“Struggling” underscores the theme of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”
Morwenna struggles with the loss of her grandfather and the prospect of taking in a tenant. She demonstrates strength of character in dealing with potential lodgers, finally agreeing to allow Al to share her home. “It’s a bit pricey, I’m afraid. Fifty a week.” When Al opens his wallet, she adds, “And then there’s the deposit.” Morwenna puts her foot down with the “Doc” also, refusing to watch James for even “three minutes.”
Aunt Ruth struggles in her radio interview with Caroline about the merits of psychiatry and about dishing out phone advice, especially to a caller named “Cliff.”
P.C. Penhale struggles with his interpersonal skills. Encountering Ruth, he unknowingly reveals his “Cliff” persona. Ruth suggests that “Cliff” might make “loads of friends” by finding things to admire in others. Penhale puts words to action and winds up irritating people instead.
Louisa struggles with Martin’s lack of social grace and her own misgivings about leaving James with a sitter. The writers have turned the relationship between her and Martin upside down. Louisa is uncharacteristically rude, overbearing and out of line, while Martin tries his best to please her.
The “Doc” struggles with Millie, the childminder, about her underarm fungal infection (“Get in amongst those crevices and sluice them out.”), causing Millie to walk off the job. More importantly, he struggles to be a good husband and father. His judgmental instincts and inability to read Louisa’s signals undermine his efforts.
On the one hand, Martin minds James during surgery hours himself, attends a school music program with Louisa, invites Dennis Dodds (sparkling performance by Richard Cordery) and his wife to dinner, and attempts cordial conversation. On the other hand, he embarrasses Louisa by playing keep-away with the wine bottle and lecturing the guests about the detrimental effects of alcohol.
Viewers struggle with embarrassment for Martin and Louisa, overheard on the baby monitor maligning their guests, and for Louisa, who, intent on easing the strained relationship, invades Dennis’ workspace, walks into a glass door and causes Dennis to fall off the roof.
Despite struggles, the episode maintains the series’ high standards – scripting with a twist, lively guest performances (Dennis and wife Karen, and the woman at school who asks Martin if his son is musical), topped off by emotion-stirring performances by Louisa and the “Doc.”