,  as well as Dave, all have some tea and biscuits while Jude reveals the backstory of Jamie and Ariel’s mother. The bank manager does not react well and storms out of the “getting to know you” party. He heads to the experimental drug trial offices to volunteer.

Scotty takes Rhonda and Spike to a lake house and the general stops by and informs his boyfriend that he has to separate himself from the situation. As Scotty’s fella goes to leave, McNeil cries out, “But I love you.” General Gaines replies, “And I love you, but this is bigger than all that.”

At the drug trial office, Jamie is saved from taking the drug when Paula, Dave, Jude and Celine arrive. As Paula and Dave take on the security guards, Jude and Celine tell Jamie he has a daughter.

While Jamie stands stunned, it takes Paula shouting at him to get him moving. He decides to go find his daughter.

Standout Moments:

The graveyard scene; the casket in a  pot, Jude and Celine as they walk toward the grave and Paula’s reaction to the Father.

You, Me and the Apocalypse - Season 1
Mary, second before being squashed flat..

Mary getting hit by the bricks that Jamie walked under earlier.

Paula telling off Jamie at the end.

Ariel selling out his niece so Sutton won’t kill him.

Diana Rigg full stop.

The Bruce Willis reference at the beginning.

Final Verdict:

While not as hysterically funny as the previous episodes, the segment was more expositional than anything else, Home Sweet Home still amused and entertained. It also left the mystery of who Jude’s other child is as a carrot for the viewer. The implication seemed to be that it was Layla (Hawkwind) but that would be incorrect since it is only an assumption that Frankie is her daughter.

Whoa.

That seems to be a bit of a plot-hole, but as interconnected as all these various plot threads are, this seems unlikely.

You, Me and the Apocalypse airs Thursdays on NBC.  Tune in and bliss out at this brilliant British comedy, adjusted just a little for the American audience. If there are any terms that confuse, do drop a query in the comments…

You, Me and the Apocalypse: Right in the Nuts – Schrödinger’s Cat (Review)

Before doing a quick rundown of what has transpired in this episode of You, Me and the Apocalypse: Right in the Nuts now may be a good time to mention Schrödinger’s cat.

 You, Me and the Apocalypse - Season 1

Before doing a quick rundown of what has transpired in this episode of You, Me and the Apocalypse: Right in the Nuts now may be a good time to mention Schrödinger’s cat. Scotty brings up the feline during the tense time that he and the general discuss the fate of Ariel (The White Horse) who is locked up in the boot (trunk) of a car downstairs.

It is interesting that the physicist feline is mentioned. Sure it is a clever way to reference the events that are transpiring in this particular scenario. The unconscious cyber terrorist lay in the back of the car while upstairs Scotty and the general  discuss his fate, Scotty wracked with guilt:

Scotty: “I mean, the white horse could be dead out there. It’s like Schrödinger’s cat with a car and a cyber terrorist. He’s both dead and undead.”

General Arnold: “Scotty…”

Scotty: “I’m a murderer and not a murderer, simultaneously…”

General Arnold: “Scotty!”

The whole theory of Schrödinger’s cat deals with a cat, a box, geiger counter, radioactive material, poison and a hammer. In a nutshell, there is a chance that inside this box, the cat will be poisoned if the radioactive stuff is detected by the geiger counter causing the hammer to release the poison and kill the cat.  The premise is that until one opens the box to see, the cat is both dead and not dead.

This theorem is a “thought” experiment in Quantum Theory looking at the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. Schrödinger posited that the Interpretation was incorrect with his own feline question and the thing has caught the imagination of creative types since its introduction back in 1935.

Rather interestingly, I was positive that Scotty mentioning the theory in episode five of You, Me and the Apocalypse, was actually the second time it had been mentioned in the series.  So convinced, in fact, that this entire review was going to be about the theory, as seen through the eyes of a physicist  ignoramus (with an imagination) but upon checking, it appears that Scotty McNeill is the only one who mentions it.

Regardless of whether the damned cat was mentioned once or twice; it does evoke a particular favorite plot point or device, if you will, of this reviewer.

Duality.

All of You, Me and the Apocalypse can be seen as a myriad of dual lives, paths, and parallel journeys. Jamie and Ariel, each a different side of the same coin are a perfect example. Although at the core, Jamie is Apollonian and Ariel distinctly Dystopian.

In episode five, Right in the Nuts, it is revealed that Mary, the mother of the twins, left Jamie in a church car park (parking lot)  because a voice told her that he was “God’s.” Indeed Jamie is the “good one” and Ariel is the evil (cyber terrorist and murderer) one.  As identical twins, these two almost embody Schrödinger’s cat.

This could all be a bit of twaddle but each “team,” as it were, is made up of disparate members; Celine, as the good sister and Jude as the almost fallen priest,  Rhonda as the “good wife and mother” and Leanne as the darker version of same.

The series is a black comedy with a cast  that all evoke extreme images of characters and in many cases polar opposites of one another. Rhonda as the mother librarian who wants nothing more than cold chocolate milkshake, compared to Leanne’s steak and sex wish for example, seems too good to be true. Father Jude, however, despite his almost caricature-like posturing, feels amazingly real. Each of these team members are miles apart, on the surface, from each other.

Of course both the characters owe much to Jenna Fisher and Rob Lowe, just as Sister Celine would not be the same if portrayed by anyone other than Gaia Scodellaro. Or,  for that matter, Megan Mullally as Leanne.

It does feel like You, Me and the Apocalypse is pursuing much more than a possible ecclesiastical storyline, where there really is a “messiah” somewhere and that his name may just be Jamie, although the introduction of his daughter Frankie (Grace Taylor) sort of negates that possibility, despite what mother Mary was “told.”

All of these characters appear to be interlinked, as pointed out when Sutton (Diana Rigg) ordered blood samples taken from the players, including Jude. So while the “religiosity” of the show seems apparent, it is also about parallel paths and outcomes which can be seen as a connection to Schrödinger’s cat above and beyond the Scotty MacNeal reference.

Or not.

You, Me and the Apocalypse - Season 1

Now, as promised earlier, the mini-recap of events. Leanne (Meagan Mullally) and Rhonda finally reach the supremacist’s Tennessee home only to have the librarian taken hostage for the reward.  Later, Leanne lets her friend go with money, food and a car after slipping a tranquilizing drug in her family’s meatloaf.

Jamie, Dave and Mary get to Ariel’s house. Mary tells why she gave Jamie up and he learns that Ariel was married to Layla, aka, “Hawkwind”  before she met him. Shortly after realizing that his whole life has been a lie, Dave causes Ariel’s house to explode.

Father Jude and Sister Celine investigate the latest messiah and we learn much of Celine’s backstory and that this latest savior is not what people think she is.

General Arnold and Scotty save Spike and capture Ariel. Unfortunately Sutton’s minions free the cyber terrorist.

In terms of dialogue, there were several standout moments.

Dave’s “Jamie, your vagina mum is amazing.”

Jamie’s  “God doesn’t speak to people outside of Charlton Heston films…” and  “A little bit really mad right now.”

And lastly, the minion reporting, obviously to Sutton about Ariel, General Arnold, Spike and Scotty:

 “Sodding codenames, no bothers to learn them apart from us…”

You, Me and the Apocalypse - Season 1
Megan Mullally as Leanne, rocking it…

There are five more episodes of You, Me and the Apocalypse. The series airs Thursdays on NBC. Tune in and enjoy the mayhem and blackly comic events.

Patrick Macnee Dead at 93: So Long John Steed

John Steed from The Avengers
As a kid I adored The Avengers. John Steed, the man who carried an umbrella instead of a gun and managed to have the world’s most beautiful women as partners in the world of off the wall espionage was a childhood hero. While my crush may have been Diana Riggs as Miss Emma Peel, the chap I aspired to be was Macnee’s Steed and it hurts to say so long to John Steed and Patrick Macnee who died Thursday at 93.

161 episodes of a series that featured Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg and Linda Thorson as the other half of a team that was years ahead of the rest of the world in showing that feminism could work. Although poor Thorson was never in the same league as the first two female stars of the show by the time she showed up, as the actress put it herself, the producers did not really know what to do with her character.

The Avengers was a parody of spy movies like the James Bond franchise, and later the Harry Palmer “bargain basement” version of Bond, where Steed was not quite so glamorous, or as rough, as Sean Connery’s Bond. Steed was: Totally cool, a gentlemen, utterly unflappable, and braver than brave; going up against all sorts of baddies and rarely armed except for that umbrella.

Steed never carried a gun and his character was actually the “second banana” to Ian Hendry’s character (Dr. David Keel)in season one. By the time the series reached season two Keel was gone and Steed was not. Macnee was the quintessential Englishman from 1961 to 1969 and the show made stars of Patrick, Blackman and Riggs on both sides of the big pond. Macnee would go on to do The New Avengers but it never gelled with me the way the first series did, despite Joanna Lumley’s Purdey.

Macnee worked practically nonstop, even appearing in one of the Bond films, A View to a Kill with Sir Roger Moore, whom he had worked with on The Sea Wolves, as well as David Niven, and according to Sir Roger, he was under the impression that Patrick and he were related. Moore gave his old “relative” and colleague a sending off after news of his death was made public.

The actor was a prolific performer and played many different roles, most of whom were English although he did portray other nationalities. He was also very good at playing villains, in the 1988 horror/comedy Waxwork, and its sequel, Macnee was a treacherous old family friend and stinker who tries to kill the hero. He played the baddie many times in his long career and always quite convincingly.

But it is as John Steed that he will stay in my memory. He once revealed that the reason The Avengers worked so well was that he and Diana Rigg, a very serious actress with a background in Shakespeare who was also voted, somewhat ironically, the world’s sexist ever TV star by the American publication TV Guide, wrote their own dialogue as the show’s scripts were, he said, abysmal.

Arthritis slowed him down later and forced him to give up acting except for voice over work. Patrick Macnee died at his California home of natural causes and his son Rupert informed the patrickmacnee.com website that he was with family when he died.

So long Patrick Macnee, aka John Steed, the umbrella carrying English gentleman and “action man.”