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As Time Goes By
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that even though it's pretty tame from a content perspective -- a bit of kissing and drinking and rare uses of "damn" are about the worst of it -- this witty British sitcom isn't likely to interest teens, since they won't relate to the aging characters' issues.
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What's the story?
British sitcom AS TIME GOES BY follows a couple's second try at romance after chance separated them for 38 years. Oscar winner James Bond boss Dame Judi Dench stars as Jean Pargetter, who runs a secretarial agency and lives with her twice-divorced daughter, Judith (Moira Brooker), in London. When a call comes in from an unhappy client, Jean finds herself face to face with ex-army officer/Kenyan coffee planter named Lionel Hardcastle (Geoffrey Palmer), with whom she had been romantically involved during the Korean War. Their relationship had come to an ambiguous end 38 years before when a case of bad luck -- and one wayward letter -- made each think the other wasn't interested in marriage. Now, with Lionel back in London to write his personal memoirs, he and Jean begin to spend time together -- but for two independent singles set in their ways, it's not always easy to slide into a relationship. During the first few seasons of the show, the focus stayed on Lionel and Jean's re-budding romance. But partway through the series' eight-year stint, they married, after which storylines followed the ups and downs of newlywed life. Judith continued to live with them, and Jean's secretary, Sandy (Jenny Funnell), often hung around the house as well. Lionel's egotistical agent, Alistair (Philip Bretherton), shared an on-again/off-again relationship with Judith, which eventually culminated in their marriage late in the series.
Is it any good?
This delightful show will keep adult viewers in stitches with its sharp writing, brilliant cast, and realistic storylines that bring fresh humor to common situations like meeting a spouse's ex, overcoming little uncertainties in a new marriage, and observing an adult daughter's love life. Palmer and Dench are spot-on choices for these wonderful characters, whose genuine affection for each other is a refreshing highlight to the series. But if your teens roll their eyes at the show (and don't be surprised if they do), invite your spouse to join in the fun with you.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether TV shows tend to portray married life positively or negatively. What about romance and love? How realistic do you think TV relationships are? Do you believe that every person has one "true" love, or can you love more than one person? How do you know when you love someone? Parents can also share their own stories -- how they met, when they fell in love, the details of their wedding, what they love about each other, etc.