Beekeeper Review: Woody Boyd

Woody Boyd from Cheers is a bartender, but also a Beekeeper! It’s always a good sign when a Beekeeper is famous enough that he has his own Wikipedia page, so let’s see how Woody does.

Woody’s shtick on the show is that he is the good-natured farmboy from Hanover, Indiana who comes to the big city (in this case Boston) and works at the bar. His most common joke is that he’s slow or naive. The keeping of bees only came up in one episode (Season Seven, Episode Three, “Executive Sweet”, an episode that does not merit its own Wikipedia page). Surely, if it only came up once, it can’t be that big a facet of the character can it? Well, let’s see. In that episode Woody inherits 4000 Buckfast bees from his uncle, saying “When I was a kid, you couldn’t keep me away from my uncle Fergie’s hives.” That resulted in the people around town giving young Woody the nickname “Woody the Beekeeper” which certainly seems like enough to get him on the board for my purposes.

With uncle Fergie retired, Woody eagerly takes these bees and keeps them in the bar’s office until he finishes his shift. This is a sitcom, so of course the bees manage to get loose, but using the proper gear and equipment and only getting stung a couple times, Woody gathers them up and takes them home. That’s the last thing we know for sure.

Does Woody keep up his apiarist ways? Well, there’s no canonical proof, but I think so. Bartending is Woody’s preferred occupation. It’s where he’s meant to be. He was never going to leave the bar. The show ends with Woody elected as a city councilman, but we know from his appearance on Frasier that he went back to Cheers when that was over (which is not a surprise given that once, when talking about reincarnation, he said he’d like to come back in his next life as the President of France, because he thought that would be good for the bar). But one of my oft-cited benefits of keeping bees is that it can be done while still pursuing other occupations. We know that Woody did other kinds of farming while he lived in the city, he’s shown successfully growing a large pumpkin, so given the lack of evidence otherwise and how excited he was to receive them, I think I can rule that Woody probably continued to be a Beekeeper.

With that settled, how does Woody rate for the things that PDR uses to rate a Beekeeper? Well, he has positives and negatives. The guy is so sweet it seems like he might be immune to Beekeeper Rage. He does talk once about the need to bottle up feelings, but given how often he actually does let those feelings out I don’t think he really lives by it. That’s just one of several wrong-headed old-fashioned ideas that were instilled in him back in Hanover. Perhaps that upbringing is also the root of one of his biggest character flaws: when things are going very well for Woody (such as when he was first acclimating to his wife’s wealthy lifestyle, or even just when winning a lot of money via gambling) he can be rude. When it comes down to it though, Woody is too nice for the anger or the rudeness to stick. If he realizes that he is lashing out or mistreating anyone he will generally back down and try to fix things because he feels bad about it. He just likes people too much.

Some might think he should be docked for being dumb, but not me. And anyway, Woody’s intellect comes out in other ways. In fact, back in Hanover he was occasionally teased for being a “brainiac” in spite of being held back in school more than once. He’s able to do things like memorize the serial numbers on his money in case he needs to prove that it is his and he’s proven more than once to be good at gambling on sports and playing poker, though it seems more instinct than anything. Also, he can sleep standing up.

Still, Woody doesn’t have any paranormal abilities (though Hanover is once cited as UFO capital of the world) and he’s no good in a fight and seems to be more susceptible than the average person to hypnosis. I can’t rate him any higher than:

Three Honeycomb out of Five.

I admit that I’d love to be able to give him a point for being an ubiquitous part of popular culture, similar to how Friar Tuck got a bonus for being legendary, but Woody doesn’t quite clear that bar. Cheers is still remembered as a classic sitcom, sure, but I can’t deny that its not the zeitgeist-dominating juggernaut it once was. Maybe someday the kids will learn about Cheers and it will be popular again. Then Woody can show up on the Frasier reboot and it will focus intently on his beekeeping. Until then, this is it.

Beekeeper Review: Kaydee Festermeyer

Kaydee Festermeyer appeared on a cartoon called Dicktown, a comedy about the “boy detective” genre. Kaydee’s story is one of the show’s mysteries, and I’m about to reveal a bunch of spoilers, if you care about any of that.

Kaydee is definitely a person who found herself early, and so, even when she was a high school student she was essentially who she would be for life. That includes keeping bees. We don’t actually know the extent or details of her beekeeping, but she had what one character described as “a super dangerous beehive” in school. And as an adult, she still has bees, which she uses as a weapon. I am left assuming that she is a pretty successful beekeeper.

Also, she just has a general air of “badassery” that works for what I am seeking in a Beekeeper. She cures her own tobacco that she uses to make her own cigars, in school she had a pet raccoon named Ripper that she used to guard her locker because it didn’t lock, and as an adult she has an outfit/helmet that makes her look like some kind of motorcycle ninja while she drives a Polaris Slingshot, which is some manner of outlandish vehicle that really serves only to signify “cool” status. Oh, and she can set traps too. In general, she’s just tough.

In school, Kaydee was wrongfully blamed for a crime by the show’s protagonist John Hunchman. The school took the boy detective at his word and Kaydee wound up being expelled. As adults, she enacted a plan to get revenge on Hunchman, and it really seems like she’s got a bad case of the Beekeeper Rage. But actually, Kaydee is not as terminally rage-filled as it might first appear. She makes it clear that after being expelled, she went on with her life and put it all behind her until she moved back to town as an adult and found Hunchman still doing the detective thing. That brought up the bad memories and Hunchman didn’t even remember who she was. Her name aside, her anger is not something that had been festering, but was fresh and impulsive. Ultimately, after Hunchman realized he’d been wrong, Kaydee accepted his apology and ceased hostilities. She wanted justice to be done and once it was, she was able to back down. Good for her.

Four Honeycomb out of Five.

Beekeeper Review: Violet Thomas

Today’s review is of a Beekeeper who appeared in the Eisner-nominated comic strip The Beekeeper’s Due. It’s only four pages, so you should check it out. It’s not bad. But… how does the Beekeeper rate?

I hope you read it, because I’m about to spoil every aspect without providing the actual experience of reading the thing. Violet is a single mother who had a beekeeping operation with her daughter, Amelia (the setup reminds me of the Williams family from Umma). All indications are that they were relatively successful and certainly happy until Amelia fell sick. The young girl died due to complications from a surgery to remove her appendix.

Understandably, Violet was upset. The story never gives us the certainty to prove it, but taking Violet’s word for it, there is a high likelihood that the doctor performing the surgery was in an unfit state. Violet tried to deal with this through the courts, but the doctor was acquitted. That’s when Beekeeper Rage really took Violet. She poisoned some honey and got it to the doctor. He ate it and died.

Now, let’s see. I give Violet credit for trying to deal with things through the legal system first. That would help me to give her the benefit of the doubt against her first big mistake: she gave the poisoned honey to the doctor via a gift basket delivery. We don’t know if the doctor has children, but he does have at least one person (probably a wife) who lives with him, and leaving poisoned honey is not a precision strike. Innocents could have eaten that.

Probably that would have left me with a 2/5 Beekeeper rating, but there’s one other thing: after her successful assassination, Violet returned home and burned down her whole operation, the greenhouse and the hives. It’s symbolic, I suppose, of the way her life was ruined by the whole situation. She thanks the bees and apologizes as she does it, but still: once you burn down your hives, you’re not really a Beekeeper anymore.

One Honeycomb out of Five.

Beekeeper Review: Adam Clay

When I first learned we were getting an action movie called The Beekeeper, I had to wonder if I had somehow willed it into existence. After all, I’ve been reviewing fictional Beekeepers as action heroes since this post in 2014, and I have been advocating for Beekeepers to be in such a role since the era of Pirates vs Ninjas debates on the Internet. This movie feels like the culmination of my teachings. Now, I have no interest in reviewing the quality of the movie (what kind of loser cares if movies are good or not?), but I have to know: how does protagonist Adam Clay rate as a Beekeeper?

Adam Clay, this name is just his current alias for the record, is a Beekeeper in more than one way. He does actually keep bees and cares for them and give honey as a present to his friends and all the stuff I consider basic Beekeeper stuff. This alone would rate him a 2/5.

But is he an action hero? Well, I should say so. Clay is retired from a secret extra-governmental organization that call themselves “Beekeepers”. They are given unlimited resources to train these incredible secret agents who act outside the bounds of the law, with the idea that they will do what is best to protect society’s weak and vulnerable (Ah, to live in an imaginary world where those with power want to protect the weak and vulnerable. Must be nice). As a former agent of this group, Clay is highly trained in combat, armed and unarmed, and is a resourceful strategist and talented tactician. He can create bombs and rig up traps with improvised items. At times he seems as much like a slasher killer taking out his targets as he does an action hero. Suffice it to say, the guy can fight. That’ll move him up to 3/5.

But, beyond the standard set of Action Hero skills that strain plausibility, he has no supernatural abilities. He can’t talk to bees or control them or any of that. One could make up for a lack of supernatural abilities by being really on-brand. If you dress up with a picture of a bee on your chest or wear exclusively yellow and black striped shirts, that impresses me. Clay doesn’t do that, but he does talk an awful lot about Beekeeping and protecting the hive and all that. So he doesn’t lose points, but doesn’t gain any.

But how about Beekeeper Rage? One thing I’ve noticed in doing these reviews is that a lot of Beekeepers lash out when they get angry and that usually costs them some points. How does Adam Clay do here? Well, when his friend’s life is ruined and his own hives are destroyed, Clay does indeed lash out. But, perhaps it is is training with the covert organization, he lashes out in the right direction. He intends to avenge his friend and protect other weak and vulnerable people by cleaning out the corruption in the hive that is our society. He attacks the right targets. Heck, any time he’s not working in self-defence he even gives his targets warning so they can flee and swear off doing evil. He intends to kill, but he’s not indiscriminate. Honestly, if everyone’s anger was so well controlled, we’d be better off. I say Clay loses no points for Beekeeper Rage and, in fact, it looks good for him:

Four Honeycomb out of Five. A high quality Beekeeper. Could a sequel come along and improve it? Well, I’m certainly willing to write one, Hollywood! Let’s have Adam Clay ride around in a helicopter designed to look like a giant bee! Let’s do this!

There are other “Beekeepers” in the movie, it’s worth noting. There’s a whole organization, right? We’re told that the organization decides to stay neutral in the conflict, with the exception of Clay’s direct replacement, who is described as a “lunatic” and he takes her out with relative ease. We’re never shown if she actually keeps bees at all (though she does have a book about beekeeping in her car and there are hive around her base). Are all members of the organization actually apiarists in addition to using the metaphor? Probably. Maybe. Who knows? Anyway, they’d surely, as a group, rank somewhere around Clay.

Beekeeper Review: Trish Guberman

Patricia Guberman, who goes by Trish, is a Beekeeper who appeared on an episode of Night Court for about 20 seconds. Trish is so unimportant to the show that, though she’s given a name by the plot, the credits just list her as “Beekeeper”, as you can see on the IMDB page for actor Tara Copeland. I could argue that she’s one of those cases where she has a real identity, but in a superhero kinda way just goes by “The Beekeeper” because of how cool that is. So I will.

The appearance goes like this: wacky hijinks result in a bunch of bees being let lose in the titular Night Court. Someone has to come and deal with it, and that’s Trish. It’s noted that she deals with the bees quickly, but it’s also noted that they were “circus bees who gave up their stingers for a life in the theatre.” It’s cool that these bees can make cool shapes like they’re in a cartoon or something, but these are not Trish’s bees, these are just the ones she was called in to deal with. I do think we can give Trish some credit for dealing with them swiftly, but nothing that indicates supernatural power. She’s got a natural confidence (that also leads to her hooking up with a married scumbag), so I feel like we can be sure she’s consistently good at the job, but that’s all we’ve got.

Two Honeycomb out of Five. She seems to be an utterly normal Beekeeper, but she’s happy with that.