Sunday, October 05, 2008

Skins, series 1 finale: Look both ways before crossing

Spoilers for the first season finale of "Skins" (which will be immediately followed here next week by season two) coming up just as soon as I find my Best of Starship CD...

Pretty much since "Skins" began airing here in the States, people who had watched the entire British run have been warning me that it would go to some stupid places late in season one and definitely in season two. If Tony getting hit by the JJ Abrams special bus is a sign of things to come, I'm beginning to understand those warnings.

(And here is where I remind you, once again, to not post anything remotely specific about what's coming up in series two. For the most part, you've behaved on this subject, and I want it to stay that way. Any comment I find remotely questionable is getting deleted, regardless of what else is in said comment.)

Beyond being one of the more unintentionally funny TV cliches of late, Tony getting hit by the bus was a continuation of that bothersome trend of the last few episodes of trying to get us to feel bad for Tony in spite of him being a complete sociopath. It's supposed to be poignant that he's suddenly run over by a bus just as he's started to behave better, but beyond the unavoidable silliness of the bus thing, it just felt like the writers really, really want me to like Tony when they just need to acknowledge that he's a total bastard.

And yet, in spite of the writers' unwavering love of their hero, in spite of the bus, and the spring break trip to Russia, and all the warnings I've gotten about the second series, I'm going to stick with the show for moments like Cassie reading Sid's letter or Anwar's father surprising him (and us) by taking such an empathetic approach to the news of Maxxie being gay. (He was, by far, the most well-rounded adult we've met so far.) I never imagined I would get choked up watching a scene of anything that was scored to "We Built This City," and yet...

What did everybody else think?


Nicole said...

There have been too many people suddenly hit by buses in television lately, but this does serve a purpose in the next series and I for one don't think that the direction is stupid. Had I watched this without knowing there was another series, then I probably would have been pissed off at the shocker ending, but the first series is a foundation to what happens next, and not something that is forgotten, which is what usually happens in teen shows.

rhamilton said...

That's a really strange reaction, I think. I couldn't imagine reading the bus-smashing followed by Cat Stevens sing-along as "unintentionally" funny.

The finally of season 1 was when it sort of kicked in how hilarious the show is, for me.

Anonymous said...

The sing-a-long was supposed to be intentionally surreal, and I thought it worked very well.

The Tony getting run-over business was supposed to be serious, hence the reactions to it within the show.

I have voiced my opinions of the inconsistency and frequent inadequacy of the writing, and imo that was just another example of that.

You might find the show hilarious, but large swathes of it aren't intended to be. It often wants to be post-modern and edgy, but largely just comes off as ludicrous.

Bee Tee Dub, does anyone know when the first instance of out of the blue bush smash was? My first memory of it was probably Final Destination.

Anonymous said...


They didn't play "We Built This City" in the BBC America version.

Did you get a screener copy or watch it on YouTube? (Since you posted this before the episode aired.)

In fact, this episode was particularly replacement-music heavy, especially during the party scene.

You could see it in Anwar's DJ uncle singing the words to Supertramp's Give a Little Bit, without actually hearing the song.

Or the kids dancing and shouting "Pow!" to this song:

Even though it wasn't played.

Also not heard: Meatloaf's Bat out of Hell or Aerosmith's I Don't want to Miss a Thing or Altered Images' Happy Birthday or Europe's The Final Coundown.

Anna said...

I am absolutely certain that the Cat Steven's sing-along is a rip-off of/homage to the Aimee Mann sing-along in Magnolia (which is actually really beautiful and touching, in my opinion), complete with a singing unconscious body (Julianne Moore in the first car, if you haven't seen the movie).

Anonymous said...

Haven't the writers already acknowledged that Tony's a total bastard?

They've shown how awful he can be, and they've had him punched in the face by 1) Michelle, 2) Sid and 3) A Bus.

He also nearly lost his sister because of his a-holishness.

Have they really justified him being a sociopath? I don't think so.

I don't really see it as the writers trying to make us like Tony. I feel like they're trying to show the complexities of being such a horrible jerk. He could be charming and likeable and a D*ck!

Haven't we all seen Tony's personality type in high school? Total jerks who are popular and likable! It does happen. Very often.

Anonymous said...

can someone please help me with the ending, bc i am super confused btwn what is real and what was not.

did sid really end up with cassie ( seemed like he was sitting with her on that bench), or was that a reference to an earlier episode (i only started watching with the sid episode)

Alan Sepinwall said...

Sid and Cassie end up together on the bench, just as he had hoped for in the letter he wrote.

What this means for their future, since her parents are moving the family to Scotland, remains to be seen in the upcoming episodes.

AC said...

Based on the first few episodes, I set the bar pretty high for this show, so when I accidentally spoiled myself for the end of Season 1 and Season 2, I was upset to learn about The Bus, but I figured I'd wait and see how it was actually executed. The actual event wasn't so bad, but I am bracing for the fallout. I just hope there enough good things to balance out the arc of Tony's Redemption.

I'm a sucker for montages, so I enjoyed both the closing "Wild World" sequence and the opening sequence of everyone waking up.

I thought that Uncle Munir was a bit contrived, as was the idea of Sid being accidentally locked up, but the show surprised me by having Tony find Sid's letter, and not Cassie. It makes much more sense that Tony would be snooping around. And in the end, I am so very glad that Sid and Cassie found each other for that moment. Hannah Murray is definitely my favorite.

Other observations: Effy is so well cast! The actress looks very much like Nicholas Hoult. I guess Sid's mom came back?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but Magnolia is crap whereas Skins is not.

Anna said...

It is not. I would argue they are both at least the same level of crap.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the series so far. These characters are so interesting. I'm excited to see more.

Sorry if this falls in the "stupid question" category Alan, but is BBC America playing the two seasons back-to-back?

Anonymous said...

Yup, Season 2's 10 episodes begin next Sunday.

BTW, here's the controversial trailer for Season 2:

Karen said...

Thanks, Anonymous @12:16, for clearing up the Starship mystery. Either Chris or Maxxie makes a comment at one point that "even I can't stand Starship," and I was very confused since the song playing sure didn't sound like Starship. Then Alan mentioned "We Built This City" and I got even more confused.

I hate that we're not getting the original music.

I confess I teared up during Anwar's father speech to Maxxie. It was so beautiful to hear a grownup saying grownup things, especially a grownup we'd been set up to believe would be close-minded.

Because I don't watch JJ Abrams shows, I am not conditioned to be wary of buses from the blue; Sid getting thrown in the loony bin struck me as FAR more implausible and sitcommy. And how did Tony find him? Are we supposed to believe Sid was allowed to keep his gizmos in a padded cell?

I also found the whole Angie/Merve storyline to be tiresome.

But overall I liked it. Poor Michelle, hearing Tony tell her "the truth," and still not knowing whether to trust it. And Sid and Cassie finding each other. And man especially that closing to Cat Stevens. The British do love their characters lipsynching to narrative music, don't they? Pennies from Heaven, The Singing Detective, Viva Blackpool!--and now this. Ah, well, it works for me. Although Tony singing in his coma was a

Steve said...

Don't listen to anything you've heard about Season 2! It's fantastic, but definitely a change of tone. Expect slower-paced, more adult themes, and missing some of your favorite characters for a few episodes at a time.

Also, look forward to some of the most interesting psychology/philosophy-referencing episodes on all of TV. Not just "teen" TV.

Anonymous said...

Steve is absolutely right.

Season 2 is phenomenal, but people DESPISE the change in tone.

Shawn Anderson said...

For those interested is seeing how it originally aired, here's the Youtube links (Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3, Pt. 4)

And the song listing in order of appearance:
1. I've Been Lonely For So Long - Frederick Knight
2. You Can't Hurry Love - The Concretes
3. Sky Holds The Sun - The Bees
4. Or Just Rearrange - Micah P. Hinson
5. Happy Birthday - Altered Images
6. Bat Out Of Hell - Meat Loaf
7. It's All Over - The Broken Family Band
8. Everything Changes - Take That
9. I Don't Want To Miss A Thing - Aerosmith
10. Give A Little Bit - Supertramp
11. We Built This City - Starship
12. The Final Countdown - Europe
13. Pow - Lethal Bizzle
13. True Love Ways - Buddy Holly
14. Wild World - Cat Stevens

Shawn Anderson said...

Also worth mentioning, there was another Secret Skins episode for this (Secret Skins Party, Episode 10) that was different in that it actually aired on the network (getting an episode number) and featured fans of the show at the ending party, having won tickets to the shoot through various competitions.

Features the band Foals playing the party, prior to their US Sub Pop signing and debut, and ends with Paul Simon's "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard".