5. Post Coital
This episode of Campus taught us three important lessons. One, running away from an Olympic class athlete isn’t easy. Two, inside Matt’s chest beats the butter-soft heart of a lovestruck poet. And three, people really should have stuck with this show.
I’m not only saying that because of some maniacal, ego-driven need for other people to validate my opinions (that only accounts for about ninety percent of it), but because I genuinely think the early naysayers would enjoy what Campus has developed into. It’s a rom-com. Granted, a rom-com featuring vagina gags and a crazily coiffed hobbit who neither obeys the laws of physics, time, or propriety, but a rom-com nonetheless, and quite a good one at that.
By the end of last week’s Campus, Imogen was regretting having sought comfort in the bed of beaming athlete, Flatpack, while Matt was going through with a meaningless seduction he didn’t have the heart for.
The English prof has gone through a Damascene conversion since episode one. When we first met Matt, he was high fiving that morning’s shag participants in the corridor and piling up potential sexual harassment cases like they were going out of style. Now, he’s turning down the advances of pretty young things and experiencing actual human feelings for willowy mathsbuster, Imogen Moffatt.
Since it’s a rom-com, of course, these feelings are trapped beneath a thick, protective layer of crude anecdotes and vulgar propositions, which will repel tent pole-limbed Moffatt until the final act, coming up in episode 6. As for the Moff, you know the drill. She hates him, but loves him, is drawn to him, but repulsed by him, and so on. They’re basically Beatrice and Benedick in a Kirke University production of Much Ado About Campus.
The other romantic subplot, starring Jason and Nicole, or Hero and Claudio,if you will (and if you are, like me, a massively pretentious ballbag), is coming along nicely. Jason is so smitten with the unpredictable lovely that he’s taken to sniffing her chair and attacking other women, but you know, in a good way.
Nicole spends the episode unknowingly antagonising her would-be man by meeting up with Imogen for furtive maths lessons, which the eavesdropping accountant wrongly interprets as an aggressive campaign of lesbian seduction on the part of the Moff. So, basically, Shakespeare with lesbians.
Meanwhile, poor Flatpack was desperately trying to hang on to Imogen and doing everything wrong in his bid to keep her. Jonathan Bailey’s been really watchable as Flatpack throughout the series, bounding around campus with either a beaming grin on his face or a look of abject confusion when confronted with a long word or problem he can’t solve by doing star jumps.
Now that the love plots are firmly established, Campus has been left with a couple of spare parts in the form of Jonty and Lydia, wonderfully horrid and horridly funny, the pair of them. Jonty perhaps is not so much of a loose thread, as Andy Nyman is more or less the strange glue holding each episode of Campus together, but Lydia is out on a limb.
This week she had an entirely separate plot involving her putting together the new Kirke prospectus. It must have been things like this that had some people all riled up about Campus not being a realistic portrayal of a UK university, since mechanical engineering lecturers are probably rarely asked to moonlight in marketing in real life. Good job, really, based on Lydia’s performance. It’s a shame she’s so peripheral to the main plot now, though I suppose that makes it even more of a treat when she does pop up to try to rub one out against a coat hook or seek medical advice on her snoring Mary.
I haven’t mentioned the Canadian yet, as she was barely in attendance this week (is it cruel to cheer?), but her icy chill was still being felt across Kirke. She’d endowed Jonty with the arbitrary task of raising the university’s position in the league tables, which sent him scurrying around on the lookout for newsworthy titbits and historical artefacts.
Amongst the VC’s haul was an obese tortoise, a golden retriever with the voice of Ray Winston, and John Milton’s fabricated scrotum. Unfortunately, none of this passed muster, and even his range of “smell like Jonty” perfume failed to perform, leaving Kirke’s future somewhat in the balance.
I think quirky TV sitcoms are now contractually obliged to include a Kevin Eldon cameo for purposes of tax relief or some such. Always welcome (good thing, since he’s always there), Eldon popped up in a brief role as Matt’s psychologist this week. Matt was seeking help because this love thing had really knocked him for six. His subconscious is now seeing duck ponds and kingfishers where it once saw unwaxed vaginas and it’s sending him loopy.
Joseph Millson, incidentally, is great as Matt. As Imogen, Lisa Jackson does a fine job being all fluster and limbs and nervous tension, but Millson’s had to pull off hateable, pitiable, desperate, self-loathing, arrogant, witty and warm all at the same time.
This week’s Cyrano de Bergerac moment (another rom-com cliché, but who’s counting), gave a bit more depth to the poon hound character we were presented with in episode one. Matt might not be original, but he’s a good rom-com lead, and I do love a man who knows his sonnets.
This episode was a different animal to the frenetic, meandering, sketch-like tone set in the series opener. It’s a shame, really, that Campus seems to have finally settled in to its digs just when term’s just about to finish. Typical.
Read our review of episode 4, Come Together, here.