Saturday, May 23, 2009

Skins - Season 3 Review

UK Airdate: January 22nd-March 26th 2009

Halfway Home: When ditching virtually the entire original cast from a successful series, you’re really put in a difficult position. How on Earth can you continue to make a series without the characters that made it? Wouldn’t ending the series completely have been a better option?

Most teen shows find it hard to make the transition from high school to college. If all the characters commute at the same college, it’s somewhat implausible and if they go to separate colleges, it often feels like you’re watching about three different shows all at once.

The writers here decided to ditch the original cast and bring in some fresh blood in order to avoid that kind of transition. But by bringing in a younger crowd so you can write more teen also means that things could get very repetitive as well. Of course not everyone’s gone.

Effy quickly replaced her brother as the centre of attention with Freddie, JJ and Cook all gushing after her and Katie wanting to hang out with her. Then there’s Pandora, who also elevated into a series regular and became Effy’s right hand woman for at least the first four episodes of the season.

Introducing all of the characters in the premiere episode gave some interesting impressions. Out of the boys, JJ shone the most, especially with his magic skills and the fact that it was obvious he had Aspergers (which got beautifully addressed in the seventh episode of the season) and Thomas also became the gentlemanly boyfriend any young girl would be happy to have.

That meant that Cook and Freddie didn’t really hit it off as well. Out of the two of them, Jack O’Connell is the better actor but Cook is such a vile character and it’s also predictable that his first episode would portray him in such a negative light as well. This show needs to lay off gangsters because even Mackenzie Cook’s gangster Johnny White fails to be either interesting or threatening.

As for Cook, his relationship with Freddie is certainly more interesting than his random whoring about the place. He berates Freddie and JJ, yet he’s useless without them and in spite of the fact that he seems aware of that nugget; he treats them cruelly within the season, even to the point where he causes chaos during a party in the woods.

Not that Freddie’s any better. I mean he’s nice to JJ and arguably a nicer guy than Cook (not exactly a hard feat) but his constant harping on about how much he loves Effy doesn’t half irritate. The only time Effy actually offers herself to him is after she bashed Katie’s head with a rock in self-defence (though still a shitty thing to leave her behind for hours on end).

The Effy/Cook/Freddie triangle really is dull. Both Freddie and Cook have more chemistry with each other than with Effy, so if you’re a slasher you’re probably wondering why the two of them don’t just hook up. After all they did kiss during a fight over Cook sabotaging Freddie’s sister Karen’s ambition for a pop career.

Thankfully though there are two couples in this season worth giving a damn about. On one hand you’ve got Pandora (who’s more likeable here than in her Season 2 appearance) and Thomas who just about survive the fallout of him learning that she was sleeping with Cook but they’re sort of underdeveloped as well.

The couple who are much vocalised in the season though are Naomi and Emily. We know from the first episode that they once kissed and their storyline all season is the best storyline the show has ever done as far as I’m concerned as well. The slow but organic build up from Naomi initially resisting Emily to actually committing to a relationship with her is compelling. Even things like an almost shag between Naomi/Cook, an actual shag between Emily/JJ aren’t enough to undermine the good work of this couple. Hell, even Katie sticking her beak in and trying to break up Emily and Naomi doesn’t work.

When I first saw Katie in the premiere episode, I knew we had our new Michelle. A far nastier version of Michelle but still a new Michelle nonetheless (though weirdly enough, I think I like Katie more than Michelle). As a twin myself, I was seriously looking forward to her and Emily’s episode and without a doubt; I actually think it might be my favourite episode of the series full stop. Everything about the episode just sparkled but to be fair the only episode in this season that’s near unwatchable is Cook’s.

As for the finale, I really wished they had pulled their finger out a bit more. It was way too low key and only focusing on Effy, Cook, JJ and Freddie might have been a better mid-season episode than a finale. Plus at least we know that Cook’s vileness is hereditary when we have to meet his father. As for Effy choosing Freddie, here’s hoping she spark a personality out of him because as detestable as Cook is, at least you notice him more onscreen. However all I want in the upcoming fourth season is for the writers not to wreck Naomi and Emily’s relationship. Other than that, they can do whatever they want.

DVD EXTRAS: I don’t actually own the DVDs, seeing as they’re stripped of the original music used per episode but I do know what the extras entail.

- 10 Video Diaries (JJ's Video Diary, Naomi's Video Diary, Pandora's Video Diary, Freddie's Video Diary, Karen's Video Diary, Cook's Video Diary, Katie's Video Diary, Emily's Video Diary, Effy's Video Diary and Thomas's Video Diary).
- Behind the scenes of each episode
- 4 Unseen Skins Episodes (Wurst Case Scenario, Last Bus, Welcome to Roundview and The Pact)
- Behind the scenes of the London and final auditions
- Trailers and behind the scenes of the trailer shoot


3x01: Everyone = 8/10, 3x02: Cook = 6/10, 3x03: Thomas = 9/10,
3x04: Pandora = 9/10, 3x05: Freddie = 8/10, 3x06: Naomi = 10/10,
3x07: JJ = 9/10, 3x08: Effy = 10/10, 3x09: Katie And Emily = 10/10,
3x10: Finale = 7/10.

No comments: