The Twonkey Trilogy: A Warning from History!

As Twonkey prepares to complete his trilogy (Cottage, Castle, and now Kingdom) at the Brighton Fringe Festival next week, we thought we would look back and offer a word of warning from other trilogies that have faltered – and badly – on Part III, after two undisputed works of art. In keeping with the trilogy theme here are a trilogy of trilogies that bollocksed it all up at the final step. Three three-parters that failed on part three. These are truly ‘thirds’ as pronounced the Irish way. Here we go.

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STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI

History has not been kind to George Lucas’s closing chapter to the original Star Wars trilogy. The reason for the downfall is put squarely at the teddy bear ‘ewoks’ and Harrison Ford’s lame-ass performance. Ford is even out-acted by Mark Hamill which should have lead to enforced retirement.

And there’s the bit where the evil Emperor fires lightning bolts at a floored, helpless Luke Skywalker. Serial killer par excellence Jeffrey Dahmer claimed that this bit of GFILF-on-JEDI action drove him to murder every time he watched it. That might seem totally wack to good hetero Christians like you and me. But try to imagine it was Miley Cyrus lying there instead of Mark Hamill, and then tell me with a straight face that you wouldn’t have been driven to do something halfway stupid yourself. Talk about irresponsible filmmaking!

Lessons for Twonkey? There’s definitely a David Lynchian bent to much of Vickers’ imagination, so the appearance of dwarves is always a strong possibility. Dressed as teddy bears? Twonkey is, after all, a kid’s show gone wrong, so it’s a worry, no getting around that.

And there’s Harrison Ford. He who almost ruined Return of the Jedi. Is it unrealistic that he’ll appear in Twonkey’s Kingdom? Actually, no. He appears on the Oom-pah! album. Yeah, I know that appearance is credited as an ‘impersonation’. But an impersonation is all that the real Ford has been doing since The Mosquito Coast back in 1986, so I reckon it was actually him. Please Twonkey, no Harry Ford! Just say no. He needs you more than you need him.

THE GODFATHER PART III

Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Two films, two Academy Awards for Best Picture and a 16 year wait for the finale. Unlike Star Wars though, The Godfather was done and dusted after Part II. We needed a Part III like a dose of the clap. Brando, Caan and Cazale couldn’t be brought back, leaving Pacino (yay!), Duvall (yay!), Talia Shire (‘Adrian!!’) and Diane Keaton (worst actress in the whole wide world). Tragically, Keaton said yes and Duvall said no. Like something from a Spitting Image sketch, director Coppola dealt with the departure of Robert Duvall by replacing him with George Hamilton. George Hamilton! The David Hasselhoff of his era. No one can remember a single film he was ever in. You ask a member of his family if he’s even still alive and they’ll tell you they don’t know. And to make matters worse, Coppola then decided to cast his teenage daughter as the female lead. She was shaggable, I’ll give him that. But acting wise? Ouch. For fans of the Godfather films, her every appearance was like a kick in the balls. And I mean a kick from a shoe with a hidden spike like the one worn by that horrible old bird in From Russia With Love. Sure, the story took aim at the Pope and the Vatican. But they forgot about all that child abuse. D’oh!

Lessons for Twonkey? I can’t think of any. Sorry, I’ve only gone and wasted everyone’s time with this one. I wanted to include The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King instead which, contrary to public opinion, is a big pile of shite. But 11 Academy Awards, a box office bonanza and mass cultural hypnosis made it ineligible I’m afraid.

THE THIRD REICH

Perhaps the most disappointing final part of a trilogy, this one. Could bring a tear to a glass eye. A bold, perhaps overly ambitious finale to The Reich trilogy, Part Three has been treated by critics in much the same way as an M. Night Shyamalan film: it doesn’t matter how good you were for the first 90%, you will only ever be judged by the ending. Therefore modern day reviewers tend to forget about the Autobahns, the economic miracle, the bloodless 1933 coup and – perhaps the greatest moment in any part three of a trilogy – the invasion of France. Sure, Hitler could have accomplished the latter having given them a month’s notice, walking in through the front door and still collected all three points. But that doesn’t change the fact that it was one of the most spectacular manoeuvres in military history. Making this much maligned Part III worth the admission price alone.

It wasn’t the only virtue. Costumes were provided by no less than Hugo Boss himself making Heinrich Himmler look like John Travolta. And a cast of millions put Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi to shame. It was long, yeah, but not as long as that 100 Years War shenanigans. I don’t even know who starred in that. I could check it out on Wikipedia right now but, you know what, I can’t be arsed.

Sure, Reich III wasn’t perfect. One left the cinema thinking if it had got to the part where they invade Russia just a bit quicker (with thicker cardigans), it might have swept the Oscars. And, alas, there’s that ending. George Lucas may have copied the first Star Wars film verbatim in Return of the Jedi (the rebels blow up the Death Star), but at least it didn’t happen three films in a row. The Reich series worked to the same formula each time – world domination until they were foiled by the dastardly Brits. Sure, the Director’s Cut of Part III makes it more obvious that this time the Russians and Americans were the victors, but try telling that to a UK audience.

Hitler talked of a ’Thousand Year Reich’ and fell short by 988 years of his promised allotment. If Twonkey was to repeat that at the Edinburgh Fringe, he would be chucking the towel in just 9 minutes into his first performance. I didn’t even use a calculator to work that out (or did I?). Ultimately, there was much to enjoy in this Reich finale. Underrated. Especially if you switch off before it all goes Pete Tong on Operation Barbarossa. Could yet be followed up with a fourth in the series, probably set in Scandinavia.

Lessons for Twonkey? Despite Paul and Adolf’s shared love for silent movie stars (Lillian Gish and Charlie Chaplin respectively), I reckon Twonkey will heed the warnings. Mr Vickers is an honorary Edinburgher, and they have a saying up there when it gets cold: ‘It’s Baltic’, they say. Which translates as ‘Don’t go out into the October night in nothing but your ‘Frankie Says Relax’ T-shirt, young MacDougall. Remember the fate of your underdressed Aryan kin back in the olden days who found themselves all a’shiver in the Soviet satellite states.’ Twonkey will value warm sensible clothing over Hugo Boss leathers every day of the week. He’s safe.

Less than a fortnight till Twonkey 3! Bring it on!

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