This one had more promise from the get go… and would have done as a way to introduce Michele at least and then they could have pretty much dispensed with the previous episode. Alan (Chappell’s RL husband – fascinating to see them play off of each other, they work remarkably well together in the professional sense), seems interesting right from the start (even pre- ‘hobby’ reveal) though again there is no real thought put into what Gina does for a living, they talk about it but there is no evidence that she would be a good choice. Now, I get it from a low budget point of view, if you want to film everything else and not blow your budget on something that is essentially not that important, but the referencing of her job could still be… more realistic. I am not now nor have I ever been an interior designer, but all the references to her job I find jarring and unsubstantial.
This episode also introduces Traci (Kay), but does so in a nicely understated way, which makes it seem all the more natural a progression between her and Gina.
This episode had some really odd camera shots and was the first real time that I noticed, when Owen and Gina are talking in Gina’s apartment (?) the close up facial shots of Owen always had Gina’s forehead in the foreground which seemed odd and somewhat jarring to the overall effect, it would have been better to swing the angle round slightly or if space was an issue just have both of them in the shot, it kind of made the scene difficult to watch, as you weren’t entirely focused on what Owen was saying because of this.
In fact some of the camera work throughout the series is a bit odd, yet sometimes it is really awesome, for example; the scene with Gina and Ani in episode seven or Traci and Gina on the beach in episode 5, also Ani meeting Lara that was a very simple, but well shot, scene, these are examples of some lovely and subtle (read: unobtrusive) camera work, yet at other times it is clunky and shaky, I mean the actual scene shakes and not in a bad Crossroads imitation way, more like the person filming isn’t very steady and is using a hand held.
The whole scene with Gina and Owen, whilst absolutely great for setting up character development and illustrating their sibling relationship is somewhat a cliché in the actual things that they say, such as the mentioning of the ‘no note’ thing. It seems that whilst clichés are clichés for a reason, they seem to be cropping up a lot within a relatively short series. There is also an over abundance of swearing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I can and do, swear like a trooper and I think it’s great that they include it, in a way, because it bases the characters more firmly in reality as opposed to the manufactured and fake 50’s style perfection of the TV studio, but there are occasions when it just seems too forced, like it was added because they can, not because it was necessarily something that that character would say at that given time.
One thing, and it’s actually quite a small detail in the grand scheme of things, that I really like is the referencing of someone not by name but of feature… now I don’t mean that in a pejorative way in the slightest, let me illustrate lest I offend anyone irreparably.
Gina refers to Traci as ‘London girl’, now I like this because it is something myself and my friends have done when either trying to identify an unknown person to someone else or because we simply didn’t know their name at the time. In University there were a number of these, ‘Malory Towers’ girl turned out to be a future housemate and incredible friend but at the time I only saw her across the cafeteria and that’s how she struck me, there was also ‘Architect girl’ designated by her subject, which confusingly we had managed to ascertain yet not her name.
I really like the variety of folk that they are portraying in this series, from Alan who is straight but with a sideline hobby that apparently includes some wonderfully glittery boots. Several gay girls, but they are equally different from each other etc. There is a nice spectrum of ethnicities, gender, sexuality, interests and attitudes which make it seem all the more real and not as sterile as some programmes become. More so, they are pulling the diversity off with almost negligent ease, none of it I a big deal, it’s just the folk they got to play the parts and I love that, they aren’t trying to be PC and making a big fuss about that fact. Very impressive ladies.
Near the end of the episode there is some lovely banter between Gina, Owen and Jamie just prior to the arrival of Traci who is apparently rather forward, or at least pretty clear in her actions.