Thursday, June 12, 2014

TV Series Review: Dance Academy (season three)

As I said in my last book review, writing openings to series where you've seen all of it in such a short period of time is hard. So I'll keep this dull, this is the third and final season in the Australian teen drama, Dance Academy, skipping straight to this third season would be dumb especially since you wouldn't get why half the characters' motivations this season are because of their dead friend from last time. So yeah, it's all on Netflix so it's easy to get a hold of at least!

Dance Academy

It's the third and final year for our characters and it's a year filled with dread, anxiety, finding yourself yet again, and even more romance.

While I might have disliked them at times in the first and second seasons, when all was said and done I thought that Abigail and Kat had the best overall characters arcs of the show and for very similar reasons. There's an especially strong thread this season that those who are naturally talented at ballet seem to think of giving it up more than the characters who aren't and we see here how both of them not only have seriously considered it but how they also try to be much more well-rounded than some of the other characters with their other interests. I think it's impressive that there are two characters with such similar arcs who are still completely different in personality, although honestly not having Abigail be "the bitchy character" and not having Kat be "the unmotivated character" this time around also did wonders for my enjoyment.

For the characters whose overall arcs I was less impressed by, Ollie, Ben and Tara just bored me this season. I was surprised they even included Ollie this season and, while I can see they probably wanted to keep the cast about equal gender-wise, considering he was very much a minor character in the second season I don't think it was the best move since there was just less for him to build upon. I did like his scenes with Abigail not for romantic reasons but because those two were also very similar and yet that didn't mean they wallowed together in their uncertainty, it meant that one would do the much needed calling out on the other and helped both make them more complicated characters and to keep their stories moving. Ben was introduced last season and while there were sparks of depth there for him nothing ever really materialized and I found him rather dull, his most defining character trait was "wants Tara to be his girlfriend and then gets really jealous of her when she is. And then jealous once they break up too" which is rather sad. It also felt completely out of character for him to be so willing to work with the character Satsukia after he was the one who was so hostile to her in the last season after she broke Tara's back, to the point where I'm wondering if I mixed up characters since it felt so strange. And I've complained since the beginning that Tara has always been a bit of a bland character, her naivety makes her blank instead of questioning and when she did have moments of growth it was almost always overshadowed by what the other characters were doing.

Which leads me to the characters whose arcs I didn't like here and who frustrated me as a whole (I'm rather lucky that this series seems to mirror the show as a whole since it makes it much simpler to talk about). First up, Grace, a character where I don't understand what the motivation was for making her come back for the last season unlike Ollie. As we saw in the second season she's rather broken, one of those people who seems to be nice and friendly and yet has no idea how to really form a relationship with someone which struck me, while I see people like this all the time in fiction it rarely comes up in real life which might be part of the reason she irritated me so much. That and the fact that she says she's trying to start a new but we (both the viewers and the characters by the end) see over and over again her do something and then intentionally sabotage herself and then try to be both the hero and the victim, the story just doesn't dig deep enough to make her relatable. And as for Christian, I've also been frustrated with him since he stepped on screen and was happy when Tara said to him "Is there something wrong because for once I don't think it's just because of me." I just couldn't understand how he regressed so far after Sammie's death (unless he had also been in love with him a bit, but since this season doesn't touch on that or present it in that light I don't think so) and then he "gets better" in fits and starts, going backwards and forwards all season. Which would have been compelling if we hadn't already seen him do this for two solid years and by that point I just stopped caring. I did think his eventual end suited him and was certainly well foreshadowed enough but it still made me grumpy, it felt like instead of "completing" his character arc he just proved many other characters right about his dedication. 

And that's it, the show is all said and done and I was rather glad this season was only 13 episodes instead of 22 since it was plenty soapy and really dragged for me and I'm sad. I really did enjoy parts of the first season but the second and third really dragged, at this point I'd rather recommend people watch actual documentaries since at least those have less drama and more ballet. I've also been frustrated the whole time that the first season brought up a few ideas that never came back, which is strange since the show was usually pretty good about continuity, very sad this just didn't work out for me.  

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