Outnumbered series 5 episode 4 review: The Gap Year

Review Patrick Sproull
19 Feb 2014 - 21:30

Outnumbered's fifth and final series continues to deliver the goods. Here's Patrick's review of The Gap Year...

This review contains spoilers.

5.4 The Gap Year

With Stacey still in residence chez Brockman, Ben freezing whenever she reveals a new part of her anatomy, impressionable not-so-little Karen having bonding time with her dad’s godchild, Jake facing teenage problems and Sue and Pete endlessly worrying, it seemed like The Gap Year was simply a rehash of The Goddaughter. Fortunately, it wasn’t and like the rest of this series it was hilarious – and another case of Outnumbered embracing its future.

Last week I observed the young Australian’s penchant for dishing out bad advice to the Brockman offspring, wearing revealing clothing and walking in at inappropriate times. The Gap Year had Stacey’s tendencies turned up to eleven and the results were hilarious, climaxing in a very amusing scene when the goddaughter saunters in just when Sue is trying to persuade Jake not to take a gap year. Other recurrent gags this week included Sue ‘borrowing’ Stacey, the latter continually giving improper pointers and of course, Jake’s decision over taking a gap year.

The title of each episode of Outnumbered usually reflects the events of that week but The Gap Year seems ill-fitting with Pete and Ben’s country expedition in the frame. If the title had been, say, The Camping Trip then we would have had more focus on their outing but because of Jake’s parallel plot it felt we didn’t get quite enough of either storyline. There was lots of juicy jokes simply waiting to be touched upon with Ben and Pete’s excursion (see series four’s The Labrador when a solo Ben went on an adventure holiday) but it felt rather undercooked. The dogging provoked a mild titter from me as did the pre-teen’s elaborate traps but if that plot strand hadn’t had to share the limelight it could have been extremely amusing. Moreover, Jake’s university/gap year choice wasn’t especially engrossing and somewhat dragged out. Still, this is another treasure in the fifth series of Outnumbered: funny, thoughtful and thoroughly likeable.

Sue has always been a worrier, one to take fright unnecessarily and nibble at her fingernails over minor issues but her behaviour towards Stacey this episode was borderline rude. The scene in front of the television displayed Pete’s godchild’s relatively low intellect so she wasn’t to know that a lot of the stuff she was saying was inappropriate (although pulling out her G-string to show Ben just took the biscuit). Sue’s attempts to send her to Stoke (“party capital of Europe” almost had me in tears) and her final triumph when she bundled Stacey off to Edinburgh were a bit unfair. Yes, she wasn’t the best influence but she was well meaning (“you don’t want her being a little fatty”). However, the fact she’s still in the UK suggests this might not the last we’ve seen of Pete’s ditzy goddaughter.

Kids-wise, each of the Brockman youngsters’ ‘new’ characteristics have cemented. Jake is as sharp as whip, facing university, girls (I’m looking at those condoms Ben used to filter stream water) and his driving test. Ben’s susceptibility to danger is a perennial attribute and won’t disappear although it has faded. Writer/directors Guy Jenkin and Andy Hamilton have toned it down, giving the youngest Brockman boy the Spartacus role in lieu of ‘remember the time when Ben…’ anecdotes, which have a limited life-span. Sue and Pete are still overwrought and cynical but fundamentally loveable. And Karen remains extraordinarily perceptive but this estranges her from her own youthful society, something this week didn’t look at so much.

The Gap Year was a bit of a missed opportunity in some ways but it was still funny. Inferior to The Goddaughter last week, maybe, but it was good, packed with tongue-in-cheek humour (when is Outnumbered ever not?), some memorable scenes and stronger (yes, I’ll be banging on about this for a while yet) characterisation. 

Read Patrick's review of the previous episode, The Goddaughter, here.

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