Oh dear -- I've been getting a wee-bit behind with these over the last few weeks -- and to think I was complaining a few months ago because I didn't have a lot on!! Oh well -- in order to try and get these up to date over the next few weeks (mainly for my benefit!!), this next episode review is going to be up for nearly three weeks -- the next one will be posted on Friday January 2nd 2009.
And as it's the festive period (not to mention our tenth review), I'm doing something a bit different. Rather than whack the remaining 85 episodes of T.Bag into the old randomiser, I've put just three simple words - 'Cracker', 'Carol' and 'Ding-Dong' - representing the remaining three Christmas specials up for review ... and the winner is ...
T.BAG'S CHRISTMAS DING DONG
Thanks to Jamie for suggesting the idea . You can find low-res captures of the episode in five parts by following the links below:
It's been a while since I've reviewed an episode, this is mainly due to devoting my spare time to updates to both the High-T Website and the C.A.B. HQ Website but I hope to catch up on all the missed episodes over the coming weeks. Out of the three episodes I'm still to review I've picked this one to watch first seeing as it was Christmas time. Out of the three Christmas specials the randomiser could have picked it has selected one of my favourite episodes ever so this one has been a joy to re-watch and review.
I've had chance to watch through this episode from our random review list, I look forward to reading everyone's thoughts of the episode and you can read my review below:
T. Bag’s Christmas Ding-Dong – My Review
Now it’s finally Christmas (it’s seems such a long time ago when we last reviewed T. Bag’s Christmas Turkey) to get the chance to review a Christmas special at Christmas whilst feeling festive and maybe a bit too merry is a real treat and takes me back to my childhood in front of the TV on boxing day (after being fed up with my presents already) to watch T-Bag. To get to re-watch one of my favourite T-Bag episodes has been a very welcome treat for the holiday season. Just to warn you I’m likely to praise this episode beyond any other episode reviewed so far – so if you’ve not watched it yet, the episode is still available online to watch and review so seize your opportunity to watch one of the funniest episodes ever!
The episode starts with some very festive music, dispensing with the traditional T-Bag theme, and instantly you know that this episode is going to be something very special. Thomas is in the curiosity shop closing for the day, turning off the lights and all of a sudden a toy theatre lights up and piano music is heard. Thomas looks in and sees Pumpernickel playing the piano, he uses his magic and appears in the theatre, Pumpernickel continues to play but is startled to see someone else, he throws T-Shirt out into the street telling him that if he wants to see the opera he is to buy a ticket like everyone else. This is the only Christmas special to start from inside the curiosity shop and this gives this special some continuity with the previous and following series and I think this adds to the charm of the episode but as always we are quickly whisked away from the shop into the main story. The addition of this scene, which could have easily been omitted as it was in later series, makes this Christmas special a part of the overall series and is all the better for it.
Pumpernickel goes to see Maria, the star of the show, telling her that Archduke Fritz will adore her and they go to rehearse. Pumpernickel tells her that she is going to be a star and off they walk, then we see the villain of the episode (who we later find out to be Vanity Bag, a distant relation to Tabatha Bag) who says ‘that’s what you think, there’s only one star around here and that’s me’
T-Shirt is outside looking at the poster for the opera ‘The Enchanted Trombone’ and thinks that T-Bag would enjoy a night at the opera and he uses his magic to bring her into the street. T-Bag appears in the bath asking why T-Shirt brought her there as it’s freezing. T-Shirt tells her he will treat her to a night at the opera and T-Bag calls him an idiot. Then trumpet music begins to play to announce the arrival of Archduke Fritz. Pumpernickel rushes outside telling everyone to stand for the Archduke but on noticing T-Bag in the bath tells her to remain there. The Archduke arrives as Pumpernickel tries to cover T-Bag by holding out his jacket. As the archduke turns around we see the actor cast in the role and it’s none other than veteran T-Bag actor James Saxon, who plays the role effortlessly. He says that he hopes the heating is on inside as it is perishing and walks inside. Pumpernickel tells T-Bag to cover up telling her ‘Crying out loud, cover yourself up madam, this isn’t Paris you know’. Now when we focus on T-Bag most the bubble bath has gone and she has ‘comedy’ icicles on her face and feet, T-Shirt goes to get a towel from inside, closes the door and a snowfall lands around T-Bag, T-Shirt apologises as T-Bag despairs.
Back inside the theatre Maria is warming up her voice, Pumpernickel asks if the Duke is comfortable and he tells them to get on with it. He starts to play the piano but abruptly stops to introduce Maria Von Mortheim (a clever pun if ever there was one). Vanity swaps the bottled spray over and Maria takes sprays her throat before she goes on to sing. Pumpernickel starts to play the piano and Maria starts to sing but ends up coughing and spluttering. The Archduke is angry that she is the best he could find, summing up Maria’s voice as ‘the plumbing at the palace makes a better noise than she does’. The Archduke demands to see the next singer but Pumpernickel insists Maria is the best singer and there is no-one else, on steps Vanity Bag who introduces herself as a singer.
Mention must go to the sets of this episode, the sets seem to be on a grander scale, and this is credit to John Plant, the designer, who creates these wonderful sets throughout the first seven series and his designs for the sets are the best they ever were on this special and the following series of Rings of Olympus.
Outside T-Bag is now dressed, in her red dress from Pearls of Wisdom, T-Shirt tells her he wanted to give her a Christmas treat by bringing her to the opera, T-Bag tells him she can not stand opera, describing it as ‘sounds like balloons being rubbed together’ and tells T-Shirt she is going home but she halts as she hears Vanity singing, recognising the voice she marches into the theatre as Maria is leaving. T-Shirt apologises about T-Bag saying ‘the day they dished out manners, she was out blowing raspberries at the Vicar’, Maria runs off upset. T-Bag then calls for T-Shirt.
Although T-Bag is in her costume from the previous series, having being filmed at the same time as Rings of Olympus, Raymond Childe (the costume designer) has excelled himself in the costumes for this episode, especially the costume of Vanity Bag, most regal and befitting the character, and the costumes for the Christmas Fairy opera towards the end of the episode.
Vanity Bag is singing the aria from the Enchanted Trombone and when she finishes the Duke calls it ‘codswallop’, and shouts ‘next’. Vanity tells him that there is no next, and if she is not the star of the opera that there will be no opera. The Duke thinks this is great as the opera is boring and he wants an opera with a few laughs in it, Pumpernickel disagrees saying that it is an opera and not a circus. Then the Duke utters that he will give all his money to the circus instead of the opera. Vanity then warns him if he does not fund the opera he will be denying the people their Christmas entertainment and he will be out on his ear-holes. The Duke relents saying that if she is the best their can find she will have to do. Vanity says that he adores her and she tells Pumpernickel to show her to the star dressing room and they both leave.
T-Bag walks in and explains to T-Shirt that Vanity Bag is her cousin twice-removed and that she will see that she is not the star of the opera. T-Shirt exclaims to himself ‘we’re in for a Ding-Dong’.
Vanity is shown the star dressing room by Pumpernickel; she says it isn’t what she is used to and Pumpernickel leaves giving Vanity chance to get some peace to prepare her role (piece of lettuce, piece of cheese). T-Bag storms in and quips to T-Shirt that the builders have done a fine job of removing half the wall so Vanity Bag could get her big head into the room. Thus starts excellent sparring of words between T-Bag and Vanity Bag, this is played perfectly by both Georgina Hale and Glenda Jackson, with John Hasler, as T-Shirt, sblack personing at their banter. Vanity Bag tells T-Bag that she is the star of the opera but T-Bag tells her that she can not sing and that she should be the star and they both show of their less than excellent singing capabilities and the scene ends with Vanity shoving the bread role complete with lettuce into T-Bag’s mouth and Vanity’s return to singing into her mirror.
Outside Maria is trying to sell bunches of lavender by singing, T-Shirt comes outside and asks her if she is ok, telling her that she should be on stage, she then explains to him what happened with her audition.
Inside T-Bag is auditioning for the star role in the opera with Pumpernickel playing the trombone and the Duke listening. The Duke calls her abysmal and stonking well chronic. T-Bag blames the music calling it boring; the Duke agrees but tells her that they are stuck with it. T-Bag then explains that she could get a brand new opera; ‘I can lay my hands on an opera that will knock the monograms off your socks’ written by Wolfgang Amadeus Shirt. Then in the next scene T-Bag introduces T-Shirt, in disguise, to them both saying that he can write an opera but he would insist that she has the leading role, T-Bag and T-Shirt then leave and T-Bag leaves him to write an opera. T-Shirt sits down and Vanity Bag joins him telling him that she wants the lead in the opera saying that she didn’t nobble the other singer just so T-Bag could get the lead. Vanity Bag threatens T-Shirt that if she does not have the lead role T-Shirt would lose more than his voice and Vanity leaves.
T-Shirt then starts to write his opera. A moment later in the next scene (thank goodness for the excellent Terry Trower) produces his opera to Pumpernickel. Pumpernickel tells him that it had better be good as the future of the opera house depends on it.
In the next scene the opera begins with the national anthem to introduce the Duke. The opera starts with T-Shirt as a toy soldier singing that they do not have a fairy for their tree. T-Bag walks on, dressed as a fairy, to sing that she will be the fairy for the tree. Vanity rushes on, also dressed as a Christmas fairy, and they start to argue in song. T-Shirt then fires a cannonball out of the cannon to stop the two arguing fairies and the tree spins around revealing Maria as another Christmas fairy and she starts to sing. Then the opera ends and the Duke says he really enjoyed the opera and that he will pump all his money into the theatre.
The aforementioned excellent Terry Trower is at his pinnacle of writing music for the series in this episode and the ‘opera’ scene he penned suits T-Bag perfectly.
On leaving the theatre the Duke invites Maria, Pumpernickel and T-Shirt to his place for a feast and the walk off singing in unison. Both T-Bag and Vanity Bag then leave all in tatters and decide to make up as friends, Vanity closes the door and a flurry of snow falls and lands on both of them and the episode ends.
Special mention must be made for all the superb cast, Georgina Hale and John Hasler give great performances yet again and are bolstered by the regular guest actors James Saxon and Peter Woodthorpe. The casting of Glenda Jackson and Megan Kelly gives this episode six actors who all give brilliant performances.
The episode is more than a sum of its parts - the great contributions of Raymond Childe, Terry Trower, John Plant and Glyn Edwards alongside the hilarious writing from Lee Pressman and Grant Cathro with outstanding performances by all the cast. This episode created something truly magical and I could watch this episode anytime of the year (and not just at Christmas) and still laugh and smile throughout. This is just a really uplifting episode.
I’ve decided to give this episode the best score – 10 out of 10 – as it is an episode I enjoy more and more each time I watch it.
To sum up….this episode is a Christmas treat, a night at the opera I certainly enjoyed – even if T-Bag didn’t!
Hope you’ve all had a magical and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.
Many apologies for all the delays with these - due to me being incredibly busy (and ill) since new year and slightly before, I've let the T.Bag reviews stall somewhat. No worries - I'll aim to get my own next one up by Monday - and even if not, I'll post the next episodes (which was picked out of the randomiser at the start of January!). As my busy-ness doesn't seem like letting up for a while, I'm thinking of slowing these down a little - say maybe one every three or four weeks rather than two. If anyone has any objections, get back to me ... now, must get a review done!!