Like many of the other episodes this one is a genre parody (see What it’s at for a spoof on the spy genre). In this episode the genre of the murder investigation is parodied. Play the scene which introduces ‘Inspector Grave from the Yard’ Identify the visual and audio conventions of the murder mystery genre used in this episode. For example:
dialogue – questioning the suspect (interrogating)
Discuss the sources of humour in the parody (parody often works through over-exaggeration). Introduced the terms of caricature and satire and explain their meaning with examples from the episode.
Explore the use of caricature
Caricature is a form of over-exaggeration in which the qualities of a person or stock character are exaggerated for comic effect. Using cartoons from newspapers and magazines have them find other examples of the use of caricature.
This episode uses a parallel story structure. There is the story set in England (Penelope’s jealousy of Marcia and the events it leads to) and the story set in Australia (von Meister tours as the subject of a fraud squad investigation). Ask the students to identify the two storylines and discuss how they are established as parallel (contemporaneous in time) through the editing. Have students draw a graphic representation of the parallel story line. Mark on a time-line the major events, their location and points of intersection and crossover.
This episode develops the continuing narrative of Bruce’s desire to be human and thus explores the theme of freedom. Discuss Bruce’s definition of freedom and his rhetorical question ‘Why do caged birds sing?’