Sunday, 25 January 2009
Although I'm hardly in the target demographic, I was really looking forward to the third series of Skins. I enjoyed the energy and inventiveness of the first two series, and thought that replacing the cast was exactly the right move to keep it fresh.
However, I was really disappointed by the first episode. It just seemed really pedestrian and hackneyed - almost verging on self-parody - with little of the complexity or creative flair that made the show such an event when it first appeared.
Effy Stonem, Tony's sister, has been given centre stage, but she lacks the mix of attraction and repulsion that made her brother so compelling. Not saying much and blinking really slowly might look like "cool", but it doesn't translate into intriguing characterisation, and it's hard to imagine her pulling the strings the way Tony did.
Elsewhere in the cast, some of the show's archetypes are revisited; for instance, hedonistic substance-scoffer Cook seems to be the new Chris. However, there's no sign of a new Sid - an everyman we can identify and sympathise with (although Emily, the more reticent of the twins, might step into this role).
One of the most annoying aspects of the show is how cartoonishly stupid every single grown-up is. The slapstick chase sequence in which skateboarder Freddie 'outwits' a bumbling copper is excruciating, and Ardal O'Hanlon looks badly out of place doing his Dylan Moran-lite act as a burnt-out teacher.
Part of what kept the show moving forward in the second series was the introduction of more engaging grown-up characters. However, The flavour of episode one makes it seem unlikely that there's going to be room for a star turn like Peter Capaldi's performance as Sid's dad.
I'll stick with Skins and will it to succeed, because it's still a landmark show. Hopefully the third series will develop further when we start to focus more on the individual characters and look at their lives more deeply. But at the moment, it looks like a second-rate rip-off of the original series rather than a bold reinvention.