When the Dog Dies is a gentle comedy starring Ronnie Corbett and Liza Tarbuck as retiree Sandy Hopper and his younger lodger Delores, respectively. The dog in question is Sandy's mongrel Henry. The series is written by Ian Davidson and Peter Vincent, the same team behind Corbett's 1980s television comedy series, "Sorry!".
The premise is that Sandy will downsize from his family home and release equity for his children "when the dog dies".
Most of the plots revolve around the various farsical situations Sandy gets himself into, or the schemes of his children to get him to move home or otherwise part with some of his money.
It's a gentle comedy, not one full of belly laughs but one which makes me chuckle from time to time. My biggest complaint is that too many of the characters are just fundamentally unlikeable.
Sandy is a rule-obsessed retired "acting manager" of the Five Feathers, Frinton, forever posting (and changing) house rules to which Delores must abide.
Delores is probably the only truly likeable character in the programme. Relentlessly optimistic, cheerful, and always looking out for Sandy when his family inevitably try to scam him. She also enjoys a good relationship with Henry.
Lance is Sandy's grown up son. A teacher, he's a bit wet and forever on the scrounge to borrow money from Sandy, but he's not entirely unsympathetic. He has an unpleasant, adulterous wife, Victoria, and a teenage daughter called Calais, named as such because she was conceived on a cross-channel ferry.
Ellie is Sandy's grown up daughter. Always sounding like she's on the verge of a breakdown, she considers Sandy's eventual bequest to already be her money, and despairs of him spending any of it before he leaves it to her. She's married to the entirely unlikeable, borderline psychopathic security and surveillance equipment salesman Blake who at various times tries to trick Sandy into giving him power of attorney, cons him into sponsoring him for a road race, and leaves him floating out to sea in a caravan. His schemes often involve tracking or bugging Sandy or his home so he can monitor Sandy's spending. He and Ellie are both convinced that Sandy is romantically involved with Delores. Ellie and Blake's children are Tyson and Zoe, who Blake essentially tortures by insisting on a brutal exercise regime for Tyson and seemingly non-stop sessions of musical instrument practice for Zoe.
Pom-Pom's Mummy is another dog owner who Sandy frequently meets while walking Henry. She initially appears as quite a sympathetic character, but later it becomes more apparent that she too has quite a nasty, jealous streak in her. She covets Sandy and is quite jealous of Delores' relationship with him.
Overall, When the Dog Dies isn't a bad series, it's just not one I'd return to. There are no standout memorable episodes, and I spent a lot of time wondering why Sandy didn't report Blake for his borderline illegal (probably actually illegal, in some cases) activities.
Rating: * *