Words: Paul Dean
'Grandma's House' Episode Three: 'The Day Simon Announced That He Was in Control of the Universe'
SYNOPSIS: "Simon has fallen in love. He’s also read a book which leads him to believe that he might be able to control the universe. The family aren’t very impressed with either. Grandpa has invited Deborah Adler to visit, Grandma doesn’t like her and is less than happy. Liz has had to take extreme measures to try and get her son Adam into a new school."
I think I'm beginning to warm to 'Grandma's House', particularly if I decide I should see it more as a dysfunctional drama with comic elements, rather than simply a comedy. Its characters certainly benefit from the growth and the depth they gain by having a few episodes behind them and, although he may be the central figure, Simon Amstell is probably the least entertaining of the lot. Then again, I suppose its mostly his role to suffer and to be bounced around between their various arguments and demands, a sort of helpless pinball at the mercy of their whims and moods.
As I've said before, they're each cannily realised and subtly portrayed, though their continuing bickering is not always as funny as it could be and they are occasionally simply petty and hollow, but these sorts of misfires seem to be happening less as this series develops. It's worth noting that, among a number of excellent actors and comedy veterans, the young newcomer Jamal Hadjkura does a fine job of portraying Amstell's well-realised cocky pubescent cousin. He could simply have been a broadly-drawn stereotype, but he's instead as good as anyone else around him. Indeed, he even gets the best line of the episode.
I'm starting to think that this is a show that will grow as it unfolds and, as such, it's not really something episodic that we can dip into with a rough understanding of the characters. It's just a bit too subtle for that. I also think we're not supposed to laugh at the awkward moments but, perhaps, we're supposed to feel awkward too. I admit, I'm not entirely sure what to make of 'Grandma's House' yet. What I do know is that it is at least genuinely different, deliberately so. That, at least, is worthy of merit.
[WATCH] until 10:29pm, Monday 20th September 2010.