UK Airdate: January 27th-Match 17th 2011
Ready To Start: At this point, we all know the drill with this show – once every two years, the cast changes and if the series could succeed with a second generation of kids, then surely a third batch of youngsters would equally go down a storm?
Well, the funny thing is that it sounded good on paper but whether it was just fatigue with the series on a whole or the fact that shows like The Inbetweeners and Misfits had sort of stole the thunder with E4 viewers, somehow, the third batch of kids didn’t seem to quite catch the imagination with audiences and the ratings for this particular series alone haven’t been good.
To me, that’s kind of a shame for two good reasons. First off all, the new batch of kids mostly work and secondly, unlike the overblown angst-fest of the fourth year, Season Five is actually a nicely balanced mix of madness typical of this show and also some mostly decent character plotting as well.
Franky herself was the driving point for most of the series run of episodes, even when she wasn’t centre stage. An androgynous young woman, Franky went from being a target of Mini’s venom to by the end of the series, a figure that the former bully seemed to want to protect and let’s not get started on her being drawn into one of the main love arcs of the season.
On the other hand, let’s do so after all. Franky might not have gotten a love interest this year, but she was obviously alluring enough for mystery man Matty to want to ditch the hedonistic Liv by the end of the season and that was after Liv had thankfully contributed to breaking up the dullest couple of the series – Mini and Nick.
Speaking of Nick, I started the series finding him a spineless bore to actually feeling bad for him. His testy relationship with brother Matty arguably made him the more sympathetic of the two but his relationship with Mini also proved that when two ‘popular’ kids do get together, it makes for extremely boring television.
Thankfully, one relationship during this year actually generated some interest and that was the one with rock boy Rich and ballet enthusiast Grace. Maybe their relationship hasn’t generated the levels of online hysteria than Emily and Naomi did in the previous two seasons but it’s definitely the only one that actually grows within the season. Even when they fail to tie the knot in the finale, they’re still in a better place than any other relationship we’ve seen. I hope that doesn’t mean the reverse for the sixth year then.
In terms of the characters themselves, this lot mostly work for me. Both Nick and Matty improve as the series progresses and there are times when Liv seems to be a bitch for the sake of it, but loveable rogue Alo, along with Franky and Mini are the three strongest characters from their first run of this generation. I think we probably need to see more of Rich and Grace away from each other to form a better impression.
The one thing that is rather noticeable about this series is apart from Alo’s episode (in a bigger way); there aren’t a lot of party scenes, compared to previous years. I have to admit that hasn’t done the show a great deal of harm to be honest and it’s actually helped with getting to know the characters a little better too.
Plus, there are some topical issues in the series as well, such as Liv’s promiscuity being a vocal point along with Franky’s sexuality and the financial problems that Alo manages to inadvertently cause his parents too, all of which are dealt with reasonably well during the eight episode run.
Of course the series isn’t entirely perfect though – the adult characters, even now are still caricatures. Making Professor Blood into Grace’s father doesn’t give him any depth and apart from Rich, Alo and Franky’s parents, none of the rest of the parents fare well in this series at all. With the sixth series more than likely set to be it’s last, it’ll be interesting to see how this show will bow out, assuming that those who deserted it come back to see the conclusion.
DVD EXTRAS: Not really a whole lot to go on with here. It seems that the extras are becoming less and less and with a few commentaries and some behind the scenes features with the cast, there’s not much else to recommend.
EPISODE RATING FROM 1 TO 10
5x01: Franky = 8/10, 5x02: Rich = 7/10
5x03: Mini = 9/10, 5x04: Liv = 9/10,
5x05: Nick = 8/10, 5x06: Alo = 8/10,
5x07: Grace = 7/10, 5x08: Finale = 8/10