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'Pitching In' on Acorn is a Guilty Pleasure
May 24, 2019  | By David Hinckley

Pitching In is a breezy, lightweight tale that pokes around in the familiar dramas of family and makes a small village in North Wales look like one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Efficiently told in four episodes, Pitching In becomes available Friday on Acorn.

Lifelong townsman Frank Hardcastle (Larry Lamb, top) runs a residential park called Daffodil Dunes. It has cottages and beach access, and it’s home to a bunch of mostly endearing regulars who are quirky and harmless. Sort of like Alexandria in The Walking Dead might have been if there were no zombie apocalypse.

Frank knows everyone by name, and he can even persuade some of them to help take care of his dog Peaches, who is so small she’s barely a dog at all.

Peaches was Frank’s wife’s dog. But his wife, whom he adored, died a little over a year ago, and Peaches, whom he doesn’t much like, lives on. As you might imagine, the death of his wife is the important fact in that sentence.

Among other things, it has made Frank feel older. The population of Daffodil Dunes is also getting older, and as Frank turns 71, he has reluctantly decided to put the place up for sale.

He has no specific plan for the future. Although he’s in good physical health, he’s tired.

Just as the picturesque seaside setting of Pitching In will remind viewers of the Cornwall town in Doc Martin, the setup of bittersweet sunset years has a faint echo of Last Tango in Halifax.

Pitching In makes the same compact with viewers as those shows do. There’s no jarring violence, no awful acts of treachery. There’s no graphic language. A risqué segment here is two old-timers joking about a bull’s apparent reluctance to get friendly with the cows. While everyone isn’t always nice to each other, and harsh words are occasionally exchanged, it’s a gentle show.

A storyline does, however, develop. Frank’s daughter Carys (Caroline Sheen) pulls into town with her young teenage son Dylan (William Romain), and while at first, Frank assumes she’s just there for his birthday party, it turns out she’s come back to stay.

Seems her husband back in Manchester was stepping out on her, and she’s decided to move back to the nest. When she hears that Frank wants to sell the place, she volunteers to step in and run it. Update it, make it a happening place. Bring crowds in.

Carys and Frank clearly love each other. Equally clear, Frank has had some issues with Carys’s life choices over the years. So there’s an ongoing undercurrent of caution despite their easy banter and Frank’s generally accommodating attitude.

That father/daughter dynamic forms the heart of Pitching In, as Carys confidently pushes forward with her vision for Daffodil Dunes.

Naturally, we also get subplots, including the one in which Dylan makes it clear that moving from a lively city to the middle of nowhere is about as appealing as giving up his phone.

Daffodil Dunes is great, he says at one point, “if you’re 90 and half-dead.”

Frank also has a potential outside distraction in Iona Driscoll (Hayley Mills), a local real estate agent who would love to see more of Frank. In a good way.

And Carys now will be regularly running into Danny (Craig Russell), a local hunk that she came within a few minutes of marrying the last time she lived in town. Danny has a new partner, both in life and in the local pub, which he runs.

So Pitching In has several points of interpersonal intrigue, and it clearly feels the stories of Frank, Carys, Dylan, their town and their circle, against a gorgeous backdrop, are enough.

It’s the TV equivalent of Daffodil Dunes – a throwback to an earlier, simpler era.

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