August 6, 2018  (Web Review)

Ackley Bridge: Series 1

RLJ, 2 discs, 287 min., not rated, DVD: $39.99

Reviewer rating: 2.0/4

This Acorn TV-aired series from Britain’s Channel 4 is set in a Yorkshire town facing the integration of two long-segregated schools, one catering to white students, the other servicing kids of Pakistani heritage. Not surprisingly, questions of racial and religious intolerance are quickly raised, while the youthful cast (including Samuel Bottomley, Poppy Lee Friar, and Amy-Leigh Hickman) is inevitably pulled into melodramatic teen-angst issues ranging from bullying to jealousy to understanding the importance of following rules of behavior. Add to that plenty of soapy dramedy featuring teachers and administrators (Jo Joyner, Paul Nicholls, Liz White) who bear little resemblance to genuine educators in the real world. To its credit, the episodes here do not automatically lead to teachable moment denouements, and the series does offer some harsh insight into the lingering class divides that still plague British society. As one class clown wisely observes of the depressed environment where the characters are stuck, “It doesn’t matter if you’re white or Asian. We’re going nowhere.” Unfortunately, the writing too often falls victim to cliché and the acting tends to be rather broad. Compiling all six episodes from the 2017 debut season, extras include a behind-the-scenes featurette. An optional purchase. (P. Hall)