Getting a 19-year-old to write a sitcom reflecting the lives of young people is a good idea. Letting him (Tim Dawson) get away with something that plainly doesn’t work is a very, very bad idea.
What was good about it?
• The actors seemed to be just about young enough to pass themselves of as sixth form students. But only one of them – Ceri Phillips as Ollie – could rise above the risible, innuendo-packed script.
What was bad about it?
• Coming of Age (which could have been called Two Pints of Sunny Delight and A Packet of Condoms) has an alarming failure to be remotely funny. It was better at being shocking – it’s not often paedophile teachers or cum-soaked tissues crop up in knockabout comedy – and it’s much better at being so puerile that even CBBC viewers would sneer.
• We suspect the harshest critics will be the teenagers this is aimed at. They will be insulted to be portrayed as selfish, sex-mad and stupid. E4 pulled off the teen comedy trick successfully in The Inbetweeners – and Two Pints has had its moments – so it’s not an impossible task.
• Here’s just one example of the unfunny writing. Ollie: “You’re sadder than Richard Whitely.” Mat: “He’s dead.” Ollie: “Exactly. It’s really sad.”
• Here’s another: “I feel abused like Amy Winehouse’s liver.”
• And one more just to prove the point: “Pulling the purple party popper” – a description of masturbation.
• The plotlines – trying to get sex, bullying a fat frump, seducing a paedophile teacher to get a better grade, and stealing coursework – all fell flat. While we like dark humour, there was nothing clever or amsuing about a teacher telling a pupil: “You’re hotter than a roomful of schoolgirls soaping their breasts.”
• The characters – Chloe the grade A student with a pink bedroom and cuddly toy collection; Matt, the coursework stealing wimp who has reached level 14 of Final Fantasy 12 (which was just about the only gag that should have survived the editing process); flirty Jas; sex-obsessed Ollie; and DK, the stupid one.
• The running “little teapot” and fisting gags.
• DK’s useless rapping and breakdancing – executed so much better in the Catherine Tate Show.
• The acting, although that can perhaps be excused because the young performers had so little to work with, thanks to a script with no heart.
• The laughter track. We do not believe for one second that was a realistic reaction.
• There seems to be no point in the piloting process if the channel controller then picks one of the weakest entries for a full run and makes it a lot less funny than the original.