Next of Kin

So my latest Britcom ‘discovery’ is Next of Kin starring Penelope Keith (To the Manor Born) and Richard Gaunt (No Place Like Home). They play an older couple whose son and daughter-in-law were killed in a car accident. Now their three grandchildren have come to live with them.

It’s a comedy with a definite dark edge. First, the basic premise…here’re 3 orphans, after all.

Second is, the couple, and especially the wife, really aren’t thrilled with the arrangement. They’ve been living the good life: weekends in France, lounging about drinking wine with friends…just a comfortable life of idle retirement. Now they’re going to football matches and cleaning up after kids and pets and frankly, they resent it.

Third of all, the kids (an older girl, two younger boys) aren’t very nice kids. Well, the girl is a bitch, the youngest boy is actually just a regular boy, and the middle boy is somewhere in between. And they’re a quirky bunch. The girl is a rabid environmentalist and a vegetarian (the parents were as well) and is always tearing into people about how their habits are destroying the earth. The middle boy only eats Spam. The younger boy is, well, a younger boy…all about worms and bugs and such. All three are in a constant state of rebellion, never wanting to do any chores and shouting back at their grandparents constantly. You just want to spank the lot of them!

The first time you see it, you’ll probably think “What a horrid show!” but it really grows on you. Keith just plays the haughty matron so darned well, and Gaunt is doing his “slightly bumbling husband” act that he did so well in No Place Like Home. You’ll *hate* the kids at first but like 3 little spots of mildew, they start to grow on you. You see that deep inside, they’re just normal kids, but kids whose world has been destroyed, (the series starts soon after the parents’ death) and they’re just trying to come to terms with their new reality.

All in all, a decent show. I’d give it a B+ or thereabouts. Here in the Boston area its playing on Saturday nights on the WGBH2 station (16 on Comcast cable).

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