2Point4 Children
The Complete Series Three

Starring: Belinda Lang, Gary Olsen and Julia Hills
Eureka Video
RRP: 16.99
Certificate: PG
Available 22 August 2005

On the surface the Porters are a normal family - indeed, even the series' title 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 third series of 2Point4 Children offers up another six (plus Christmas special) episodes of mayhem as the Porters organise a funeral, try to rescue their neighbours from a vicious gang of thieves, and attempt to live through one of the worst hurricanes on record while on holiday.

Unlike most sitcoms of the time 2Point4 Children carried on many of its jokes from episode to episode. In Series Three, it's Ben's obsession with the latest console game Ninja Badger and Bill's strange psychic dreams which we keep revisiting.

Beam Me Up, Scotty is a great episode which will have Trek fans in stitches (those with a sense of humour, that is). Ben's old friend and nemesis, Jake Klinger, is a huge Trek fan. When he dies, it is down to Ben to organise the funeral as Jake wanted it - everyone must come dressed as a Star Trek character.

When the Children are Asleep is like the worst farce imaginable. The majority of this episode takes place at night after Bill sees what she thinks are two shady characters driving away from the neighbour's house. The rest of the episode involves Bill trying to convince Ben that their neighbours may be in their house in need of help - despite the fact it's well known that they are on holiday. This episode also has a very amusing conclusion, one which I should have seen coming a mile away - but didn't.

Badger's Bend sees Ben falling asleep on the job. It soon becomes apparent that it's due to the fact that he has been sneaking downstairs in the middle of the night and playing Ninja Badger for hours at a time. When Bill finds out she makes him promise to stop playing it. But can he even get through the first day? This episode rang true for me, as I used to sit up until the early hours playing Tekken 2 on the Playstation, and then have a job staying awake at work. There is also a jokey 'behind the scenes' gag that shows how they didn't really kill the goldfish in this episode, and that it was all an illusion.

Again, as in Series One, there are also plenty of familiar faces, to those of us in our mid-30's, including Sandra Dickinson (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - '80s TV mini-series); Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger in Only Fools and Horses); Richard Davies (Z Cars); the late Barbara Lott (Sorry!) and the Beryl Reid-like Liz Smith (The Royle Family).

Fans of the show will be pleased that this is finally available on DVD. However, Series Three seems to have aged less gracefully than Series One, and there are not as many laugh out loud moments. In fact, there are some very embarrassing scenes - especially in Whoopee We're all Going to Die and the Christmas Special, Babes in the Wood. This series really should have stayed away from the touchy-feely scenes that are all too familiar in American shows. It looks out of place here. In fact, the British studio audience laugh uncomfortably several times in places they are not supposed to.

An entertaining slice of near-classic comedy.

Darren Rea

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