Skins: Series Three
It’s never easy being the new kids on the block. Just ask the class that followed Tucker, Tricia, Alan and Benny’s year at Grange Hill. This third series saw an overhaul of characters for E4’s popular show. Gone are Tony, Sid, Cassie, Anwar et al. This series was all about...well, this new lot.
The only young member of the cast to survive the culling is Tony’s younger sibling Effy (Kaya Scodelario). Where once Effy was seen as enigmatic (principally due to the fact that she would pout in silence); now that she’s found her voice, she’s also lost her appeal, as she becomes just another indecisive, wishy washy teen.
The rest of the new cast are, sadly, pretty forgettable. Many are just poor clones of previous characters – it doesn’t help either that they have recycled old storylines too, as in the dreaded love triangle. For most of the series however the relationship between Cook (Jack O’Connell), Freddie (Luke Pasqualino) and Effy is annoyingly prominent.
The first generation saw audiences either love or hate characters, which at least created interested in them. Here though, there’s an overwhelming sense of apathy – which, is kind of ironic really, considering the show’s about a bunch of detached teens. Freddie is a vacuous poster boy, with absolutely nothing between his ears. He is, in short, the walking (albeit cool - as if advertising a trendy pair of jeans) definition of dull. Cook certainly has his moments, and yet his ‘rebel who could care less’ persona has been done to death. It’s left to JJ (Ollie Barbieri) – a kind of teen rain man – to create any sense of character development. Sadly, his oddball misfit shoes were worn so much more believably by Sid (Mike Bailey) before him.
The writing has gone off the boil too. It seems the writers are suffering from TAS – Teen Angst Syndrome. There is a glimmer of hope in the eighth episode in this set, which sees them all go off a terrifying Skins-meets-Blair-witch camping trip.
The third episode featuring Thomas (Merveille Lukeba) is also a highlight, as he arrives from the Congo penniless, trying to come to terms with his new surroundings. The subject matter is dealt with sensitively, and Thomas comes across as one of the few characters you actually end up caring about.
So it’s not all bad news. Sadly, for the most part, this series sags like your gran’s bingo wings. In its favour is a cracking mix of music, more cameos by semi-retired comics as dysfunctional parents, and the annoying Pandora (Lisa Backwell) with her search for ‘surf n’ turf’ becomes almost likeable by the end of this series.
If we can’t have a spin-off series featuring Sid and Cassie – which let’s face it, is what we all want more than anything - we just have to hope that if there is to be a fourth series, the writers remember that regurgitating past stories is neither big nor clever. Oh, and that the majority of the young cast catch up on some lessons during the break – preferably of the acting variety.