Sunday, December 21, 2008

Skins series 2 in review

If you're a fan of "Skins," you probably noticed the lack of posts after the second season premiere. What happened was, I got several episodes behind, and would always get a few sentences into a multi-ep review post before I got sidetracked. Eventually, I decided to just wait until the season was over, especially since so many of the commenters were people who had seen the whole thing ahead of me. So, after the jump, some general thoughts on the final storylines for Tony, Sid, Chris and company...

I'd heard and read so many vague but ominous warnings about the direction of series 2 that my expectations were sufficiently lowered for me to enjoy most of it. But I can see where the complaints were coming from, as the show takes a turn into much more adult territory. That's not "adult" as in "adult content -- how much more adult could "Skins" get after the sexcapades of the first series? -- but as in the characters all started acting like adults. Parents either died, ran off, or proved themselves so oblivious that most of the kids had to grow up in a hurry and fend for themselves.

Between the abandonment issues, several tragedies (particularly the death of Chris) and the introduction of the very troubled Sketch (whose brief imprisonment of her ill mother saw the show veering into Stephen King territory), this was a much bleaker series than the first, with the carefree moments far less frequent and usually interrupted by another piece of bad news.

Now, there were times when all the misery felt like piling on -- the death of Sid's dad in particular triggered an "Oh, come on!" reaction -- but I thought it was all wonderfully played by the young ensemble. I thought Hannah Murray was especially great as this dark and bitter new incarnation of Cassie, and Joe Dempsie and Larissa Wilson made Chris and Jal's attempts to play house seem somehow fitting in this world.

But I'm glad that the producers chose to do two years and out with these characters, and to re-set with a new batch of kids a few years younger, using Tony's sister Effy as the bridge point. We all know how much trouble American teen dramas run into after the characters go off to college, and the change in tone and substance in "Skins" series 2 suggests that the writers were running out of material for this gang. Better to remember them as they were, for the most part, then to see them hang around past the point of being interesting.

What did everybody else think? And are you looking forward to the new Effy-centric incarnation of the show?


Anonymous said...


damn, alan...

you watch some odd shit.


Anonymous said...

I watched all of Skins S2 in one Sunday a couple of months ago and spent the next day completely depressed. Good show, but damn!

Now, watching the finale again on BBCA, I'm still a little annoyed that we don't really get closure on the Sid/Cassie situation. Hopefully they are some of the old characters who will make cameos in the new series.

Looking forward to S3 now.

Anonymous said...

you watch this garbage, but no mention of the great series finale of Brotherhood.

Anonymous said...

I too would have liked more info regarding Cassie and Sid. I think the actress playing Cassie has been very good and hope she does appear on the new series occassionally. Series2 seemed far more disjointed than Series1 and definitely dealt with more adult themes, it was sometimes hard to remember these were essentially high school seniors vs. college seniors!

Anonymous said...

The multiple tragedies really did start to seem ridiculous after a while, but they were played well -- I especially liked Tony's slow recovery from his accident, and watching him gradually (but not completely) turn into a better person.

Overall, it was the mostly excellent acting by the young cast that kept the stories from seeming like over-the-top soap operas. It's no surprise that Dev Patel is now getting raves for his starring role in "Slumdog Millionaire."

Steven Timberman said...

Glad to hear that Skins is continuously worth watching. I picked up The West Wing (Complete Series) for a hundred bucks last week so that will occupy my tv time for quite a while.

After I'm done, I'll have to check out Skins more thoroughly. I spent some time in Ireland and a friend once described it as "The O.C. on acid, with real dialogue."

Rev/Views said...

Looking forward to the Effy stuff? Honestly no. If the writers wanted to do this they should have introduced more of the upcoming 'next generation' during this series, nothing major for them - just a few cameos.

That way I'd be invested in the following season with more than one character (plus her family).

Instead I've decided to not bother watching any more Skins because I know I won't get attached to the new batch. I'll be constantly thinking "They're gone in two series" and that will keep such a wall between myself and the characters that it'll be impossible to get involved again.

Anonymous said...

I've loved it all, primarily because of it being such a great cast. And all of the tragic and bizarre turns - you know, sometimes a lot of weird stuff happens in life. But in it all, there were some wonderfully free and honest moments, sometimes sheer joy, sometimes deep emotion, but played truly and deeply by these great young actors. And some fantastic comic moments - to go from the hilarity of the coffin stealing to the deep notes of Jal's eulogy is more than most shows, especially American ones, could ever hope to achieve with the honesty that rang through here. Not sure if I'll follow future series - I did like the enigmatic Effy, but we'll see how it goes. What I'd most like to do is nominate Nicolas Holt and Mike Bailey (Sid) to the list of possibilities to play the 11th Doctor.

Anonymous said...

"Looking forward to the Effy stuff? Honestly no. If the writers wanted to do this they should have introduced more of the upcoming 'next generation' during this series, nothing major for them - just a few cameos.

"That way I'd be invested in the following season with more than one character (plus her family)."

They introduced Pandora, who will be in the new series.

Here's a rundown of the new characters:

And here's an Unseen Skins clip for Season 3, Episode 1:

BTW, Alan: I wanted to know what you thought of Osama: The Musical and Tony F-ing his "sister" Effy when he visited college?

Karen said...

I thought it was a great season, and I'm glad you finally got to it, Alan. The episode that aired after your last recap was the one with the death of Sid's dad, which I thought the actor playing Sid handled spectacularly. Not all of the episodes worked for me--Tony's hallucinatory school visit that ended with his miraculous return to normalcy didn't fully jell for me--but mostly there were no missteps.

I was worried in the finale when Sid and Tony stole Chris' coffin, thinking that the show had taken a no-return spin into whimsy, which made it all the better to see Jal stand in for the audience, saying, "WTF?? NO!!" And the concurrent service Chris' friends provided was nice.

Sketch was a little too crazy for me, also, but it was nice to see her predictions for Anwar fall flat--what a downer.

It was also nice to see the quality of actors the show got for small adult parts: Josie Lawrence as Sid's mom, Mark Heap as Chris's dad--they helped raise the level.

I'm glad that things were left open-ended. Will Michelle and Tony get together? Who knows? Were they really ever better than good? I don't think so. And Tony was right: he DID always love Sid best. Whether Sid and Cassie find each other or not in the course of the series doesn't matter--he tried, and that counts. We never really know how things are going to end.

I liked the shot of Effy in Tony's bed at the end--that was how the 1st show ever began, right? With Tony looking up at the camera from that bed? So it was a nice ring composition. I think Effy is an interesting character, and if the writers and casting agents do as well with the next batch as they did with this one, I'll be perfectly happy.

It was a good ride, and lasted just long enough.

Myles said...

I also fell behind (although I didn't even start on Season Two), and posted my thoughts on the finale and the season at my blog.

My thoughts are quite similar to yours Alan, although I was a bit frustrated with the finale and the lack of focus on some characters late in the season (Maxxie getting dropped after the start of the season, Anwar getting sidelined entirely (although this could perhaps be attributed to Slumdog Millionaire, depending on if they coincided), etc.) It just felt like the season spent a bit too much time on storylines either surrounding Michelle (who I thought was particularly uninteresting) and Cassie (who, although extremely well-acted, was nonetheless a destructive force in a way that wasn't always interesting to watch), and then the finale made no attempt to resolve either of them.

I like that it didn't want to force a happy ending, don't get me wrong, but in the case of Syd and Cassie I'll echo the above posted and note that we needed something more than uncertainty if we were going to say goodbye to these characters. I'm with you, Alan, that the switchover is a smart choice on the whole, but there they ended up with a finale that has the exact opposite issue that FNL is currently dealing with: instead of having trouble balancing sending off old characters and introducing new ones, Skins just never really tried very hard to do either.

I think the show's structure and its eye for abstract ways to tell stories will keep me watching, plus I kind of dig Effy as a character, but I think that they could have pulled this season together a bit better

Anonymous said...

I've just started watching season 1, (so I scanned this post), because of a random episode I caught that I think was the Misery-esque episode you were talking about. First I was like, boy, that was some weird stuff. Then, I went, I must watch more. Funny how this show can grab you.

Anyway, I just want to interject and say, man, I loved that musical at the end of that episode there! It was a kind of overly dramatic and yet amazing segment. :D

Anonymous said...

I thought Skins was pretty brilliant at times. Some of the plot lines in the second season batch did seem a bit like piling it on, but the performances were so good that I quickly got over it. The music was superb throughout.

Having slept on it, I really like the open-endedness of the finale. It is very representative of the open-ended place that 17/18-year olds are in after "high school."

I'm curious for the new characters we'll be meeting next season (whenever that may be). I loved this first bunch so much, but I don't mind letting them go now before they start to get old (and literally get old). More fun to be able to imagine what mischief they are up to now.

Gbarielle said...

Like most of you I was left waiting for more at the end of the season. I truly didn't like how the writers just left everything in the air for the viewer imagination to decide the fates of the characters.
I highly enjoyed Season1 of skins, I found my self unable to stop watching until 2am(i had the series on netflix dvd). But with season2 I felt as if I was being dragged along into an unpredictable path.
I believe you all would agree that the first few episodes of season2 mirrored the excitment of the previous season, but as each episode came I felt as if the writers were trying to quickly mesh all the issues up so that they could end the series within the 10 episdoe limit mark.

from 1 to 10 i give it a 6.5 (only because of the poor ending, and the death of sid's father and chris, [i hate when characters die])

Anonymous said...

I know this post was from a very long time ago and nobody would probably read this, but...

I just finished Season 2 of Skins and the series satisfied me so much that I was even bothered to go look up what other people thought about it. The tragedies may have been a bit much if it weren't for the cast. Everyone was tremendous. The series is beautiful; so honest and real. Be careful if you haven't seen Skins yet...the characters WILL grow on you quite a bit.

Anonymous said...

i just finished watching season 1 and 2 over a single weekend. I was scanning hulu and happened to watch a random episode in the middle of season 2 just to see what it was, i kept watching episode before it to fill in the blanks but then i said "screw it" and just started from the beggining all way through season 2. I must say that im kinda depressed, almost entirely because of the sid/cassie subplot. The directors should have at least had sid and cassie look at eachother through the diner window or something before they ended it. Ive never been so affected from a tv series before, its quite weird. Im crossing my fingers that sid will show up in the cassie story of series 7.

Eryck said...

Quoting the person from the 2012 comment "this post was from a very long time ago and nobody would probably read this". Season 2 of Skins was a little awkward, but ended well. It was sad to see the group fall apart. But this is what happens in real life anyway. I still feel attached to the characters. So I don't think it would be nice to continue to watch Skins with the new cast of the following seasons. PS: Sid's hat is awesome.
(Sorry for my english.)