13 February 2015

TV: Benidorm 7.7


 Wow! Where did this come from?! As enjoyable as the last six episodes have been (to varying degrees of course) this one's exceptional in just about every way. Gone are the sitcom poolside shenanigans as Litten, Armitage and co pull out all the stops for the finale.

From the first few minutes of the show, you might not think this anything out of the ordinary. There's the almost obligatory misunderstanding due to language barrier (though it was hilarious, and had me beaming practically instantly) and the hotel staff are bunking off again, but this time it's with good reason. Mateo has been living in fear of his life for weeks, receiving death threats from his mother in law (who else?). And it's this that forms the main thrust of the episode.

First, Mateo returns home, encouraged by Lesley, to leave the house of terror once and for all. His children are all living with his wife's sister anyway, and he plans to find his own place to live. Upon arriving back there though, he finds the old witch lying in wait. She promptly gags and binds him, and he spends the day in threat of being blasted to smithereens. He eventually manages to alert Kenneth to his predicament with a text, at which point he, Liam and Lesley make tracks for the casa, summoning the police too. They find the mother in law armed and angry, and several hours later, two disgruntled police officers arrive, their evening meal interrupted. Suffice to say it made for gripping television, and I really wouldn't like to spoil the outcome of this storyline. I'll leave it at saying I'm sorry it came to this.

There's plenty else packed into this closing episode though. Dodgy dealer Monty gets his comeuppance as Tiger and Terri pretend to be a Swedish footballer and his agent. In a surprising clever plot for the Dykes, they convince the bent businessman to sell them all four houses, forcing him to reimburse Clive. One thing I was surprised about was that they didn't capitalise on the situation and claim back more than their expenses. Even Melanie has left Monty, meaning he ends up with nothing. That's quite a bleak message for this show, and these scenes only add weight to the notion that this episode would be more at home in a drama series than a sitcom.

The story of Jacqueline and Glynn comes to a head here too as Rhiannon arrives from France. After much unsubtle question-dodging, we learn that Rhiannon's not seen Donald in days. The way this story arc has progressed and now concluded has been very satisfying. So much so, I think it would be a good place to leave these four characters. The tributes to Kenny Ireland were very touching, and if we never saw Jacqueline again I wouldn't be surprised (or especially upset). With many of the main cast gone (Geoff, Noreen, Jason and Janey are all absent this week) the aforementioned storylines are allowed some room to breathe. But Litten manages to find that perfect balance, and so neither do they feel slow.

If you needed any proof that Benidorm still had legs (and let's be honest, it was getting that way) then this is surely it. This episode deserves to be regarded as drama, not situation comedy. The cast are well above the majority of programmes that come under that label (I'm thinking of things such as The Wright Way or House of Fools) and capable of truly outstanding performances when required. Sandy Johnson is clearly right for the job too, with some exquisite imagery on display. In particular, the scenery surrounding Mateo's house is almost breathtakingly shot. What's equally impressive is the way Derren Litten makes this work so effectively as a discrete episode, but also as a season finale, tying everything up nicely and makes the viewer hungry for Series 8. Excellent stuff.

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