Tuesday, 19 October 2010

'THE INBETWEENERS' 3.6 - "The Camping Trip"

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Knowing there's a movie and wrap-up TV special to come, the "last ever episode" of E4's The Inbetweeners wasn't the emotional send-off we might otherwise have expected. It was just another episode, really, although there was a vague sense of things reaching a turning point because Simon (Joe Thomas) was told he'd be moving to Swansea, and he ended up briefly rethinking his association with Will (Simon Bird), Jay (James Buckley) and Neil (Blake Harrison) after they let his car slide into a lake, but nothing really stuck and we know there'll be more adventures for the four boys...

Simon's discovery that his parents are planning a move to Swansea resulted in a farewell trip with his friends, as they decided to go camping together. Arriving beside a woodland lake, they quickly become bored and resort to playing Monopoly, leading to a situation where Simon's car wound up submerged in the lake, and a meal of undercooked sausages caused projectile vomiting in their four-man tent.

There was less actual plot in this episode than the "Trip To Warwick" episode, and I know some people will be disappointed the show again relied on gross-outs to a large extent. I'm always disappointed when the show becomes too far-fetched and has its characters act in idiotic ways that doesn't feel believable -- such as the boys burning Will's equipment on purpose, or Jay talking Neil into letting Simon's car roll into the water. That latter moment was especially annoying because the writers did a really good job of getting Simon's car to pose a danger, with Jay leaving the handbrake off while driving the car closer to shine its headlights on their nighttime Monopoly game. Moments that are funny, plausible and logical are much funnier to me.

This episode also reminded me of how brash some of the acting can be on the show, particularly from Joe Thomas in the opening scenes with his parents, as the actor's often guilty of pitching his performance so broad that it transforms the scene into a Kevin & Perry sketch. It often takes me a few moments to acclimatize to The Inbetweeners, despite watching it every week, especially when Thomas decides to play scenes like a big freak-out. A scene in the school cafeteria, where he embarrassed himself by screaming "make love?!" to Carli (Emily Head) was also a step too far for me, while also reminding me how poorly Carli has been treated this series. Considering Simon/Carli was one of the show's enduring storylines, it was sad to see it dropped, and while Hannah Tointon was a better replacement over Emily Head, her character Tara was likewise ditched in episode 4. I think The Inbetweeners missed a trick in either keeping the Tara storyline going for longer, or for not involving Carli in the Simon/Tara romance.

Overall, "The Camping Trip" had its fair share of problems and wasn't a very remarkable ending for the regular TV series, but I'm kinder towards comedies provided they make me laugh fairly regularly, which this episode did. It was also funny to hear that laidback Neil lose his virginity first, albeit off-screen, although I hope that fact doesn't colour some of the gang's remaining adventures together. And I had to cheer Simon's rant at his friend's towards the end, standing knee-deep in water next to his sunken car ("I have wasted my life hanging out with you fucking morons!")

So, that’s it for now. The Inbetweeners will return on the big screen in an adventure about them going on a parent-less holiday abroad, which could be genius or heinous. The idea of a British sitcom relocating abroad for a movie version is a woeful cliché from the '70s, and the basic premise sounds a lot like the appalling Kevin & Perry Go Large. Hopefully writers Damon Beesley and Iain Morris have avoided the obvious pitfalls and we'll get an 18-rated slice of hormonal hilarity.

What did you think of this finale, and The Inbetweeners as a whole? Was this a weak third year? Is it an overrated sitcom in general? Or unbridled genius that knows its target audience extremely well?

WRITERS: Damon Beesley & Iain Morris
DIRECTOR: Ben Palmer
GUEST CAST: Emily Head, Greg Davies, Robin Weaver, Martin Trenaman, Dominic Applewhite, Deo Simcox, Lily Lovett & Rebecca Semark
TRANSMISSION: 18 October 2010 -- E4/HD, 10PM