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 balloonedâsome apparently by choice. Hitting the gym everyday to achieve a grotesquely beefed up look is now popular, as are pimped up hatchbacks and the townâs newest landmark: a suspiciously big city WHSmith, which everyone seems to feel has really jettisoned the place into the 21st century.
You donât 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 ITVâs 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. Itâs 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 sheâs flirting hopelessly with a well-meaning toff, the next sheâs 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 (âpsychotherapist,â? her assistant asks, âis that like a physiotherapist? Because we donât have that either.â?), manages to find employment working at a local hotel.
Then thereâs Martin Clunes, who plays the character of Len, the townâs batty Mayor. Always looking to get his face in the paper, an early scene sees him pushing his way into a cheesy photo opportunity.
âYou look stupid,â? 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, âOh, piss off!â?
Itâs moments like this that make The Town shine above similarly produced television dramas. A typically average set-up, if the plot alone isnât 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 youâll find humour, surprisingly well-developed characters and minimal occurrences of the shockingly awful âlonger the note, longer the dreadâ? musical scoreâa 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.