Alexander Pola & Chiem van Houweninge's second attempt at writing a sit com for the VARA (after "Ieder Zijn Deel" only lasted one series of 8 episodes. On the one hand you have the standard American comedy model: a reasonably well off family consisting of father, mother and daughter (plus boyfriend). They live above the fathers ice cream shop, Cassata, while mother has her own antique business (never shown). He also owns another 7 shops and a factory (also never shown) The difference being that father is an Italian immigrant living, Giuseppe Paparo. He moved to the Netherlands and started with a little Ice-cream wagon, fell for and married his employee Lisa and expanded from there. All of this can be seen by way of 'family photographs' during the rather lengthy opening credit sequence (in which there are more photos than there are credits).
Ton van Duinhoven plays Giuseppe and his real life wife Ina van Faassen is Lisa. Cristel Braak plays their daughter Marina, while confusingly, Marina de Graaf plays the supporting role of Cassata waitress Guusje Vink. An actual Italian, Victorio Dorigoni plays ice cream maker Vito. However, more prominently credited are Frits Lambrechts & Hetty Verhoogt as Kees & Mies, who run a flower stall across the street. These two often pop into Cassata for a cup of cappuccino and some verbal/cultural sparring with Giusseppe, who's name Kees is unable to pronounce correctly. Strangely enough they always come in together, leaving their flowers unattended.
Well known to have a gift for accents, Ton van Duinhoven speaks a convincing mouthful of Italian in each episode, which usually start with him on the phone to 'Luigi' back home in Italy. The recurring gag here being that his Italian is subtitled into Dutch and when he slips in a Dutch sentence on the phone, the subtitles are in Italian. In a recent interview, director John van de Rest explained Van Duinhoven had the tendency to try and get into the limelight by always making sure he was standing next to the leading man (or at least the most important person in the scene). In Cassata he needn't have worried about this, as he was the main attraction and the audience responded with roars of laughter and applause each time his character has a fit or bursts into song. Van Faassen, who was one of the more annoying supporting characters in the aforementioned 'Ieder Zijn Deel', is remarkably restrained here, and the rest of the cast play it straight, with the occasional funny line for Frits Lambrechts from time to time.
Of course a lot of the plot lines revolve around Giuseppe being overtly stubborn and old fashioned about anything and everything his wife and daughter are planning to do. That and a clash of cultures between his Italian pride and Kees the flower seller's love for the Netherlands (and Amsterdam in particular). Still, Pola and Van Houweningen did manage to bring up a couple of interesting points about guest-workers from time to time (a subject Pola also touched upon over at the NCRV on Farce Majeure). But the series didn't catch on and is almost completely forgotten by now. Perhaps the time just wasn't right for a sitcom about an Italian living in the Netherlands. However, the writer's third attempt turned out lucky: "Zeg 'ns AAA" became the most popular Dutch comedy series of the Eighties (and it seemed to use some of the same walls used for the Paparo household).
6 out of 10
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