21 October 2014

TV: Bad Education - Series 3


Bad Education stars Jack Whitehall, Sarah Solemani, Harry Enfield and Mathew Horne as teachers in a 'comedy' series at a secondary school in London. Yes, it's the BBC 3 equivalent of Big School.

This is a mostly competent series, with a tendency for over exaggeration. Whitehall plays a larger than life, NVQ-certified version of himself, basically - Alfie Wickers. Wickers is more of a friend to his class - who are rapidly approaching their GCSEs - than a traditional teacher, and much of what I enjoy about this comes from his interactions with his pupils. There's a great many of them, who are all well characterised and acted, but I think my favourite from this third and final series would have to be Frank Grayson.

Grayson is the school bully. In earlier series, he was regularly seen to beat up not only other pupils but also Alfie. Series 3 puts him in an interesting position though as he is forced to join Alfie's class, much to the displeasure of both parties. Not only that but before long Alfie's dad (Enfield, the deputy head) begins dating his comedically different mother. She's needy and deals only in the luxury. She has no discernible job and blames Grayson for his dad leaving. On a serious note, this is really sad and probably the root of why Grayson is a bully himself. It's nice to see the series explore these avenues in its dying days.

Sarah Solemani was simply brilliant as Becky in Him and Her, but this is a very different sort of role for her. As Rosie Gulliver, she's opinionated, frustratingly middle class and a bit of an arty-farty type, without wishing to offend. As if to illustrate this point, much of one episode revolves around a book club meeting of hers. Solemani does well with the material, but I just cannot get along with her character. She was much more bearable in earlier series and to be honest Alfie seems to list after her now simply because she's the only female lead.

Mathew Horne, who was amazing as one half of Gavin and Stacey, is another actor who's suffered for this series. In a role as a 'hip' headmaster, always cutting corners and doing dodgy deals with Nigerian businessmen he's devalued himself somewhat. He's clearly having a ball but this is a step down from a lot of his previous work (the exception being that bloody awful Horne and Corden thing). Having said that, his character is possibly the highlight of the series for me. Every line and action evokes a smile. It's not the best role he could have, but it's the perfect role for him, if that makes sense.

All of the supporting cast, who come and go pretty frequently, have been good this series and the last ever episode was a pretty fitting end, if somewhat predictable. Having said that, Alfie's time at the homewares store did yield some of my favourite moments of the series. There are problems with this and it's often far too basic (frustratingly so) but it's a laugh. The direction isn't usually anything special, but occasionally there's a moment that makes you sit up and take notice. That sums up this series really. Bad Education probably ran its course a while ago, but it's nice to have three more hours (six episodes) to round it off.

In a Nutshell: Pretty good, but a bit unimaginative and infrequently frustrating.


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