Got nothing better to do this fortnight? Fadora McSexypants casts her scornful eye over the campus hit show The Halfway Point
Oh CTN, you flirtatious scamp you. CTN can never seem to decide if it’s a high quality culture segment, a documentarian of college life, or a serious purveyor of drama. This week, it seems to have chosen the latter option.
After last year’s much lauded Belfield of Dreams, CTN have hit back with their new soap/drama, The Halfway Point. The webseries follows a group of sexually charged and thoroughly unlikeable students as they cheat on each other, text each other, and then give each other mean, longing looks as if to say “you don’t realise how hard everything is for me”.
Where Belfield of Dreams tried to make a soap based on student life, The Halfway Point tries to emulate the aesthetic of The Hills or even Fade Street. Student drama is not an easy thing to do, with director Paul Duggan working as if he is against the challenges of having no budget, an amateur cast, and the difficulty of creating dramatic tension out of the mundane realities of campus life.
With this in mind, you can forget the minor problems, like bad lighting, bad sound quality and even the odd continuity error (why do you need to put your coat on to go to the toilet?). What you can’t forgive, however, is how seriously the whole thing takes itself. Each episode opens with what feels like an hour and a half of shots of the UCD campus, where a single establishing shot would do. The entire piece feels like it’s shooting for high-drama, but because of its technically low production values and occasionally bad scripting, all the dramatic tension is lost.
Every time a seventeen year-old tutor uses the word ‘fuck’ more than once a sentence, every time we’re meant to feel sorry for a girl who just cheated on her boyfriend, every time earphones pop in and out of ears as if by wizardry, we are pulled away from the drama, and if there’s no drama, there’s no story.
For any student production, a far worse crime than breaking the 180-degree line during a dialogue scene, or the writing being stilted and unrealistic, is taking yourself too seriously. The one glaring exception to this is the excellent Abdulrehman Siddiqui as ‘Keith’, who lights up the screen every time he appears, purely by virtue of the much-needed levity his character brings to the show.
Student drama is an extremely difficult thing to pull off, and credit must go to Duggan and CTN for being bold enough to try it in the first place. The fact remains, however, that all the characters are so serious, so stilted, that it’s difficult to warm to them, and as such, to the show as a whole. That said, it is a bold venture into a difficult genre, and it’s a whole lot better than Belfield of Dreams.