'Grandma's House' Series 2, Episode 5: 'The Day Simon Found Himself Back On The Path To Fulfilment And Joy' // Words: Saam Das
SYNOPSIS: "Sitcom. Simon makes his TV comeback, but a comment he makes about a singer's tumour is picked up by a newspaper." (bbc.co.uk)
'Grandma's House' has always had a certain self-referential/meta slant but this episode really takes one of co-writer Simon Amstell's real-life issues head on. His "off colour joke" about Russell Watson's brain tumour at the end of a BBC news interview becomes the centre-piece of an episode that sees Simon's career yo-yo-ing up and down in the course of just a matter of hours. With Tanya's (Rebecca Front) love life doing much the same.
It's hard to tell just how much the reaction to Amstell's good-natured rib still affects him. His use of it as a plot point in his own TV series either suggests that he still holds some bitterness or much the opposite, that he can happily derive humour from an uncomfortable personal situation. Either way, he certainly attempts to set the record straight, repeatedly batting away the suggestion that he was making fun of Watson's cancer.
While Simon's career takes a nosedive in the fallout of his supposed gaffe, Tanya finds herself in the curious position of pining for Clive (James Smith). So much so, she's all but given up on men ("I'm sewing it up", a rather monumental change of mind compared to the early episodes of the series.
Indeed, Tanya's in a particularly grumpy mood, and quite rightly calls Simon out on his philosophical nonsense - "You're in a vortex of deliberate bullshit" she cries at one point, leaving us to giggle gleefully. Tanya's luck changes however (with one of the best, or possibly worst, uses of the phrase "deal or no deal?" ever) while Simon continues his downward spiral, finding his inheritance disappearing at a unexpectedly rapid rate.
As the series draws to its conclusion, it's difficult to tell just who will be satisfied. Tanya taking the easy way out, Simon's unhappiness mounting, Grandma's (Linda Bassett) grief unaddressed, Clive in a financial pickle, and Liz's (Samantha Spiro) marriage still somewhat up in the air - that's a lot of precarious situations to attend to in thirty minutes. But writers Dan Swimer and Amstell have done a sterling job thus far, and I suspect things will end on a suitably sublime note.
Watch 'The Day Simon Found Himself Back On The Path To Fulfilment And Joy on BBC iPlayer until 22:29, 31 May '12. Read previous episode reviews here.