Sunday, August 20, 2006

The best Mr. Bean episode ever!

I remember the way my eyes sort of bulged out of my head with delight the very first time that I saw this video. Granted it's now many years later, and while lovingly embedded in popular culture, new episodes of Mr. Bean are no longer in production. It was hard to watch Rowan Atkinson performing as the sometimes scheming, eccentric, comical, confused, blundering, cheeky Mr. Bean and not laugh. The comedy was a throw back to times when less was more, and the emphasis was more on what was not being said (quite in keeping with the spirit of Charlie Chaplin). Yet amongst the mere 14 episodes in total of this humorous UK comedy that were made, no other episode could ever hold a candle up against this one: Mr. Bean in the hospital.

The plot begins with Mr. Bean lining up in the local emergency room as he's somehow managed to lodge his hand inside of a tea kettle. Impatient to see the doctor, Bean then begins to scheme his way to a better place on the waiting list by tampering with other peoples' tickets. What sets this episode apart however is that shortly into the sketch when Bean goes to take a seat in the waiting room he plonks himself down next to a very heavily casted woman!

We're not talking the sort of casts that you see every day on TV (heck or even once a year for that matter!) - a mere short arm cast, single long leg cast or pair of crutches. Oh no, here Mr. Bean's waiting companion is fully decked out in several casts and a neck brace.

In fact if we take a close look at this patient (her character's name is never revealed) she is wearing at least 5 (plaster looking) casts, seated in a wheelchair (with leg rests) and dawning a hard neck brace - which by the looks of it may be a Philadelphia collar. While she is not in a full body cast, protruding from her rather conservative clothing (this is early 1990's England after all :-)) we see that she is wearing the following casts, all of which are white coloured.

Her left arm is encased in a short arm cast and held closely to her chest with a somewhat simple cream hued sling; her right arm has a long arm cast that leads down to her thumb (and possibly her ring and pinkie fingers) being casted as well; her left leg is in a long leg casts and is supported in a flat, straight position on a black leg rest; her right leg is in a short leg cast which seems as though it hits around the knee, it's resting in a sitting position; lastly (and this really is the highlight of her casting combo for me) the injured woman's entire head and jaw are casted - all the we can see of her face is a small gap rectangular gap that has been left un-casted for her eyes and nose. This face and head cast leads straight into her neck brace.

Through out the skit she moves the un-casted fingers on her right hand, laughs, tries to speak (which is inaudible due to the cast over mouth) and is eventually wheeled from the room by a chipper looking pretty brunette nurse in a light blue gown and black nylons. Through out about five and a half minutes of this Mr. Bean clip we get to see a lot of that time being dedicated to shots that include the heavily casted female patient. Much, much shorter shots also show brief clips of three different men with arm casts and one man dressed in green on a pair of crutches with either a bandaged or casted foot.

I would really like to know if the woman's casts are real, or if they are simply well constructed fake casts. If they are not real, my guess would be that the costume crew used white crepe bandages over top of some form of white padding. Whether real or not, the casts look for all intensive purposes to be both well constructed and rather believable. Certainly, they make for a very convincing group of casts that many recreational casts would practically swing the English Channel to wear.

I love that after numerous years without seeing it, I was able to find this episode again and relive the sheer pleasure of watching a heavily casted woman (essentially publicing) in a wheelchair, sitting patiently as she waits to see a doctor. While I know it's almost impossible, there's always been this part of me that views this clip and thinks two things. One, did somebody on the Mr. Bean crew has a (secret) casting fetish and two, could you imagine if this woman really was wearing these casts for medical reasons and was hired to be an character in this show simply because of her beautiful casts. Unlikely, I know, but than again, so is the idea that a British comedy would feature such a heavily casted patient...