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Top Boy Series 2 Episode 1, Channel 4, Tuesdays 9pm

tvI’m too scared to be nasty about this in case someone comes and shoots me.

Top Boy begins with a load of wince makingly violent and threatening scenes. At this point, I’m still not sure I’m up for this. This is about as far from my cosy world as you can get. It crosses my mind to wonder whether this is just going to be an hour of atmospheric violence, but I’ve been told it’s good, so I stick with it.

It does get more interesting when the police start rounding up suspects for a murder. I didn’t watch series one, but there’s enough of a hint in the opening sequence to help me out with what’s gone on. Apart from that, there’s no explanation as to who’s who, or what went on in series one, so I spend much of this start to the second series in a state of confusion. However, that’s OK, because I prefer this than having to sit through some expositional rubbish. Also, there seems to be loads of double crossing taking place (now and left over from the last series) so I wouldn’t hold too much store by who’s on which side.

Anyway, the characters in this are really hard. They have to be, to survive. But thankfully the violence subsides and veritable confusion of storylines arrives on the scene, which starts to draw me in.

The best thing about this (considering I am finding it hard to follow the plot) is the contrasting mass of textures that emerges. As well as the tension of the criminal world that infiltrates most scenes, there is the warmth of community life centred around the hairdresser’s. There is the softness of the very young children and how they are looked after in their families (including a sad, funny, tender scene where a little girl gleefully tells her mum “Daddy got arrested!” down the phone). Then there is the lonely watchfulness that overtakes the children as they leave childhood. The competence of the black female solicitor sent to look out for one of the suspects on the murder charge makes me wonder – what does she think of this world? What does this world think of her? And who is she really?

I think the roles for strong women are great, such as the female solicitor and the girls in the hairdressers. And all the acting is excellent, especially from the children. I’ll probably watch again next week, although I have to say that I find it a bit inside-out watching a programme where it’s hard to see any redemption or hope for anything better for any of the characters. You only hope that things don’t get worse for them.

Update:

There is a good explanation here:

http://overlycriticalreviews.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/top-boy-review-series-2-episode-one-1-channel-4/

that will help you understand what the hell was going on if you missed series 1.   Good site too, well worth a look round.

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