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Maggie and Andrew are looking forward to retiring to France when their orphaned grandchildren, who they barely know, become their wards. The children are hostile, peculiar eaters and Maggie resentful of the change in plans. Liz is the somewhat helpful hhousekeeper.
Finally saw this comedy series, which ran for 3 seasons in the 1990s. It stars Penelope Keith and William Gaunt as a self-absorbed couple about to retire and move to France, where the food and wine are so much better. On the very verge of their idyll, they receive news that their estranged son and his wife (called Bootface) have been killed in an auto accident and that they are the only kin of the three children. What to do? In short order, their plans for a Continental life are scrapped and the three kids (and various pets) arrive on their suburban doorstep. Two are young teens, and the third is even younger. Keith and Gaunt are faced with at least a decade of child care, schools, and all that comes with raising children.
Yet what ensues is hilarious. The sea change necessary to cope with kids means that Keith and Gaunt have to do a 180 in their lives ... and quickly! The kids are challenging. The oldest, a girl, is a sulky thing with a strict, self-imposed vegetarian diet. The elder boy only eats Spam. The youngest won't eat anything that's round. Gone are the vintage wine collection, the antique car, and all their child-free friends.
The series never gets that fuzzy, warm feeling. As the brittle Maggie, Penelope Keith is wondrous, bemoaning her fate while she deals with the daily regimen of meals and dishes and noise. Gaunt is also excellent as the slightly (only slightly) more tender grandparent who tries to accommodate the demanding kids. The grandparents are resentful. The grandchildren are resentful. Yet they muddle on.
A highlight is a birthday party for the ever-harping girl. Nothing is ever right, and she belittles every around her (she's very realistic) to the point where Keith can't stand another moment and smacks her in the face with a cream pie (a dessert trifle). I imagine audiences across the land cheered. Later, in the girl's bedroom, Maggie asks, "So, did you like your trifle?"
For anyone who has enjoyed Penelope Keith in GOOD NEIGHBORS or TO THE MANOR BORN, this is a must-see series. What a pity the BBC canceled the show after its third season. There was so much more humor to mine.
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