Only bad things can happen when miserliness meets masochism… especially when they merge over a supermarket bargain bin, bulging with remaindered DVDs. For some reason I felt compelled to finish what I’d started back in May, by picking up the second part of the first (and only) series of Britannia High (2008). In monetary terms, it only cost me a quid… but the toll it took on my equilibrium may be much harder to calculate. I stand by everything I wrote about the first DVD in my previous post… although, having now witnessed the true nadir of the series, I can look back a little more fondly on the dyslexia episode. They were truly more innocent times!
BH was never going to be anything more than family-friendly Sunday night fluff, so god-only-knows what convinced them that it was a suitable forum to discuss such serious issues as gun crime and gang violence (Ep. 05, ‘Go Your Own Way’). The real problem is one of contraction: Three minutes into the episode, BB’s big brother, ‘Julius’, pays his first visit to the school. Ten minutes of screentime later, and Julius is bullying his bruv into robbing a convenience store with a gun, to “prove” he’s a “man”, and to help pay for a takeaway meal. Ten minutes after that, we’re informed that Julius has been shot, off-screen, by a member of a rival gang. Three minutes later, he dies in hospital. Ah, poor Julius, we barely knew ye! And this is all supposed to have taken place over the course of less than twenty-four hours in real time! Of course, this serious (if severely truncated) drama is intercut with inane “comic relief” sub-plots, and snazzy musical numbers, which also serve to dilute whatever power the story may have had in isolation. And, as you might expect, the murder of BB’s brother only gets passing lip-service in the episodes that follow, because, y’know, death is such a downer!
On the plus side, ‘Lola’ does get another starring episode (Ep. 07, ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me’), which gives Rana Roy a chance to stretch her acting muscles a little more, when her character develops a career-threatening crush on the school’s hunky dance teacher. That sort of star-crossed rom-com plays to the show’s strengths (such as they are), much more successfully than their misguided attempts to doggy-paddle down to the deep end of the pool… and it’s always a relief to see Roy delivering relatively coherent dialogue for a change, rather than the insulting stream of malapropisms she usually gets lumbered with. As an example, I defy any actor to survive the following exchange (from Ep. 08) with their dignity intact:
Danny: Dancing, acting and singing…
Jez: AKA “The Triple Threat”.
Ronnie: What’s “AKA”?
Lola: It’s a type of gun tourists use!
Hilarious! It’s possible that gag was intended as a satirical sideswipe at the Metropolitan Police, who sometimes have trouble distinguishing between “tourists” and “terrorists” themselves… but somehow, I doubt it.
Annoyingly, despite the fact that Ep. 07 largely revolves around Lola having to learn a solo dance routine for an upcoming competition, when it comes to the series finale (a live-but-lip-synched “End of Year” showcase), she’s not actually given the chance to strut her stuff alone in the spotlight. Instead she has to make do with a recycled “duet” with another cast member, backed by the rest of the gang. Boo! Hiss! I think she’s an incredible dancer, and she actually inspires me to care about dance as an art form again… in my previous post I noted the similarity between musicals and martial arts movies, so maybe in my next life I’ll be able to make the Kill Bill of dance flicks, and cast her next incarnation in a lead role? Fun!
In the meantime, Roy hasn’t had any notable gigs since BH closed its doors… which is a shame, because her natural charm and vivacity couldn’t be dimmed by the godawful dialogue and nonsensical scenarios that her debut role inflicted upon her, so I’d still be curious to see how she acquitted herself in a more substantial, properly-written part.