The Town, Episode Two: Review
Wednesday 12 December, 2100, ITV
Returning to your hometown after a stint in the big city is never easy. Although on the surface everything appears to have stayed the same, you soon discover that things are peculiarly different to how you remember them.
A few people that you knew in school, you begin to notice, have ballooned—some apparently by choice. Hitting the gym everyday to achieve a grotesquely beefed up look is now popular, as are pimped up hatchbacks and the town’s newest landmark: a suspiciously big city WHSmith, which everyone seems to feel has really jettisoned the place into the 21st century.
You don’t like what you see, but what can you do? Things do change, after all. Just put yourself in the shoes of Mark (Andrew Scott) in ITV’s The Town, who not only has to contend with similarly troubling changes, but also the grim death of his parents.
Still looking for answers into what has been considered suicide, episode two sees Mark working a temporary position at the council offices where his mum used to work. It’s here that he eventually comes across a devastating secret about her that leaves him feeling even more troubled.
His teenage sister, Jodie (Avigail Tlalim), on the other hand, is busy going off the rails. She seems unsure of who she really is, constantly struggling to find her true identity. One moment she’s flirting hopelessly with a well-meaning toff, the next she’s dry humping an older boy with a little car and a stupid backwards-facing hat.
There are some light comic moments, meanwhile, from their grandmother (Julia McKenzie) who, after a brilliantly well-observed appointment at the Job Centre (“psychotherapist,” her assistant asks, “is that like a physiotherapist? Because we don’t have that either.”), manages to find employment working at a local hotel.
Then there’s Martin Clunes, who plays the character of Len, the town’s batty Mayor. Always looking to get his face in the paper, an early scene sees him pushing his way into a cheesy photo opportunity.
“You look stupid,” remarks a mischievous teenager as Len refuses to break his insincere smile at all costs. Powering on, Len keeps it up his weird painted-on grin for at least a few more seconds and then, as soon as the camera clicks, retorts, “Oh, piss off!”
It’s moments like this that make The Town shine above similarly produced television dramas. A typically average set-up, if the plot alone isn’t initially appealing to you, the characters should at least provide enough charm to keep you watching.
Thankfully, the series has so far managed to avoid being absurdly serious, like so many are, and seemingly understands that sometimes less is indeed more. Here you’ll find humour, surprisingly well-developed characters and minimal occurrences of the shockingly awful “longer the note, longer the dread” musical score—a now well-established TV drama tradition.
As it happens, all these things make The Town a darn sight more entertaining than your run of the mill ITV serial. We can only hope that it will continue to impress next week with its third and final episode.