How do you follow on from that episode?
Back in October, Upstart Crow left us with a heartbreaking and unexpected finale. While pathos is nothing new in sitcoms, what this finale did was fundamentally question faith and the prospect of an afterlife within the face of the overwhelming grief of a sudden death. The episode was probably the most remarkable and gusty thing a sitcom has dealt with since the end of Blackadder Goes Forth. And unsurprisingly, it drew well deserved comparisons with that ending.
Another parallels the ending shares with Blackadder goes Forth’s ending is its basis in reality. We don’t know of all of the details but Shakespeare’s son, Hamnet did die aged just eleven. Read more details about Shakespeare’s children here in an article @chasquiepenguin wrote for us:
It is speculated that Shakespeare liked to play the ghost of Hamlet’s father in Hamlet. It is also widely believed that the piece David delivered beautifully at the end from King John was written with his son in mind:
“Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form;
Then, have I reason to be fond of grief?”
But how do you pick up from here with a Christmas special? Well, there’s another sitcom that ended on a bleak note (granted a less bleak one) later picking things up in one (or rather two) of the most widely remembered specials that defined the entire show. Yes I’m talking about Kempe’s very own: The Office.
Things looked depressing in the last episode before this Christmas special-what with Dawn starting a new life with her boyfriend away from Tim, and David Brent losing the job that defined him and his life.
However, all was mended as Brent met a girl and stood up to his chauvinistic mates, whilst Tim finally got together with Dawn in the iconic final scenes. There was something special about the fact that it was done this way. The gap between the series and the Christmas specials added gravitas to the drama, giving it more depth. And that’s why this Christmas’s episode of Upstart Crow may be the best yet…
I was lucky enough to see it being recorded back in February. I don’t want to say anything ‘spoilery’ but it’s been widely reported that Kenneth Branagh makes a guest appearance and I thought his scenes with David were nothing short of incredible!
The pick up is so brilliant, as it isn’t bogged down with sadness or ignoring where we last left the characters. Of course it’s still very, very funny! Lily Cole also makes a guest appearance and all I’ll say is the quote from the BBC press release: It’s the tale of a Christmas haunting that comes a little bit too early. Here’s a little teaser poster I made for it…