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Family Dysfunction? You'll Find it on '15 Days'
November 26, 2019  | By David Hinckley
 


On the eve of the holiday we Americans traditionally celebrate by rounding up all family members, even the ones we don't really want to see, we’re getting a subtle gift from overseas.

15 Days, a British production that becomes available Tuesday on the streaming service BritBox, is a four-part mystery thriller revolving around a Welsh family way more dysfunctional than anything most of us can imagine.

Watch this and it's almost a guarantee that you will peer over the turkey at annoying Aunt Susie or entitled cousin Albert and realize it could be worse.

At least your relatives probably won't leave someone dead on the flagstone floor, which is what happens to one member of the 15 Days clan.

That's only the most egregious of the things the Davies family does to each other, and apparently has been doing for years.

Since the American Thanksgiving isn't a big holiday in Wales, where 15 Days is set, the family has gathered for a rather different occasion, which at first seems more closely reminiscent of The Big Chill.

More specifically, four middle-aged siblings, who don't ordinarily seem to have much interaction, have regrouped after their mother's death to scatter her ashes in a clearing on the large farm where they were all raised and which they have all left.

Gareth (Geraint Morgan) is a developer who can't wait to subdivide the farm into building lots. He has brought along his lady friend, Moira (Frances Grey), without filling her in on the family backstory, like how there used to be another brother, Owen, until their father accidentally ran him over with the family car.

Gareth has also brought along his perpetually annoyed teenage daughter – wait, is that phrase redundant? – Katie (Gabrielle Creevy), who seems most interested in handsome young Josh (Bruce Herbelin-Earle), whom we see working in the fields.

Speaking of working in the fields, the guy who's been running the farm lately is Mum's brother-in-law Uncle Huw (Ifan Huw Dafydd). The siblings resent this, since they feel he has no claim to their family land, and now that Mum is no longer around to say Uncle Huw can stay, they'd love to run him off.

The oust-Huw crowd not only includes Gareth, but Michael (David Caves), husband of sibling Sara (Catherine Tyldesley). Sara seems to be the only sib interested in moving back to the farm, though that doesn't mean she and Michael necessarily have the same agenda.

On the contrary, Michael seems perpetually annoyed with Sara. So does their young daughter Mabli (Ela Carlisle), the creepiest kid since Chucky.

Michael seems less annoyed with Nia (Mali Tudno Jones), Sara's older sister, probably because Michael and Nia have had a special relationship in the past.

The sibling quartet is rounded out by Rhys (Tom Rhys Harries), a tormented artist whose major claim to family fame is having found their father in the lake where old Dad drowned. Rhys has brought along his very pregnant wife Joy (Kezrena James), who finds a sudden immersion in the Davies family as unsettling as any of the rest of us would.

And this is even before we get to Huw's son Tom (Freddy Carter), a smarmy hustler whose idea of memorializing his dead aunt is to clip her jewelry.

We're not in The Big Chill any more, Toto.

With all due respect to the late Mum, each family member here sees the reunion primarily as an occasion to further his or her own agenda. Once the action starts, it moves at a rapid clip, and not a lot of the characters, frankly, come out looking very good. We don't wish them ill, necessarily. We just wish they were a little, well, nicer.

Purely as TV drama, the whodunit part remains lively and some of the nasty moves show a certain cleverness as they air out the family's unwashed laundry.

And like we said, your own dysfunctional holiday family may start to look like sweet apple pie compared to this crowd.

 
 
 
 
 
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