Director: Warner Shook
Writer: Jule Selbo
Cast: Jane Connell, Paul Avery, Kate McGregor-Stewart, Kelly Wolf, Greg Itzin, and Paul Sparer
Composer: Tom Pile
Air Date: 6/16/1985
Unwilling to tolerate the oblivious behavior of a deteriorating grandmother (Jane Connell), the Rollins (Paul Avery, Kate McGregor-Stewart, and Kelly Wolf) decide to relocate their elderly nuisance to the Tranquil Gardens retirement home. Fortunately, a final birthday wish allows Grandma to give her young relatives some much needed perspective.
“Grandma’s Last Wish” operates on an amusing premise and benefits from a satisfying resolution. That being said, the role reversal trope falls flat in this instance due to the obnoxious manner with which the Rollins conduct themselves, both before and after assuming Grandma’s frame of reference.
In contrast to her (supposedly) healthy relatives, Grandma bumbles her way through everyday tasks in a manner that will no doubt entertain those who enjoy Tales from the Darkside for its tongue-in-cheek elements. Especially worth noting, Grandma’s “communication barrier” may resonate with anyone whose statements have been misinterpreted by hearing-impaired family members.
It should be noted that for the twist ending to produce a humorous outcome, the Rollins must exhibit loathsome qualities while interacting with one another; however, a certain degree of subtlety should have nonetheless been exercised in order to prevent irritating audiences beyond acceptable levels (by communicating exclusively through shouting matches, family members Frank, May, and Greta serve only to offend viewer sensibilities). Even for a dysfunctional family, the Rollins are often presented in too absurd a fashion for the average fan to relate with, let alone understand how any human being could tolerate existing in such a miserable home environment.
“Grandma’s Last Wish” contains a message on demonstrating patience and respect for the elderly, with a callous, self-absorbed family learning a hard lesson about the importance of empathizing with those less fortunate than themselves. (In fairness, Grandma makes no attempt to bridge the cultural divide between herself and Greta, which may have heightened familial tensions prior to the events of this episode.)
A mediocre installment, “Grandma’s Last Wish” puts a cringe-inducing spin on a potentially clever concept. Grandma’s ridiculous attempts to decipher the requests, commands, and declarations of her children and granddaughter do, however, compensate for the more irksome comedy that permeates nearly every scene.
Overall Quality: 5/10
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