Before I go any further can I just say who made the boneheaded decision to wreck main draw Mitch Hewer’s hair?! There, now I’ve got that out of my system it’s time to review Britain’s answer to High School Musical.
Written by Jonathan Harvey eh? Given how good Beautiful People is right now, you’d expect the standard of writing to be very high. But this is by-the-numbers TV, and the characters are nothing more than cardboard cutouts, promoted from their looks (or in the case of Hewer sadly by reputation) alone. The show doesn’t know what it wants to be – High School Musical copy, Fame copy, a British drama, Skins-lite or something else. It can’t be Harvey’s fault that there’s so little charm when so much is evident in his current BBC project – it’s the corporate concept (and no doubt interference) at work – but he’s seriously not helped by poor acting by all the leads.
Mitch Hewer follows up from his mega popular role as Maxxie in Skins as Danny, and immediately demonstrates his lack of versatility. It’s not just his character which is shallow though, this is one step up from pantomime and they’re all pretty uninteresting and barely believable. But where the musical aspect stands out in HSM and Fame to make you forget such shortcomings, the same is infrequently true here, and it’s a surprise considering the lead song writer is Gary Barlow. He too is not helped by the corporate influence – turning otherwise good musical performances into pop videos instead of blending them effectively into the drama itself.
It really is regrettable that the leads have no believable charm at all. While Georgina Hagen is a welcome, central calm presence, she’s nowhere near strong enough to carry the show and the relationship with Hewer comes across as forced. Charm radiates however from dance teacher Adam Garcia – hot as ever and as good a TV actor as ever. But even the Fame TV series successfully blended the music, dance and drama effectively, but here the choppy, diffident editing takes any attempt at intensity right back out. Seriously to avoid unless you’re about 8.