For a moment in the penultimate episode of the BBC’s revival of Reggie Perrin it looks like things are going to take a very different course from the ’70s original.
For after last week’s conciliation with wife Nicola, the storm clouds that have surrounded a beleaguered Reggie look like they may finally be about to break and let the sun shine through once more.
Okay, maybe he does growl loudly at all the commuters on the train after another poor excuse for a service delay and then jump out on to the embankment, all within the first few minutes of the show, but at least Reggie recognizes something has to be done about it.
Calling in to see Groomtech’s Wellness Person, Reggie finally bares his soul, getting all those frustrations off his chest. As hates go, it’s an impressive list:
“Death, ear-phones, endless cobbled together leaflets, the sense that love is the answer coupled with the searing hatred of so many things… and people, disposable razors, world over-population, fear of briefcases, fantasies – often violent, dark places, over-lit places, trains with windows you can’t open, people who call me ‘Regg-a-mama-wing-wah’, the urge to scream and a nostalgia for unwanted erections.”
Conceding that he’s a “mixed-up sausage”, as the Wellness Person so aptly puts it, Reggie aims to take a new, more positive, path in life.
A cycle-path as it happens, for after a re-think about the real origin of his weltschmerz and the conclusion it’s down to physical rather than mental causes, Reggie buys himself a bike to ride to work.
There are two downsides – a crumpled suit, or ‘Crumpaline’ as he brands it, and severe saddle soreness – but even these problems evaporate when called into boss Chris’s office.
For the Groomtech head has amazingly sloughed himself of his irritating high-handed approach to his staff and done the unthinkable – turned to his head of disposable razors for help.
An almost incredulous Reggie listens as his superior opens up and reveals that 12 months after being head-hunted from the animal food sector he has to give a critical business report on the company’s progress, the trouble being he knows nothing about what Groomtech actually does.
Reggie has one of his flash fantasies, imagining Chris as a ridiculous clown, but this time it’s not just negative feelings bubbling up as with the wrecking ball that he likes to imagine hitting his mother, it’s actually the case.
Chris is a fool, yet finally a humble one.
The plea for assistance is like a shot in the arm of vitamin ego for Reggie’s confidence. His input has been recognized and in coaching Chris he has a chance not only to save his boss’s neck, but the neck of every employee in the company.
Visions of his dumb secretary Vicki busking on the street with the ever-fawning Anthony and Steve give immense pleasure to Reggie – the appointed saviour of men’s grooming products.
His role becomes even more vital when Chris reveals that he has promised to deliver a winning idea to the Groomtech board and needs Reggie to come up with it.
Inviting himself over to the Perrin household at the weekend, Chris drops one last bombshell: he’s blown Reggie’s entire budget on an order of cheap, disposable razors, so priced because they are about as sharp as his business acumen.
It’s a ‘man and the hour’ situation and Reggie rises brilliantly to the challenge, suggesting the duff products be marketed to teenagers as ‘My First Razor’.
At this point in the episode I was wondering where Reggie Perrin had vanished to, because success and promotion seemed assured for our troubled hero. I needn’t have worried, however. For like the energy the terminally ill sometimes display towards the end, the genuine job-satisfaction Reggie experiences proves to be short-lived.
Surrounded by his underlings, Chris boasts how his idea for ‘My First Razor’ has secured the company’s future just as Reggie walks in. Instead of then acknowledging the truth, an ungrateful Chris mocks Reggie and adds insult to injury by inviting Jasmine, and only Jasmine, out for a celebratory meal.
The episode ends with a shell-shocked Reggie walking back into his office, closing the door and screaming at the top of his voice. The writing’s on the wall.
Overall, this was a good episode and a nice lead in to the finale. There were, as ever, some gags that misfired and others that were too crude for such a high-concept series, such as Nicola’s ‘riding the cotton pony’ euphemism for being on her period.
But those aside, you really feel for Reggie’s dilemma while having a laugh at the same time. In fact, the best line of the entire run features in episode five.
It’s a great set-up. Reggie has dared to tell Nicola a few truths and confessed that he a) likes porn, and b) doesn’t really care for his cadging father-in-law William. Enter William, who gets to hear Reggie’s opinion of him straight from the horse’s mouth – at a raging Nicola’s insistence.
As she leaves them both to go to bed, Nicola fires one last scornful comment her husband’s way, saying: “I think the best pornography is on channel 495.”
Silence for a moment, and then William speaks.
“483, isn’t it?” he responds. It was such a funny line, so perfectly timed, that I cheered.
If that sort of quality can be maintained, then the last episode of Reggie Perrin should be a real treat.
Check out our review of episode 4 here.