Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Switch: Season 1, Episode 2

 After being hexed by the witches of Kensington, our witches of Camden march to a very impressive house to confront the rival witches. They open the door – and the Kensington witches greet them with squeals and hugs of happiness.

The horribly pretentious head, Alexa of the Kensington witches introduce themselves as India, Romula and Remy – her new coven. Jude is surprised, is she sure they’re new? They look just like the last 3. Which kind of wipes the smiles off their faces. Alexa explains they were practicing magic, wanted to try a hex and had a picture of the Camden coven in solstice camp – they didn’t even think it would work and she’s “totes proud of us.” They keep trying to be friendly with the Camden witches who are, obviously, not that open to the attempts at friendship. The 4 Kensington witches gather in a group and whisper a chant, at the climax of it they’re bathed in white light and the hex disappears from the Camden witches’ hands.  Alexa turns and apologises (they’re “totes sorry”) and thinks the feud has gone OTT. She offers them a truce – an entente cordiale. And she offers drinks.

Cut to all 8 witches drinking up a storm. Many many many many drinks, all of them bonding with their opposite numbers on the coven. Until, in a wave of hugs, the 4 Camden witches drunkenly stagger out, making their goodbyes. More feuds should be resolved with a drinks party. Alas, it’s not to end there and the Kensington witches happy smiles turn to glares as the Camden witches leave.

Staggering home, the witches reflect that for all their money, they’d still not entirely want the Kensington life.

At their flat life goes on – and Jude has received a final warning from her job. Stella looks at the letter and has to agree that it’s fair but Jude still wants to do something about it and points out that she has so many warnings because she hates her boss who is mean and unfair. Grace points out that they can’t use magic every time that Jude screws up at work (part of me wants to say that they did this with Stella, but I can see that Stella had bad situations forced on her while Jude is instigating hers). Stella starts to blame Jude for the huge phone bill they have (assuming he has phone sex with a Cuban guy but she protests he lives in Tooting. Why not have real sex? “Because he has a face like a slapped arse and a voice like Antonia Banderas” you’ve got to love Jude). Grace confesses it was she who ran up the phone bill constantly ringing Hannah while she was travelling. Grace also opens another letter with a final demand for the electricity bill.

Stella, den mother, lectures the group, snarking at Hannah for the back rent and making it clear they can’t get by on 2 incomes; Jude counters that she’d still have an income if they did a quick switch to get her her job back. Faced with another bill, they start casting to arrange for Jude to get a new boss – a more tolerant and friendly leader and a “hedonist just like Jude.”

Spell complete, grace gets a text from Joel asking her to go to lunch with him – today. She asks what to do – and Hannah takes her phone and “accidentally” calls him. Grace hangs up quickly – but then Joel rings her back. After much fumbling (to the amusement of the other 3) she agrees to lunch and the celebratory squeals begin.

At Jude’s work she sees Aaron who tells her Duncan, the old boss is gone – and she gets to meet the new boss, Gerry Blackwell, by swearing at him. And he’s young and cute. And he’s the most laid back, permissive boss imaginable.

Things are not going so well for Grace. Worrying about what she’s going to wear and her looks in general, she starts to trim her fringe. She makes a… rather awful job of it which both she and Hannah find horrible – as an added bonus a neighbour dumps his 2 noisy sons on her to babysit since he has a work emergency. Hannah is there to rescue – she says she’ll look after the nasty little monsters – kids – after they’ve fixed Grace’s horrible hair. Time for a Switch call.

They gather together, though Stella heckles Grace about not going to a hairdressers. To quite the screaming kids they use their hair and a TV remote to cast a quick mute spell (I would gladly sacrifice several fluffy kittens for that spell). They fix Grace’s hair and she hurries to her date (mutual awkward people date) – and Stella takes Hannah back to work with her, she has an interview for her (leaving the kids in the lobby – and pausing them. Seriously, someone get me one of these kid remotes). Hannah’s worried about being unprepared by Stella tells her to be herself.

Hannah starts out by being incredibly awkward, spouting a lot of standard copy & paste drivel from standard CVs before relaxing and riveting the interviewers with anecdotes from her many many travels.

Unfortunately, the Kensington witches are whispering their curses again – causing Hannah to start swearing and call herself a kleptomaniac and then assault the head of HR and Janet before Stella can get her out the room. Stella doesn’t blame her – instantly hitting on the Kensington witches, especially since Hannah told them she wanted to settle down and get a career.

At the awkward date she asks Joel about his life story – like his big loving family. Who died in a fire. And his ex-girlfriend who had a child – that wasn’t his, it was his best friend’s who she then ran off with. But he’s ok now…  he says. And then is very very very very clingy. He says it’s the best day of his life – but as she points out, that’s not exactly saying much. He goes on about how much he likes her – and how much he thought about ending it before he met her. Ooookay, not good.

Jude returns to work to find a massive queue – and Aaron and Gerry in the back room smoking pot. He accuses her of taking things too seriously while she protests she spends her whole life not taking things seriously. They then have a brief competition as to who’s the most radical and she challenges him to a drinking contest with over-proof rum. Last one standing wins.

Grace, Hannah and Stella return to the flat and realise they need something personal of Alexa’s to lift the hex she placed on Hannah. They have a brief wrangle about the things Hannah has lost (she used to have many things of Alexa’s – a necklace, a lock of hair – a pony. But she lost them all. Yes including the pony). So they have to go to Alexa’s and sneak something of hers – at last, a use for the children!

Annoying child is, however, caught – maybe he can be hexed? Or turned to stone or something?

At the pub, Jude and Gerry line up the shots and Jude is easily declared the winner. They drunkenly talk and kiss (though he ends up falling over) and he confesses how bad he is as a manager and how little he cares – he wants to play guitar, she wants to be a fashion designer. But she gets a text –yes, it’s Switch time again. They arrive at the scene where Alexa has called the police on the kids and Hannah, Stella and Grace. Jude and Gerry are so obviously drunk that the police officer just loads them all up in the van.

In the van, Jude has ended up with the police man’s hat, one of the kids has stolen the radio (and Hannah confiscated it). Using the hat as a cauldron and the radio they cast a quick spell  and Hannah convinces the police to give them a nice lift home. Once there Grace attacks Hannah for being so irresponsible and using the children like that. Jude and Gerry make out on the sofa – and they realise they’re missing a child. Time to chase him through the streets of Camden – until he’s hit by a taxi.

Jude runs to call an ambulance but then finds their kid remote control. She hurries back and rewinds the child – undoing the car crash. When he starts to run into traffic again, Hannah could catch him (oh, I thought the pan was to rewind and replay, rewind and replay… probably just me. They are really annoying children though).

They sit the children on the sofa for a lecture (and it’s decided Stella doesn’t get to lecture the kids since she invokes their dead mother – bad Stella). They ask the kid what he was doing and he says he was playing with the light sabre. They ask what light sabre – why the one he got from the rich lady’s house; he produces a giant bright green vibrator.

Time for the switch, that definitely counts as a personal effect! They de-hex Hannah, breaking their window. Across town, in the Kensington house, Alexa’s mirror breaks. She’s not amused.

The kids’ dad comes to collect them and finds them excited and happy and full of stories. He’s amazed at the good job Hannah did with them considering what a problem they can be. He tells her that the boys have been blacklisted by every nanny agency and insists on paying her. And since she didn’t attack him, she concludes that the curse is broken.

Grace talks to Gerry while he’s cooking (he just seems to be hanging around) about her date and he drops some surprisingly good advice on her “his happiness isn’t your responsibility” and then the flirting begins. Jude comes in before it gets beyond food tasting and tells Gerry he’s sacked (he expected it and is impressed that he managed it within the day) and that Jude is now the new manager. Time for Jude to give Gerry a tour of the flat and the dreaded love triangle to raise its ugly head.

Grace looks out of her window and sees Joel hanging around, watching her flat. She goes down and demands to know what he’s doing. He tries to pretend he just happens to be in the area but she confronts him. He says he’s blown it and wishes he could just have some luck occasionally but she rejects it, it’s nothing to do with look, he was responsible for this. She gives him some advice she had from Gerry and tells him to stop trying so hard. Prying him off her she returns to the flat and runs into Gerry coming out of the shower wearing a towel – and enjoys the very nice view.

She sits down on the sofa with Stella who’s trying to think of an advertising campaign for super-strength deodorant and wondering if Janet gave it to her because she smells. Which leads to a crisis of attractiveness with Grace reassuring her and Stella pointing out she hasn’t had a date in a long time. From the conversation we learn that a) Stella hasn’t had a date since 2009) and b) Stella dates women. Grace recycles Gerry’s advice again.

Group meeting and Judith says she’s now worried about the Kensington witches because they’re not proper mates – the Camden coven is better at magic because they’re friends who care for each other (her metaphor: “Like sex is better with someone you love”)

To the pub, drinks all round and a girl starts giving Stella the eye. Jude notices first and she, Grace and Hannah move away when she approaches, leaving Stella alone. They talk while the three watch from a table and try to interpret what’s happening. Stella joins them, reveals her name is Ariel and she has her phone number. She seems disappointed though – they can’t understand it since Ariel is beautiful interesting and they got on. Stella says she just can’t connect, it’s like the spark has been switched off.

When she goes to get a drink, Grace says it’s their fault. It’s been 5 years since Stella had a relationship – they need to get in touch with Lucy. Hannah and Jude instantly say no. They need to lift a switch they used – which they reluctantly agree to. They text Lucy and she agrees to come round.

I have a minor feeling that maybe Stella has had a bit of a personality change. Last episode she was giving Hannah money and the calm and kind den mother, this time more of a task master, but I think a lot of that can be put down to the different situations. That time she was the one who needed help – with Janet and the dead cat. She was also anticipating missing Hannah who was going away. Now this is daily life and facing economic panics and frustrations, her temper frays. So, maybe a shifting character or maybe a nicely developed character whose mode and attitudes shift according to the situation – something to watch.

I am really happy that one of the protagonists is a lesbian or bisexual –but I hope they dearly do better with her than they did with the gay men in the first episode.

Please can we not not not have a love triangle? Please. It is beyond not needed and I like the way the witches bounce off each other. They’re good friends, they have their own lives but are very much in each other’s lives as well.  They enjoy each other’s company, they care for each other – there’s no need to break this up and certainly not for a guy they barely know.