Flicking through the channels one day, I was pleased to see James Bolam on the television. James Bolam, if you’re not sure who he is, is an elderly actor who made a name for himself by starring in the Likely Lads, and the spin-off, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads, both with Rodney Bewes, both shows becoming British classics. More recently, he starred in the very successful New Tricks, but he also starred in the show I’m going to review today, Grandpa in my Pocket.
The show is about a boy’s granddad who helps out his grandson by shrinking (I personally would have called the show The Incredible Shrinking Granddad). He is able to shrink by wearing what the show calls a shrinking cap. Not only does this make him shrink, but seems to give him superpowers too. We see him running around really fast, like an elderly white middle class Speedy Gonzales. Not sure how being small makes an old man run at all, never mind run fast. Not only that, but in the introduction we see James Bolam jumping from a shelf to a table, as if he was some free runner on a building. How can he do this, despite the fact that he is well over seventy years old? Well, I think the show’s excuse is magic. Magic? Come on, he’s 77 years old, if the wind changed direction he’d break his hip.
Not only can he survive massive falls and run faster than Usain Bolt on steroids, but he can somehow drive around in a toy car, toy train, and toy plane. They even make engine noises. How the hell does he do that? I looked at this show on Wikipedia, and it claimed it was magic. Christ’s sake, is that their answer to everything? It’s just magic. How does James Bolam, an old age pensioner, manage to outrun his young grandson? Magic. How does James Bolam manage to not only drive a toy car, but make it make engine noises? Magic. How did ever get a job in television? Dumb luck.
Well, enough of that, let’s take a look at the characters. Of course there’s the grandfather, and the grandson, but there’s also a granddaughter and a daughter. No son-in-law though, I’m guessing he died off-screen. Hey, maybe the single mum in this can hook up with the single dad in Sadie J. You know what I’ve just found out? The surname of the family is Mason. Wow, thanks for naming them after my family name guys. Now I’ll have to think of something to change mine to, maybe Bolam.
But they’re not the interesting characters, the interesting (I say interesting) people are the secondary characters. Now, if you thought the names in Captain Mack were unimaginative, just wait until you hear the names of the people in this. I’ll start with the guy who owns the bike shop, Mr. Liker Biker. GEDDIT?! Because he works in a bike shop, either that or he’s into bikers. But that’s not the worst, there’s also a character called Bubbles, and no, it’s not Michael Jackson’s monkey, it’s an actual person. How much would you hate your own child to call them Bubbles? But by far the worst is Mr. Whoops. And guess what his shtick is kids. That’s right! He’s clumsy! Jesus Christ! How lazy were the writers when they wrote this character? “So what should we call this guy?” “Ah who gives a sh*t, call him Mr. Whoops for all I care.” Surely that’s not his real name, he must have changed it to match his personality, I think Mr. Badly Thought Out Character would be better.
I mean, the names in Captain Mack were stupid, but at least they existed in a fictional world of talking monkey men and people with green moustaches, Grandpa in my Pocket is supposedly set in the real world. I know the target audience is very young children, but that’s no reason to insult their intelligence, or lack thereof if they’re watching this.
And the episode names are all really, really stupid. One episode which focused around the bike shop was about a famous cyclist called Edie (pronounced E-D) and because she’s so fast, they call her Speedy Edie, and in this particular, she needs a lot of stuff, so the episode is called A Very Needy Speedy Edie. Christ! Does the guy who writes the headlines for The Sun also write this show? Others include Bubbles and Squeak, The Most Splendiferous Sandcastle in Sunnysands, and A Toy for a Boy called Troy.
And of course, the acting is really bad. And I mean really bad. The children act as though they’re in a school production of… actually; the whole show is just like a school production of itself. The bad writing, the bad acting, the only thing that’s missing is the teacher at the edge of the screen shouting them their lines, and they need a teacher alright, an acting teacher.
And it’s not just the child actors who’re rubbish, the adults are too. It’s like they got a load of people from an amateur dramatics company just to save money. Just when you think the kids are bad, the grown-ups start talking. The children are just bland and boring, while the adults are just way too over the top and ridiculous, but then again, I suppose you’d expect a character called Mr. Whoops to be over the top. With the exception of James Bolam, no one seems to care. Plus, the directing is really bad too.
I will give the show this, James Bolam is a great actor, even in a show as bad as this, he manages to make something out of it. He gives a genuine performance, you could imagine it if he was your granddad, and he’s not silly or over the top like everyone else in the show.
The only problem is, he’s not in it much. Most of the time it’s his CGI double running around, driving toy cars, flying toy planes, and even flying around on a model seagull. Work that one out.
Our rating: (1 / 5)