Pramface

With a title like Pramface, a show has to draw at least a little curiosity. Add to that a pilot titled “Like Narnia but Sexy,” and I’m in. I didn’t recognize any of the actors and had no pre-existing knowledge of this show, so titles were all I had on which to build expectations.

Now, in case you’re not up on your British, a “pram” is what we Yanks would call a “stroller.” It’s no spoiler that, by the end of this pilot populated with teenagers, somebody’s gonna wind up pregnant. (The concept holds promise for lots of other fun British slang, too, like “nappie” and “dummy.”)

It’s the last day of school, or the day that English students take their exams, or A-levels, or O.W.L.s or whatever they call them. The opening shot is a million kids in row on row of desks, poring over test papers. Just a quick look at each of the three main characters while taking their tests establishes their roles. They’re Harry, Ron, and Hermione: the nerdy but good-natured boy (Jamie), his best friend the spaz (Michael), and the uptight model student who hangs around nagging them (Beth).

As exams end, talk to turns to summer plans. Goody two-shoes Beth wants to volunteer at a summer camp for disadvantaged kids and wants Jamie to join her. Michael would prefer the two guys spend their time chasing tail. He wants to start straight away, by crashing a party taking place that night (the description of which provides the episode title). “If there’s ever an opportunity to lose our virginity together, this is it,” declares this teenage Howard Walowitz. “We’ll be like marathon runners, holding hands across the finish line.” At least he’s not selfish.

We’re steered toward liking Jamie, and he’s the one we’ll find in a predicament by pilot’s end. Next we meet the smart-mouthed, pot-smoking 18-year-old Laura, defying her mother’s feeble attempt at grounding her. She’s on her way out to the same party. You can see where this is going…

By the time we make it to the party we have the distinct idea that Beth has an unrequited, possibly long-standing crush on Jamie. She shows up at the party to interfere with his attempts to hook up and unwittingly ends up witnessing the loss of his virginity. Jamie and Laura go at it, in a scene too risque for an American sit-com, and he leaves her the next morning with a note. We flash forward two months. In what is possibly the funniest scene of the pilot, we find Laura in her bedroom with a friend, amid a sea of used birth control tests, all of them positive. “This one even thinks it’s twins,” her friend cries.

We now know, to no surprise, that the series will be about two teenagers dealing with an unintended pregnancy. The build-up is kind of a waste of time. We haven’ t learned enough about Jamie to gauge whether what kind of father he might be — apart from the fact that he’s a 16-year-old boy, and they’re generally about as fit to parent as Snooki. We know just enough about Laura to hate her. Nothing about their initial meeting is unusual or interesting. If the writers found it important, it’s the kind of thing that could just as easily have been revealed in a flashback in a later episode.

I haven’t watched beyond the pilot, so I can’t say I know where this is going. But I seriously doubt that I’d be surprised. (If you know differently, please tell me.) As a pilot, this doesn’t do it’s job, because, although it’s amusing, I don’t wonder what’s next. Like, at all.

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