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Series / Friday Night Dinner

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Friday Night Dinner (2011-) is a Channel 4 television series. Once a week, the Goodman family — snappy mother Jackie, half-deaf hoarding father Martin, and twenty-something sons Adam and Jonny — meet up for a Sabbath meal. The brothers' constant war of attrition, Martin's attempts to hold onto his precious back issues of New Scientist, Jackie's neuroses and the regular intrusion of the Stalker with a Crush neighbour Jim combine into elaborate Fawlty Towers Plots which always collapse at the climax of the episode.

Not to be confused with the similar "dysfunctional Jewish family meets for a meal" sitcom Grandma's House.


This show provides examples of:

  • The Alleged Car:
    • Jonny, a real estate agent, gains access to a company car... shaped like a miniature house.
    • Adam's car, which ends up in flames in the episode "The Surprise".
  • All Jews Are Cheapskates: Martin eats out of the bin, spoons unused ketchup back into the bottle and saves back copies of New Scientist on the grounds that they'll be worth something someday as "collectables". Averted with the rest of the family, though, who have their faults, but are not notably mean with money.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: The boys wince a lot at their parents, especially (understandably) at their father, but keep coming back for the free dinners and out of ingrained loyalty.
  • Animals Hate Him: Wilson seems to despise Jim, his owner, completely ignoring his commands and growling ominously whenever he touches him.
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  • Author Catchphrase: Simon Bird brings the same deadpan "Brilliant" used by several characters in The Inbetweeners to this show, where both Adam and Jonny use it.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Subtly hinted at with Jim. When Jackie gently points out that it's unlikely someone would have raped Wilson, since he's a dog, Jim simply shouts "yes, exactly" and goes very quiet. There's also the "little game" Jim was playing with Wilson.
  • Brick Joke: This happened in the episode "Congratulations". When told by Jackie what he knows about his new wife, Jonny struggles to come up with an answer and say "she likes apples". Near the end of the episode, Jonny asks Lisa:
    Jonny: By the way, do you like apples?
    Lisa: Apples make me heave.
    Jonny: Oh... cool.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Martin:
      • "Hello bambinos."
      • "It's boiling!"
      • "Lovely bit of squirrel, Jackie."
      • "Shit on it!"
    • Jim: "Hello, Jackie, you look nice..."
  • Character Development: At the beginning of the series Jim is genuinely creepy, but as the show progresses his Stalker with a Crush tendencies are downplayed and he becomes merely eccentric (most of the time, at least).
  • Chekhov's Armoury: As the AV Club review of the show says:
    If something is introduced early in an episode of Friday Night Dinner, it will become important at a later point in the episode: For example, if a phone is stuck on speaker, you know that someone is going to have a private conversation that becomes a public one. I call it Chekhovian because every episode really does have about a half-dozen equivalents of Chehkovian guns, items set up to play a role in the climax of the episode.
  • Christmas Episode: After the second series. Adam points out how strange it is that a Jewish family have Christmas dinner every year.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • Jim has a habit of throwing non-seqiturs into conversation, decides to pop round to their house to tell them that their doorbell is broken (he knows because there's a sign on it), and when his dog runs away, he panics "What if someone's raped him?"
    • Martin’s tendency to small but annoying and unshiftable eccentricities is perhaps flanderized over time.
  • Continuity Nod: Jonny's awful skull tattoo can be seen when he is forced to take his shirt off in Series 4.
  • Cringe Comedy: A lot of it, particularly any scene involving Jim.
  • Doomed New Clothes: Jackie's friend's dress.
  • The Door Slams You: Jackie's mother, while trying on her bikini, finds the front door open. She walks over to check why... and is promptly thrown through it when Martin unknowingly knocks the door shut.
  • Drop-In Character: Jim.
  • Escalating War: Between Jonny and Adam. Much of the time, it's adding salt to each other's drinks in increasingly elaborate ways. Generally leads to people getting caught up in the crossfire.
    Grieving guest: My dad's just died, why are you putting salt in everything?!
  • Everyone Has Standards: Jim may a weird, obnoxious, rude man with No Social Skills, but he feels genuinely bad and apologises when he unknowingly invites a Nazi into their home.
  • Expy: Two examples with characters played by the same actors. Jim is precisely the same twitchy, asocial pervert that Mark Heap played in Green Wing, Dr Alan Statham, though minus the ego that came with being a consulting radiologist, and the excuse that he may have some Ambiguous Disorder. Adam meanwhile is Will from The Inbetweeners five years later.
  • Fan Disservice: Martin being shirtless, which unfortunately is most of the time.
    • Mr. Morris wrestles with his shirt off.
    • Jackie's Grandma was at one point seen in a bikini.
  • "Fawlty Towers" Plot: Every single episode.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Jonny has one. It doesn't last, of course.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": Featuring, among other things, Martin reading out the coroner's report in place of the eulogy, and Wilson trying to eat the deceased's corpse.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: Jonny's supposed girlfriend does exist... but she's going out with someone else.
  • Idiot Houdini: Jim's eccentric tendencies allow him a fair amount of leeway with the Goodman family. Although they don't consider him a friend, they are generally too nice to outright throw him out or shoo him away.
  • Insane Troll Logic:
    Mr Morris: Well, aren't you going to pay the man?
    Adam: Why do we have to pay?
    Mr Morris: Because if your grandmother had never existed, your house wouldn't have destroyed my headlamp.
    Adam: And that's actual logic?
  • In-Series Nickname: Jonny and Adam call each other "Pissface" and "Pusface" respectively. Their dad's ex-girlfriend is known universally as "Bitchface" and his Mum is "Horrible Grandma."
  • Insistent Terminology: Martin keeps nagging Adam about the lack of "females" in Adam's life.
  • Jerkass:
    • Mr. Morris, Grandma's terrifying 84 year old boyfriend.
    • Mr. Greencock, the piano tuner. Unfortunately a Karma Houdini too.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: This occurs in two scenes in the episode "The Fox":
    • The first is lampshaded:
      Jackie: Have you been lending Jim money?
      Martin: A bit...
      Jackie: What? What for?
      Martin: [looks at the object on the wall next to him] Er... mirrors.
      Jackie: OK, did you say the first thing that you could see?
      Martin: ... possibly.
    • Then later in the episode:
      Martin: We're picking up something special for Jackie, a surprise.
      Val: [...] What is the surprise?
      Martin: It's, er... um... [spots a cyclist] a bicycle.
      Val: A bicycle? [...] Where you getting it from at this time of night?
      Martin: Um... [points at a nearby building] that house there.
  • Literally Loving Thy Neighbor: Jim has a poorly disguised crush on Jackie, and turns up constantly at their door given the weakest excuse.
  • Meddling Parents: These two can rarely resist poking their noses into their adult sons’ affairs.
  • Moebius Neighbourhood: Jim is the only neighbour we meet in the show.
    • We also meet Ralf, the man who has an obsession with chicken, in the Series 5 episode "The Surprise". This is the first, and possibly only time we see him.
  • Noodle Incident: How Jim's dog ate his keys.
    We were playing a little game. (Beat) It went wrong.
  • No Social Skills:
    • Jim, to a quite worrying extent.
    • Martin, in a way that’s rather flanderized in later series.
  • Ominously Open Door: The very first scene parodies this. The two boys arrive at their parents to find the door hanging open. Nervously, they approach it... and find their next door neighbour stepping out of the downstairs loo.
  • Only Sane Man: Adam usually takes this role. Jonny also has his moments.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: Mr Morris had "the biggest button-sewing business in the Hertfordshire area... until Rutherford's came along".
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: "Schmoigel".
  • The Precious, Precious Car: Bitchface's Mercedes.
  • Priceless Ming Vase: Any object that is established to be of significance to someone will likely be damaged or destroyed by the end of the episode. See: the dress, the Mercedes, "Buggy", the apple crumble...
  • Plumber's Crack: Adam is a subversion. He never wears a belt so whenever he bends over, the rim of his boxers peek out. Jonny sometimes gives him wedgies because of it.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Jonny and Adam.
  • Running Gag: Loads, all of which show up Once an Episode in increasingly roundabout ways.
    • Martin shirtless, pantsless or otherwise semi-naked, invariably because he's "boiling".
    • In-universe, Martin always jokingly compliments Jackie's cooking by calling it "a lovely bit of squirrel" (which no one else seems to find all that funny).
    • Either Adam or Jonny (usually the latter) putting salt into the other's glass of water.
    • Martin referring to women as "females" (particularly towards Adam whenever he's trying to give him The Talk or advising him about dating, feeling he doesn't have to do the same to Jonny because Jonny talks about his girlfriend a lot).
    • "Crimble crumble!"
    • Jim can't tell Adam from Jonny.
    • Jackie's Grandma insulting Jackie's hair.
    • Val looking and dressing exactly like Jackie, but they never notice.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: A very passive-aggressive variation between Jackie and "Bitchface".
  • Sleeping with the Boss: Jonny.
  • Status Quo Is God: None of the romantic interests or prospects on the series seem to last.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: When the Goodmans are burgled, Jim describes the thief thus: "He was a man, very manly, probably had a winky."
  • Technologically Blind Elders: Martin is a bit younger than most examples of this trope, but he still qualifies. He can't get the computer mouse to work, until it is pointed out to him that it is actually a stapler. In another episode he gives up the computer to buy a fax machine, which he believes is "the future".
  • Title Drop: Jim: Friday Night Dinner with you! And...the others.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: An American pilot was shot in 2011, featuring Tony Shalhoub and Allison Janney, but it wasn't picked up.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Martin has a fondness for ketchup. Jonny eats whipped cream straight from the can.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Martin is a Fan Disservice variation on the trope.
    • The eighty-four-year-old Mr Morris manages to top him by wrestling barechested.
  • Yiddish as a Second Language: Largely averted, but to troll Jim, Jonny claims that "pusface" is a traditional Jewish nickname and that the eldest son should receive a basket of green fruit (but not pears) called a "schmoygle". Jim dutifully turns up at the end of the episode singing "Happy birthday pusface" clutching his schmoygle.

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