Quite why this excellent sitcom was ever described as disturbing is a mystery. Surely it's no more bleak than the similar situation in the Ronnie Corbett series Sorry? I looked forward to another series of Mrs Merton and Malcom, thinking the team of Aherne and Cash's success with The Royle Family would lead to more of both shows. Instead it seemed me at the time that the success of the latter overshadowed any critical or popular consideration for the former series.
I remember the two comic genius's statement in the Radio Times previewing Mrs Merton and Malcom, to the effect that in it's earlier time slot the series would be suitable for young and elderly audiences. So I don't think they thought it would be seen as disturbing.
Both sides of my own family had a son (uncles to me) who stayed at home with the mother, while all other siblings flew the coup, one of them in a similar slight 'special needs' category to Malcom. I was not remotely offended by the scenario as I thought the series was affectionate towards such cases as it was funny. And funny it certainly was. I particularly enjoyed watching with my daughter, who would be in stiches along with me week after week. My vhs recordings were all but worn out. Maybe it was the northern humour, but it was all played to perfection by a hand picked cast from the regulars, including supporting members, to the odd guest such as Steve Coogan as the vicar in the last episode, and the little boy who played Justin earlier in the run. The series abounded with classic catch phrases such as Malcom's "treeemendous", and Arthur Capstick's "I don't know eh?", and Asian chemist Mr Malik's acertion that his medicines should be taken before bedtime so they can "work their magic while he (or she) sleeps". There were also some lovely comments made about various tv personalities and tv shows from Richard and Judy to Riverdance.
It displayed all the observational humour seen in The Royle Family and Craig Cash's later, equally overlooked, Early Doors. What these series all have in common is that just about every single character is reminiscent of someone we all know. If Mrs Merton and Malcom's reality is a little more heightened than the rest, it's fairly subtle to me. It's criminal that this series was all but ignored, and equally so it hasn't been granted a dvd release.moreless