The Full Monty – Season 1 Episode 1 “Leveling Up” Recap & Review

Leveling Up

Episode 1 of The Full Monty begins with a small montage from the 1997 film. The gang was young back then and so was England. As the country tried to “level up,” the guys were left behind.

We catch a glimpse of Dave at the gates of Sheffield Spiers Academy, ushering in kids before he closes the gate. Destiny Schofield – Gaz’s daughter – is late as always and Dave knows her well. She turns toward the city mall for another day of bunking class. With Destiny is her best friend Cal.

“The Big Baps,” Lomper and Dennis’ quaint cafe, comes under scrutiny from Tabani, a fellow student at the SSA. Gaz notices Destiny walking with Cal from the bus and approaches her hurriedly. It turns out that they hardly spend time together and she does not live with him. Gaz asks her to visit him anytime but doesn’t dwell on her skipping school.

The teens make their way to the mall, where they steal a posh Range Rover. When their adrenaline rush dies down, they realize that the car has another living being inside it: a dog. At first, they are scared and want to leave him on the road. But Destiny is won over by the dog, who happens to be Chelsea, the new winner of Britain’s Got Talent!

Nathan, Gaz’s responsible son, works as security at the mall. He drops off Ben, his son, with Gaz, and it is clear Ben needs a new mobility chair. But they don’t have the money to buy one.

Destiny takes a selfie of herself, Cal, and Chelsea, and sends it to their friend Jonsy. Destiny and Cal then scamper for help to get the photo removed from the internet.

They go straight to Tabani’s house, who not only erases the photo but also sends a ransom demand to Chelsea’s owners, Lucy, and James Warner. She also sends it to the local police.

Jean is fed up with the underfunded school system. SSA’s dilapidated building has run into another problem; a leaky pipe in the girls’ washroom. She goes to Guy with a stern warning for him to get into action mode, and he makes a promise to do so.

Destiny goes with the problem to Gaz and hands Chelsea over to him. Gaz gives it to Dave to hold onto for a while while he visits the mall to check on the situation. He sees the Warners giving out fliers to people and a reward of 500 pounds as well. Nathan spots Gaz and warns him against holding Chelsea at all costs. He has seen the footage and if Destiny is found out, she will be in a lot of trouble.

Meanwhile, the underlying commentary about the guys having been left behind manifests with Horse. He has been having trouble adjusting to the new advancements in public life, such as the automated checkouts at the supermarket. Dennis and Lomper have to make adjustments also when they are forced to change the name of their cafe which has been deemed offensive.

Darren, who is at the cafe, was fired from his work for calling a female “love.” Dave, who is also at the cafe, is shocked to see Chelsea on tv and goes straight to Gaz. He reprimands Gaz for handing him “stolen goods” on school property.

The two have a fight where Dave calls out Gaz’s inefficient parenting and Gaz points out that Dave doesn’t know better because Jean and he never had children.

Back at home, Destiny scrolls through the coverage of Chelsea on social media. She sees Lucy in dire straits and requests the kidnappers to keep Chelsea safe. Destiny feels guilty for what she has done and calls Gaz to ask why he hasn’t given her back. He tells Destiny the whole charade and updates her on the investigation. Destiny’s life at home is hard as her mother and his boyfriend, Brian, have little regard for herself and her younger twin sisters.

Destiny and Gaz spend a wonderful afternoon together the next day, where they discuss their relationship. Gaz asks her to stay with him if things aren’t well at her mother’s house.

Gaz is shocked to listen to James’ reaction when he brings Chelsea to him. James expresses his frustrations at having to take care of the dog all the time. He offers Gaz 10k to kill the dog and bring her dead body so that James can get a payout from the insurance company.

Gaz is confused. He cannot decide what to do. Ultimately, he decides to shoot Chelsea as it could buy Ben a new mobility chair. Just then, Destiny arrives with her stuff and looks at him incredulously. Before she left, her mother told her “Don’t expect too much from him.” I wonder what she will be thinking now!

The Episode Review

Episode 1 lays the foundation for what the television series aims to achieve: another look at the personal lives of the characters. From the looks of it, The Full Monty will be more serious-minded in its approach. The underlying social commentary was kickstarted in episode 1 through the water leak in SSA and Horse’s struggles with his state of life.

Destiny Schofield will certainly be among the main focus for the creators of this series. She seems a feisty personality and even though we have seen such characters like her on television before, Talitha Wing is a capable performer.

Episode 1 goes deeper into the mundane aspects of Gaz, Dave, and the others, to an extent that wasn’t possible with the movie. Going forward, the only pre-requisite that the show’s creators need to fulfill is to not drown out the storytelling in melancholy. Some aspects of humor and character shenanigans need to remain to make the experience a little colorful.

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You can read our full season review of The Full Monty here
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