Well there's no denying the original film had plenty of scope for more and the decision to do a four part follow up for TV made it very interesting indeed. We catch up with Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) and his old friends a few years later. It's 1986 Shaun has just done his last exam and awaits a bleak future in Thatcher's Britain. Since the incident with Combo (Stephen Graham) Shaun had grown apart and lost touch with the original group of friends who took him under their wing but a chance encounter in hospital see's him reunited.
On the whole this was very good stuff. Enjoyable, tense, gripping and at times overpowering stuff. I thought the last two episodes directed by Shane Meadows were better than the opening two which seemed to have far too much light relief bordering on slapstick which for me didn't fit with the tone of the original subject matter. Though the first was always about re-acquainting everyone I guess, so fair do's.
That was one of the minor points, there were a few niggling bits I wasn't keen on. I'm not one to pour scorn on minor details like others have pissed and moaned about - the double glazing, modern ring pulls, Band t-shirts that are fourteen years too early or if they got this or that date wrong, was that a modern car 4 miles away? give over! There were a few errors in there, sure but that's just superficial, not integral to the script or not really important when you've got a good storyline developing and most of the above can be put down to the time constraints and modest TV budgets. Some have taken great joy in criticising it. Whilst there are a few question marks, at the end of the day we've been given some decent telly which everyone I know has made a point of sitting down to watch each week, which rarely happens these days.
I won't dwell on the bits I didn't like because what we had here is a clever and on the whole thoroughly decent follow up to the acclaimed film. It was enjoyable more so when it got dark and real and it did get dark! Shane Meadows isn't new, some of the responses and reactions to this series coming from celebrities and the like who have only discovered him is a bit sickly, it's more attention that is overdue for sure, though it makes me chuckle some what. I was there in the late 90s watching his films in empty cinemas (if they were lucky to get a limited release). People who haven't checked out his previous work really should. Checking his forum I find myself frustrated by these types who've only just come across him and come out with nonsense, take Lol's horrible father for instance. He's played with horrible, vile menace rather well by Johnny Harris who's been in a number of TV and film work, most notably the impressive gritty debut from Paul Andrew Williams London to Brighton, yet some people there have said such priceless ignorant stuff like Paddy Considine or even Eddie Marsan was great as Mick. It's not difficult to read up and check things is it? I'm a bit of a film geek in all honesty but even so, you don't require an extensive knowledge to know your onions.
I think watching it as a whole piece it will be much more complete. I do think the comedic stuff was a little too much though at times it was admittedly funny, even when way over the top Flip was on screen, he did have a presence. But, as mentioned above when it got dark it got real it was intense and there was some seriously good stuff on offer. Shane and his cast and crew dealt with some nasty subjects with great aplomb and deserve applause, As an ensemble they were all decent, Thomas Turgoose had never acted when he made his debut in the film and he's grown with it, he was spot on as was Vicky McClure as tormented Lol. Stephen Graham's appearance may have only been brief but he certainly has a presence.