Series 2: Episode 4: The Week and Pizza

review by Giselle


Once Upon a Time...

 ...there was a young writer, who would one day grow up to win BAFTAs and Roses of Montreux and multiple other awards for extreme cleverness. But before any of that, long before he invented the Giggle Loop and the Sock Gap, this young writer was honing his craft on quite possibly the best drama not written for adults in the history of the Universe... a Universe most recently saved by a certain Mr William Sullivan, also of this parish.


And so it is that we arrive here, at the fourth episode of that young writer’s second series, and the need to experiment and play with the format is already proving too much of a temptation to resist.  This in itself is extraordinary: the challenge of writing engaging, award-winning drama in a 25 minute slot is quite daunting enough. But not satisfied with delivering more snappy dialogue per square inch than Clement & La Frenais on a good day (and lest we forget, there are two of them), and more fascinating characterisation in a 13 part kiddie series than is offered in a decade’s-worth of Coronation Street or EastEnders, this young man now chooses to enhance his storytelling still further by toying with its structure. And though it is not nearly as ambitious a task here as his later examples in Coupling (The End of the Line, Nine & a Half Minutes, and most impressively Split), this indicates to me a man who has never been content to simply turn in a traditional, run of the mill script.


Whilst there are elements of creative playfulness in Going Back to Jasper Street, these are essentially more traditional flashbacks, and they are more impressive visually than narratively. However, in TW&P the structure of the episode brings its own meaning to the piece, as well as controlling and shaping the extent of the story.


And so, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado I give you... The Week and Pizza...



Here are Sarah and Tiddler, subjected to one of Sam’s tall tales about boys. And here is Kenny teasing Lynda about Spike’s presence at the weekly meeting, his bottom lip quivering with barely-contained hilarity. Spike himself is on top form, delivering a string of cool quips from the moment he walks through the door. He’s still flirting gently with Tiddler, but appears to have given up his attempts to persuade Lynda to go out with him – at least via any direct method.  And now here is the pizza, its delivery bizarrely accompanied by some strange cheap and nasty guitar riff.  What’s that all about? (note to self: must organise pilgrimage to Uxbridge Pizza Hut)


We learn that the Thursday evening meeting is all about planning the next edition of the paper.  The Editor and her senior staff (plus Spike, of course) eat pizza and prioritise tasks for the week ahead.


Tiddler and Sarah have a disagreement about who should interview Virginia Hume, and Lynda comes down on Tiddler’s side.  Once again, little Toni is holding her own with the Big Kids – and she’s clearly in a league of her own sartorially.


Sam wants Claire Pearson fired off Graphics. Lynda tells her that’s fine, but she has to do it herself. Sam talks about the drongo problem that’s been around “since we started here”.  Was this a mistake, or are we to assume that although she hasn’t been in charge of Graphics very long, Sam has been around at the JG since the beginning?  Apart from the fact that we didn’t see her for the first 13 episodes, I think this conflicts with what Lynda says about Sam in BAC...  It always causes me to frown anyway.


Colin finds himself cornered by Lynda about the JG budgets. Paul R manages to look sheepish, panicked, underhand and adorable all at once. So, just how much money did they make on the last edition? “Some...  Some and a bit... Ish.”  Genius.



Colin is in his office, confiding in Spike. Well actually, one suspects that he is simply attempting to use Spike to get Lynda off his back... but Spike isn’t playing the game.  It’s a shame Colin forgot about the (now deceased) CME hamsters, since Lynda is apparently so fond of keeping them as pets (see GBTJS).  Spike, who is wearing what is possibly his most hideous shirt ever, passes Sophie and Laura on his way out... The girls demonstrate their “Gore Balls” to Colin. It is difficult to understand why Colin is unimpressed – they seem like they should be right up his street – especially with such a stylish and graphic advertising campaign.  But Colin has other things on his mind, and wastes no time recruiting the young ladies to help him blackmail Lynda...


Out in the newsroom, Spike is obviously up to something. Confident that he now has the right kind of Lynda’s attention, he continues with his campaign to make her jealous.  But it seems that whilst he has been fruitlessly pursuing Miss Heart of Teflon Day, word has got around of his obsession.  He’s going to have to work hard to convince Yvonne Morley to go out with him – and he does so in the middle of the newsroom, only feet away from Lynda’s desk.  Interestingly, we don’t get to see any reaction to this ploy from Lynda herself – its just piling on the layers without spelling it out.



Spike and Tiddler visit Virginia Hume.  I wondered for a while whose hallway we are in, but have to assume from the gratuitous baseball artefacts that it is the Thomson home. Did they deliberately employ a horse-faced woman to play Virginia so that The Moff could work in the line about sugar lumps?!  Vair amusant.


The newsroom is surprisingly busy for a Saturday. Colin and Frazz drop into a well-rehearsed advertising feature for the Rubber Relaxer, although the other JG staff appear less than impressed, and are clearly accustomed to CME’s marketing techniques and the quality of their products.  I can only conclude that Colin has put Frazz on a commission-based scheme in order to secure his assistance.


And oh! Kenny and Sam flirting! How gorgeous is that?  Can this really be the same Kenny that was dumped only a couple of weeks ago? Is this the same man who will have to be blackmailed into becoming a pop star pin-up? You know only too well that Sam would eat Kenny for breakfast, but that really doesn’t matter if it means he comes out of his shell to flirt so beautifully with her.



I’m tempted to think the structure of this entire episode was designed just for this one scene, since it telegraphs so much about Lynda simply by being the only thing that happens on Sunday. It almost doesn’t need any dialogue at all, but the phone call contrives to remind us of Kenny’s dogged attempts to balance her obsessive nature. Oh, and Lynda also appears to dress better on Sundays!



Colin is attempting to extract blackmail material from Mr Sullivan, and although he has pinged in the past, the Assistant Head has now clearly wised up to Colin’s sales technique and is therefore able to tip Lynda off that something is afoot.  The phrase “a fireproof Joan of Arc” is alarmingly portentous... Is The Moff teasing us?  Do we think that if pressed he would offer this as evidence that Lynda survives the fire in TAC?


Back in the newsroom, the magical, marvellous and manly Spike appears to be playing down his intelligence as Tiddler writes up her Virginia Hume piece.  Isn’t alliteration something that Spike would only pretend not to understand if he was talking to Lynda? Still, without his stupidity, we wouldn’t get the glorious “Stick to looking good in jeans” line.


Elsewhere, Duane Orpington (Mark Baxter, ex Grange Hill, and previously seen working in the shop that sold glue to Jenny Eliot’s brother in HTMAK part 1) is hanging around looking for something to do.



Spike is preparing for his date with Yvonne Morley.  I love his exchange with Sam, but why does he turn off the light in the graphics room when there’s a black shade on the window?! When Yvonne arrives, Spike seems overly-keen to get her out and away, which seems strange, since surely the point of the whole exercise is to incite jealousy in Lynda – otherwise why arrange to meet at the newsroom at all?  He can certainly not have anticipated the response, however. After months of S&L anticipation, it is pure Moffness to deliver The First Kiss in such an offhand and casual fashion that only serves to rack up the tension about 17 notches. So much so in fact that the tendency is to discount this kiss entirely. I’ve noticed people seem to talk about the nearly kiss in BAC, and then skip forward to ALAD...  But this is a proper snog, the kind of thing I am sure Spike had in mind in BAC when he suggested a trial run, and here delivered entirely on Lynda’s terms. I adore the way it knocks Spike for six. Bless.


Of course, Lynda is already on a high from “firing” Claire. Kissing aside, the true joy in this sequence is seeing the softer side of Ms Day deliciously uncovered as Kenny figures out the truth, and he and Lynda huddle together in moment of shared giggles.  The Lynda/Kenny relationship might not have been in the plan from Page One, but it’s so beautifully realised throughout Series 2 that I would never wish it any other way.



As Assistant Editor, Kenny gets the job of reminding everyone of their weekly deadlines – and here it only serves to date the series, reminding us that even 15 years ago they were still pasting news stories together rather than creating them all on computers.


Lynda demonstrates her growing sense of journalistic responsibility when she suggests that Tiddler might like to change the tone of her Virginia Hume article. Methinks perhaps Kenny suggested it first though.


Notably, there is no mention of Yvonne or The Kiss.



Laura and Sophie deliver The Fluffy-Wuffies & the Silly-Billies to Colin.  Paul in story-reading mode is pure genius. The Evil Goblin’s realisation that he has been outsmarted by the Beautiful Princess is delicious.  However, I can’t help but wonder what the original version of the story was about.  The title doesn’t sound very Lyndalike, does it? I’m sure she must have meant it ironically...


Since Virginia Hume becomes the lead story, what they would have gone with if she hadn’t had a heart attack?  Some scintillating action down at the garden centre, one assumes.


Still no mention of Yvonne or The Kiss. We are supposed to have forgotten it, which of course is infuriating and dastardly in the extreme. Almost as if someone calculated the dramatic effect it would have...


There is the lovely visual gag of a suckered Lynda in the final shot, and then we have come full circle, because the pizzas are here...  YAY!!!


Also worthy of note:

  • Costume changes. And ok, yes, I am mildly obsessed with the stripes thing, but there are loads here... Kenny (THREE different shirts), Sam’s shorts, Colin’s shirt & waistcoat. And there is a Severe Dorkrobe Warning issued for Tiddler’s homemade outfit. Also there is a rash of Norbridge High school uniforms, that are rarely seen otherwise.
  • Question marks – one in the graphics room and one on the wall outside Colin’s office. Is this another Moff nod to Doctor Who, or a secret fanclub for the Hardly-a-Mystery-Any-More Mystery Writer???


In conclusion...

Covering a single working week, we learn so much here about the JG processes, their teamwork and social dynamic. We can’t help but be impressed by Lynda’s dedication and Colin’s endless machinations. Most importantly, the beauty of the structure is that you are left with the impression that this is very much a typical seven days, and therefore somehow this episode is shorthand for many more weeks of routine, and of relationships building and growing over time, regardless of what is making headlines or is actually played out on screen in the meantime.


Genius is an overworked word in these parts, but there’s a very good reason for that...


The Week and Pizza MoffStatsTM

Lynda stuff

Garfield, working on Sundays

smut content “Hold me off and hose me down!”
Norbridge geography Sherrington, town hall, garden centre, new community centre, Pizza Hut
Gratuitous relatives none
Phones Spike calls Yvonne Morley, Spike and Sam, Kenny calls Lynda on Sunday at the office, Mr Sullivan
Pings superceded by the Rubber Relaxer, but there are a load of discarded ones in Colin's office
PG Celebrityville Virginia Hume
Mofflinks Chalk Series 2 episode 1 covers a single working week in an episode

about the show
in the media

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