Saturday, June 5, 2010

Stephen Fry in America, Episode Five: The True West

Stephen Fry in America
Episode 5, True West
The original air date for this episode on BBC One was November 9, 2008.

This, the second-to-last installment of Stephen Fry in America is full from the first second to the last with breathtaking scenes and great humor as we tour one of the most spectacular parts of the United States, the American West.

Episode five opens in New Mexico with Stephen riding in a hot air balloon high over the Rio Grande Rift.  He moves on to Taos, New Mexico where he visits one of the "earthships" of the desert.  He speaks with founder, Mike Reynolds about the self-sustaining homes built with refuse such as old tires, cans, etc.  For a home built essentially with garbage, it is quite lovely.  The idea of the homes is that a family of four could live in one with absolutely no utility bills and still have plenty of water and food.  The home employs solar panels to generate power.  Reynolds explains how the homes fully sustain themselves and the residents needn't go without a single modern convenience.  He arrives in Santa Fe, New Mexico and visits "Post Office Box 1663".  Stephen takes us to Los Alamos past the Center for Integral Nanotechnologies and to the Quark Bar.  Terry Wallace and Stephen discuss the research conducted in Los Alamos today.

In the state of Utah, Stephen ventures into the desert and Monument Valley, part of the Navajo Reservation.  He speaks with Jameson, a Navajo, about how director John Ford came to use Monument Valley for the epic western movies he made.  Jameson's sister, Sally, shows Stephen how she makes the gorgeous woven sumac baskets she sells to tourists and collectors.  Stephen tries his hand at weaving a sumac reed into the basket she is working on.  She tells him the baskets that a 20" can sell for $3,000 to $7,000.  Stephen enjoys a traditional Navajo meal with Jameson and his family.  He dines on Navajo fried bread and ribs.  He leaves Jameson and his family for Lake Powell.  He, dressed in denim and a cowboy hat and with a glass of wine before him, enjoys the comforts of a boat on the man-made lake.  He fixes eggs and bacon for breakfast then, a bit further down the lake, Stephen and Rob Big Horse visit an area sacred to the Navajo:  Arches National Park.  The stone "arch" is so tall the Statue of Liberty can actually stand beneath the apex of the arch.

In Arizona Stephen hitches a ride in a Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress".  We get to see the interior of the bomber as Stephen gives us a little history of the duties of the bomber crew.  He visits an Air Force base where American aircraft are sent when they retire.  Over 3,000 airplanes of all sorts are injected with synthetic rubber and wrapped with protective cling film live at the base until they are needed again.  We arrive at the Old Tuscon film studios for the highlight of not only this episode but, as some viewers of the series might say, the entire series.  Stephen dons cowboy attire complete with a sidearm, cowboy at and spurs for a mock showdown on main street.  "Fry" is ordered out of town by the Marshall but he draws "shooting" a deputy.  The Marshall tells "Fry" he's been wantin' to kill him anyway to which "Fry" replies:  "Oh, really?  Many have tried, Marshall.  Few have succeeded.  Only two, in recorded time have succeeded in killing me and even they didn't do it very well."  The Marshall tells him he'll do it right this time.  They draw and "Fry" is hit!  "Oh!" he exclaims!  "Oh!  Oh!  Oh, that hurt! Oh, oh, it's rather like...oh!  Ooh!"  The Marshall tells him to think about that next time!  "Fry" falls to his knees, "oh, oh excuse me, I may be having to have a death scene!"  He falls to his back.  "Oh, sweet mother of mercy is this the end of Stephen Fry?"  Our outlaw hero dies with more fanfare and overacting than you could find in any Stallone, Schwarzenegger or Van-Damme movie.  Watch out, Clint Eastwood!  Here comes "Fry"!  We next see our outlaw hero leading his horse "Spinoza" down the street telling him they showed that sheriff a thing or two.  Stephen enjoys the shows in Old Tuscon with the other tourists.

Stephen passes over the Grand Canyon on his way to Las Vegas, Nevada.  He also flies over the Hoover Dam and approaches Las Vegas from the air.  He takes part in a "Spy Games" incident.  He attends an "Agency" briefing to solve the case of the "Missing Michael".  Along with a band of colleagues, Chippendale dancers, Stephen sets out to work the case.  His job is to sabotage the case.  They go from themed casino to themed casino in search of the clues.  The Chippendales figure out that Stephen is the mole.  He goes from the sexy Chippendales to the Mormons.  Big jump there, huh?  He drops in on a photo shoot for a Mormom "missionary beefcake calendar".  He speaks with the creator of the calendar as well as some of the models about the calendar and their religion.  He moves from Mormons to silver in Virginia City.  And, from silver it's a natural progression to whorehouses, right?  He visits the world famous Mustang Ranch.  He receives a brief tour of the brothel by the "madam" and gets some info about how the brothel works.  Stephen gets to talk with one of the courtesans, "Mandy".  She is extremely straightforward with Stephen about the work she does and how she feels about it.  The owner takes Stephen to a "negotiating room" where the money and services are discussed.  The owner embarrasses Stephen by telling him about a procedure they have called a "DC".  He gets to see some of the different suites they have at the Ranch.  He leaves the Mustang Ranch and heads for the purifying mountains and Lake Tahoe. 

Finally, we see California as Stephen arrives at the coast and pulls in at the beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean for a preview of the final installment in the series. 

Make sure to come back tomorrow for the final installment in Stephen Fry in America when we visit the last five states in America when we visit the Pacific.

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