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TV on DVD: "Skins: Volume Two"

Even monosyllabic cynic Effy would agree: the provocative and daring Skins is really unlike anything on American television today.

I've waxed ecstatic enough about the British teen drama since it launched Stateside last year, but I have to say that I enjoyed the series' sensational sophomore season even more the second time around.

Skins: Volume Two, which contains all ten episodes of the series' second season (along with a host of extras), is available for purchase on DVD starting tomorrow and, thanks to the kind folks at Warner Home Video, I was able to get an early look at the DVD box set.

Season Two finds the gang in Bristol reeling from the bus accident at the end of the first season that has left Tony alive but not exactly the same person he was before. Nicholas Hoult turns in an astonishing performance as Tony Stonem as he's forced to relearn everyday activities like tying his shoes or speaking after his accident while remaining staunchly independent; in watching Hoult's performance, it's as if a switch has gone off inside Tony's head and this person is a pale shadow of the manipulative, Svengali-like Tony of the first season. His best friend Sid (Mike Bailey) and girlfriend Michelle (April Pearson), meanwhile, face the challenge of maintaining a friendship with someone who doesn't so much as remember their names, much less share any memories with them, and the two drift into a romantic relationship that's built on loss rather than love. Complicating matters is Sid's own girlfriend, the spacey Cassie (Hannah Murray), who has moved to Scotland and seemingly embarked on a journey of sexual exploration.

Back at home, the friendship between Anwar (Dev Patel) and Maxxie (Mitch Hewer) hits the skids when their camaraderie is invaded by the malevolent presence of stalker Sketch (Aimee-Ffion Edwards), a girl so desperate to claim gay Maxxie for her own that she stalks him and attempts to bed his friend Anwar just to be close to him. Perpetual screw-up Chris (Joseph Dempsie) attempts to get over his love for teacher Angie (Siwan Morris) and falls for the level-headed Jal (Larissa Wilson), in one of the season's most tender stories. And while everyone seems to be falling apart at the seams, Effy (Kaya Scodelario) somehow manages to pick up all the pieces and put everything back together again, in a true Effy fashion.

While Season One established the friendships (and at times enmities) between the characters, Season Two pushes many of them past their breaking point, exploring just what makes these characters tick and forcing them to take a headlong plunge into adulthood when they are faced with the prospect of graduation. Unlike most series which would have kept their cast firmly in their teens and forced them to spend, oh, five seasons or so in high school, Skins does the unthinkable and wraps up their storylines, pushing them out of high school and into the "real" world by the end of the second season and jettisoning the entire cast, save Kaya Scodelario's Effy Stonem.

Which means that Skins: Volume Two is the last we'll be seeing of Tony, Sid, Cassie, and the rest. Series creators Bryan Ensley and Jamie Brittain have maintained that they wanted to remain true to the age group depicted in Skins and have therefore cast an entirely new set of characters around Scodelario's Effy. While it's more than sad to see the original gang go (in fact, as depicted, it's pretty damn heartbreaking), one can't help but be pleased with the notion that these characters' lives will go on... at least in our imaginations. There are no firm endings for these characters, but rather new beginnings, as each begins to take the first steps on the road to adulthood.

Skins: Volume Two contains all ten episodes of Skins' second season, along with the Skins Christmas special (which didn't air on television in the States) and five additional bonus Skins mini-stories including "Tony's Nightmare," "Musical Auditions," "Cassandra," "When Maxxie Met Anwar," and "Anwar & Sketch."

All in all, Skins: Volume Two is a must-have DVD addition to the library of any fan of the titillating teen series. Or indeed for any fan of controversial, thought-provoking, and emotionally resonant dramas.

Own Skins: Volume Two on DVD starting Tuesday, April 14th. The three-disc DVD boxset is available for an MSRP of $39.98, but you can purchase it for $29.99 in the Televisionary store.


TxGowan said…
Do I assume correctly, as I intimated on Twitter, that the music has all been changed?

The drama of the show certainly will still be worth the investment, but music choices in the show all seemed to be dead spot-on and can even make an episode twice as good (I'm looking at the Season 1 season finale here).
Heatherette said…
Skins has some of the most honest and intriguing teen characters ever to have graced the small screen and I am really looking forward to watching this season again now that it's out on DVD.
Jules said…
Hannah Murray, who plays Cassie, will be in the film WOMB which also stars Eva Green and Matt Smith. It's currently shooting in Germany.

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