Howard is getting married to his lovely fiancée in a week, but first he has to survive the chaos leading up the marriage. His future in-laws are extremely uptight and all of his efforts to impress them end in disaster. Meanwhile, his own parents are bawdy, free spirits, polar opposites of the in-laws. Sounds exactly like the recipe for the wildly successful Meet The Parents and its train-wreck sequel, Meet The Fockers, but instead it’s a BBC sitcom series making its US DVD debut this month.
Each episode follows Howard through one day of the week leading up to his wedding. The first episode focuses on his initial introduction to his future in-laws at their immaculate estate (basically Meet The Parents), while the second episode introduces Howard’s randy father and future stepmother (a la Meet The Fockers). There’s also a psycho stalker ex-girlfriend, a moody younger sister-in-law, and the requisite family pet, all determined to make Howard’s week as difficult as possible. Once all of the players are introduced, they’re set free to play off each other in a delightful comedy of errors. Those countless errors include Howard’s future stepmother’s demonstration of her lap-dancing technique, Howard’s accidental murder of the family pet, and Howard’s groping of his future mother-in-law during a visit to the wrong bedroom.
The creators assembled a talented cast perfectly matched to their roles, especially Geoffrey Whitehead as the stern but somewhat bemused father of the bride and Ben Miller as the harried, maniacal groom. Although the plot seems so derivative of the US movies, the format of one episode for each day of the week is a brilliant touch that adds to the enjoyment and comedic tension. The first two episodes are the most uncomfortable and hilarious, but the remaining five keep the comedy at a suitably high level. The only glaring flaw is the ex-girlfriend subplot that is carried much too far into the surreal, temporarily threatening to undermine the rest of the series before reaching suitable resolution.
While British imports sometimes suffer from dodgy production values, unintelligible lines, or humor that just doesn’t translate, this series is a high-quality gem guaranteed to generate laughs. The concept may be derivative, but it’s a story that is always ripe for comedy in any country.
Written by Caballero Oscuro