Due South: s01 e18 – An Invitation to Romance

Due South

A farce. A pure farce from start to finish. And I mean that in a good way.

All RCMP Constable Benton Fraser had to do was deliver a letter, a Party Invitation, in fact, though the Canadian Consul also wants him to stop being so nice and helpful to everyone because this is ruining his aspiration to make Canada feared by the USA. Not that this makes any difference since our man Fraser can’t keep himself from escorting old ladies and nuns across busy Chicago streets nor from rugby-tackling attractive young blonde women to prevent them from being knocked over by a truck whilst on the way to the Post Office and simultaneously learning French.

Actually, it’s only one attractive young blonde woman, and her name is Katharine Burns and she’s being played by a young Jane Krakowski long years before 30 Rock. And Ms Burns is, from one angle, an airhead, and from another a self-centred monster who neither observes the world about her nor listens to anyone trying to treat it as a well-ordered place, and in either aspect talks continually until you start wondering what the heck she sees out of those baby blue eyes, and Krakowski is absolutely brilliant.

What can go wrong when all you have to do is deliver a letter? You have to ask? Well, what about you save a blithering idiot’s life, she doesn’t notice and in picking up her scattered letters you get one of hers and she gets yours? A long, convoluted but always ridiculous in a good way, chase ensues.

You see, Miss Burns is getting married tomorrow, to Nigel Ellis (Nicholas Campbell) – I didn’t know they had Nigels in America – a sanitation businessman of doubtful probity and extreme jealousy. By an implausible coincidence of the kind that’s practically mandatory in stories like this, the invitation Fraser is delivering turns out to be to the said Nigel at his home, where Miss Burns has momentarily come to rest, thus causing her, and more fatefully him to assume that Fraser has fallen violently in love with the lady and is following her. Unfortunately, Nigel, being as I have mentioned of the jealous kind, instantly assumes his ever-loving finacee is doing a turn behind his back and has his henchman Perry follow them, the idea being that if Nigel’s suspicions turn out to be correct, or if an unbelievable sequence of unfortunate and momentary incidents create the suspicion that he’s correct when in fact he isn’t, then he’s going to blow the heads off both of them.

The episode isn’t quite a Fraser solo but Ray Vecchio is mostly a supporting role. It’s his day off and he’s planning to watch the baseball only he’s doing this fsvour for his Canadian buddy, ferrying him around on an increasingly convoluted trail, until he accepts Fraser’s suggestion he go home. But having been asked to deliver Fraser’s message that he’s going to be a bit late, Vecchio ends up dressing in Fraser’s spare uniform and taking his place as doorman to the party, in a most un-Fraser and un-Canadian-like fashion.

By now, the main story has seen Fraser be spotted at Miss Burns’ bridal shop when she’s trying on her wedding dress (a proper meringue, as my ex-wife would have described it), leading, naturally, to the two of them winding up in the honeymoon suite of a Bridal Hotel, where Miss Burns, having already consumed at least one bottle of champagne, becomes the first woman to get to kiss Constable Fraser, as well as making indelicate suggestions as to the use of a heart-shaped waterbed. Don’t worry, Nigel and his shotgun disrupt things leading, once again, naturally, to the non-engaged pair winding up in the dumpster and being driven away to a place where Nigel intends to do the deadly.

Where you’ve got Vecchio using his last bullet uselessly so that he doesn’t have to shoot his car again to create a diversion. But the lovely Katherine actually talks Nigel down, pointing out how hurt she is by his lack of trust in her, especially as she’s marrying him tomorrow. And, do you know what? He actually says sorry and puts his gun down. He really loves her. Then she goes and says she’s realised she doesn’t love him and she won’t marry him, so we get an action ending after all, no matter how brief.

And a coda in which Cinderella Burns goes to the Ball on Prince Not-So-Charming’s invitation, and we end with Fraser waltzing her round the floor, and if anything else happens, you’re going to have to imagine it for yourself, not that personally I would give you six-for-five on any romantic sparks flying. A farce, as I said. Feydeau will not be worrying yet, but definitely funny.

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