- Reaction score
- Member Since
- 28th September 2008
Desirous Of Change
Desirous Of Change
In hindsight (and partly while watching) Desirious For Change is one of those episodes that feels rather disposable and “skippable”. There are two key stories, each of which is neatly resolved by the episode’s end with characters brought in apparently just for this episode to help the arcs play out, before departing within the hour.
Even more curious is that both stories feel a little like reprises of earlier stories.
The story with the fraudsters attempting to dine out on the Bellamys’ riches arguably has echoes of (shudder) The Swedish Tiger. Fortunately, it does improve upon this story considerably while throwing in some ill-fated romance stuff (again, rather familiar from a number of previous episodes).
It’s kind of amusing that Richard’s dalliance with a younger countess proves far less controversial within the household than Hazel’s choice to economise by having cottage pie served for dinner, which sees much eyebrow raising and pearl clutching (and rightly so, given that it’s also the more entertaining storyline of the two).
Incidentally, I’d either not realised or had forgotten that Hazel was now Mrs James Bellamy. There’s a bit of proto-Krystle Carrington stuff with her grappling with arranging menus and managing staff and whatnot, but the “cottage pie for dinner” scene with Hazel’s more ordinary background shining through in the economical-but-efficient touches made me think of Susan Palmer-Hamilton’s cheerful Eighties Dural makeover over in Sons and Daughters. With sarcastic, slightly petulant husband James and supportive, appreciative father-in-law Richard analogous to Wayne and Gordon respectively.
This episode’s downstairs arc has a touch of the familiar with the arrival of the eccentric new under housemaid who has a penchant for making up grandiose and dramatic stories about her past and who quickly gets into trouble for taking items that don’t belong to her. In these regards, Miss Gwyneth Davies is a Welsh version of Sarah.
This story - right down to Gwyneth’s choice to depart abruptly, even after being let off for the thefts and accepted by the downstairs staff after dropping the facade and making herself vulnerable - is effectively a retelling of the original “Sarah leaves” version of On Trial. It’s notable, then, that this is only the second episode Fay Weldon has written since that very first episode.
While my comments on Desirous… could be read as critical or negative, that’s not my overall feeling about it. It was entertaining enough, and Janet Lees Price made Gwyneth herself a really nice tragicomic and quirky character who immediately got a crackling energy going with the other characters who had strong opinions about her. Once again, Rose’s empathy shone through which is always a good thing (even though I wish she still had a bit more of the brittle edge we saw in early episodes).
The humour was especially fun, particularly Gwyneth’s tales of being sexually harassed by her former employer with a wistful dreamy look as she nostalgically described him him undressing her “poor female body” with his eyes: a description that cropped up at least twice, threatening to become one of several catchphrases for Gwyneth (the Welsh accent, period setting and lustful longing reminded me of Rachel "I have my own apartment" Harris from The Magnificent Evans). Despite the rather patchy Welsh accent she could have become a fun regular if written well. I was rather sorry to see her depart.