Stealing Maxwell’s USP

A truly wonderful thing happened tonight in the world of television: the return of Skins for a third series.

I am not a big TV-watcher. In fact, the only thing I devote any time to on TV beyond the news and Panorama (mainly to look wistfully into the trustworthy eyes of Jon Snow in terms of the former; and to angry up my inner Conservative by noisily disagreeing with the overtly left-wing bias of the latter) is Hollyoaks. I have been addicted for years now.

Hollyoaks, though tackling some of the most serious issues is not always grounded in reality – who would actually sleep with their own sister, never mind marry her?? The characters are dull and unable to swear/commit sexual acts/do anything even nearly racy onscreen. Everything is done through implication.

Skins, on the other hand, was the antithesis of Hollyoaks – far more reality based, with drug taking, smoking and strong language seemingly encouraged. Skins was always a bad influence, precedent and excuse rolled into one hour long joint.

The first two series revolved around a tight cast of disparate individual characters, each one built up over a single episode. The third series, in a strange about-turn has found a whole new cast, referring only to series one and two characters in jokes and seemingly tongue-in-cheek references.

I was not impressed with the first episode of Skins series 3. Not the first 15 minute segment anyway. The main character was introduced to us skating down a street like Bart Simpson, narrowly missing a bus in First livery; the image suggesting the bus which knocked down the protagonist of series 1 and 2 in most dramatic fashion. This scene came like a slap in the face.

I can see the executive meeting right now: “Tony Stonem was hit by a bus, right? How about we take  this NEW protagonist *still anonymous to me – give it about four episodes* and throw him in front of one too – to show how AMAZING he is! UNTOUCHABLE! INVINCIBLE! BETTER!!!”

No.

I also hated his two pals who don’t deserve any attention beyond this paragraph.

Other main characters, introduced later – and exclusively female – were far more interesting.

There was the KateNash-a-like. She seemed interesting – though not psychologically damaged enough to escape a really dodgy storyline created solely to give her some edge.

Then there was CyndiLauper-a-like. She seemed interesting too – there was a scene with her crying in the shower, and anyone who has ever seen Carrie knows that always leads somewhere good.

I also like EasyRealism-a-like Effy Stonem; mainly as a result of having passed over from the previous two series and having done more drugs than any other character in the first episode.

There was also a (sadly) minor character who seemed to me a reflection of real life. When a hungover/still drunk lecturer played by Father Ted’s Ardal O’Hanlon (Blast! I told myself I wouldn’t give any actors’ names in this piece!) stood up and announced “My name is Keiran and I hate being a fuckin’ teacher”, I saw legendary journalism lecturer Ken Pratt in his eyes. Either that or I was seeing Father Ted’s Frank Kelly reprising his role as Father Jack. I’m never sure.

As with most things – TV shows, films, albums, people – I didn’t like it at first, but after that first quarter, things really picked up. By the end of the first episode of Skins series 3, I know I am already hooked.

Thankfully I never have anything interesting to do on a Thursday night. Fills a gap, don’t it?

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