Series 1, Episode 5: Confuse-a-Cat
MR. A Michael Palin
MRS. B Terry Jones
VET Graham Chapman
SERGEANT Michael Palin
GENERAL John Cleese
(Elderly couple, Mr A and Mrs B are staring through french windows at a cat that is sitting in the middle of their lawn motionless and facing away from them. A car is heard drawing up.)
Mr A: Oh good, that’ll be the Vet, dear.
Mrs B: I’d better go and let him in.
(Mrs B: goes out and comes back into the room with the Vet)
Mrs B: (stage whisper) It’s the Vet, dear.
Mr A: Oh very glad indeed you could come round, sir.
Vet: Not at all. Now what seems to be the problem? You can tell me – I’m a Vet, you know.
Mrs B: See! Tell him, dear.
Mr A: Well…
Mrs B: It’s our cat. He doesn’t do anything. He just sits out there on the lawn.
Vet: Is he … dead?
Mr A: Oh, no!
Vet: (to camera dramaticaly) Thank God for that. For one ghastly moment I thought I was… too late. If only more people would call in the nick of time.
Mrs B: He just sits there, all day and every day.
Mr A: And at night.
Mrs B: Sh! Almost motionless. We have to take his food out to him.
Mr A: And his milk.
Mrs B: Sh! He doesn’t do anything. He just sits there.
Vet: Are you at your wits’ end?
Mrs B: Definitely, yes.
Vet: Hm. I see. Well I think I may be able to help you. You see … (he goes over to armchair, puts on spectcles, sits, crosses legs and puts finger tips together)… your cat is suffering from what we Vets haven’t found a word for. His condition is typified by total physical inertia, absence of interest in its ambience – what we Vets call environment – failure to respond to the conventional external stimuli – a ball of string, a nice juicy mouse, a bird. To be blunt, your cat is in a rut. It’s the old stockbroker syndrome, the suburban fin de siècle ennui, angst, weltschmertz, call it what you will.
Mrs B: Moping.
Vet: In a way, in a way … hum … moping, I must remember that. Now, what’s to be done? Tell me sir, have you confused your cat recenty?
Mr A: Well we …
Mrs B: Sh! No.
Vet: Yes … well I think I can definitely say that your cat badly needs to be confused.
Mrs B: What?
Mr A:Sh! What?
Vet: Confused. To shake it out of its state of complacency. I’m afraid I’m not personally qualified to confuse cats, but I can recommend an extremely good service. Here is their card.
Mrs B: (reading card) Oooh. ‘Confuse-a-Cat Limited’.
Mr A: ‘Confuse-a-Cat Limited’.’
Mrs B: Oh.
(Cut to large van arriving. On one side is a large sign readling ‘Confuse-a-Cat Limited: Europe’s leading cat-confusing service. By appointment to…’ and a crest. Several people get out of the van, dressed in white coats, with peaked caps and insignia. One of them has a sergeant’s stripes.)
Sergeant: Squad! Eyes front! Stand at ease. Cat confusers …shun!
(From a following car a general alights.)
General: Well men, we’ve got a pretty difficult cat to confuse today so let’s get straight on with it. Jolly good. Thank you sergeant.
Sergeant: Confusers attend to the van and fetch out… wait for it… fetch out the funny things. (the men unload the van) Move, move, move. One, two, one, two, get those funny things off.
(The workmen are completing the erection of a proscenium with curtains in front of the still immobile cat. A and B watch with awe. The arrangements are completed. All stand ready.)
Sergeant: Stage ready for confusing, sir!
General: Very good. Carry on, sergeant.
Sergeant: Left turn, double march!
General: Right men, confuse the … cat!
(Drum roll and cymbals. The curtains draw back and an amazing show takes place, using various tricks: locked camera, fast motion, jerky motion, jump cuts, some pixilated motion etc. Long John Silver walks to front of stage.)
Long John Silver: My lords, ladies and Gedderbong.
(Long John Silver disappears. A pause. Two boxers appear. they circle each other. On one’s head a bowler hat appears, vanishes. On the other’s a stove-pipe hat appears. On the first’s head a fez. The stove-pipe hat becomes a stetson. The fez becomes a cardinal’s hat. The stetson becomes a wimple. Then the cardinal’s hat and the wimple vanish. One of the boxers becomes Napoleon and the other boxer is astonished. Napoleon punches the boxer with the hand inside his jacket. The boxer falls, stunned. Horizontally he shoots off stage. Shot of cat, watching unimpressed. Napoleon does one-legged pixilated dance across stage and off, immediately reappearinng on other side of stage doing same dance in same direction. He reaches the other side, but is halted by a traffic policeman. The policeman beckons onto the stage a man in a penguin skin on a pogostick. The penguin gets halfway across and then turns into a dustbin. Napoleon hops off stage. Policeman goes to dustbin, opens it and Napoleon gets out. Shot of cat, still unmoved. A nude man with a towel round his waist gets out of the dustbin. Napoleon points at ground. A chair appears where he points. The nude man gets on to the chair, jumps in the air and vanishes.)
(Then Napoleon points to ground by him and a small cannon appears. Napoleon fires cannon and the policeman disappears. The man with the towel round his waist gets out of the dustbin and is chased off stage by the penguin on the pogostick. A sedan chair is carried on stage by two chefs. The man with the towel gets out and the penguin appears from the dustbin and chases him off. Napoleon points to sedan chair and it changes into dustbin. Man in towel runs back on to stage and jumps in dustbin. He looks out and the penguin appears from the other dustbin and hits him on the head with a raw chicken. Shot of cat still unimpressed. Napoleon, the man with the towel round his waist, the policeman, a boxer, and a chef suddenly appear standing in a line, and take a bow. They immediately change positions and take another bow. The penguin appears at the end of the line with a puff of smoke. Each one in turn jumps in the air and vanishes. Shot of passive cat.)
(Cut to Mr A and Mrs B watching with the general.)
General: I hope to God it works. Anyway, we shall know any minute now.
(After a pause, the cat gets up and walks into the house. Mr A and Mrs B are overcome with joy.)
Mrs B: I can’t believe it.
Mr A: Neither can I. It’s just like the old days.
Mrs B: Then he’s cured. Oh thank you, general.
Mr A: What can we ever do to repay you?
General: No need to, sir. It’s all in a day’s work for Confuse-a-Cat.
(Picture freezes and over still of general’s face are superimposed the words ‘Confuse-a-Cat Limited’. Dramatic music. The words start to roll, like ordinary credits but read:)
STARTLE-A-THOMPSON’S GAZELLE LTD