Hope some more of you out there feel like joining in for this one -- go on, it's fun! Anyway, being incredibly lazy, I'm cut and pasting info from the last review about what we're up to:
Right-o, so just to remind you all, I've randomly picked out an episode of T.Bag which is open for review -- I'm going to post my own critique of the episode, and all opinions, reviews and ratings are welcome from any members of the forum who wish to contribute. If you don't want to contribute a review, please feel free to add a rating out of five at the top of the page.
OK, so the randomiser's gone and picked out no 74, so hoorah! we have a Georgina Hale episode ... you'll know which one it is by the title of this thread, but I'll still post it in big yellow letters .
T.BAG'S CHRISTMAS TURKEY
As usual, I've posted the episode on photobucket, in five parts this time due to the longer-than-usual running length. I've had some trouble with Part 5, so that should follow in the next couple of days ... for the first four parts, click the links below:
(EDIT: The captures have now been removed from photobucket. If anyone would like the episode re-uploaded (for a limited time), PM me and I'll see what I can do )
The episode discussed in the previous review will be up for another two weeks -- if you feel like writing a review yourself, you can find the links and relevant information here:
At last a Georgina episode, and maybe an odd one to start with, I've rated this a four out of five, I originally wanted to rate this a three out of five but after watching the episode I've changed my mind. To see what exactly has changed my mind you'll have to read my review - do you agree with my review, what are your opinions of the episode, join in and let us all know! This review is longer than my previous reviews but there was just more to talk about.
T. Bag's Christmas Turkey - My Review
A Christmas special already, I didn’t expect we would get one of these for a while yet. I’ll start by saying that this is my least favourite of the four Christmas specials, it has some great moments but after the superb T. Bag’s Christmas Ding-Dong I do not think anything would have lived up to my expectations. Watching a Christmas special at the end of August is certainly odd but it may make me start my Christmas shopping early (there are only 115 days until Christmas), well here goes my review.
The plot soon starts with T-Shirt and T-Bag arriving at Bag Towers, the home of T-Bag’s Mother – Mumsie Bag. The casting of Peggy Mount as Mumsie Bag is inspired, following the casting of Glenda Jackson in Ding-Dong the year before the casting department had to have another big name for this Christmas special. With Peggy Mount the casting was perfect, she fits in to the role of Mumsie effortlessly and is soon delivering lines with T-Bag and the excellent Mother-Daughter relationship plays throughout the episode perfectly.
One of my favourite lines is near the start of the episode when T-Shirt is intrigued by the thought of meeting Mumsie Bag and T-Bag recalls how she felt living with Mumsie whilst growing up - ‘I felt like Pinocchio trapped in a lift with a woodpecker, peck, peck, peck’.
Special mention must be made for the size of the sets, the set of the castle is much grander than previous series, the forest with it’s backdrop of trees is also more believable as a forest (and not many T-Bag sets can say that). T-Bag remains in her Pearl dress for the last time and the episode is a fitting tribute to her most enduring dress (having been used in Pearls of Wisdom, Rings of Olympus and the previous Christmas special T. Bag’s Christmas Ding-Dong) with Mumsie mentioning ‘you’re still wearing that old thing are you, better get inside before the neighbours see you’.
Mumsie leaves soon after T-Bag and T-Shirt arrive, which T-Bag knew, and she sets the area as a Christmas Free Zone and the plot is set quickly but this changes as Mumsie comes back un-expectantly early and T-Bag has do un-do everything by bringing back all the Christmas decorations. Meanwhile T-Shirt, T-Bag and Mumsie all meet a beggar individually and only T-Shirt shows compassion by offering to help him, T-Bag and Mumsie cast him aside with again some very witty lines delivered with great disdain towards the beggar.
Mumsie also has an invitation, from the Good King Wenceslas, who will come to see her for Christmas. Mumsie needs to impress the King so decides to hire a circus as entertainment at T-Shirt’s suggestion after he had met the Peperoni’s earlier.
T-Bag, not pleased with her undoing, sets out to ruin Mumsie’s chances of impressing King Wenceslas. T-Bag pretends to be a clown and join the Peperoni’s circus and sabotage the show. T-Bag as Bango the clown (a play on words, which I did not notice at the time) introduces herself to the Peperoni’s with style and is in place as the Christmas circus begins.
I must mention the Peperoni’s played by Sebastian Abineri and Laurence Bouvard, the double act is very funny to watch alongside Georgina as T-Bag. On a side note Marguerita Peperoni is another play on words this time it’s two Pizza toppings (something else that has just occurred to me – never noticing at the time). Sebastian would later appear as a very different character of Brutus in Take Off With T-Bag, something else I never noticed at the time. Laurence Bouvard is not a very well know actress so I was surprised to see her name in the credits of different video games, when first noticing her name from Timesplitters 2 I instantly thought it’s her from T-Bag, she has provided voices for several video games but now does not do too much TV work meaning T-Bag was one of the first appearances she made on TV – and an excellent performance it was.
John Cater is back (this time playing the King) for the final time in T-Bag following appearances in Pearls of Wisdom (as Grimble) and Turn On To T-Bag (as Scrimp). He is again one of the T-Bag guest star regulars and puts in another stellar performance.
T-Bag’s plans to ruin every aspect of the circus spectacularly backfires and the audience of Mumsie Bag, T-Shirt and the King (alongside his two guards) laugh along thinking it is part of the show. My favourite is when T-Bag sets a mouse trap in a magician’s hat to ruin Marguerita’s magic trick but when everything goes smoothly and she pulls a bunny out of the hat, T-Bag then tries hitting the hat with the wand and reaches in and gets the mouse trap! T-Bag gets her comeuppance when Pepe is lifting up an anvil tied to a rope with only his teeth trick, Pepe drops the anvil and propels T-Bag out the window after she foolishly sits on a see-saw and the circus comes to a close. The King then changes costume and pulls a fake beard to his face, then Mumsie realises that he is the old beggar she met earlier. The King reminds her that Christmas is about peace and goodwill and summons her guards to take her to the forest. This a moment of reflection on what Christmas is actually about and fits within T-Bag wonderfully without preaching to the audience.
The ending is another classic moment, where Mumsie and T-Bag are outside and decide to pull a rather large Christmas cracker which of course explodes and produces the obligatory snowfall covering Mumsie and T-Bag in polystyrene snow! The snow adds to the charm of the episode immensely.
Watching the episode again, having not watched this episode too many times since 1991, shows more layers of depth to the episode than I first thought there was, all the play on words that are now apparent and the lines between Mumsie and T-Bag are true T-Bag classics. On repeat viewing I am starting to warm to this Christmas special more and more and I may have just changed my mind that this is not my least liked Christmas special.
To sum up again this is a not a turkey of an episode but a true Christmas Cracker (but still not as good as T. Bag’s Christmas Ding-Dong – more on that when Ding-Dong comes up for review).
At bloomin' last, here's my review - better late than never, as they say. It's a bit over-long, a bit rushed and I'm not terribly happy with it - but oh well, here goes ...
T.BAG'S CHRISTMAS TURKEY
T.Shirt is delighted when T.Bag decides to take him home to spend Christmas with her hated, cantankerous Mother. He soon discovers why: Mrs Bag is going away for Christmas and as soon as she’s out of the way, T.Bag wastes no time in declaring Bag Towers a ‘Christmas-free zone’. To T.Shirt’s relief, thanks to a fractured foot (the result of kicking a St Bernard), Mrs Bag soon returns; and with the prospect of Good King Wenceslas dropping in on Christmas Day, the place is soon as it was. Her pride dented, T.Bag decides to take revenge by sabotaging the Christmas circus her Mother has hired to entertain the King …
Compare T.Bag’s Christmas Turkey to any of the Elizabeth Estensen episodes and the differences are immediate and stark. That’s not to say there’s any dip in the quality of the show; far from it. This constant evolution and change over the years around a fairly strict format, stands as a testament to the series’ longevity.
This Christmas foray is an odd place to start with the Georgina Hale era, owing to its atypical nature. The structure of the series-proper for most of its run was so rigid, centring on the central quest, that it’s always struck me as an odd choice for regular Christmas outings. I guess it’s a good indicator of how popular the show was at the time.
For the two Estensen specials, the writers seem to be aiming for something similar to the main series; with the two Hale efforts, this is abandoned for stand-alone, one-off extravaganzas. This again exemplifies why this isn’t the perfect place to begin with Hale: her two specials have clearly been produced with bigger budgets, more (and bigger) sets, more (and more impressive) guest actors (in Turkey’s case, even extras!), even though the two series that followed them also showed marked improvements in these areas. It’s still being made in a studio, but heck, it’s a bigger studio! Even so, with all the changes that happened in the previous two series, T.Bag’s Christmas Turkey is packed full with the defining characteristics of the Hale era, falling as it does slap-bang in the middle.
Central to this is, of course, Hale herself. Gone is the hesitant, inconsistent performance of T.Bag and the Pearls of Wisdom, bolstered by ten episodes of pure Tabatha in Rings of Olympus. As OTT a character as she was, Elizabeth Estensen’s portrayal of Tallulah was a subtle mix of snooty petulance, stupidity and vulnerability. While as written, Tabatha isn’t a total departure from this, Hale’s rather unique oddball playing style gives us a very different take on the series. She’s rude, obnoxious, headstrong and bullish; a buffoon in a sumptuous red gown with a voice like fingers scraping down a blackboard and a flair for way-out surrealistic dialogue. I know there are a lot of fans out there who never took to either the new lead or the show’s new direction, but there is so much that is enjoyable, thrilling and just downright funny in these final forty-two episodes. Everything in the show adapted to suit the new leading lady and, in my opinion at least, it led to some very satisfying television.
While the T.Bag/T.Shirt relationship is still one of dominance and subservience, there is a very clear shift from the fractious Mother/son partnership that John Hasler shared with Elizabeth Estensen. There’s a feeling here, with an older, stroppier teenage T.Shirt, that he’s resigned to his fate as T.Bag’s constant companion and tea-caddy. They’re almost like an old married couple, throwing sarcastic barbs at each other and doing their best to wind each other up. In this episode we have such gems as T.Shirt commenting: ‘are you anything like your Mother, or isn’t she into biting the heads off live chickens?’
The writers seem to take to this element of the new order like nothing else and it becomes the series focal point, even more so than in the Estensen era; although in T.Bag’s Christmas Turkey, the Hale/Hasler pairing takes a back-seat to another double-act … and what a double-act! Casting comedy veteran Peggy Mount as T.Bag’s Mother was a master-stroke. I can’t imagine a more appropriate choice and, given her portrayal, you can well imagine this ghastly woman bringing up both Tallulah and Tabatha. While she’s slightly more likeable than her daughter, ‘Mumsie’ is definitely cut from the same cloth. Witness her sparring with the Tramp: ‘how about a nice punch?’ And even better, Mrs Bag proves more than a match for her daughter. It’s fitting that after all these years and all her bluster, the one person who really puts the fear of god into T.Bag is her Mother. The scenes between Hale and Mount are the highlight of the episode, and it’s delightful to see the haughty witch reduced to a quivering wreck by her Mother bellowing her name: ‘Tabatha!’
As is usual in the specials with no girl around, T.Shirt becomes the moral centre of the episode and it’s a role John Hasler adapts to pretty well; after all, T.Shirt is a character the audience is often invited to sympathise with due to his plight.
The script itself tells quite a simple story with T.Bag’s usual attempts to ruin Christmas for everyone around her, in particular her Mother. It’s coloured with the usual hallmarks of the Hale era: an increased reliance on slapstick and pratfall (especially T.Bag’s attempts, in the guise of Baggo the Clown, to sabotage the circus) and more suggestive and risqué humour. Hale, Mount and Hasler aside, the other guest performers are on good form too. T.Bag stalwart John Cater gives a dual performance as both the Tramp and Good King Wenceslas. For the first time he’s playing quite a benevolent character, but he puts in the usual reliable performance. Sebastian Abineri and Laurence Bouvard are also flawless as the Flying Peperonis. I especially like Pepe’s reaction to Baggo the Clown’s rather clichéd practical jokes: ‘sophisticated comedy: my kind of thing … subtle; very subtle.’
This episode marks the debut of designer Ian Russel and what a difference he makes. There’s still very much a sense that T.Bag world is an exaggerated, larger-than-life reality (completely studio-bound, I suppose it has to be), but Russel seems to be aiming for more realism than John Plant did. The forest set, for example: the 2D backdrops are now further in the background than ever before and in the foreground, we have actual three-dimensional trees. The snow on the ground is a bit fake, but there are thankfully few close-ups and it makes a very satisfying crunch as the actors walk around. Of course, not to do John Plant’s work down, the as-mentioned increased budget and facilities can’t be underestimated here. Just look at the scale of Bag Towers, a rich medieval-esque castle with period furnishings, tapestries and mock stone walls. It’s very similar to ‘Chateau Bag’ from Take off with T.Bag.
One of the biggest changes of the Hale era, other than Hale herself, was the departure of the original director, Leon Thau. Having banged on about Thau’s lack of visual flair in the previous reviews, it actually surprised me how much of a difference new director Glyn Edwards makes to the production. Gone is Thau’s rather pedestrian, static use of the camera; with Edwards we cut quickly between static shots and moving shots. Whereas before the movements of the camera seemed to dictate where the actors stood, here the camera seems to be constantly following the actors, who are constantly moving themselves. There are attempts at direction on different levels, quick/slow zoom shots, even high-angle crane shots. It’s no exaggeration to say that Edwards’ direction is as important to the storytelling here as the script is; and Pressman and Cathro’s potty scripts seem to compliment his work perfectly.
Again I think Thau’s influence on the series during its first six years can not be denied; and Edwards replaces a lot of what was familiar to the viewer. Music and sound effects, for example: the theme tune’s been replaced and all those very familiar, repetitive sounds of old are gone. While I have to admit I missed these at the time, looking back on T.Bag’s Christmas Turkey, Edwards’ use of stock music and effects is both more varied and more original. Here we have a selection of appropriately festive pieces which work to accentuate the tone of the script.
Special effects are kept to a minimum here; given the same time in the studio as it took to make a regular episode, it’s not surprising. While we have a few standard disappearances/reappearances, we also have more practical effects in the knock-about tradition. T.Bag being catapulted out of the window, for example, is very nicely done and very funny to watch; as is the explosion of the cracker during the wonderful coda scene between Mount and Hale.
With all this change around, it’s reassuring that Raymond Childe is still on board and with the setting working to his strengths, he provides some outstanding mock-period costumes. I particularly like Peggy Mount’s medieval get-up, which is not dissimilar (perhaps intentionally) to Georgina Hale’s regular outfit.
My verdict: cracking little story, wonderful cast, interesting direction, great design and every bit as special as it should be. Out of ten, I’d give it eight – so that’s a four out of five from me.
Last Edit: Sept 15, 2008 15:35:07 GMT by raggedbone
Well done on getting your review in so quickly -- I seem to get slower as we go on ... and resisting the temptation to read it for over two weeks has been a chore!
Very interesting to read that you actually changed your mind about this episode while you were reviewing it - there are certain episodes (very few, unsurprisingly) where I'm hoping the same thing will happen for me! Just to be controversial, I actually prefer Turkey over Ding-Dong, though it's a very close-run thing and I think it's due to the Hale/Mount double-act - it works so well. Even so, we seem to have agreed on a few things again as well - I really like the end-scene as well.
Do you know I'd totally failed to note another pun in the names of the guest characters - Marghurita Peperoni indeed!! I didn't know Laurence Bouvard was now doing voice-over work for video games. A couple of years after Turkey, she appeared in the second story of The Tomorrow People's second series called 'Monsoon Man', also by Pressman and Cathro. She plays a rather feisty American girl called Lucy who gets herself kidnapped. Interestingly, Peggy Mount also makes a comedy guest appearance in this story as an elderly, difficult actress.
Look forward to reading your next ... though dreading writing mine a bit, for reasons I'll get to in my review .
And again, it would be lovely, brilliant and great if anyone else out there put forward a few opinions on this or any of the other episodes - doesn't have to be as long, rambling (and incoherent!) as mine - even if you disagree with anything I or Jamie have said, let us know what you think .
Well done on the review Raggedbone, it's good to read other opinions about the episodes.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed watching through the episode, if I was ever given the choice to watch either Christmas Ding-Dong or Christmas Turkey I would still pick Ding-Dong every time. Ding-Dong just feels just like Christmas, everytime I watch it I regress back to 1990 and laugh and smile all throughout it. Christmas Turkey was a good follow-up Christmas special but for me it was never going to be up to the quality of Ding-Dong but I'll got into that more when Ding-Dong gets to be reviewed (you never know it may be sooner than we think).
Does anyone else want to join in and write a short (or long) review of the episode, it would be fantastic to hear from you!
Cheers Jamie ;-). I think that one was the hardest review so far ... though I haven't posted my Take Off 1 review yet, so I might change that opinion!
Like I say, there really isn't a lot in it - they're both all-stops-out extravaganzas with great guest casts, high(er) production values and filled with Christmas silliness. I just think Peggy Mount was so perfect as T.Bag's Mother. And trust me, I'll be just as willing to gush when Ding Dong comes round . Hmmm - I think T.Bag's Christmas Carol is the one that gives me that rosy nostalgic feel - it's the one I can remember watching so clearly, Boxing Day 1989 ...
Anyway, resisting (as always) reading your latest review while I'm still rushing to complete mine ... and you will never believe what the randomiser has picked out this time!
And yes, would be great to see some other opinions on this or any of the other episodes .
Okay here is my review but its not gonna be long like Jamie's and RB's but I'll do my best.
Right I loved how we finally got to meet another of T.Bag's family and we finally see where T.bag gets her personality from as both Tabatha and Mumsie ie Mrs Bag are almost spereated at birth
I liked this Christmas Special but like RB said you can see the difference in the Christmas Specials of both Tabatha and Talullah but they all hold a special place in a T.Bag fan's heart. T.Shirt is always a delight to see as he and T.bag are just so funny together they have that dymamic about them which makes you wonna watch them over and over again and not get enough of them
The seting was good as we saw something different in the T.Bag Series which is always wonderful to see and the charactors in this Christmas Special were just fantastic as was the ending with T.bag and Mumsie bonding before the cracker explodes.
All in all a great T.Bag Christmas Special so I'm giving it a 8 out of 10, I loved it!