Main cast: Denholm Elliott (Norman Shenley), James Laurenson (Mr Rayburn), Pat Heywood (Emily Shenley), Lucy Gutteridge (Lolly), Eleanor Summerfield (Lady Strudwick), and Gareth Armstrong (Dr Melbury)
Director: Peter Sasdy
Norman Shenley doesn’t like his wife Emily much, and is sleeping with his secretary Lolly. Well, he sounds like a typical real estate agent, doesn’t he? His fun begins when a Mr Rayburn drops by and asks him to help put Lower Moat Manor on the market. Seeing big dollar signs, Norman heads out to have a look at the place himself… only to start hearing a disembodied voice there telling him that he shouldn’t have killed his wife. Wait, but Emily is still alive… right? Thus begin a series of montage of Norman waking up from what seems like a nightmare only to relive what seems like another nightmare.
I don’t know why every anthology series sees fit to have at least one episode dealing with this annoying “dream within a dream within a dream within a… oh, sod it” thing as if it’s required by the law to do so, but Rude Awakening is that episode in this series. And this is one annoying episode indeed, because everything feels like a disjointed mess designed only to pull and push at viewer’s expectations without bothering with a coherent story line.
But perhaps a story line ranks low in the priorities of the people behind this episode, as much detail is given to Lolly’s various costumes and guises in each of Norman’s dreams, or how Denholm Elliott just camps it up with his impressively expressive face while Pat Heywood has fun playing the many changing personalities of Emily from shrew to schemer to bewildered wife. Ultimately, it’s the cast that makes an otherwise pointless space-filling episode worth a look.