'Waterloo Road' DVD review

By Daniel S Levine,

If you thought the public school you went to was filled with drama, you haven't seen anything until you've watched a few episodes of the first series of Waterloo Road. The hit British series has been on the air since 2006, but the first series finally hit DVD in the U.S. this past October thanks to Acorn Media.

Waterloo Road, created by Maureen Chadwick and Ann McManus, focuses on a struggling public comprehensive school in Britain. In the first, eight-episode series, the school is under the threat of closure, thanks to the under-performing students and the carelessness of the teachers. Headmaster Jack Rimmer (Jason Merrells) brings on Andrew Treneman (Jamie Glover) as the new deputy headmaster, not knowing how devoted Andrew will be to the cause of bettering the school. Andrew eventually persuades Jack that the school has to be better and is allowed to impose new rules to reach that goal. The two are aided by teacher Kim Campbell (Angela Griffin), who appears to be the only one who agrees that change is needed.

Of course, that's not the only plot. Sprinkled throughout the series are the personal dramas of several teachers and their students. Of the students, Donte is the one who makes the biggest mistake of all when he decides to drive his father's limo and kills one friend and injures another during a wild night. His girlfriend, Chlo, constantly sneaks off to visit him in prison and the two plot ways to get him out.

Possibly the most captivating story of all is the complicated lives of the teachers Tom (Jason Done), Lorna (Camilla Power) and Izzy (Jill Halfpenny), only because it gets continuously more outrageous as it goes on. Tom starts the series engaged to Lorna and marries her by the end of the first episode, but he really loves Izzy, who introduced them in the first place. While they appear to be able to keep the marriage going, it all crumbles when Lorna gets an abortion behind Tom's back.

Waterloo Road is a gritty drama that gets more interesting as it goes on, as new dramas develop to mess with the headmaster's plans to get the school back on track. This is highly entertaining and gripping, probably more interesting than any American drama on a school could be.

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