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NEW YORK (CNS) -- Viewers tired of programs involving serial killers and terrorists may want to check out the wonderfully idiosyncratic and restrained dramedy "Pitching In." Streaming now on Acorn, the four-hour limited series originally aired on BBC Wales in February.
Writers Johanne McAndrew and Elliot Hope open their story, which is set in a Welsh seaside village called Glan Mor, as widower Frank Hardcastle (Larry Lamb) prepares to celebrate his 71st birthday, 18 months after his the death of his wife, Bronwyn, from cancer.
At a surprise party in his honor, Frank -- whose role as the owner of the Daffodil Dunes mobile home park makes him a beloved figure in the resort town -- announces to the closely knit community that he intends to sell the place. This news distresses everyone, especially his adult daughter, Carys (Caroline Sheen).
For the first time since her mom's death, 40-something Carys has returned to her home town with her adolescent son, Dylan (William Romain), in tow to celebrate Frank's birthday. Now she sets out to change her dad's mind.
With divorce from her husband Liam (Jonathon Ojinnake) looming, Carys believes that working to revitalize Daffodil Dunes would help her find renewed purpose. Frank agrees to let her have a go, provided she does the bulk of the work and doesn't rely on him to bail her out.
In addition to complicating Frank's life, Carys' return unsettles local pub owner Danny (Craig Russell). The story of how Carys left Danny standing at the altar is legendary in Glan Mor. So it's understandable that his current girlfriend, single mom Tanya (Lu Corfield), is suspicious of Danny's true intentions toward his former fiancee.
As a friendship develops between Dylan and Tanya's daughter from a previous union, Chloe (Seren Medi Davies), moreover, Tanya becomes convinced that Dylan is corruptly influencing Chloe.
Carys forges ahead with numerous schemes to stir new life into Daffodil Dunes, including medieval reenactments, a yoga class and a boot camp. At the same time, however, real estate agent Iona Driscoll cajoles Frank to sell the property after all.
Played by the venerable British actress Hayley Mills, close to 60 years after she vividly impressed viewers as a teenager in 1961's "The Parent Trap," Iona is an attractive contemporary of Frank's who may have an ulterior motive for her apparent romantic interest in him.
Refreshingly, the script eschews vulgarity. And, while some rowdy drunken behavior leads to a physical confrontation in one scene, the encounter scarcely qualifies as genuine violence. The depiction of sensuality is equally low-key.
Still, "Pitching In" doesn't quite register as fare for the whole family. Underaged drinking, vaping and discussions about cancer, divorce and marital infidelity suggest the show is best suited to adults and teens.
The foibles of the various townsfolk, who rival one another in their charming eccentricity, will prove both endearing and amusing for viewers. Olwen (Valmai Jones), for example, is a spirited older woman given to stretching the truth about herself on dating apps while Royston (Jim Findley) becomes a local celebrity by transforming recyclable trash into art.
The series celebrates Glan Mor's strong, healthy community where a wide range of individuals are welcomed and imbued with a true sense of belonging. It also makes the most of the beauty of its setting.
Shot entirely in Anglesey on Wales' northern coast, "Pitching In" benefits from Tim Pollard and Len Gowing's sumptuous cinematography, which amplifies the glories of nature. In fact, the audience may wonder why Frank would ever want to close up shop and leave.
In keeping with the relaxed way of life in a town like Glan Mor, the show's pace is somewhat meandering -- which may frustrate those accustomed to quick resolutions. But viewers who stick with "Pitching In" will be gratified to discover that its unusual editing ultimately turns out to be apt.
The series may not amount to high art. But it does provide a welcome respite from the harsh, darkly cynical world limned in so many television productions.
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Byrd is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.