2 Point 4 Children: Season 1
July 7, 2005
Two point four children is a common term used for a normal family. Two parents, two kids. From the outside, The Porter family would appear to be normal, and they are. That’s the beauty of this BBC sitcom, it’s so well cast that we have no problem accepting the fact that they are a normal family with the normal family-sized problems.
The early nineties are considered by some as the golden age of sitcoms and for six weeks a year 2 Point 4 Children grabbed 13 million viewers, making it one of the successful BBC shows at the time. An instant hit with its instantly recognizable formula that pretty much mirrors nearly any family on the other side of the screen. The Porter family is made up of the children, David, the youngest who has an unhealthy appetite for monster movies and all things gross (like little boys should) and Jenny, who has discovered puberty and boys in leather jackets. But the real comedy gold is from the parents, Ben, a central-heating engineer who never quite grew out of his boyhood years and Bill, a bakery shop worker and the main focus of series one.
The series keeps a tight continuity throughout all six episodes, as well as having its individual stories and mainly follows the traumas of parenthood through Bill’s eyes. She is a devoted mother but has an evil sense of humor and jokes about cooking the children or selling them to the circus, yet this isn’t sold all the way into “black comedy.” Excellently played by Belinda Lang, Bill is at her brutally sarcastic best when dealing with people of authority who are an obstacle in her daily routine. Secretly, she wishes for a different life, maybe that of her “different man every night” best friend, Rona, or even that of her husband who believes that “testosterone explodes on contact with saucepans.” Whether Bill’s faced with shopping, ironing, getting the kids to school on time or her mother coming to stay, you laugh when you’re supposed to laugh but when they try to inject a bit of drama it doesn’t quite work. At one point, Bill looks to be on the verge of a break down in front of her teenage daughter shouting, “What about me? What about my feelings? I’m a person too,” which works for the character, but just not in this show. Fortunately, these dramatic outbursts don’t happen too much.
It’s your standard British sitcom set-up, a few obvious looking sets, chuck in a few sexual innuendos every now and again, as little editing as possible and a clunky theme tune. It’s as apt now as it was ten years ago and hasn’t really aged at all, apart from the odd pop culture reference to Ninja Turtles, Twin Peaks and Prisoner Cell Block H. 2 Point 4 Children provides something that is quite scarce these days – fun and laughter for the whole family to watch together.
The menu screens revolve around a breakfast table motif that is far from bland but somehow is a tiny bit trickier to navigate than it should be. The extras are few; there is one and it’s a tribute to Gary Olsen, who played Ben Porter. The tribute is the same few stills being shown over and over again whilst a voiceover tells us about his career from his first job in theatre, right through to his unexpected death. Nice words, shame about the repetitive visuals that go with it.