‘Tis the season to moralise, and in charge of the compass this Monday (at 8.30pm) is ITV1 and cow-eyed, portly old bloke David Jason. He plays Don in Come Rain Come Shine--a Cockney, ex-cabbie and devoted father who puts his family first and has a huge soft spot for his wealthy, property developer son, David (Shaun Evans). Don’s wife Dora (Alison Steadman), however, sees her flashy, foolish man-child a bit more clearly.
We open as Don and Dora arrive at David’s Footballers’ Wives style pile. There’s a Bentley parked in the driveway and an alienating aura of riches. It’s David birthday and his pretty wife Christina is throwing a party, complete with an extravagant cake and boastful chat. But, minutes from now, the upwardly mobile couple take a financial tumble. Here begins a dramatisation of the monetary imprudence that tripped up so many when the Credit Crunch hit. This could just as easily have been called What The Borrowers Did Next.
It’s an appropriate premise for a drama scheduled to air in the lead up to Christmas, when the temptation is to splurge regardless of the overdraft hangover you’ll face in the new year. But, alas, the execution is predictable and clumsy. Don’s indestructible optimism is irritating while his son’s personality is achingly one-dimensional and Christina's gracious flit from kept woman to shelf-stacker is left unexplored. To underline David as the villain the creators, it seems, decided against adding moral shade to the rest of the cast. Instead, they handed out halos. Don and co. are flawed, of course, but apart from David, everyone means so damn well.
There’s also an undeveloped subplot concerning David’s single-mother sister Joanne. The siblings’ relationship is strained, largely because David is Don’s favourite. Joanne also has a scumbag ex-husband – another undersized character and vehicle to show up Don as a hero.
But this pre-Christmas parable is rescued from total devastation by some enjoyable moments, including several heartening two-handers and Don’s mutually adoring relationship with his grandson Cameron. Their love of macho reality TV shows will make you melt.
Don is, in most respects, the perfect human being. He understands that family, not money, makes you rich and sees the best in everyone. Presumably, we're supposed to walk away from this feature-length fable emotionally nourished and wanting nothing more for Christmas than a frugally filled stocking and a granddad like Don. Honestly, if Santa thrusts a lubricated David Jason down my chimney I’ll frog march him back to the North Pole and demand an Xbox.