REGULAR CAST, GUEST CAST & CREDITS
TV GUIDE PROMO
AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
SYNOPSIS by Jennifer Adam
COMMENTARY by Jennifer Adam
Crispin Bonham Carter (Preston Bailey)
Rachel Pickup (Amanda Reardon)
Vernon Dobtcheff (Anthony Cureton)
Stephen Billington (Palmer)
Jurgen Zwingel (Willis)
Written by Ron Levinson
Directed by Jurgen Wolf
Filmed on location in Toronto, Canada and Paris, France by Fireworks Entertainment Inc. and Gaumont Television.
TV GUIDE PROMO
Romance and sibling rivalry complicate the search for the fabled wedding ring of Anne Boleyn. ClickTV
Nigel's older, more successful brother, Preston, is a curator at the British Museum and uncovers a riddle written by Henry VIII that may lead to the fabled wedding ring of Anne Boleyn. When Preston calls Sydney for help, he re-ignites a long-standing sibling rivalry with Nigel. The brothers' fraternal competition becomes deadly serious and temperatures rise when Nigel discovers that his former lover, Amanda, is also on the relic hunt - and romantically involved with Preston.
AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
2nd RELEASE: 08/13/01
An AA average of 1.5
Competition from Syndicated Action Hours:
The X-Files 3.6
Stargate SG-1 2.8
Invisible Man 1.9
Earth: Final Conflict 1.6
Relic Hunter 1.5
This synopsis is by Jennifer Adam.
This turns out to be a terrific Relic Hunter episode, with a tight plot and ample character development. AND no one makes fun of Nigel.
Well, not actually no one. His brother does, calling him Podge almost as soon as he sees him, a not very complimentary nickname from Nigel's overweight youth (he's thinned out quite nicely, don't you think?). It turns out that Nigel's brother Preston is a curator at the British National Museum, a job he and Nigel apparently competed for, and which, happily for us, Preston won.
Preston recently discovered a poem written by King Henry VIII (as Claudia says, the one with all the wives) which he thinks tells the location of the wedding ring of Ann Boleyn (Queen Elizabeth I's mother). Preston is dying to humiliate his brother: it seems he and Nigel never really got along, having competed from childhood, with Preston usually the winner. So he invites Sydney to come help find the ring, to the displeasure of the head Curator, conveniently called Curaton (imaginative writers, what!), who claims that the Museum's own relic hunters can do very nicely thank you, and who has secretly hired Sydney's old enemy Palmer instead.
Preston also has a second agenda. He bumped into Nigel's old flame Amanda ("the love of my life", as Nigel calls her) a few days ago, they started dating, and he wants to flaunt her in front of Nigel. He invites Nigel and Sydney to dinner at his house (which is also the place where the two boys grew up, and which it seems Preston inherited from their now dead parents) and springs Amanda on him as a surprise, kissing her in front of the flabbergasted and obviously devastated Nigel. Nigel flees, pleading (with Sydney's aid) a migraine, and drowns his sorrows at a local bar where Sydney lends a supportive ear. On the way home, the copy of the poem is stolen by, not Palmer, but a second competitor. Sydney, Preston, and Nigel reconstruct the poem from memory, and head to the castle of Leeds, where Sydney fights with Palmer and is kicked out of the castle, while Amanda confesses to Nigel that, although Preston is very nice, she thinks she only likes him because he reminds her of Nigel.
They go to the hotel where over dinner Nigel solves one of the poem's clues, after which they head back to the castle, avoiding a dead Palmer in Sydney's room (killed by the second rival relic hunter). As they head out, Amanda stops Nigel to wish him luck and they kiss tenderly, but she gives a too manipulative smile as he leaves and we know she is up to no good.
In the castle, Nigel solves yet another clue (he has to play a tune King Henry wrote in order to open the door to a secret tunnel), and they find the final clue to the mystery: the ring is hidden in one of King Henry's toys -- a jack-in-the-box which is housed at the British Museum. As they head back there, Professor Curaton is accosted by the evil second relic hunter, forced to get the jack-in-the-box, and taken to the museum basement. Sydney and Nigel rush after him and defeat the relic hunter but Amanda appears, holding a gun to Preston's head. It turns out she's the brains behind the second relic hunter. Nigel outsmarts her and grabs the gun, and she's arrested, which makes him happy in a rueful sort of way.
The commotion over, Sydney opens the jack-in-the-box, the ring flies into the air, and Preston and Nigel both jump for it. Nigel wins, he and Sydney smile at each other, and all apparently is well. The episode ends with Nigel and Preston calling a truce and agreeing to respect the separateness of each other's lives, but as they wander off into the sunset (or, well, the hallway) Preston asks if Sydney is dating anyone and Nigel's face falls as he realizes that Preston will never really give up trying to outcompete him.
This commentary is by Jennifer Adam.
I didn't have very high hopes for this episode, whose trailer suggested that Nigel and his brother Preston would vie for Sydney's affections. Such a plot wouldn't really fit Sydney and Nigel's relationship so I worried that it would simply be an excuse to make fun of Nigel. O, we of little faith...
Plot Hole #1 (a big one): We discover in this episode that both Nigel's parents are dead, but on the (old) official website, a letter from Nigel to his mum is shown*. I understand that plot- and character-wise it was important for his parents to be dead, because it highlights that Preston has inherited the family home and is living the life of a successful man, while Nigel is a lowly teaching assistant. (This plot device also produces a rather sweet moment where Nigel plays a piano tune that reminds him of his mom, allowing us to discover that Nigel can actually do something really well). However, shouldn't someone really have decided a long time ago whether Nigel's parents were living or not? Or is there some further mystery here about his parents' death?
Plot Hole #2: After all that, all they had to do was open King Henry's jack-in-the-box? No one at the museum ever opened it before? Hmmmm.....
Apart from these annoying details, Royal Ring seems to me almost a flawless episode. The acting is good throughout and from all. Anholt, in particular, bit into his role with rare gusto, giving his best performance of the season, and winning the award for most-poignant-depiction-of-jilted-lover-portrayed-without-use of-tears for the scene where Amanda turns up at his brother's house.
Although the episode is about Nigel's background it also serves to develop Nigel's relationship with Sydney. Witness the way she saves face for him after the Amanda-Preston kiss, the trip to the bar where she allows him to drown his sorrows, and their easy teamwork when looking for the portrait of Young Henry VIII. The point is clearly made that they are close friends, and in fact that she is closer to him than even his own brother. But if Nigel has ideas beyond this (as the end of the episode suggests he does) Sydney nips them in the bud, giving him a look of disbelief when he gathers her hands into his to proclaim that they're a team. She doesn't mean that they aren't a team, but she does mean they aren't that kind of team, and she is quick to finish the evening off and bring the subject back around to work. So much for romance.
Royal Ring is slow on action, but not without cause. Unlike many of the other RH episodes this one is character driven in a refreshingly pure sense. It's evident that Amanda's Evilness was behind both her relationship with Preston and his request for Sydney's help, and that she is egging the fraternal competition on in order to speed the hunt for the ring. Since we know how trusting Nigel is, and since it's evident he still has feelings for Amanda, we aren't surprised that he falls for Amanda's ruse. In the end, we, Sydney, and Nigel too, are delighted to discover that he's learned enough from Sydney --a bit of cynicism, a bit of street smarts, a bit of get-over-it -- to untangle himself from Amanda's spell and save the day.
Favorite line: "Did you ever hear the saying 'Nigel Bailey is a pain in the b*tt!'?"
* The new official website doesn't seem to include this letter.