Written by Grae Westgate
As long-running musical comedy drama, Grae is the Colour, shuffles towards what promises to be one of its most moving mid-season finales to date, we take a look back at the highs and lows of season 32 so far.
As any good writer knows, allowing a show to stagnate in one location for too long can, after a while, cause audiences to lose interest and, inevitably, a drop in ratings despite the best efforts of a strong cast. After almost five whole seasons of multicultural educational adventures at ETC International College, the producers of Grae have decided to follow in the footsteps of Fear the Walking Dead and Doctor Who, giving the show a soft reboot by moving our eponymous lead to an entirely new environment.
Towards the end of season 31, we saw our hero finally land a place on a PGCE course, having spent the last few seasons wandering somewhat aimlessly through life. Prior to this, there had been an obvious sense of creative fatigue from the writing staff, and it was nice to see the show heading in a new, positive direction. It gave some much needed hope to what was rapidly becoming the empty shell of a formerly great show. Unfortunately, due to scheduling issues, the first half of this season has felt very much like filler, stretching out rather lacklustre storylines over the course of six months while the creative team have spent their time concentrating their efforts on a stronger second half. Hopefully this tactic will pay off, giving, as the producers promise, one of the most exciting story arcs to date. In a new environment with a plethora of new cast members, perhaps we’ll get some more interesting interactions. After all, there is only so much we can take of the age-old “Grae can’t sleep” and “Grae feels a bit pants” motifs. The college-based episodes have become repetitive, and despite the best efforts of the ever-watchable Oliver and Patsy, along with Tilly (finally promoted to “also starring” this year), it’s definitely time for the show to move on to pastures new.
That’s not to say that season 32 has not had its highlights so far. After a few cast changes towards the end of last season, with Everton and Jack both leaving the show, audiences were slightly concerned. The Troy and Abed relationship between Grae and Everton had become a fan favourite in recent years, and since moving the show to Bournemouth, Jack had provided the much-needed younger brother role previously provided by Luke and Harry during the series’ Croydon and Durham-based seasons. Fortunately, comic relief was provided by newcomer Chad Echakowitz, whose Peter Pan-like antics have charmed younger viewers whilst providing much-needed eye candy for older gay fans of the show. Sadly, it was recently confirmed by Entertainment Weekly that Echakowitz will be departing the show due to creative differences early next half, so we can only hope that amongst the influx of characters currently being cast, a worthy replacement will step into Grae’s much-needed “nerdy buddy” role.
There have also been some great side stories this season; Ben’s bizarre relationships with ladies from the continent have continued to cause much amusement, reaching a hilarious high point when it was revealed that Grae and Dan’s former nemesis, now working alongside Ben, had taken a shining to him. Ben remains one of the most bizarre characters on modern television, and one can only imagine what the writers were smoking when the character was born. The recent “show within a show” entitled The Nether also proved to be a smash hit with critics, showcasing some of our cast at their very finest.
Despite certain amounts of complacency on behalf of the production staff, Grae still manages to pull off a few innovative styles; the show’s use of social media as a way of keeping fans up-to-date with former characters has proved a great hit. It’s amazing to know that the writers still care about their babies and continue to remind audiences of much-loved characters that many other shows would have simply allowed to disappear into the ether. Random events such as Lacey’s engagement, along with updates of Pia’s adventures at medical school create a real legacy feel to the show, and prove that the writers, much like the fans, continue to care deeply about characters that they have created. Few teams could pull this technique off quite so seamlessly, and credit has to be given to the writers for their world-building abilities.
There have also been some big-name guest stars this season. Along with getting previous characters such as Everton and Jack to make occasional cameos, the producers have really pulled out the stops when it comes to star power this year. The Walking Dead crossover episode proved a massive hit, with fans delighting in Grae finally getting an on-screen hug from long-time crush Christian Serratos, as well as the further development in the relationship with recurring guest star Michael Cudlitz, who continued to play his mentor role with graceful charm. Other highlights included the Torchwood cast making their first appearance on the show in ten years, along with a surprise cameo from Batman himself in the shape of young David Mazouz. Sadly, internet rumours of an appearance by voice-acting legend Jim Cummings proved false, but the producers will hopefully manage to get a cameo from him at some point over the next few seasons.
With less that a month now until the midseason finale, audiences should prepare themselves for some big changes. Due to the reboot, we’ll be saying goodbye to a number of fan favourites including the ever-lovable Patsy, along with everyone’s favourite “colleague, NOT friend”, Oliver. It’s gonna be a tear-jerker, ladies and gents, but, hopefully this will be a change in the vein of Woody and Rebecca joining the cast of Cheers, rather than that of Michael J. Fox leaving Spin City.
The Grae is the Colour midseason finale airs on August 17th, with the second half premiering on September 3rd.
Starring: Grae Westgate, Manami Tsumita, Dan Withey, Ben Rogers, Oliver Monckton, Patsy Pett
Also Starring: Paul Nelson, Tilly Dick, Chad Echakowitz, Alex Wadham, Michael Dickinson, Timothy J. Howe
With: Lydia Westgate, Luke Westgate, Harry Westgate and Martin Westgate
Music: Adam Duritz, Bruce Springsteen, Barenaked Ladies
Episode Run Time: 24 hours
No. of Episodes: 11,803