Nana’s Party is the penultimate episode of series 2 of Inside No.9, and it’s the most disappointing in the series so far. In fact, while I normally post a detailed look at each episode in the series, this one just left me cold. At every turn I was wating for the defining moment where it would strike out and grab me… but it never came.
It tried to grab us early on with an ambulance being called to the house, and then it flashed back to earlier in the same day. And that day was Nana’s 79th birthday, where mother of the house, Angela (Outnumbered‘s Claire Skinner), was busy getting things ready… well, being an obsessive cleaner, while husband Jim (Steve Pemberton) was hiding under a pretend cake in order to surprise the titular Nana (aka Maggie, played by Elsie Kelly).
Also turning up to the shindig was Angela’s sister, the embittered Carol (Lorraine Ashbourne) – dealing with life’s slings and arrows by use of the vodka she hides in her suntan lotion bottle, and her put-upon husband Pat (Reece Shearsmith), but while I could say it took too long to get going, the problem was that it never had a destination. We saw Nana getting used to a tablet device owned by Angela and Jim’s daughter, Katie (Eve Gordon) and, later on, discussion about a Countdown video which was actually a porn video, as became perfectly clear.
Angela swapped places with Jim as time went on, but the chance never came for either of them to surprise her, and the only tense moment came not when unfortunate comments were being made when their significant other was hiding under the cake – like the Countdown video and the fact that Carol and Jim were having an affair, but when Nana went to knife the cake and it turns out that Angela had chosen that moment to nip out and buy a proper cake, as you were led to believie someone was under it for the whole time while a big knife lay next to it.
The paramedic arrived just as the heimlich manouevre was having to be performed on Nana, and when Pat had managed to electrocute himself on his phone charger, but the man from the ambulance just turned out to be a strippogram.
At the conclusion, Nana read out her card to Jim – which we’d heard several times already and found hilarious, “Forget about the past – you can’t change it. Forget about the future – you can’t predict it. Forget about the present – I didn’t get you one.”, while in the background he could see his wife and daughter leaving him via the front door, disgusted as his having it off with Carol… even though, in reality, he would’ve been the one to check in to a hotel. So it all felt a bit like a soap opera rather than what I’ve come to expect from Inside No.9.
Nana’s Party had no “Tales Of The Unexpected” moments which have made this a stand-out series in recent years, and was disappointingly predictable from start to finish.
Nana’s Party is available on the BBC iPlayer until May 23rd.
IMPORTANT: Inside No.9 broadcasts its final episode on WEDNESDAY April 29th at 10pm, NOT Thursday, and concludes with Seance Time, starring Alison Steadman. The reason it’s not on Thursday is because W1A is taking the 10pm slot from then.
Overall Score: 2/10
Directors: Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton
Producer: Adam Tandy
Writers: Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton
Sound: Matthew Brace
Jim: Steve Pemberton
Angela: Claire Skinner
Maggie: Elsie Kelly
Carol: Lorraine Ashbourne
Pat: Reece Shearsmith
Katie: Eve Gordon
Paramedic: Christopher Whitlow
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.