Sunday, 21 October 2012

FRESH MEAT review: second year

Sunday, 21 October 2012
I've neglected to write about the return of Channel 4's student comedy-drama FRESH MEAT, but that's no reflection on the show itself. It became one of my favourite comedies last year (slightly below Peep Show, also created by Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain), and I'm pleased to report series 2's started strongly.

Writer Tony Roche's second episode was actually better than the premiere written by the show's BAFTA-winning creators. The changes to the show between series also feel smart and self-aware: Kingsley (Joe Thomas) now wears a trilby and has grown a soul patch, which helps differentiate him from his Inbetweeners character (well, visually); Josie (Kimberley Nixon) still has feelings for Kingsley, but it no longer feels like a huge focus; the writers have realised Vod (Zawe Ashton) is potentially the funniest character, so are giving the actress better material (love how she's so oblivious to being a freeloader); they've introduced the fun idea of a Dutch student called Sabine (Jelka van Houten) being a party-pooping housemate nobody likes, who's oddly accepting of the awkward atmosphere she creates; and I quite like the addition of Heather (Sophie Wu recycling her shtick in both The Fades and The Midnight Beast) as Josie's friend who starts dating Kingsley, to her quiet annoyance...

It's just a very funny show, with some of the best performances from young comic actors around right now. It actually makes me enjoy watching Jack Whitehall, who I'm otherwise averse to in most things (including his recent school sitcom Bad Education which somehow became a hit for BBC Three). The only thing I'm unsure of is the decision to keep Professor Shales (Tony Gardner) around, because I think it's keeping Oregon's character on a grubby leash. Maybe they have something in store for those characters that will prove interesting, and hopefully avoid the yucky feeling I get whenever middle-aged Shales is flirting with Oregon (who's intelligent, but oddly naïve around him).

I won't be reviewing Fresh Meat weekly this year, but I'll certainly be watching it. It has great performances (Nixon's little reactions are sublime), very funny scripts, good plots, excellent direction, and encapsulates the atmosphere of university social life exceptionally well. It actually makes me wish I was 18 again; in that weird intermediate state between childhood and adulthood... as the world suddenly becomes an unsupervised playground. Highly recommended.

Tuesdays, Channel 4 - 10PM