Growing on me
Joseph Haschka | Glendale, CA USA | 08/27/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"THE DARLING BUDS OF MAY (Vol.2, Breath of French Air) comprises the second four 50-minute episodes from the British telly series originally broadcast in May 1991 and January/February 1992 on Yorkshire Television.The series revolves around the Larkin family: Sidney "Pop" Larkin (David Jason), "Ma" Larkin (Pam Ferris), daughter Mariette (Catherine Zeta Jones), sons Oscar and Montgomery, daughters Primrose, Petunia, Zinnia, and Victoria, and Mariette's new husband "Charley" Charlton (Philip Franks). And, by the way, Ma isn't married to Pop; her real character name is Flo Parker. Living in sin doesn't prevent fruitful multiplication, apparently, even in the realm of the Church of England.It's the early 1950s, and Pop Larkin owns 22 acres of farmland in Kent. His family's lifestyle indicates a comfortable prosperity. Perhaps it's because of the under-the-table deals Pop has going on the side. And it doesn't hurt his bottom line that he's never filed an income tax declaration or paid into social insurance. Sidney is a charming rascal, especially with the women.In the first two episodes, the extended Larkin family spends a holiday on the Brittany coast at a somewhat threadbare hotel. French hospitality is markedly cool until the staff misperceives Pop to be a British lord. You see, Pop drives an old, classic, yellow Rolls Royce purchased from a cash-strapped member of the English landed gentry. The seller's initials, "SL", which are emblazoned on the side of the car in ornate lettering, are the same as Pop's. Anyway, Sidney doesn't disabuse his hosts of their mistaken notion, even allowing the female owner to relinquish her room to Ma and Pop for their increased comfort. In the meantime, Charley is attacked by the Green-Eyed Monster when the young men on the beach show a sunbathing Mariette too much attention. The newlyweds have their first tiff.In the second two episodes, it's almost a year later, and Mariette delivers her first child. Amidst all this wedded bliss, Charley is feeling pangs of inadequacy as his father-in-law provides the Charltons with everything. Charley is on the lookout for self-reliance and a money-making opportunity, such as discovering a method to successfully freeze strawberries. Across the fence in the main Larkin house, the second oldest daughter, Primrose, now 15, is developing a crush on the young vicar, Mr. Candy, who's tasked with performing the christening ceremony not only for the Charlton infant, but also for all the Larkin children, none of whom have been baptized in the Church. Things get more interesting when the owner of that French hotel, still thinking Pop is a "milord", arrives on a visit.I gave Volume 1 of the series three stars, calling it "bucolic". But, you know, it's growing on me. I don't think I'll ever give any of the five volumes 5 stars, but four stars for this disc is an indication of my increasing appreciation for this gentle, amusing and happy series. It's also intriguing to see how the scriptwriters are beginning to bring the younger Larkin children into the mainstream of the plot as they get older. This aspect reminds me of the evolution of that long-running U.S. TV series, THE WALTONS. Not a shabby comparison, that."