The pilot sitcom starring Alison Steadman, John Cleese, and Jason Watkins is a British effort of Director Sandy Johnson and writer Charles McKeown that ventures into the unfortunate but all too-familiar world of an adult child returning home to his parents and deciding to stay for a while. A long while. Producers Moira Williams, Humphrey Barclay, and Chris Sussman try to find success exploring the sunset of the Baby Boomer generation and the “rising” of the Millennials.
Airing Sundays on BBC One, the storyline is that Edith (Steadman), a widow who has managed to find life and happiness in her solitude after both of her children have grown up and moved out and on. The children do drop by to visit mom as they both live within easy driving distance from their childhood abode. Enter Phil (Cleese) an old boyfriend who just happens to live across the road and stops in to see Edith on a daily basis.
Phil still has a thing for Edith, and his imagination wanders to seeing himself and Edith move away from the past and finding a place that’s sunny and warm. Despite his daily advances, Edith refuses to give in for months on end. The daily visits eventually wear her down and one day she agrees to go along with Phil’s plan. But on that same day a knock on the door will shut down and immediate hope of travelling abroad as her 50 year old son Roger (Watkins) is standing at the door with suitcase in hand.
His “good” news is that he has left his wife and decided that home is where he will find his lost happiness. He has also left behind his children and a decent job at his former employer, the bank, to apparently return to living a carefree life as a child. Edith is caught in a different kind of parent trap and acquiesces to Roger’s decision. Phil is not seeing things quite so simply and clearly, and the show is on to find out whether Roger can somehow be extracted from his childhood home before Phil finds his own method of extraction.
John Cleese and Alison Steadman have worked together in a previous movie, Clockwise, and are looking forward to more continued success. Cleese said after reading the script it is the most “enjoyable” material he has seen in the past 100 years. One of his most quoted quotes is, “You don’t have to be the Dalai Lama to tell people that life’s about change.” At 78 he obviously has embraced his own change and balanced it with a sense of humor. As for Alison Steadman, one of her most critically acclaimed movies, Life is Sweet, took on a far more serious tone but Wendy, her character, displays a similar compassion and understanding as Edith to the curve balls life often throws at us.
The chemistry and talent of the two actors works well together, and there are enough visits by neighbors, friends, and enemies to keep the sitcom energized. It is only scheduled for 6 episodes, so we will await the outcome of the pilot to see if Edith and Phil manage to find happiness with or without Roger.
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