2Point4 Children
The Complete Series One

Starring: Belinda Lang, Gary Olsen and Julia Hills
Eureka Video
RRP: 16.99
Certificate: PG
Available 24 January 2005

On the surface the Porters are a normal family - indeed, even the series' tittle
2Point4 Children, the fabled average family size, alludes to their normality (as well as the fact that the husband/father is still a bit of a child himself). Yet, though the individual members - central-heating engineer Ben; his wife, catering worker Bill; and their teenage children David and Jenny - are unexceptional, the situations in which the family occurrences and poor judgement all conspire to turn the Porters' world topsy-turvy...

The first series of 2Point4 Children gets the show off on the right foot. Unlike most British comedies 2Point4 Children has an ongoing narrative that loosely links each episode week after week. In series one this revolves around Bill and her obsession with a mysterious motorbike rider. But as the series progresses, and he seems to pop up all the time, it is left for the viewer to decide whether he is real or a figment of Ben's imagination - her fantasies manifesting themselves as flesh and blood.

This series sees Jenny skipping school to meet her boyfriend, the Porters dwindling sex life, a family barbecue, problems with supermarket security, a surprise visit by Bill's mother, Ben meeting an old girlfriend who still has the hots for him, Bill taking her driving test, and Ben buying, and hiding from his family, an expensive pale blue classic Chevy.

Anyone who has a family, or lives in the real world will immediately be able to draw parallels between their own lives and that of the Porters'. Whether it's problems opening those small clear bags in the grocery section of supermarkets or dreading the mother-in-law coming to stay, there are plenty of situations that we can all recognise from our own lives. Even today, almost 13 years since this first series was originally broadcast, there are still plenty of familiar social situations to make you smile.

There are also plenty of familiar faces, to those of us in our mid-30's, including David Kelly (Robin's Nest and Fawlty Towers - who will be playing Grandpa Joe in the forthcoming remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory); Steven Lewis (Blakey from On the Buses); and the Beryl Reid-like Liz Smith.

There are also several nods to classic movies. My favourite being the homage to Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds - Ben leaves a council estate only to find a load of young children sat on her car.

Extras include a tribute to actor Gary Olsen, who died in 2000, and a photo gallery. The photo gallery is not like the majority - where you simply get stills from the series - but are publicity shots of the cast. However, this kept freezing on our DVD player (it would only go so far and then stop).

It may have taken a long time to materialise on DVD, but the wait certainly was worth it. This is a classic series that is almost as topical today as when it was originally broadcast.

Darren Rea

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