‘Member the movie Drive?
The opening to this weeks Highly Gifted is a surprisingly faithful homage to the 2011 Ryan Gosling vehicle, featuring a lush synth-heavy score over neon backdrops and titles. Even though there’s more style than substance to the reference it’s a bold change for this show, certainly ranking among my favorite moments of the season so far. In my opinion, the sequence should either have gone for longer or had a greater impact on the rest of the episode.
However, I understand why the show makes the safe choice and quickly limits its scope to another story of Dave failing at an everyday activity; after all, Drive seems like the kind of movie most people have simply heard of and not actually watched. In fact, based on his outfit here Dave is arguably cast as precisely that type of ill-informed person, wanting to show how cool they are without the substance to back them up. New character Jody is the latest target of Dave’s attempts to impress, and I’d like to self-indulgently point out that Jamie Curry’s addition to the cast gives Highly Gifted some welcome APAC representation. Unfortunately, Jody’s development is jettisoned in favor of acting as a foil for Dave’s ineptitude and anxiety, so it’s unclear why the show bothered to add a new character at all when anyone could’ve played this role.
An episode about driving continues the broad list of stereotypical teenage/young adult activities Dave has cycled through recently, from gaming to recreational drug use, effectively providing the series with a sense of cohesion. Nevertheless, this kind of formulaic approach becomes more apparent every time it’s used, and the quick unraveling of Dave’s cool driving façade hits some very familiar beats (i.e. awkwardness, overcorrection, huge mistake).
Highly Gifted’s humor can currently be described as laughing at its lead for being unfamiliar with normal things and events; given how repetitive this becomes it’s frustrating that we came so close to something different with the Drive homage. As an aside, ‘Ride’ also continued a trend of episodes feeling strangely short that may require me to time future installments. Overall, this series is capable of a looseness that’s pleasantly surprised me before, so hopefully, its current creative stagnation is just a phase.