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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Following the hugely disappointing 'Across The Andes By Frog', 'Ripping
Yarns' was back on form with this cracking instalment, all about a
cursed Burnese claw and the effects it has on those who come into
contact with it. Palin plays two roles - naive 'Kevin Orr' and his
grotesque 'Uncle Jack'. Since the latter acquired the claw, his life
has been nothing but misfortune; he seems to have contracted every
known disease in the medical book ( as well as a few no-one has ever
heard of ). Kevin attempts to end the curse by taking the claw back to
Burma, but the sea voyage is doomed, although there's some consolation
when he learns that 'Chief Petty Officer Russell' ( Judy Loe ) is a
woman and that most of the ship's crew are in fact women as well. Kevin
loses the claw, and returns to England, knowing that one day it will
return to inflict its terrible curse once again...
B-movie horror is the main target here, and the bulls-eye is well and truly hit. Palin is good as 'Kevin', but his 'Uncle Jack' is a superb comic creation, almost like something out of 'Monty Python'. He is disgusting in every sense of the word ( watching him clear the rats out of his drains requires a superhuman effort of stamina ), yet he becomes a childhood hero to young Kevin, who visits him to get away from his Victorian-mindset parents ( Tenniel Evans and Hilary Mason ). When Jack dies, people are gagging at his funeral because of the awful smell. The late Aubrey Morris gives good value in his few scenes as sex-mad butler 'Grosvenor'. Keith Smith, who plays explorer 'Captain Merson', was then appearing regularly in Spike Milligan's 'Q' shows. Nigel Rhodes a.k.a. 'Young Kevin' could be seen saving the universe in I.T.V.'s hit children's sci-fi series 'The Tomorrow People'.
Funniest moment - Kevin reminiscing about his late wife 'Lady Agatha' ( Bridget Armstrong ) when Grosvenor comments: "She had such a magnificent body. Will Sir be requiring the Naughty Books tonight?".
Fans had to hate until 1979 to see more Yarns, and then there would only be three. But 'Curse' saw the first season end on a high-note.
I do not understand why Judy Loe did not achieve much greater reknown
beyond being Kate Beckindale's mom. This woman is incredibly hot in
uniform and completely convincing in a throw away role. I checked her
IMDb bio; apparently she had a strong TV career, but a gorgeous face
like hers should have gotten big league film roles.
What a crime that so many Brit films and TV series aren't available on Netflix. As for this series, it's not bad for a M.Python spin-off. The location shots like the ship in this episode are interesting cultural oddities and its explosion is a great one. The gags tend to drag in other episodes, but, like J.Loe, the female leads all are far superior to the script.
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