Black Books

Season 1 Episode 3

The Grapes of Wrath

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Oct 13, 2000 on Channel 4
out of 10
User Rating
92 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Bernard and Manny are asked to house-sit for a friend, and decide to do so when a professional cleaner comes in to re-new Black Books. With a cellar full of wine, 10 bottles of which are priceless, Bernard and Manny have the most expensive drinking binge you'll ever see. Meanwhile, Fran is out on a disastrous date.moreless

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  • A house-sitting evening for Bernard and Manny turns into a desperate attempt to create a 'new strain of super-wine', whilst Fran goes on a date with a someone special. Only he's special in a different way.moreless

    This episode is absolutely hilarious. It may seem like it's a bit slow to start off with, but the beginning is really a lead up to a number of different gags in the episode. The ep starts off showing the shop in a state of complete filth. Fed up with finding shin bandages in the fridge, Manny calls in a professional cleaner from "A-Nall Cleaners" who informs them they should find somewhere to stay for the night. So they decide to house-sit for their friend Freddy. During their stay, Manny manages to direct them, contrary to Freddy's instructions, to drink the unbelievably expensive, out-of-bounds wine, worth 7,000 pounds.

    Once they realise their mistake, they go into quite a state, trying to figure out how to replace the wine. Bernard comes up with the idea (who else) of using the cheap wine to create some more.

    Thus follows a completely hilarious "Frankenstine" scene which will have your sides aching from laughter.

    Watching Manny slowly turning into Igor with his tooth ache and cramp is pure genius. While all this is going on, Fran is trying desperately to win the favour of her date at a restaurant...but much to her dismay, she begins to suspect that not all is as it seems when she notices a waiter catching his attention.

    All in all, this is one of the best episodes in the series. Well worth watching again and again.moreless
  • Best episode of the first season!

    I really liked The Grapes of Wrath, it didn't start that promising, though. Especially the scene where Bernard and Manny were trying to remake the wine they drunk by accident. The jokes, before the attempt of making wine on their own, were very funny as well ("maybe we could pay him back!" "well i've got £3 in my pocket, how about you", just to name one). Everything fit together, very rare for a tv show such as Black Books. This episode was really worth it to be watched over and over and over again. My favourite one, i believe.

    That were 99 words, I already added "and over", but there wasn't anything left to say to me. That's why i wrote this few sentences.moreless
  • Bernard & Manny housesit...and drink a wine worth more than either of them.

    When you think of comic duos, who springs to mind? Laurel and Hardy. Abbot and Costello. Bernard and Manny. If the last pair ain't up there, it sure as well should be. This may just be the best episode in the first series of this show. The cleaning service, the house watching, Fran's date (and dating history 'Didn't he live with his mother?' 'Yea, in a car'), and of course, the attempted reconstruction of the wine. The funniest thing I've seen in years, and that is no lie. I have shown this episode to friends who hate BBC TV, and converted them to fans. Nuff said!moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • When Bernard is beating Manny with a stick outside the house, a woman pushing a pram looks on. This is the same woman who gave birth to a baby in the first episode, and whom Fran was supposed to act as birth-partner.

    • When Manny and Bernard realise what they've done with the expensive wine, Bernard suggests in a brief moment of desperation that they burn down the house. Manny quickly responds by liberally splashing around the contents of a jerry can apparently readily available - why is there a huge container of petrol in the living room?

    • The expensive wine is called: Le Vin du Rosier, which translates into The Wine of the Rose. It was made in 1985. The wine costs £7000.

  • QUOTES (11)

    • The Cleaner: (making his report to tape) Second degree unspecified soiling Zones B through K. North ceiling corner – cobweb containing several deceased arachnids …and beans.

    • (Fran is at a restaurant with her date Ben)
      Fran: Tell me Ben... (lights up a cigarette) How many times a day do you talk to your mother?
      Ben: Oh God I don't know – a normal amount - about four or five times a day.
      Fran: Yeesss. (takes a deep breath) Ben, I've got something to tell you and it might come as a bit of a shock, but you are ga... (pauses) Question. What do the following people have in common? Elton John, Ian McKellen, Jean-Paul Gaultier?
      Ben: Well, they're all fabulous.

    • Bernard: (Drunk) Look at the colors... all the colors... Well... Yellow.
      Manny: (Drunk also) This is like a farmyard of wine.
      Bernard: It's like looking into the eye of a... duck.
      Manny: And sucking all the fluids from it's beak.

      Manny: Seven...thousand pounds.
      Bernard: Well, I've got Three pounds Fifty; how much have you got?

    • Bernard: No one is willing to admit that wine doesn't actually have a taste.
      Manny: Of course you can't taste anything, you smoke eighty bajillion cigarettes a day. What's that you're eating?
      Bernard: Some sort of delicious biscuit.
      Manny: It's a coaster.
      Bernard: Is it? Are there any more?

    • Bernard: (slurring) Old wine is good wine.
      Manny: (also slurring) Yes, but... expensive wine is good wine also.
      Bernard: Yes, but the older the wine is, the gooder it is.
      Manny: Ah, but by the same token, the more expensive the wine, the gooder it is also.

    • Manny: I insist you come over right away! Ok, tomorrow. But first thing tomorrow! After lunch... right after lunch! Six o'clock. Fine.

    • Bernard: Why are you stressed?
      Manny: Because I opened the fridge and there's shin bandages next to the cheese!

    • Manny: (On the phone) The place is a mess! Look!
      (Manny points the phone at the room).

    • Manny: You can't find anything! Right now, I'm eating scrambled egg, with a comb, from a shoe!

    • Manny: You are a filth wizard. Friend only to the pig and the rat. Ugh. Look!
      (he opens a pizza box)
      Bernard: Pizza. I was going to warm it and eat it later. Everybody does that. That's normal. You are just looking for things to complain about.
      Manny: And what are these?
      Bernard: ...wasps.

  • NOTES (1)

    • When Freddy is showing Manny how to operate the heating system, they point to the same switch for 'On' and 'Off'.
      This is one of the more subtle gags in the show, but it's a good one if you know it's there.


    • The Grapes of Wrath

      A book by John Steinbeck.

    • Frankenstein

      In this episode, they set up an elaborate joke. The joke begins with Manny hurting his tooth on toffee, later he then hurts his leg and his back, giving him a limp and a hobble.

      In the episode, Bernard is 'forced' to create a new wine from household ingredients. In this scene, with his wild hair and manic and eccentric look, Bernard becomes the Mad Scientist. With his ailments, Manny becomes Igor, assistant to the Mad Scientist in Frankenstein, a book by Mary Shelley.