Thursday, August 14, 2008

Teens from across the pond

Note: I'm still dealing with illness (quickest way to lose weight, sadly enough) but I've at least written as many posts this week as full on meals that I've eaten (2 maybe 3). One of the bright spots of this week is getting to check out the first three episodes of this British import Skins. The following is a preview I did for

When Gossip Girl premiered last fall, it seemed to hit on something. Of course, folks in the UK will tell you that 'something' had already been hit on in the UK some months prior in the form of the teen drama Skins. In the wake of GG's success, this Bristol-based series makes it's stateside debut this Sunday on BBC America, airing it's first two episodes back-to-back before moving to a regular once a week schedule. Like it's CW counterpart, this series has teens doing lots of things that parents don't want to know about, namely sex, drugs and undermining adults whenever possible. And it also has a fervent online presence... but the similarities mostly end there.

Each episode is titled after one of the characters, telling the story through the perspective of that character. The first episode concentrates on the Ferris Bueller-like Tony, played by Nicholas Hoult, who you may recognize as the boy from About a Boy. He's handsome, popular and a bit narcissistic, so the episode follows suit, with a certain degree of wit and distance you'd expect from a 17-year old who's introduced both reading Sartre's Nausea and singing "On the Street Where You Live" to private school girl audience. If Tony is Ferris Beuller, than the beautiful Michelle (April Pearson) is his Sloane and Sid (Michael Bailey ) is his Cameron. Bailey, in particular, is great in the role as the likeable 'every man' of the series who finds himself repeatedly manipulated into trouble from the charming Tony.

BBC America had to do some editing to get it basic cable ready, but even with the blurring of nipples (all nudity comes from adults) and the silencing of f-words, it's far more racier than, say, Secret Diary of a Call Girl (who's Iddo "Ben" Goldberg even guests on the third episode). It goes much further than Gossip Girl goes -- just look at both series recent ad scandals. Sure, GG's racy campaign raised some eyebrows, but Skins really did it up with their series 2 campaign, which featured key cast members in what appeared to be an orgy (pictured right). The campaign was eventually scrapped due to pressure, but the controversy generated enough buzz to make it all worth it.

By the second episode, which follows the anorexic Cassie (Hannah Murray,) it becomes obvious why BBC America starts the series with two episodes, as it moves in far deeper territory, revealing that this winking joker of a series has quite a heart to it. Tony's barely there, and what we do see of him, is less likeable. The third episode follows Jal, a promising musician who's concerned with pleasing her father, and its at this point that you realize Tony's not really as charming as we first thought (and in fact, not the central character at all).

Another big difference between Skins and GG is the actors here are all either playing their age (or really close to it). Similarly, the average age of a writer on the series is (was) an amazing 22 years old. As such, the music choices are genuine and rarely cater to what the major label's are pushing (here that GG?). It will be interesting to see if they're able to license all the music that went into the original broadcast, as there was a lot of inspired choices. I've included a playlist of music from the first two episodes as they originally appeared. We'll check back Monday to see if the show made it intact with moments like the first episode highlights of crashing a posh girl's party to The Fall's "Totally Wired," or later, my favorite, walking home from a car wreck to Brendan Benson's "Flesh and Bone." The second episode featured tracks from Shuggie Otis and The Sleepy Jackson, but I didn't hear it on the screener, so my fingers are crossed that the licensing came through.

Playlist: Skins - Episodes 1.01-1.02

1 comment:

drake leLane said...

Skins - Episodes 1.01-1.02

1. Right Thurr - Chingy
2. As Serious As Your Life - Four Tet
3. On The Street Where You Live - Vic Damone
4. Drop Ya Thangs - JT the Bigga Figga
5. Star Guitar - The Chemical Brothers
6. All Around The World - Lisa Stansfield
7. Monkey Ska - Derrick Harriott
8. Totally Wired - The Fall
9. Flesh And Bone - Brendan Benson
10. Witness (1 Hope) - Roots Manuva
11. Cody - Mogwai
12. Right Place, Wrong Time - Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
13. Move Bitch - Ludacris
14. Aht Uh Mi Hed - Shuggie Otis
15. This Day - The Sleepy Jackson
16. Atlantis - Donovan