on 17 January 2010
The third series of the popular British drama initially caused outrage as the cast from the first two series had been cast aside and were replaced with fresh new faces and new stories. I confess to belonging to that group; particularly as the second series had many unresolved questions but the realisation hit, that was how it meant to end, now let's see how this new series pans out, which was blissfully well.
The first episode begins with an "everyone" agenda, broadcasting all the stars and faces in a collective story. Freddie (Luke Pasqualino) skateboards around the streets of Bristol showcasing his talent. There are some very clever stunts and quick camera work to generate an intrigued view, the bit with the policeman is great. Right as we sit with the characters enjoying pints we know we are in for more of the same teen style life.
Then we're introduced to some of the other gang and as soon as Effy appears nonchalant in her dad's car the motive for the entire series has been set, three boys and one girl.
Speaking to friends and fans it seemed series two was respected but dived too much into a serious tone, a more dramatic realism. There wasn't one character who didn't fancy another main character kind of soap styled storytelling. I loved it but the humour certainly suffered because of its justification to high drama. Thankfully this series brings the humour back.
As Cook steps up in assembly to show everyone his tattoo his character is defined as is the cheeky styling of the show. In J.J's episode we have tremendous youthful humour in his magic and his constant revealing secrets. Freddie's episode with his sister is a brilliant mock up on reality television, a sharp parody of the formulaic drivel that is broadcast these days. The main comedy comes from the main characters, which balances perfectly with the girls more dramatic stories such as sister rivalry (Katie and Emily), sexual orientation (Naomi) and the power of love (Effy). I was very surprised and happy to see Pandora (Lisa Backwell) return after her brief stint in series two. She evens the playing field out with her complete lack of modern day socialism. Performance wise all the teenagers are on form, though their characters struggle to match the refreshing nature of the previous group.
The stories this time address less significant world issues as the first series. Now it seems drugs, sex and alcohol form into everyday happenings without addressing the ramifications which is good as it lets the story flow. The dynamic has shifted somewhat in these three series. The first revolved around teens dealing with parental problems, their futures and jobs. This series is youthfully exuberant. There are pyjama parties, magic tricks and granny piggy back races. And whilst all good, have a feeling of too young and immature for a story also involving drinking, crime and drug abuse.
The features on the DVD are good. The behind the scenes of each episode are a particular favourite of mine and are certainly worth checking.
With its flamboyance and comedy Skins has revamped its comedy form from the first series and doesn't lose sight of its hard teen drama.
With the new series imminent this is certainly worth checking out.
on 17 January 2012
Firstly, I must admit that I am not usually a Skins fan-as a teenager, and student, I actually find the drug and promiscuity-related storylines to be TV at its lowest but, after hearing everyone at school talk about Skins 1 & 2, I thought I would give series 3 a go and, having watched it on television, 3 years later, I have bought it for £5.99 on DVD.
Admittedly, there are few things that appeal to me in the series, HOWEVER, there are a couple of storylines and pieces of casting in this series that are exceptional. Firstly, the character of JJ is one that draws the viewer in and makes them understand people with conditions such as JJ's more-something that I feel was perhaps intended by the creators and, certainly, is worth a considerable amount of praise. But that is just one thing.
The Naomi-Emily storyline (sometimes dubbed 'Naomily') is what has, undoubtedly, made this series what it is. The casting of all three actresses involved (both Prescotts and Loveless) is nothing short of fantastic and the storyline is captivating and beautifully told and really is worth repeat viewings. The stand-out episode is by far 'Naomi' and I am sure that there is not many who would argue with that.
Skins 4, however, destroys the good work that was created in Skins 3 and, therefore, if you love what Skins 3 represents then do not go for Skins 4!
Okay, this actually is a review of the DVD and was written after having watched it, rather than a comment on the series while it was running, unlike most of the other reviews currently available. Just thought I'd make that clear.
What makes Skins hangs on the quality of the characters and the ability of the actors to portray them. The series is very much character, rather than plot, driven unlike say the last thing I watched on tv -the first season of The Wire currently running on BBC2 (and worth a look). And, for the third season in a row, the production team have come up trumps. Before looking at them, it's worth mentioning that the girls are on the whole a very much more interesting lot than the boys.
My favourite of the lot is one whom many people might find one of the most irritating -Pandora. She's naïve, innocent, awkward, overly full of enthusiasm, cleverer than she seems but that isn't hard, sweet, and all too aware of her failings, Lisa Backwell does a simply brilliant job of portraying her and her soft warm rounded voice and accent help a lot. I can imagine Backwell in a Victorian drama (Austen, Bronte, etc), her fresh-faced enthusiastic innocence fitting perfectly -casting directors please note.
Naomi, played by the wonderfully named Lily Loveless, is highly intelligent, introspective, vulnerable, defensive, with a good line in sarcasm and aggressive humour, and is confused by her feelings towards Emily. Without wanting to give anything away, by the series end you feel that her story is only really just beginning and she could be the stand out character of Season 4.
Katie and Emily are identical twins and anything but identical in character. Katie is extrovert, dominant, stylish, and boy-mad, constantly overshadowing Emily whom she never misses a chance at putting down, though their relationship is more complicated than that. Emily is the more intelligent of the two, has never had a boyfriend and has strong feelings for Naomi. The sub-plot of their relationship is, for many (including me), a highlight of the series and has been widely praised for its sensitive depiction of the attraction two girls in their mid-teens have for each other. It's also linked to the relationship between the twins.
Effy (Kaya Scodelario), the only real link, apart from Pandora who didn't appear until near the end, to the previous series is now at the centre. Cool, iconic, beautiful, but not as in control as she usually seems. Her life falls apart over the course of the ten episodes.
JJ (Olly Barbieri) suffers from high-end (or should that be low-end?) Asperger's Syndrome in that he can function quite well in a social environment (though, as we find out later, he's dependent on bucket-loads of prescribed pills), but he's a long way from being normal. He's helped by his two childhood friends (see below) who generally look after him. Barbieri completely convinces in this role and, while never downplaying his problems, creates a vulnerable likeable and sympathetic character.
Cook is the character that creates the craziness and chaos and is very much the focus around which everything else revolves. Totally hedonistic, sex-mad, superhuman in his consumption of drugs and alcohol, utterly selfish without care or thought for consequences to either himself or others. Jack O'Connell has created a genuine monster whose only end would appear to be in self-destruction.
Freddie is the good-looking one the girls like, he's sensible and caring but not a little dour. You feel he should be the charismatic leader but he isn't being too self-absorbed. Luke Pasqualino seems okay in the role but it's difficult to tell because the character while not unlikeable isn't too sympathetic either. Perhaps next season will reveal more.
The role of Thomas, however, seems to have been created for the needs of the plot unlike the others who feel real. Merveille Lukeba does the best he can as the kind, charming illegal immigrant with an eye for opportunity but he still feels like a plot-device. And since writing that I watched the dvd's behind the scenes where it is revealed that, until quite late on in the production process, the character was supposed to be Polish. I rather suspect that the truth is that they only just realised they didn't have a single main character from an ethnic minority.
I'd never actually seen Skins before this series, watched the first episode and switched it off halfway through, primarily because of Cook. I only came back to it for Pandora's episode (the fourth) because I'd read it involved the l-word and that's when I became hooked by the characters. I also ordered the complete Skins box set of the first two seasons and watched them while S.3 was ongoing.
Obviously I loved it and think it's one of the British dramas in a long time, though it has its apparent weaknesses which, on reflection, just might be part of its strengths. It veers wildly from serious drama (JJ, Emily, Naomi) to wild unbelievable farce (the parody gangster in episodes 1 & 2). The Freddie-Effy-Cook triangle is less interesting than that of Katie-Emily-Naomi. I wouldn't like to say any of the cast are future stars but I do think promising careers are ahead for Lisa Backwell (if she doesn't get typecast), Olly Barbieri, and Lily Loveless.
There is a good set of extras which, again, vary wildly, particularly the behind the scenes of each episode and video diaries in character, but it's all a bit extra fun. The piece about auditioning the series has a cast of thousands but has little about those who actually succeeded, focussing instead on those who didn't. It may be a little cynical of me to think that this guarantees more than a few extra sales to the auditionees and their families.
Bonus points to Channel 4 for the releasing the box set only weeks after the series end. All media companies should do this so quickly.
Okay, now when does Skins Season 4 start?
on 13 August 2015
After S2 this season managed to bring back some much needed fun and youthfulness. The Naomi/Emily story was handled perfectly, the fear of admitting your feelings, Katie's bullying of Naomi and the desire to be true to yourself was all worked in very well. The love triangle between Effy and the boys seems a bit of an obvious theme to build a series around but there were enough twists here to keep you interested and as the characters were fresh and new it worked well. My only complaint is that Thomas, Pandorra, Emily and Katie were used a little bit like supporting characters and didn't appear at all in the finale. The parents were funny and memorable, the music was great as usual and they toned down the colour quite a bit too which I preferred. In my view the strongest episodes were 5,6,7 & 8