Wednesday, March 27, 2013
I first found this show on Netflix while searching for British comedies. Sadly, only the first 4 seasons are available in the US. The first thing I did when I got an all region DVD player for my birthday last year was order the rest of the series.
The show follows the exploits of the Harper family and a few friends over the course of the series. Ben, the father, is a frustrated dentist who loves his wife and children but wants them to go away and leave him in peace. Susan, his wife, is a tour guide & rotten cook, and a control freak with a rather wicked sense of humor. Their children are Nick (useless layabout), Janey (shallow fashionista w/loose morals), and Michael (unappreciated genius).
The first few seasons focus on getting to know the family. Ben wants useless lump Nick OUT of the house and self-supporting. Susan wants everything to be perfect and will use any means necessary to preserve the illusion that it is. Janey wants her parents to just endow her with a trust fund and quietly disappear, and Michael wants respect, power, a girlfriend, and for people to stop picking on him for being a geeky little dork.
Janey goes off to university, leaving a void, so the character of Abi is brought in. She's the daughter of Ben's cousin. Also joining the series is Roger Bailey, a not-so-succesful dentist who happens the be the son of Ben's old mentor. Both characters are naive, cheerful, and irritate Ben no end. And he's STILL trying to get rid of Nick. Then Janey comes home with her unplanned baby boy, Kenzo...
Nick leaves, but is replaced by his friend Alfie. Michael is still a geek, but having slightly better success with girls. Abi & Roger have fallen in love and married, Janey refuses to tell her parents who Kenzo's father is until he makes a surprising appearance, Susan's mother becomes a semi-regular and the whole family goes on the Weakest Link...
Alfie leaves, Nick is mentioned in passing, Abi leaves Roger to become a nun, Susan & Ben try a separation, Roger tries dating, and Janey becomes a surprisingly responsible adult, working and caring for her son, but still sponging off her parents. Michael graduates college but doesn't manage to get/hold a job, following in Nick's footsteps, but does succeed in surprising his family when he comes out to them. After years of bitter sniping, the series ends with the family in a somewhat good place, showing odd moments of love and affection for each other.
Lots of fun to be had here. Some of the more amusing moments are Nick's brief foray into drag, Ben's solo dance in the living room after losing a dance contest, and the aforementioned Weakest Link episode.