The Supersizers are back! Their travels through time have brought them to a place where Sue can wear trousers (that’s good!) and has to cook (that’s less good, but kind of hilarious). Join them for an episode where they’re more married than ever, attempt to eat everything in a candy store, make a series of amazing faces, and spit out almost as much food as they did in the Restoration! Good job, The Seventies.
Let’s get groovy.
Chef Grade: Mark Hix, B cheffing – a nice gent but made way too sad by things like Ritz crackers, clearly unaware he got the easy week.
Best Guest:Swinger Geoff Ross.
Best Food Moment: Sue fends off an army of 6-year-old girls for the right to eat the chocolate sponge of her youth.
Worst Food Moment: The Croute Forestier is pretty dismal.
Equality Now!: Sue has to do the cooking. She also has a part-time job!
Worst Thing Giles Says: “I like to wake up with a big stripper.”
Best Sue Thing: Sue in a candy store goes just about how you’d expect.
Moment Giles is Most in Love with Sue: Every single moment. I’ve seen actual married couples less married than these two in this episode.
Most Random Moment: In an attempt to show calorie-burning, they make Giles play tennis, ride a bouncy ball, and accidentally skateboard himself in the family jewels.
ASPIC. You bet! And they serve it to others! Rude.
Quote of the Week: Giles, for once! Regarding a candy watch he’s slid on, falling rapidly into and out of character: “It’s a digital watch!…What’s that? it’s 1972!”
Heads-up for this episode: We’re light on food caps this week, as the food is pretty universally gross, and Giles and Sue make pretty universally great faces, and I have opted to cap the latter rather than the former. If the visuals aren’t there for a particular meal, just imagine something like this Fanny Cradock dish, which was shown on national television as a food one should serve to other people and then consume:
Turns out Giles and Sue were actually alive in the 70s, so we’re treated to some shots of them as tiny kiddos before we sink into a time warp and the camera spends some time admiring them getting dressed, because this is one of the eras they visit in which they can actually dress themselves.
Then it’s time to hit the table with chef Mark Hix, who is a nice guy but lacks the crack-that-calf’s-head gusto of your Sophies and Allegras, leading to a vaguely desultory Charlie Brown kitchen that we hardly ever spend time in. Still, Giles and Sue are trotted out to observe their culinary splendor.
Then they immediately make mouth custard with Angel Delight powder mixed into milk and Advocaat liqueur. (Giles jokes it’s made from lawyers.)
Putting Mark through the wringer right from the off, it’s breakfast!
(Carson note: Carson reads almost all the Seventies menu items as if someone’s trying to get one over on him. It’s not that he’s judging, it’s just that he doesn’t want to give any indication he might have ever eaten such a thing in his life.)
BREAKFAST: Baked Grapefruit, Boiled Eggs with Soldiers, Croutes Forestieres (Baked Loaf Stuffed with Bacon and Mushrooms).
Left, Fanny Cradock’s, complete with florid tentacles of greens. Right, Mark’s version.
They try to come up with something to say about the Seventies needing everything to be a game, which I think isn’t inaccurate given how the rest of this week’s food goes, but it does make bacon stuck in mushroom bread sound like someone was attempting molecular gastronomy or something when really they were clearly just on a dare. In any event, it’s off to work with Giles, and we get to mark the beginning of what’s possibly the most married episode for these two ever, as Giles goes in for a double cheek-kiss.
Sue’s wig is working the Festival of Darkness thing a little bit!
Giles is off to man-lunch with a bunch of manly businessmen! Manly businessmen who are about to get waaaaasted.
BUSINESS LUNCH: First Course – rouget grille, garlic rolls, chardonnay; Second Course – duck a l’orange, mixed vegetables, bordeaux; Dessert – crème brulee, red wine
Over a few Harvey Wallbangers, Giels proclaims the rouget tasty, the duck a l’orange a food travesty in concept, and pulls out restaurant creds about crème brulee being the measure of a restaurant. “How is this one?” asks one of the guests. Says Giles, man who makes his living using words to describe food:
And then it’s back home for dinner with Sue, ready and willing to cook up a TV dinner!
Sue: “What do you fancy, if you let your imagination run riot?”
Giles: “Oooh, I dunno, do you have anything dehydrated?”
Giles, getting way into this, starts with a bit of ironic BS: “I love the way yo get to express yourself with your food! I have my work, you have your stove. ”
And then doubles down: “Some of my friends married professional women, but not me, eh darling? I just wanted a beautiful little thing who liked pop music and didn’t mind rehydrating a bit of Smash.”
Giles, buddy, there’s Funny Irony Times on your lips, but I Love You So Much Sue in your eyes, and she knows it.
DINNER: Boil in the bag fish, meat faggots, crispy pancakes, smash potatoes, tinned vegetables. Dessert: butterscotch Angel Delight, Banana Custard, Arctic Roll.
That is…a plate of things. They power through it pretty well, though by the time they come to dessert, Sue’s making some faces (about PUDDING! You KNOW it’s bad!). At some point, a tandem couch-dance party breaks out, one assumes from the sugar rush.
The next morning, they go to Sue’s school for no real reason! Giles immediately regresses. (“At least in a classroom of 6-year-old girls, I have someone more stimulating to talk to than Giles,” she VOs.) They are very mature about it all.
For lunch, an extremely skeptical school chef cooks up ’70s school food for them, with the look of a man who is getting a drink with Carson later just to get over this food.
SCHOOL LUNCH: Liver and bacon, lumpy mashed potatoes, boiled cabbage.
Dessert improves vastly with chocolate sponge and chocolate custard, which Sue cannot save from the hordes of girls that descend on it immediately. Giles, in a fit of Masculinity Olympics, offers his dessert to the first girl who admits boys are better, at which point a girl immediately admits it, looking at him with the elated eye of a card shark who’s spotted her biggest sucker of the night.
And in keeping with the trend of shoving these two in a single location just to see what they’ll do, it’s off to a literal candy store for two people who are monumentally unequipped to handle that sort of sensory input.
Giles runs up immediately with an armful of candy watches, geeking out about them in an unselfconscious way that makes you wonder what he might have been like without boarding school and the subsequent Olympics. Then, in an inspired half-in-character delivery that falls apart just at the end, he looks at them a second and realizes out loud, “It’s a digital watch!…What’s that? It’s 1972!”
Meanwhile, Sue’s dumping candy right into her hat. She also makes the time for editorial commentary on Giles’s gum-chewing.
So, because it’s the Seventies, Sue has a job! She’s a travel agent! (Not pictured for blurriness: her typing “red rum” on the office typewriter.)
And you know what that means? A date on the Concord! (No one is here for the food, it’s just a date, we all know it and it’s fine.)
CONCORD: Aperitifs, caviar and smoked salmon canapes, Dom Perignon; cold breast of chicken with foie gras and asparagus, mixed green salad, more champagne; poached orange in Grand Marnier, champagne; cheese, brandy, cigars.
This is an orange doused with liqueur. What a sad thing to happen to an orange. Also to liqueur, I guess.
As the cigars are brought out, Giles snarks her about not knowing what to do with one, apparently not seeing the barn door he has opened. Sue takes him up on it by gnawing it confidently for a second before giving him this look.
Cut to him literally unable to even look her in the eye, because of all the people in the world who are on to Giles, it is Sue.
He takes solace in the cheese course, declaring, “Oh, smoked cheese!…or not smoked.” “Your palette’s lost none of its rigor, has it,” offers mid-Rubik’s Sue. They collapse with delighted laughter, amid his weak protestations that he’s lost his taste buds to Grand Marnier.
Speaking of dates: FONDUE.
Sue points out, as a producer waves a trivia book just off-camera, that there were rules to fondue, like having to kiss your date if you dropped bread in the fondue. In the middle of grousing about how she should dream on because there’s no way she’s ever going to get to kiss this hot stuff, Giles immediately drops a piece of bread in his fondue with all the spontaneous accidenting of an Art Frahm drawing. She gives him a knowing grin as he goes in for a kiss, with a weirdly funny biplane/T-Rex noise.
(Not pictured: dinosaur biplane noise.)
Then, cruelly, it’s time for chocolate fondue. Sue can’t believe it, but ends up drinking it straight from the pot because Sue. Giles does this with his last marshmallow, because Giles.
Back home, it’s time to work off that fondue! Sue demonstrates the fitness craze of pretending you’re a cat and running around with claw hands, which is interesting because that turns out to be a fitness craze my three-year-old semi-niece is also way into; she combines it with the more weight-bearing exercise of pretending she’s Batman and becoming too heavy to lift through the power of her mind.
Giles does a bunch of sports and then skateboards himself in the groin.
You’re welcome, Giles.
Then he comes home to interrupt Sue’s diet lunch (cottage cheese, crispbread, Slim-fast, and fruit) before going out to build a table.
So okay, pause. Despite Sue and Giles having the serendipity of getting along more or less as themselves and the wit to dial it up enough for television, and producers who realize mostly the best thing to do is put them in a room with booze and food and step back, this moment is not like that. (I love those moments! This just isn’t like that.) It’s much more laid-back, teasing without barbs and quietly affectionate, and she hugs his waist and he eats cottage cheese off a hammer handle and she asks him if he’s planning to build a table and he sort of “I dunnos” and wanders off. It might be as close as we get to what they’re like when the cameras are off. (Maybe she’s meaner when the cameras are off, I’d be fine with that, too.) It is just really nice, okay? I’M NOT MADE OF STONE.
Anyway, then Giles makes this terrible table and resignedly declares it “Level Thing (1972).”
Look at those sad hands.
A happier hand is Sue’s, helping him make pre-dinner booze in a bar apparently not stocked with any sort of pouring apparatus!
Tasty stuff, though. (Sue spits it out.)
It’s probably preparation for the “dream dinner” they’re being served, based on a Gallup poll about people’s Perfect Meals. Sue gets to choke out a panicked “Tomato soup!” and gets to thank all the Dianes that went into the Steak Diane; otherwise, the meal’s a sad affair.
PERFECT MEAL: Tomato soup, Reisling; prawn cocktail; steak Diane, crinkle-cut chips, red wine; sherry trifle.
Pictured: Mark – “This is a typical 70s trifle.” Sue – “So it’s not a nice trifle.”
(Then there’s a power outage. Sue, after a beat: “You dirty %&^@.”)
SWINGERS PARTY OH JEEZ.
Emily Dubley, “sex writer,” and Geoff Ross, host swinger, has this whole group of people in his home to talk about swinging and eat tongue, asparagus, banana candles, and baba rhum, and see how awkward things can possibly become when Giles tries to flirt and has to keep returning to Home Base Sue because he gets too flustered to continue.
Emily’s suggestion “Get that tongue in you.” They can’t even.
(Geoff, hilariously: “I think people got on with the sex because they couldn’t get on with the food.”)
Banana candles and baba rhum, not at all suggestive.
(I can’t even with the banana candles. Trivia: They were actually part of a Fanny Cradock recipe book FOR KIDS. WHOOPS.)
Sue takes two baba rhums: “That’s more my thing.” Emily says the bananas are good for sperm production, and the camera pans to Geoff’s flawless glee and timing, and catches a bit of Sue’s existential Nope:
They go to Hard Rock Cafe. It’s…Hard Rock Cafe. Nobody needs a screencap of that generic oily sadness.
The morning after, they’re awakened by an alarm clock that makes tea (actual thing) and then makes the world’s most annoying noise, to which Sue says, “I love to wake up with a migraine,” and Giles the human prince mumbles, “I like getting up with a big stripper.”
(This is a fried egg, bacon, and fried bread breakfast that Giles can’t even look up from enough to contribute to the conversation, but this screencap is mostly to show that you can more or less gauge where we are in the week by how much Sue has beaten the hell out of her wig.)
And now? PARTY TIME.
Sue makes decorative lemon pigs that make me laugh out loud every time, I regret nothing.
Giles, meanwhile, is so horrified by the per-person per-party boozing guidelines in his book that he actually pours it out to see it – one of the few times I’ve seen him genuinely staggered by a thing.
It is, in fairness, pretty staggering. Perhaps, in its own way, less staggering than the recipe for this business. (Don’t ask.)
Also staggering: the party menu!
PARTY FOOD: Twiglets, Ritz cracker hors d’oeuvres, cheese and pineapple, coronation chicken vol-au-vents, avocado and prawns, Swedish birds’ nests, haddock mousse, steak tartare, fish sandwich cake, roast chicken with green potatoes, salmon and cucumber mold. Dessert: Black forest cake, cheesecake, cheese board, baked Alaska.
(In the background of this shot, every guest hands him a bottle of Mateus Rose as he exclaims politely. It’s the world’s silliest gag, but everyone looks so guilelessly happy to be invited that it’s almost charming anyway.)
Salmon and cucumber mold! Aspic strikes again! (Weirdly, Mark declares the fish sandwich cake “totally disgusting,” and has no comment about their old enemy.)
The party actually seems like a fun and hilarious time, which I suppose is partially because everyone seems fun, and partially because of what happens when you present a bunch of people with nostalgic buffet and comfy couches instead of a series of mandatory courses of things like coffin pie. Sue’s totally in the swing of it (get it), while Giles is honestly creeped out by people’s choices: “You can tell you’re from the ’70s, three of you looked at the drinks and said, ‘I’ll take the blue stuff!'”
Standout guest Glenn Christian (the only person who didn’t ‘bring Mateus’ to the party) points out that it was bad manners to talk about the food, which surprises exactly zero people, since Sue’s in the middle of poking a raw egg out of the Swedish nests. He also mentions that it was considered the height of sophistication to speak French. And Giles and Sue, married couple, need no other encouragement to immediately go sub rosa for some food discussion.
And really, that bit’s a fair summary of almost anything from this week. Well done, all.