Screenplay by Steve Delaney and Graham Linehan.
I’d seen Count Arthur Strong a few times before this episode, but on the night I saw Stuck in the Middle With You, I was lying on the sofa with a warm drink and a blanket and a blocked-up head. The episode in question was a cruel irony, as it involved an exaggerated version of that that gradually turned into black humour with Strong nearly torturing a person in an attempt to heal them.
Linehan’s always been good at writing farce comedy, and Delaney knows the character better than anyone, so combining the two of them lead to what could be considered a form of theatre. Because, with the plumber trapped in Strong’s bedroom, unable to leave due to the wooden planks holding his broken legs together, I myself began to feel as if I was in that situation. Stuck in the circumstances I’d been dealt, and unable to really do anything about it. Strong in this case was the form fate had chosen to take, and being the bitch that it is, wanted to annoy me as much as possible. The fact that I was laughing is something I can only put down to it resembling the kind of hallucinations that you’d expect from a head cold, and the episode almost sent me into a state of comedic hysteria since I’d have laughed at anything in my unfit state.
But that aside – this episode was still a surreal entry into the show regardless. Outside of Strong’s own paranoia about new guest, Michael Baker’s own fear about Strong’s psychopathic abilities and Bulent’s rising suspicion about his unsafe mental condition become not only a horror in itself, but also a fitting homage to 1950s motion pictures of spies and espionage. There’s also the disturbing way these things fit perfectly into place, with the heavy implication of the episode being that Strong actually is dangerous that those suspicions about him are right. His actions happen out of an unawareness of what he’s doing, and that’s the scary thing – even his assessment confirms it.
It’s as if this is Count Arthur Strong‘s Dead Bart episode, in-which the show takes a much darker turn to the point of being psychological while still remaining a comedy, but revealing the truth within. As far as this episode’s contribution to the characters go, this is comedy wrapping fear. And it’s even funnier for it.
Count Arthur Strong: Stuck in the Middle With You – scary revelations make comedy stronger 6/10.