Grandma's House (2010–2012)
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The Day Simon Finally Found the Strength to Accept That His Mother Was Getting Married 

After Grandpa is briefly taken ill Tanya feels she should postpone her wedding to Clive for a while. True Liz has the reception ready for the afternoon but next day her parents are off on a... See full summary »




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Episode cast overview:
Jamal Hadjkura ...
Geoffrey Hutchings ...


After Grandpa is briefly taken ill Tanya feels she should postpone her wedding to Clive for a while. True Liz has the reception ready for the afternoon but next day her parents are off on a cruise and Simon hopes to fly to New York with love object Ben - which means he won't be able to open the new arts wing at Adam's school. Given that the Las Vegas holiday did not go too well,she starts to have second thoughts about the wedding. These are reinforced when Clive turns up drunk and threatens Simon,and then,accidentally, runs Grandpa over. Written by don @ minifie-1

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13 September 2010 (UK)  »

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Season 1: Has potential but too unnatural and silly despite some very funny moments
28 June 2012 | by See all my reviews

I cast an eye over Grandma's House when it first came on the television and I did think that it was something I should check out. It appears to be another sitcom created in the wake of Curb in which a celebrity plays themselves in a series of awkward social settings; a critical view perhaps but Jack Dee had mostly made it work with Lead Balloon so it was not an idea I was against. When the second season started recently, all the critics appeared to be full of praise for it and this was enough to make me think that maybe I had been missing out and I queued it up.

There are specific moments and specific aspects of the first season that are very well done and very funny and I think it is only fair to say that each episode made me laugh several times. Unfortunately these bits were mostly the exception rather than the rule because the majority of the season just didn't work for me – and again I say this as someone who generally likes the awkward social comedy to which this owes a debt. The central problem of the show is that it isn't natural or awkward, it seems exaggerated and often very silly – and not just in one regard. The plots are mostly a bit contrived and not particularly engaging; the overall device is decent (Amstell quitting his show) but it doesn't have enough forward motion to it and as a result we get small distractions and too much reliance on the characters to create the plots – either that or some silly overall plots such as Amstell seeking healing with his family. I struggled with just how messy and silly many of the plots and situations were and they got in the way of me being able to laugh at them.

The characters are part of this because mostly they fit this same mould of being silly and a bit OTT. The structure owes a debt to the Royale Family, but this is not as well observed as that was. I'm not sure if Amstell is drawing on real life or not, but for me his characters don't ring true within this world that he has created for them. Their quirks and flaws are never really subtle or well done but rather as obvious as possible and exaggerated in event or dialogue to a level of being silly and unrealistic. Perhaps Amstell was going for the world of Seinfeld with this approach but he falls a long way short of that as well.

In terms of performances Amstell is by far the weakest. His stiff clipped delivery with a constant sarcastic smirk on his face worked really well on panel shows and on the great Popworld which really launched his career, but here it doesn't work at all. His inability to break this constant state means he is often the root of the unnatural feel to the show and it never feels like he is in a real family or home. I like the guy as a comedian but he is pretty poor here. Front gives her all as his mother and it is a shame that some of her material is quite weak – she goes with it even when it is silly. Spiro benefits from less to do and a simpler character, she is funny in her turn; likewise Bassett and Hutchings (who sadly died after this season) have good characters with good dialogue. Smith's Clive is too obvious a device and not particularly funny while Hadjkura's Adam is just excessive in delivery and material – he seems in it to shock (characters and audience) and not as a character.

Grandma's House has potential as an idea but unfortunately it doesn't deliver in this first season – people say the second is really good so maybe I'll give the first episode a try, but there isn't much evidence of it here. The plots are poor, unnatural and full of silliness, which is the same as the characters. With this rather exaggerated and unnatural content it doesn't have a great flow to it even if some parts or lines are really funny. The performances mostly deserve better material to work with, ironically except Amstell himself who is one-note, unnatural and stiff as hell.

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