Episode 1.06 Written by: Chloe Moss Directed by: Tom Marshall
THE ONE WHERE The witches celebrate Solstice Glastonbury-style and Gerry tags along.
VERDICT For the first half of this episode, everything iss going so well. Switch finally seems to have found the perfect balance of comedy, character and dramatic tensions. Okay, Phoebe’s mum in a giant squirrel costume may be a little over-the-top (wearing a silly squirrel costume is one thing, but wearing a silly squirrel costume that makes you look like a Teletubby is step too far in CBBC-ville), but you think, “Yeah, okay, if that’s this week’s embarrassing misstep, then we can handle that…” Ah, we knew so little of the horror that was to come.
To start with, though, there are some lovely Gerry/Phoebe scenes where you can finally believe they’re actually in a relationship. Gerry also has some of the best lines of the episode again, especially his theory behind having a Buddhist monk for a mate: “You can’t let a Buddhist monk down,” protests Phoebe, to which Gerry replies, “Yes you can. That’s the whole point of being mates with one. I could strangle his nan and he’s probably still forgive me.”
The whole conceit that Solstice is like a wiccan Glastonbury – and that Alexa’s family is seeking to exploit it financially – works well too, if not with any great subtlety. Then there’s the “hilarious” misunderstanding when Phoebe’s mum thinks that Gerry and Stella are a couple… which actually turns out to be nearly hilarious when she forces them to become the pagan king and queen of the festival. Stella’s withering looks and Gerry’s delight at the air getting to his tackle when he’s wearing a toga are great fun.
Okay, it’s still not exactly the sharpest show on the block, but it’s certainly got an endearing charm when it’s not trying too hard…
…And then it starts trying too hard.
Goofy Geoffrey is the latest in a far too long line of irritating, over-the-top guest stars. He looks like he’s escaped from a Harry Enfield sketch show. Dear lord, why does this show think that comedy cameos entail taking one character trope and turning it up to eleven?
But he’s small beer compared to the complete and utter bollocks-up the episode makes of what should be the comedy highlight – the Solstice opening ceremony. It’s awful. Stomach-churningly, embarrassing awful. Oh look, the Kensington coven has hexed the Camden coven so they swear a lot while making the speech. If this had been Misfits, it would have been outrageous. It needs to be outrageous to work. Instead, it’s all so half-arsed, tepid and self-consciously performed it’s nearly unwatchable. It simply doesn’t work.
It doesn’t help that the scene comes from nowhere. There’s no build-up. No hint beforehand that the Kensington coven has a plan. No tension. No drama. Okay, six weeks in we’re resigned to the fact that drama is some kind of pot at the end of a silly, frothy rainbow as far as this show is concerned, but even comedy needs some sense of coherent plotting, not just random shit that happens.
Speaking of which – Hannah’s mum. Turns up for an infodump, a revelation and confrontation, all of which have about as much emotional impact as an internet Bingo ad. So, hurrah, Hannah reclaims her old house for her mum – which means she’ll be living right next door to her vengeful ex-lover and his even more vengeful wife, both of whom, we’ve just been told, are more powerful than her. Hmm, that’ll be cosy.
Gerry’s decision to go native isn’t massively convincing either. You half wonder if he’s been hexed by Alexa just to spite Grace. But hey, who cares about logic when you need an unconvincing emotional epilogue to your season and a “sisterhood conquers all” feelgood final scene?
Actually, that last scene with the petals is kinda sweet.
It’s a shame this show has to keep falling back on such broad-strokes humour, because this episode proves that a) it’s not very good at it and b) it’s much, much funnier when it simply concentrates on its characters.
NO AARON! Okay, it would have been a bit of a stretch fitting him into the plot, but he’s sorely missed.
MUSIC Tracks used in this episode included: The Strangler “Skin Deep”, Piney Gir “Stay Sweet”, San Cisco “Reckless”, Poor Moon “Holiday”, Born Ruffians “I’m One Of Those Girls”, Wave Machines “I Go I Go I Go”, A Band Called Quinn “DIY”, Doctor P Flux Pavilion “Superbad”, Django Django “Skies Over Cairo [Adrian Sherwood On U Sound Dub], Freelance Wales “Generator 2nd Floor”, Metronomy “The Bay”, Audio Bullys “Shut You Down”, The War On Drugs “Baby Missiles”
INSULT OF THE WEEK Grace: “What kind of person profits from Solstice?” Alexa: “The kind that has 42 rooms to heat and livestock to feed.” Hannah: “How is your mum?”
NUTS Grace’s mum was apparently dressed as a squirrel, but anybody else think she looked like a new Pokemon character?
BEST LINE Grace: “I’m a witch.” Gerry: “Oh thank f**k, I thought you were a Catholic.”