To be honest I do not enjoy African productions much, mainly due to well documented reasons most of us are familiar with. I prefer to stick to the western ones, where you find rotten ones as well but at least you find the glass ceiling is a little higher.
The simple truth is if you delve into most of these African TV stories with a critical eye instead of that of a casual viewer, it would not take you ten minutes to start spotting the flaws in the entire production; poorly written stories with inexplicable leaps of logic, amateur acting, poor direction, and a myriad of other issues.
Therefore I tackled this assignment, a review of a Nigerian series-Gidi Up, with the enthusiasm of a man going into bed with a particularly unattractive woman; close your eyes and get it over with as fast as you can. I went in not expecting much, and I must admit got myself blown away by a well written, brilliantly acted show that challenged all my pre-conceived notions about African Productions.
This review covers Episodes 1 & 2 of Season 2, picking up from where season 1 left off. Gidi Up follows the lives of four Lagos socialites as they struggle to make it in that most unforgiving of cities.
As mentioned, the story follows four socialites as they strive to make it in a world that is anything but fair. The writers paint a picture that’s relatable to the audience, with themes of friendship, love, and hard choices. No matter what caste or class you find yourself in, whether a socialite in Lagos or a pauper in the slums of Nima-Ghana, these are themes you can identify with.
One of the many problems I’ve found with African productions is the inexplicable leaps of logic, as I mentioned earlier. Often the story takes a turn which you realise is not logical, but merely planted for the purpose of throwing the audience a curveball. These two episodes did not indulge in this guilty pleasure, moving at a logical step yet keeping the audience in a constant state of suspense and anguish.
Whether we are fretting with Obi over his money problems, overjoyed at Tokunbo finally securing funding for his company, or grieving with the three friends at the bedside of the injured Obi; the audience’s emotions is kept in a state of constant flux, making the slightest change in the fortunes of our protagonists keenly felt.
I always love it when cause and effect is applied in movies, and these two episodes had those in abundance. Too often in television, an action that should have serious consequences is overlooked the next week, with the audience left to pretend it never happened in the first place.
Somekele Iyamah asYvonne immediately catches the eye. Aside being blessed with extraordinary beauty and abundant talent, she has a way of conveying a lot of emotions with facial movement that’s reminiscent of Kerry Washington, but toned down to a believable level.
OC Ukeje had a strong first episode, before his second consisted mainly of making his best opossum impression, after his character Obi got involved in an accident. I gather fans adore Titi Sonuga, and I have nothing against her performance, but her character Eki just doesn’t do it for me.
I feel Adesua Etomi also deserves special mention, as despite her short screen time she exuded a certain magnetism alluring to the audience.
Grief played a big part in the second episode, and the three members of the main cast pulled it off quiet well, and you could be forgiven for really thinking they were on the verge of losing their best friend forever.
The entire cast certainly brought their A-Game, and it translates on screen, making Gidi Up one of the better acted shows you can find around.
Gidi Up is the show for the urban contemporary, and it shows in its utilisation of soundtracks, which often nicely complement the unfolding story. You know when you’re watching a movie, and the soundtrack is so unrelated to the image on screen, it jars you right out of the experience? Well, suffice to say that does not happen here.
The season premiere opens in a club, with a suitable jamming number you can’t help but dance to. And towards the end of the episode, the stark contrast drawn between Obi nodding to jamming beat on his car stereo and the eerie soundtrack during the beatdown literally sent chills down my spine.
Oh, and ‘Rands and Nairas’ is my new favourite joint!
Costume is another little gripe I have with many African movies and TV series, as often there are lapses in the wear of the actors that no serious production should have. Fortunately, these two episodes of Gidi Up did not disappoint in the costuming of the cast.
Whether they were rocking African wear or the more formal wear, costuming was appropriate and on point throughout the show. Obi in particular, showed a penchant for flair in his dressing, and the production pulled of his style particularly well.
Why Gidi Up is a MUST WATCH
Moving at a pace reminiscent of all time classics like ‘The Wire’ or ‘Game of Thrones’, Gidi Up keeps you immersed in the story to the extent that you often find yourself asking where the last half hour went…
The best stories often progress slowly, luring you into a false sense of belief that nothing is happening, then leaves you egg-faced when you take stock at the end of what you realise was an enthralling episode of television.
This was a great way to begin season 2, and the chips have been set in place for the story moving forward. At this pace, the rest of the season has a tall order to match the quality of the first two episodes.
Watch Gidi Up Season 2 (Episodes 1 & 2) below…
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