What the hell has happened to Skins? Boldest of bold moves to chuck out your cast after just two seasons, and start again with a completely new one. Or just plain foolish? I'm not sure. I guess it can work if you come up with half a dozen characters as good as the last lot. But at the same time you can't just mimic what's gone before. We might want to see more of Tony, Sid and Cassie, but if it's not actually them, we certainly don't want a pale imitation. So you are basically creating a brand new show and have to win over the audience all over again. Brave indeed. For me the first two episodes in the new series were a disaster. They represented all the worse bits about Skins, teenagers having sex and doing drugs, ooooh, shocking. Er, get in line behind Hollyoaks, Eastenders and every other soap. Tonally it was all over the place too. A teacher farting into a megaphone in a school assembly, James dropping his trousers nonchalantly in front of everyone, another teacher almost having a breakdown as a result - was this Carry On Skins? By the second episode we had James (again!) initiating a food fight between two rival gangs (one led by the disastrously miscast Mackenzie Crook) and other shenanigans at a brothel, which involved James getting one over Crook. There was slapstick everywhere! And it was all a little odd and annoying. By the end of it, even James' best mate was fed up with him, My only question was how did it take this long?
But then, but then. Then came episode three. Then came Thomas. Thomas has given Skins its soul back. Here was an episode about a guy we actually cared about, who was charismatic, gentle and fascinating. It lurched into silly slapstick only once, when to settle their dispute, Thomas and big, bad gangster Crook had a chili eating contest (why the hell would you give 300 quid to anyone who settled their disputes this way?) My other concern is that Thomas was sent packing by his mum at the end! But surely, please, he will come back soon. I think the best praise a screenwriter can give a show is when they come away and say, I wish I'd written that.
Speaking of which, we're half way through Toby Whitehouse's Being Human over on BBC3. The pilot last year was simply wonderful so expectations were high for the series. I've got to be honest, I preferred pilot Annie to series Annie. No disrespect to Lenora Chrichlow, but she was so awesome and alive in Sugar Rush, it's hard to see her as a ghost! I'm also missing Adrian Lester as Herrick but mostly because I have a bit of a man crush on him (he's just sooo smooth.) But anyway, back to the series and there is plenty of good writing to enjoy. The genesis of the show is that Touchpaper wanted a series about flatmates, which Toby thought was a bit This Life - so came back to them with the flatmates being a vampire, werewolf and a ghost. What a simplistic and absolutely fantastic example of taking something familiar, and totally freshening it up. And once again, it's not really that the stories are breaking new ground, but that the characters are so enjoyable to spend time with. It's probably no coincidence then that my two fave shows at the moment then are this, and Hustle.
Okay time to go, because I have an enormous book to read and critique for a company (I kid you not, it's over 700 pages!) Don't forget to watch Moses Jones and Whitechapel tonight so you know what I'm talking about this time next week!!