Written by Barry Purchese. Tx 18th March 1985
Gonch’s latest money-making scheme is a video club, run during the lunchtimes with tapes “borrowed” from the shop where Vince’s dad works. We briefly get a glimpse of the film they’re watching and it’s noticeable that the picture quality is authentically bad (loads of interference) which was often par for the course with tapes from video rental shops. Although the picture here is so bad I would have been inclined to ask for my money back ….
There’s several snags with this arrangement – Vince can’t borrow the tapes for more than a day without his dad becoming suspicious and the lunch break is too short for the entire film to be seen, meaning they constantly have to fast-forward to the end, missing out most of the best bits. Never mind though, as the ever-resourceful Gonch has yet another idea – use the media studies room to copy their own tapes, which they can then sell!
Given the wave of thefts still sweeping the school, it really stretches credibility to breaking point to learn that the key to the media studies room is kept on the doorframe. Since there’s televisions and video-recorders aplenty inside you’d have assumed that a little extra security would have been taken in order to keep the equipment safe. It’s easy to see why this was done in plot-terms though – Gonch and the others need to gain access to the room and can’t have been seen to steal the key – but it still feels a tad contrived.
The builders discover that Gonch and Hollo liberated some of their building supplies in order to help Mr Light. Remarkably, they don’t seem terribly put out by this and are happy to do the repairs on Mr Light’s house for virtually nothing, although Gonch does promise to supply them with some good films on VHS.
Zammo, Mandy and Sarah observe a first-year girl being forced into a car against her will. The girl is Calley and the woman is Angela, her real mother. At first glance, this appears to be the latest instalment in Calley’s tale, but the focus quickly switches to the three fourth formers. We never really find out exactly what happened at the car – it’s plain that Calley didn’t want to go with Angela and (presumably) her husband, but she later denies this. Angela only has a few lines of dialogue, which means that this sequence is much more about providing an excuse for Zammo, Mandy and Sarah to be inside the school at lunchtime. And this is the last we see of Angela, meaning that this plot-line rather splutters to a stop in a less than dramatic fashion.
Zammo, Mandy and Sarah run into Mr Bronson, who immediately decides they’re responsible for the theft of yet another of Mr Smart’s squash racquets. All three, along with Mr Bronson and Mr Smart, head off to see Mrs McClusky, which leads into an interesting scene. Zammo is voluble in his defence, stating that Mr Bronson has had it in for him since the day they met. Mrs McClusky swiftly closes him down and asks the three of them to wait outside. After they leave, it’s plain that she is far from convinced of their guilt, which somewhat wounds Mr Bronson. That Mrs McClusky repeats Zammo’s doubts only after he’s left is something we’ve seen before – in front of pupils or parents she’ll always keep a united front with the staff, but behind closed doors it’s sometimes very different.
Having said all that, as Calley was nowhere to be seen when Zammo, Mandy, Sarah and Mr Bronson went to look for her, Mrs Clusky states that they’ll all still be in serious trouble unless she comes forward to collaborate their story. How this can be I’m not quite sure, since there’s no evidence at all to link them to this, or any other, theft. It helps to ramp up the tension – will Calley step forward to clear their name? – but it’s another moment which doesn’t quite work.