Fresh Meat series 2 episode 6 review

Review Jake Laverde 15 Nov 2012 - 06:28

This week's Pennines field trip episode of Fresh Meat does little for Jake...

This review contains spoilers.

So last week, Josie's world came crashing down around her as she was finally forced to face up to her misdeeds. But rather than stay remorseful, she cheerily brushes it all aside and continues to attend her dental course as if she hadn't been excluded at all. Until her course leader drills it into her (geddit?) that she's out for good that is. (It was a dentist joke).

Meanwhile Kingsley isn't happy with the lecturing skills of Dan Dan the geology man! Or Peep Show's Robert Webb as he's known in this world. Elsewhere, it seems the FM crew live in a police state as Vod has to undergo a drugs test to get access to her bursary. Oregon is fully loved up with dreamy poetry boy Dylan, that is until she finds out who his dad is and Howard is still pining for Dutch Sabine. 

Rather than spin out this review any longer than necessary, I'm just going to come out and say this is possibly the weakest episode yet. Annie Griffin, who wrote and directed this instalment, was also behind ensemble comedy drama The Book Group so she should be a natural fit for this series. Trouble is that she seems to have been influenced by dreadful BBC Three sitcom Coming of Age. JP constantly asserts his horniness throughout the episode which grates on the nerves. Josie's plan of getting back onto the course is incredibly misguided . Despite the glimpses of Josie's vulnerable side over the last couple of episodes, she's back to being a manipulative cartoon villain. Again I find myself asking if we're actually supposed to like her. 

It's not entirely a car crash though. There are a few great moments of surprise, such as when Oregon sees who's calling Dylan and JP taking the quickest route down a rockface. But the script amounts to a load of punchlines without much set up. Character is sacrificed for the sake of pushing the plot along. The performances for this episode became so broad that halfway through I was expecting to hear canned laughter accompanying every half-baked innuendo. 

This episode pretty much encapsulated Fresh Meat's flaws. Inconsistent characters, reliance on cheap innuendo and contrived scenarios. A real down turn for what was up until now a gradually improving series.

Read Jake's review of the previous episode, here.

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With regard to Vod and the drugs test, she was required to take it as her bursary comes from the RAF, which would fit in with the zero-tolerance approach to drugs within the armed forces.

I fully agree with the review. It was such a promising start, with Robert Webb's character's excellent mishap with the acronym. Webb's character is brilliant but poorly used in my opinion.

I love the setup and the characters (which, at their best, demonstrate the kind of naivity-innocence-cynicism mix prevalent on red brick campuses today). But this week's episode, more than most, sacrificed the characters for the jokes. And what on Earth is going on with Josie? The writing is setting her down a path which can only end in disaster. Sure, mishaps are funny, but academic failure and the identity crisis which follows isn't. unlike the reviewers on here (is it always Jake?), I was much more sympathetic to her season 1 manifestation: she showed that you can hurt people by sleeping around and yet be fundamentally good (her pleading speech of needing just three years of freedom to her cuckolded boyfriend is genuinely touching), That's a choice/mistake lots of women make at uni, and how they and those around them react to it has a big effect on their lives. Her character's crazy malevolence of this season, in sharp contrast, doesn't speak to real women/dentistry students/people at all.

Not sure why the reviewer appears to be so down on the series. For me It's been an improvement on the first. I don't really see were the idea that Josie is a 'cartoon villain' has come from. I like her so much more in this series, she's entirely mental, rather than bordering on bland.

I disagree about Josie being a 'cartoon villain' - I think she has much greater nuance in this series, and I keep finding myself thinking back to series 1 and realising that all the stuff I found annoying about her then was mostly due to her extreme anxiety (confirmed when Vod's drug test was found to have beta blockers in - nice tie-in). It's interesting to watch her steady descent into self-destructive behaviour, and I think that for all Vod's posturing, Josie is actually one of the most enigmatic characters (not that I don't adore Vod, of course).

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