It's often mentioned that The Inbetweeners could theoretically continue past sixth form and into university, and "The Trip To Warwick" was an episode where writers Damon Beesley and Iain Morris gave fans a glimpse of what a Uni-based version of this comedy might resemble. The answer: hilarious. So it's a shame the writers have announced this is definitely the final regular series, before a movie and TV special to cap it.
This week, Simon (Joe Thomas) is getting serious with new girlfriend Tara (Hannah Tointon), but it's becoming a pain having to curtail their relationship under the scrutiny of both their parents. Consequently, Tara plans a trip to Warwick University, to stay with a friend who's studying there and willing to give them some privacy so they can have sex. Inevitably, Simon's friends tag along as gooseberries: Will (Simon Bird) uses the trip to scout the university's facilities, Jay (James Buckley) is on hand to dispense his inimitable brand of sexual wisdom, and Neil (Blake Harrison) follows because he's the human equivalent of a brown-eyed Labrador.
For me, The Inbetweeners is at its best when there are three key components in play: the four leads are allowed to interact verbally to a large extent, the overall storyline revolves around girls/sex, and there's a steady stream of excruciating and crude visual gags. "The Trip To Warwick" delivered a potent supply of each: Neil farting in the cramped car on the way to the university, to the disgust of Tara and mortification of Simon; Jay's desperate sexual anecdote about a Dutch girl he shagged ("... she shit down my arm"); the nonsensical drinking game of some University kids; Will being pressured into eating a bonsai tree to feel accepted; Simon suffering from impotence after masturbating before getting into bed with Tara, then letting out a stream of abuse as "dirty talk" ("I'm gonna fuck your fucking fanny off, you twat!"); and Neil drinking a bottle of Orangeade then spitting out some cigarette butts floating around inside.
It was all exactly the sort of thing you'd never want to watch with your parents around, which is entirely the point. It's exaggerated and lowbrow, but it knows its audience and delivers what they want in a manner that's not so debased as to be insulting or tedious. The downside is that the characters still feel like sketch show creations, with the possible exception of Will and (occasionally) Simon, while the female characters are window dressing. Hannah Tointon's done wonders with a potentially frivolous role as "hot girlfriend", but even she can't overcome the thin material she's given here, or the fact Tara joins the long list of girls whose arc on the show is predictably leading nowhere. Would it have hurt the show so badly if Simon had popped his cherry? I guess they're saving the losing of virginity for the movie.
Overall, this was just shy of a perfect episode, when taken on its own terms as a raucous, rude, lewd, silly, close-to-the-bone, teenage sex comedy. If you're a fan, you'll have been in hysterics throughout. If you're not, you'll have been appalled at what the kids are watching these days. And that's just as it should be.
WRITERS: Damon Beesley & Iain Morris
DIRECTOR: Ben Palmer
GUEST CAST: Hannah Tointon, Robin Weaver, Martin Trenaman, Dominic Applewhite, Charlie Covell, Ambrosine Falck, Lewis Linford, Jack Brear & Danny Kirrane
TRANSMISSION: 4 October 2010 – E4/HD, 10PM