Black Books Episode Guide: Fever
The Entertainer | Black Books | The Fixer
Warning: Plot details follow.
It's hot. Too hot, in fact. Fran's
apartment is too stuffy for her to sleep, Manny
subsists on a diet of ice-creams
, and Bernard
keeps on staring at the woman browsing his shop:
Fran: You haven't stared at me.
Bernard: You're my oldest friend. Anyway, you look like you just fell out of a tree.
After minutes of agony, he decides that he needs to get a girlfriend.
Bernard: She'll be a summery girl. She'll have hair. She'll have summery friends who know how to be outside. She'll...she'll play tennis and wear dresses and have bare feet. And in the autumn, I'll ditch her! 'cause she's my summer girl!
It's night. Fran is trying to sleep, but she's tossing and turning. It's too hot and stuffy - it feels like the walls are closing in on her. Wait - what's that noise? It's the wall! It's closing in on her! We are left in suspense as we cut to the next day...
Manny starts putting post-its everywhere with the figure 88 on them. When asked he reveals that at 88 degrees...something happens to him. Apparently he has a condition called Dave's Syndrome, but won't reveal what the symptoms are.
Bernard: You're making this up. It's like that fudge thing of yours, what is it? You have to have lots of fudge because-
Manny: It stops me going deaf.
Another invention of Bernard's is the idea of chilled books - "perfect on a hot day" - which he keeps in the fridge. Just then, Fran arrives at the shop:
Fran: If I told you that the walls of my flat were actually moving in, would you think that I was strange?
Bernard: No, I'd ask you to come around and look after my small children.
Fran: If you don't believe me you can come around tonight and we'll watch the wall.
Manny: Don't be ridiculous! We'll be staying in watching the thermometer, won't we Bernard?
Bernard: I don't know, it's an impossible choice: walls, thermometers; I'll just have to hope when I flip the coin it somehow explodes and kills me.
Fran returns to her flat to find that a new room has somehow appeared beside hers. She confronts her rather tubby landlord, who claims that there's always been a room here, and the new tenant, a bouncy red-haired young lady who invites her in for a cup of coffee
Fran: Oh, coffee. Yeah, yeah. Coffee that I've spilled on the carpet, you've picked up with tweezers, put in a jar, and now you're going to serve it right back to me!
Meanwhile, Manny finds out Bernard has left the heating on in an attempt to hit 88 - he wants to see what will happen, and he's not particularly worried about Manny's well-being. Fran returns from her flat and outlines the problem, and Bernard suggests getting a lawyer:
Manny: It's expensive though. Maybe you could get someone to pretend to be a lawyer.
Bernard: Yeah. Someone who's just a bit like a lawyer. Arrogant, cruel, crooked. A liar. A real bastard. That'll sort them out.
Manny and Fran stare at him.
Bernard: No, I'm not doing it.
Fran: Oh, go on. And then when you get a girlfriend, I'll give you a reference. I'll lie for you - I'll say your OK.
Bernard is convinced, and heads off to get Fran's room back. However he is stopped in his tracks when he finds out that the new tenant is his exact picture of beauty he imagined his summer girl to be. He is smitten, and forgetting about Fran he moves the dividing wall back until her room is even smaller, while his summer girl's room is almost twice its original size. He leaves in a hurry (but not before arranging a date with this girl) after hearing muffled swearing from the other room.
Fran is forced to desperate measures. She returns to the landlord and promises him sex if he returns her room to its original size. Suddenly confronted with perhaps the only chance to touch a woman in his life, the landlord hurries to her room to fix the problem, reducing Bernard's new girlfriend's room to a tiny cupboard. Utilising his social awkwardness, Fran manages to get the landlord out of the room without having to fulfil her promise, and can finally sleep in peace with her room the right size.
Back at the shop, Bernard has persuaded Manny to wear an arctic jacket, ug boots and a hot water bottle in an attempt to ward off heat.
Manny: Bernard, this Therma-Ware jacket you bought me doesn't seem to be working - I feel quite warm.
Bernard: Trust me, it's what the astronauts use to keep cool.
Manny: Is space hot?
Bernard:Of course it is! Where else do you think we get pineapples from?
Bernard, unaware of his girlfriend's eviction, decides to "deliver a truckload of woo" to her, leaving Manny to take care of the shop. A customer comes in, asking for a book - Manny goes to the fridge to take out a copy, but only finds a note saying "Go to the oven". He heads out back to find the books in the oven, wrapped in tin foil. He opens the oven...and the temperature hits 88. A change comes over him...his eyes dart from side to side...his breathing becomes harsh and short...we switch to outside the shop, where we hear the agonised scream of the customer. Why is he screaming? What happened to Manny?
Before we can find out, we cut to Bernard's girlfriend leaving the flat in a huff. Bernard chases after her with an accordion:
Bernard: Hello! I've come to serenade you. I can't play a guitar; I can't play this either, but I thought it'd be less obvious.
But she has had enough - her flat's too small, her neighbour's annoying, and now her boyfriend has turned into an obsessive freak who wants to serenade her with an accordion. She's leaving, whether it breaks Bernard's heart or not . Fran tries to console Bernard on his loss:
Fran: She was never your girlfriend. It's just the heat playing tricks with your mind.
Bernard: It's not the heat! There's nothing wrong with my mind!
Fran: You're wearing an accordion.
They decide to head off to the pub for a beer - but what's happened to Manny? That, my friends...you must find out for yourself.