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#1
Old 09-13-2012, 08:13 AM
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BBC's The Thick of It - Nutters?

A few months ago, articles about Veep led me to In the Loop, which I loved, especially the explosively foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker (for some reason for a while I confused Peter Capaldi with Michael Sheen; makes no sense, I know).

And now Netflix has the series that the Malcolm Tucker character first appeared in, The Thick of It. (The movie is but isn't quite exactly a spinoff of the series.) Love this show! Fantastic! It's said to be an update of Yes, Minister, and I agree wholeheartedly.

And now I discover another factoid, that the original lead character of the series, cabinet member Hugh Abbot, had to be written out after six episodes and a raft of awards because of actor Chris Langham's arrest and conviction for possession of child pornography. I can't believe that I am learning this for the first time, seven years late.

Anyway, I do have a specific question about this show. During the episodes that are supposed to parallel the resignation of Tony Blair and his succession by Gordon Brown ("Tom Davis"), there is a lot of talk about his being a "nutter" and whether certain members of the cabinet or parliament or the political staff are "nutters."

I felt like I was kind of missing something. Was or is "nutter" a term for a faction of the Labour party that Gordon Brown got support from? Or is it just something that the show made up? I didn't quite get what a nutter was. My first guess was that a nutter would be from the extreme left wing of the party or something, but they didn't seem to show much in the way of policy disagreements between nutters and other people.
#2
Old 09-13-2012, 08:22 AM
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Nutter - nutcase - one who is mad.

In the political context one of an extreme position (opposite to your own )

ETA. Should have said - very common British slang.

Last edited by MarcusF; 09-13-2012 at 08:24 AM. Reason: Afterthought
#3
Old 09-13-2012, 08:24 AM
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It's a common colloquial term for someone who is mentally ill.
#4
Old 09-13-2012, 08:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarcusF View Post
Nutter - nutcase - one who is mad.

In the political context one of an extreme position (opposite to your own )

ETA. Should have said - very common British slang.
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Originally Posted by Meurglys View Post
It's a common colloquial term for someone who is mentally ill.
I know that, but it doesn't seem to make sense in context. It seemed to be used in a much more specific sense, because anyone who might be supporting Tom Davis was labeled as a "nutter." It seems like it's being used (pejoratively, of course) for a specific faction of the party. That's why I surmised that it might be the extreme left wing of Labour, but that didn't seem to make sense in context either.
#5
Old 09-13-2012, 08:37 AM
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I think Armando Iannucci was just making up this specific usage but it was a meme during the period of Labour government that Gordon Brown was not entirely in control of himself - given to ranting and shouting when thwarted. I seem to remember it was the sort of briefing that Blairite acolytes gave to the press when the Brownites were getting uppity.
#6
Old 09-13-2012, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by MarcusF View Post
I think Armando Iannucci was just making up this specific usage but it was a meme during the period of Labour government that Gordon Brown was not entirely in control of himself - given to ranting and shouting when thwarted. I seem to remember it was the sort of briefing that Blairite acolytes gave to the press when the Brownites were getting uppity.
Yes, this. Gordon Brown was quite notorious for his rages. So calling him a 'nutter' is just that. He's mad.
#7
Old 09-13-2012, 08:54 AM
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Ah, okay. That makes sense.
#8
Old 09-13-2012, 08:22 PM
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I just watched the first episode of Season 4. I was afraid that it would be difficult to recreate the brilliance three years later as well as the change in government, but even without a single Malcolm Tucker scene, I loved it. Stewart is a fantastic contrast to Tucker and the squabbling between the Tories and the Liberal Democrats is fantastic — and Mannion is a surprisingly compelling character — "I'm bored of this! I'm getting a Twix!"
#9
Old 09-14-2012, 04:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
I know that, but it doesn't seem to make sense in context. It seemed to be used in a much more specific sense, because anyone who might be supporting Tom Davis was labeled as a "nutter." It seems like it's being used (pejoratively, of course) for a specific faction of the party. That's why I surmised that it might be the extreme left wing of Labour, but that didn't seem to make sense in context either.
Just chiming in to confirm that it really was a non-specific label to allow the viewer to know where the competing elements stood. Rather like "wets" of the thatcher years or "Blairites" "Brownite" and other such eloquent terms.
We don't really get too much of a feeling for the character of the PM or his opponents to know whether "nutter" was chosen in a more pointed way but........it is Armando Iannucci, and Gordon Brown was in the ascendancy at the time (if he actually had such a period) so I wouldn't be surprised.

So there you go, glad you found the series Acsenray and you are enjoying it. Hopefully the extra knowledge we've passed on will help. As Stewart would say "knowledge is porridge"
I think we can all learn from that!

Have you watched all of the the last series yet with Nicola Murray as DoSAC head?
#10
Old 09-14-2012, 07:24 AM
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Armando Iannucci is quite simply a comic genius. I've loved the guy's work ever since the 1994 series The Day Today where he worked with another comic genius, the great Chris Morris.
#11
Old 09-14-2012, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by aldiboronti View Post
Armando Iannucci is quite simply a comic genius. I've loved the guy's work ever since the 1994 series The Day Today where he worked with another comic genius, the great Chris Morris.
"The headlines tonight........

Sacked chimney-sweep pumps boss full of mayonnaise.

Headmaster suspended for using big faced child as satellite dish,

And where now for men raised by puffins?"
#12
Old 09-14-2012, 12:54 PM
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I think I'm right in saying it was Alisdair Campbell - Blair's chief spin doctor and generally agreed to be the model for Malcolm Tucker - who told the press Gordon Brown was "psychologically flawed".

Blair was Prime Minister then and Brown was his Chancellor. Brown believed for years that Blair had stabbed him in the back by reneging on an agreement to step down in his (Brown"s) favour and seemed determined to obstruct Blair in any way he could. It got to stage where he refused to tell Blair what was in his own Government's Budget speech.

When Brown did finally get Blair's old job, he proved himself horribly unsuited to it, and quickly got a reputation for checking telephones at any aide daring to tell him bad news. A good man with a tragic flaw of almost Shakespearian proportions.
#13
Old 09-14-2012, 04:02 PM
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There was also a continual rumour that Brown was on some kind of medication - not alcohol, but actual medication - on account of his mood swings and occasionally bloated appearance. Big-eared adultering superinjunction-ing journo Andrew Marr even asked him about this on live telly.
Lord Mandelson accused "extreme right-wing" figures on the Internet for spreading rumours about Mr Brown's health, adding it was "absolutely ridiculous" to suggest the PM had a problem with pill use, and blamed politically motivated bloggers for raising the possibility.

"We have seen out there on the Internet, the blogosphere, all these extreme right-wing people trying to put these smears and rumours about, all completely groundless," he said.
In context, this came a short while after Brown had been forced to disband and sack his own smear team, who were attempting to attribute the death of David Cameron's six-year-old disabled son Ivan to a sexually transmitted disease Cameron had picked up whilst he was at university.
#14
Old 09-14-2012, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Ashley Pomeroy View Post
In context, this came a short while after Brown had been forced to disband and sack his own smear team, who were attempting to attribute the death of David Cameron's six-year-old disabled son Ivan to a sexually transmitted disease Cameron had picked up whilst he was at university.
really? I mean, cite Ashley please? The link you give mentions a smear but gives no detail.

I'm not suggesting you are wrong, Just that if true I'm shocked I never got hear about it.
#15
Old 09-14-2012, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Novelty Bobble View Post
Have you watched all of the the last series yet with Nicola Murray as DoSAC head?
Yes, I've caught up and watched the first episode of season 4 on Hulu. I especially like the two "special" episodes. I thought Malcolm was a fantastic character, but put him together with Jamie and it's even better. Two foul-mouthed belligerent Scotsmen. I can't stop giggling:

Tucker: Jamie's gonna stay with you, okay? He'll be by your side until the interview's over. Even if you take a dump.

Jamie: Even if I take take a dump, right? And I shit a lot. It's uh smoking and a fast metabolism.

Ben Swain: Well, fantastic. We'll spend the day defecating together. It's the glamour of this job that I so much enjoy.
#16
Old 09-15-2012, 10:36 AM
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Just making sure — When Murray said that she had a 16-year-old daughter who was a pregnant, heroin-addicted porn actress, she was joking, right?

A question about terminology. I always thought that "secretary" and "department of" was American-style. I thought that Her Majesty's government stuck with the traditional "minister" and "ministry of" language. But it's the "Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship," not the "Ministry of Social Affairs and Citizenship." Is minister/ministry no longer current in British lingo?
#17
Old 09-15-2012, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
Just making sure When Murray said that she had a 16-year-old daughter who was a pregnant, heroin-addicted porn actress, she was joking, right?
If I recall, this was when she was under pressure to put her daughter into a state school, and that was the outcome she feared. (I could be wrong though). Her daughter did risk expulsion at one point but It wasn't for anything quite so exotic.

Quote:
A question about terminology. I always thought that "secretary" and "department of" was American-style. I thought that Her Majesty's government stuck with the traditional "minister" and "ministry of" language. But it's the "Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship," not the "Ministry of Social Affairs and Citizenship." Is minister/ministry no longer current in British lingo?
Not sure what the history is behind the nomenclature but it is a bit of a mixture of "ministries", "departments" and "offices". There is a nice little run-down here but I haven't read further to find out any history.

In the case of DoSAC, I'm pretty sure it is just Armando conjuring up the most dopey, dorky acronym that still sounds plausible.
#18
Old 09-15-2012, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Novelty Bobble View Post
If I recall, this was when she was under pressure to put her daughter into a state school, and that was the outcome she feared. (I could be wrong though). Her daughter did risk expulsion at one
She said it pretty much as soon as she met Malcolm and he asked her how many kids she had. I think she was concerned that the school thing would come up and was trying to preemptively change Malcolm's perspective. It didn't work of course, because as soon as she mentioned an 11 year old daughter, he jumped right on it and told her she would have to go to state school.
#19
Old 09-15-2012, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
She said it pretty much as soon as she met Malcolm and he asked her how many kids she had. I think she was concerned that the school thing would come up and was trying to preemptively change Malcolm's perspective. It didn't work of course, because as soon as she mentioned an 11 year old daughter, he jumped right on it and told her she would have to go to state school.
I'm trying to shoehorn "Malcolm" and "perspective" into my brain at the same time.

Incidentally, I thought one of the genius parts of series three was when Malcolm was usurped and he titted around like a fanny in a trance for the best part of an episode, interview at the BBC etc. before being reborn like a bad Gandalf again.
#20
Old 09-15-2012, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Novelty Bobble View Post
Incidentally, I thought one of the genius parts of series three was when Malcolm was usurped and he titted around like a fanny in a trance for the best part of an episode, interview at the BBC etc. before being reborn like a bad Gandalf again.
I liked how they led up to it, with even hopeless Terri letting him know that he was off his game.
#21
Old 09-15-2012, 05:48 PM
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Another thing I liked is how the touchy-feely, metrosexual, techno-hipster is the conservative spinmeister (Stewart) as opposed to the straight-laced, button-down hardass being the liberal. That defies our stereotypes. Of course, British Conservatives aren't exactly like our conservatives, so there's that.
#22
Old 09-16-2012, 05:42 AM
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The political divisions in "the thick of it" are deliberately blurred to the point that you could make a case for either party actually being Tory or Labour (which is part of the point of the show I suppose) It is never mentioned who is who (but wasn't Julian a perfect Tory mandarin? And isn't Stewart a touchy-feely lefty PR dickwad?)
The second show was on last night and it focussed on Nicola Murray, now in inept opposition.
Malcolm is rather down and apathetic until he spies an opportunity to sow discord and start pulling strings. Then, of course, he is back up to his spiteful best.
Classic lines from last night? His wonderfully skewed description of a very famous sci-fi movie and the label he applies to "blinky" Ben Swain........."Noncey Sinatra"
After last week's scene-setting for the coalition we are definitely up and running.
#23
Old 09-16-2012, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Novelty Bobble View Post
The political divisions in "the thick of it" are deliberately blurred to the point that you could make a case for either party actually being Tory or Labour (which is part of the point of the show I suppose) It is never mentioned who is who
But there are enough hints to make it clear. Phil and Emma's party was in power in the 1980s and they're now in coalition with the Inbetweeners. Mannion is an old-school aristo, and Glenn spent his life trying to keep the toffee-noses out of power.

Quote:
Malcolm is rather down and apathetic until he spies an opportunity to sow discord and start pulling strings. Then, of course, he is back up to his spiteful best.
At this point, I have almost no sympathy for Murray. She's so inept and out of her depth, I, like Malcolm, just want her put out of her misery. She was fun to watch as a green junior minister on the sidelines, but as leader? She's just pathetic.

Quote:
Classic lines from last night? His wonderfully skewed description of a very famous sci-fi movie
That was a beautiful line.
#24
Old 09-16-2012, 01:34 PM
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Just to clarify. I don't mean that she just seems to be in over her head, which has always been a source of humour throughout the series. At this point, she seems like an actual moron.
#25
Old 09-16-2012, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
But there are enough hints to make it clear. Phil and Emma's party was in power in the 1980s and they're now in coalition with the Inbetweeners. Mannion is an old-school aristo, and Glenn spent his life trying to keep the toffee-noses out of power.
Oh I don't disagree hugely with that, but plausible deniability is maintained and, as I say, Armando wants to hammer home the point that there is really fuck-all difference worth mentioning. (certainly compared to USA politics)

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At this point, I have almost no sympathy for Murray. She's so inept and out of her depth, I, like Malcolm, just want her put out of her misery. She was fun to watch as a green junior minister on the sidelines, but as leader? She's just pathetic.
Yes, it's the Groucho Marx quote writ large isn't it? Anyone wanting to be part of the political establishment is the sort of person they shouldn't admit. They are all deeply damaged and narcissistic human beings. I'm not quite sure how we end up caring at all about any of them, yet we do. Didn't we cheer inwardly when Malcolm rose again at the end of series 3? We are as warped as they are.
#26
Old 09-16-2012, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Novelty Bobble View Post
Yes, it's the Groucho Marx quote writ large isn't it? Anyone wanting to be part of the political establishment is the sort of person they shouldn't admit. They are all deeply damaged and narcissistic human beings. I'm not quite sure how we end up caring at all about any of them, yet we do.
I'm not sure that's exactly what I mean. I mean that of all the characters, at this point, I would prefer anyone else other than Nicola to lead the party. Because at this point, she doesn't just seem like a hapless human being like all the rest. She actually seems like she has a mental disability. While the other characters might always be amoral power-hungry cretins, I never felt like I do now about Nicola, that she's a genuine idiot. I don't know whether that's intentional or whether Iannucci has gone a little overboard with all the practicing walking and stuff.

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Didn't we cheer inwardly when Malcolm rose again at the end of series 3? We are as warped as they are.
Well, because as evil as Malcolm is, we at least understand his goal and we understand that he is the most capable of achieving them for his party. And he does it with the most panache and style and humour. And when it comes down to it, the only people Malcolm has really harmed are self-serving politicos. If he succeeds in keeping his party in power, then, regardless of how many ministers he's given the sack along the way, there's at least a chance that the party will be able to implement some of its policies.
#27
Old 09-16-2012, 04:51 PM
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I'm not sure that's exactly what I mean. I mean that of all the characters, at this point, I would prefer anyone else other than Nicola to lead the party. Because at this point, she doesn't just seem like a hapless human being like all the rest. She actually seems like she has a mental disability. While the other characters might always be amoral power-hungry cretins, I never felt like I do now about Nicola, that she's a genuine idiot. I don't know whether that's intentional or whether Iannucci has gone a little overboard with all the practicing walking and stuff.
Fair enough, my comment about Marx was more my take on it, that pretty much every politician we meet ends up (or starts out) twisted by political power or the promise of it. Not very wholesome human beings. Nicola didn't handle the pressure of DoSAC too well, I can see how being Leader of the Opposition might have tipped her over the edge.

Quote:
Well, because as evil as Malcolm is, we at least understand his goal and we understand that he is the most capable of achieving them for his party. And he does it with the most panache and style and humour. And when it comes down to it, the only people Malcolm has really harmed are self-serving politicos.
This is true, and why he is such a superb character. Witness his (and Jamie's) mild manners and unthinking and obviously real concern for innocent bystanders (the BBC ladies, cleaners, his secretary etc.) The only ones who really get it are the ones who deserve it. It just so happens that pretty much everyone in Malcolm's immediate circle deserves it at one point or another.

Oh, and I miss Jamie. Come back Jamie ya wee Scottish radge ya!
#28
Old 09-16-2012, 10:04 PM
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Oh, and I miss Jamie. Come back Jamie ya wee Scottish radge ya!
No argument with that.
#29
Old 09-16-2012, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Novelty Bobble View Post
Classic lines from last night? His wonderfully skewed description of a very famous sci-fi movie
SPOILER:
Malcolm: What's that film that you love?

Ollie: Which one?

Malcolm: The one about the fuckin' hairdresser, the space hairdresser and a cowboy. ... The guy, he's got a tinfoil pal and a pedal bin. ... He's father's a robot and he's fuckin' fucked his sister!... LEGO! They're all made of fuckin' Lego!


I think I figured it out before Ollie did.
#30
Old 09-17-2012, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
SPOILER:
Malcolm: What's that film that you love?

Ollie: Which one?

Malcolm: The one about the fuckin' hairdresser, the space hairdresser and a cowboy. ... The guy, he's got a tinfoil pal and a pedal bin. ... He's father's a robot and he's fuckin' fucked his sister!... LEGO! They're all made of fuckin' Lego!


I think I figured it out before Ollie did.
I was as clueless as Ollie until the "lego" bit!
#31
Old 09-17-2012, 10:56 AM
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Another question -- What is the significance of Angela Heaney's having moved from the Evening Standard to the Daily Mail? When Malcolm realized that Heaney would be interviewing Hugh for the Mail rather than for the Standard, he panicked.

And it seems that Heaney's editor at the Mail is now an Inbetweener staffer, working with Glenn as an assistant to Fergus. Is this a plausible move?
#32
Old 09-17-2012, 12:17 PM
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I actually don't get the "Lego" bit in the Star Wars description. Is that a reference to something in the actual movies, or just to the fact that Lego makes so many Star Wars-themed toys?
#33
Old 09-17-2012, 12:24 PM
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The latter is what I assumed.
#34
Old 09-17-2012, 12:30 PM
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There's a very popular series of video games based on Star Wars LEGO.

(There's also LEGO Indiana Jones, LEGO Batman, LEGO Harry Potter, and LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean.)
#35
Old 09-17-2012, 12:48 PM
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Malcolm has previously been very savvy about pop culture. Maybe he just doesn't think the voting public cares about scifi.
#36
Old 09-17-2012, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
Another question -- What is the significance of Angela Heaney's having moved from the Evening Standard to the Daily Mail? When Malcolm realized that Heaney would be interviewing Hugh for the Mail rather than for the Standard, he panicked.

And it seems that Heaney's editor at the Mail is now an Inbetweener staffer, working with Glenn as an assistant to Fergus. Is this a plausible move?
Malcolm may have been upset because may have had a cosy relationship with the Standard but not the Mail.

As for the editor's move (I think he was the night editor, so second string really) The Mail is as right-wing as a UK paper gets so in the current real coalition he'd be much more likely to be Peter Mannion's assistant. The lib-dems in real life would go bananas at such a move. But again, this is just another way that the program is nearly real, but not quite.
#37
Old 09-17-2012, 02:02 PM
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I actually don't get the "Lego" bit in the Star Wars description. Is that a reference to something in the actual movies, or just to the fact that Lego makes so many Star Wars-themed toys?
I took it to be the latter but quite why that reference made me realise it was Star-wars when none of the rest of the description didn't, I really don't know. There again, perhaps it does take genius writing to make that work.
#38
Old 09-17-2012, 02:09 PM
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I think the Lego toys and video games are the key. My nephew is crazy about Star Wars, but in his view, Star Wars and Lego operate as a unit. He's never known a time when Star Wars and Lego were completely separate things. And when he asked me to play a Star Wars video game with him, I was excited until I realized that the images in the video game are not based on the movies but rather on the Lego figures. So, when you play Obiwan Kenobi, you don't get a character that looks like Alec Guinness or Ewan MacGregor, you get a character that looks like the Lego figure of Kenobi. So if you are around kids or shopping for kids, or even just wandering around a toy store, you're going to see Lego figures of the Star Wars characters much more often than you're going to see images from the movies.
#39
Old 09-24-2012, 10:22 AM
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So Malcolm's going to be in only half the episodes in this season? Crap.
#40
Old 09-24-2012, 11:04 AM
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I think I saw a tweet from Armando Iannucci saying that the first four episodes would follow this format - switching sides each episode - and then the last three would all have everybody in them.
#41
Old 10-01-2012, 12:41 PM
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Nicola gets put out of her misery. I was cheering. Of course, I know that Dan Miller is going to turn out to be a major ass, right?
#42
Old 10-01-2012, 02:02 PM
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By the way, can anyone give me some more background on last week's line: "You've turned into the wrong Mitford sister." The only Mitford sister I know anything about is the one who wrote essays on "U" and "non-U" vocabulary. Was it Jessica?

Last edited by Acsenray; 10-01-2012 at 02:02 PM.
#43
Old 10-01-2012, 03:02 PM
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No, that was Nancy Mitford, and she was one of the nice ones. Unity and Diana Mitford notoriously associated with the Nazis and with British Fascists.
#44
Old 10-01-2012, 03:48 PM
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Episode 4 was a peach. It may be that I just don't have as much invested in the coalition people, or that the coalition episodes are not being written by Armando, but they don't grip me in quite the same way.
What I do like is Malcolm's machinations. I like him slowly, slowly turning Ollie into a mini-Malcolm. Notice how he is treating him as an almost equal? I like Nicola melting down and Ben Swain getting shafted.
One wonders though, surely a straightforward Dan Miller coronation is not a satisfactory end to this. Does Mr. Tucker have one last spectacular throw of the dice left in him before we wave them all goodbye?
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Old 10-01-2012, 03:51 PM
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No, that was Nancy Mitford, and she was one of the nice ones. Unity and Diana Mitford notoriously associated with the Nazis and with British Fascists.
So he was saying that Emma was becoming a fascist by playing along with Stewart's touchy-feeliness? That doesn't sound right, somehow.
#46
Old 10-01-2012, 03:52 PM
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Or a Nazi. (In line with his "Mind Kampf" remark)
#47
Old 10-12-2012, 09:55 AM
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No new episode this week?
#48
Old 10-12-2012, 11:49 AM
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Location: Scotland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
No new episode this week?
It skipped a week in the UK due to a Beatles Anniversary tribute night on BBC2. Episode 5 is on Saturday 13th October.
#49
Old 10-13-2012, 05:37 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
So he was saying that Emma was becoming a fascist by playing along with Stewart's touchy-feeliness? That doesn't sound right, somehow.
Don't read too much into it. "Mitford sisters" is (slightly old-fashioned) comedy shorthand for "could have gone bad", that's all. The precise historical details of how certain Mitford sisters did actually "go bad" are beside the point.
#50
Old 10-13-2012, 05:47 PM
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Location: U.S.A.
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Ah.
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