Monday, January 16, 2017

Bumface's Baby Boy - Review:- Friday 13.01.2017

Everything happens on Friday the 13th. You get a birthday and a baby you don't want.

This episode represented everything I hate at the moment about EastEnders, the representation of women as weak-willed, subservient creatures, willing to give up a future at the expense of a man, casual misogyny, and circular characters, not to mention characters who have been drinking in the last chance saloon for so long, it's become a way of life for them.

The Christ Child. This episode, more than any, brought home to me how much I hate Denise and most of her family that surrounds her - specifically, the effetely snobbish Libby, the caricatured stereotypical shuck'n'jive black woman, and tonight we got introduced to Medusa Ada AKA Emerald Fox, Denise's snake-haired, big-mouthed mother. Another stereotype. The West Indies by way of Walford, another mother-in-law from hell, this time for Vincent, who's settled nicely into the role of emasculated male, having graduated from his Oedipal complex. How many months until this creature is bonking Patrick and he's leering at her crossing the Square and going ...

Y-eee-aahhhhh, mon ... she a fiiiiiiine woman.

Honestly, who writes his dialogue, a descendant of the woman who wrote Gone With the Wind

Patrick is a great character, the patriarch of the Square, and I'd go as far as saying, the natural successor to Pat, but in many ways, he's a token stereotype - the rum-loving, life-loving atypical West Indian man, just as much as Kim is the screeching black woman.

Apart from Patrick, they were an embarrassment tonight. What hospital would countenance the shouting, hectoring overreaction in the hallway of the maternity ward such as what we saw tonight exhibited by Kim and that putrid mother of hers? There would be complaints, and they would be asked to leave.

I know Diane Parish has her fanbase, but I don't think she's anymore than an average actress, a soap actress who can't progress beyond the soap genre because it's easy money, and because she's in the midst of a gaggle of ethnic characters who fulfill a quota imposed by the BBC on this programme. She lost relevance years ago, when the divine Don Gilet left originally.

Since 2010, TPTB have struggled to know what to do with this character. They tried her as Zainab's wingman, and Zainab moved on to greener pastures. They attempted a love triangle between the odious Kim, her fella played by Chuckie Venn, and Denise, and it never got further than an elicit kiss. They tried a cougar affair between Denise and Fatboy, and that actually worked ... for a few episodes. It also worked last year between her and Kush, until Sean O'Connor decided to push the envelope toward a Mitchell pregnancy.

I blame Lorraine Newman. She came up with the idea of making Denise relevant by associating her with an established Walford family, and made her Ian Beale's fiancée. They were an unbelievable couple with no chemistry whatsoever. When DTC returned to the fold, he brought Jane back to the Beale dynamic, and from that moment on, the way Ian treated Denise verged on subtle racism - from the "vaguely racist" oven gloves he gave her for Christmas, to not wanting her in a family picture advertising Beales' to nudging her, Libby and Patrick aside from the family cortege at Lucy's funeral.

But O'Connor picked up the possibility of linking Denise with an established Walford family and ran with it. DTC planted the "little bomb" of a possible pregnancy as a result of a drunken one night stand Denise spent having a pity party with Phil. 

It didn't have to be.

At the time she discovered her pregnancy, she was heavily involved in another cougar affair, this time with Kush, the son of her best friend, who was, herself, at that time going through a midlife crisis. Instead, O'Connor embraced the idea of making Denise relevant by linking her indelibly with an established Walford family - but not just any family: the Mitchells.

She's having Phil Mitchell's baby, but there's just one slight glitch.

Phil has a wife.

So all through this fiasco, we've been asked to feel sympathy for Denise - oh, because she's so popular with the fanbois. Good actress, my arse! She's got by like so many others - by gurning (her speciality is the bumfaced grimace of disapproval) and by shouting people down. Every storyline has a whiff of romcom or sitcom about it.

Tonight's show centred around the nobility of Denise going through with giving the baby up for adoption - ostensibly, because she wants to proceed with getting her GCSE in English literature (let's hope Michelle doesn't tutor her in grammar), but I wonder how much of this is fear that, not only Phil, but Sharon, will find out.

Sharon was present at her baby shower, and even sat at the table with her in the pub the other night. How can Denise be so fucking shameless? Even when she confessed to Shirley that Phil was the father of her baby, she was more concerned with sparing Shirley's feelings than even thinking about Sharon.

Of course, Sharon is bound to come out the bitch in this situation, even though she's as much a victim in this as Denise. Tonight she told NuMichelle that she knew Phil was messing around when they were separated, because she found the condom he intended on using when he slept with Bumface.

Also, Sharon's avowel tonight that she would "take care of Denise" foreshadowed the fact that she's going to be made out to be the bitch in this instance, when O'Connor should be doing everything in his power to salvage the character of Sharon, an iconic and original character, when her character has been mangled since Simon Ashdown made her subservient to Tanya's friendship, left her stranded at the altar by Jack Branning and popping painkillers. Lorraine Newmant largely ignored her, but DTC drew her into the irredeemable web of people protecting Bobby Beale, and that was totally unforgivable.

I will say this: If a character like Denise has to be linked irretrievably with an established family, especially if the only way to make her relevant is by making her the mother of Phil Mitchell's baby, another in a long line of women who've had Mitchell children - nay, Mitchell boys - then it's time for her to go.


What happens next? Because by all intentions tonight, either Denise will change her mind about the adoption or Snakehead, Kim and the idiot savant Libby will conspire to talk her around. I hated all of that shit tonight about "my grandson being raised by strangers" and Kim spouting statistics about "black boys" being left in social care. (Dimwit, Denise's baby is bi-racial, even though it was obvious he was being "portrayed" by a white baby. Go figure that one). I hated all the emotional blackmail and the bullying, but I knew that eventually we'd see what was supposed to be a touching scene between the martyr Denise and the baby in question.

So what does happen next? With Phil as yet unknowing, he told Sharon, he didn't want any more children, thinking he'd done badly by Ben and Louise. (He has). But Phil doesn't know about this child, and why did Sharon decide, when she knew the baby was being adopted, to tell Phil? I hope she doesn't go off on this Mitchell tangent about family and wanting this child to get to know his family here. I hope the reference made by Phil to Sharon and NuMichelle being a lot like Peggy and Auntie Sal wasn't some sort of foreshadowing.

In apposition to Denise's po-faced bumdom, I still think that Letitia Dean has the most evocatively expressive face on the show. The pain and gried in her face, the sad resignation in her eyes as she watched Honey and the insipid Carmel fuss about Denise as she went off to be induced, was heart-breaking.

If she keeps this baby, I can see Phil bonding with her over it and Sharon and Dennis being shoved aside, because the boy isn't a blood Mitchell, and Sharon isn't the mother of a blood Mitchell. Just like what happened with Wicksy and Cindy when Wicksy was with Sharon. It looks, however, that Sharon is going to fight for her family. I hope she lamps Denise.

This has got to be one of the most unnecessary, trite and unpopular storylines of all time. 

O'Connor should have kept Roxy Mitchell and sent Denise away. For good. With Kim, Libby and the snake-headed mother in tow. Vincent, Patrick and Pearl can stay. The others are toxic.

Weak Women and Open Misogynists. It's nice to see that female man-dependency and open, hateful misogyny is alive and well amongst the younger generation in EastEnders. 

This group of teens was bad enough; then we got Keegan. Another aggressive, Afro-Caribbean male being depicted as an open bully, an ardent misogynist and someone who revels in being tactless and cruel.

Rebecca is a weak, stupid girl. She began the episode by insisting on going to a music school to get a BTech diploma, but Martin and Michelle, enlisted by Martin, work on her to get her to stay at Walford High and get her A-Levels. Since when did Walford High have a Sixth Form? Everyone who lasted beyond GCSEs went to a Sixth Form College. Abi Branning did.

It's true that Rebecca would "have more options" if she stayed in Walford. She'd have more options for hanging around with the unintelligible Shakil and maybe letting him in her knickers again. Interesting that she seemed to be intent on going to the music college, even after Michelle spoke to her, but once she'd encountered the piece of shit known as Keegan, with his highly offensive remarks - about Shakil could do better than Rebecca, again about Louise's supposed frigidity and at last, flippantly asking if Louise was "on the rag."

EastEnders has been on a misogynist bend lately, but they doubled back on that because after that encounter, the silly bitch decides to stay in Walford ... because she'll have more "options." The sly smile she gave as she slinked out of the room away from Martin and Stacey gave us the real reason she wanted to stay in Walford. The stupid girl will never do anything with music. The only ding-dong she wants to play with is Shakil's dick. 

It'll all end in tears. And soon, I hope.

Lordy, Lordy, Look Who's Forty. I'd be concerned about Whitney if I were Lee. Anyone casually watching tonight would have thought her more romantically inclined toward Mick. The gift she gave him for his understated fortieth indicated that. 

She knew that she and Lee were in dire straits financially, and yet, unbeknownst to him, she bought an expensively framed limited edition photo of the Boleyn Ground to present to Mick as his main birthday present. Babe sussed right away that Lee knew nothing about the gift, and for once, she was right in assailing Whitney about the needless extravagance. I was a bit disappointed that she didn't take it one step further and accuse Whitney of being just a tad too fond of Mick for the public eye.

Babe was also right about Whitney frittering away money, and I thought it rich of Whitney to pin the blame of their suffering on Lee, when a lot of what Lee did was to satisfy her expensive tastes. (For two women without a pot in which to piss, Denise and Whitney sure do have expensively manicured nails).

The poor excuse of a fortieth birthday party was a contrivance for Babe to take a well-needed pop at Whitney, who defended herself by saying that whilst Babe hung around like a bad smell, Whitney actually was needed - by Lee, by Mick and by Ollie. 

Big mistake.

You don't do that to Babe.

I still say there will be something brewing with her re Mick. When she looked in on him sleeping off his drunk, I thought for a moment she was going to crawl into bed and cuddle him. 


Sunday, January 15, 2017

How to Ruin an Original Character in Two Easy Steps - Review: Thursday 12.01.2017

I get it that this is a throwback ("Throwback Thursday", get it?) to the heyday of two-headers and to the last two-hander between REAL Michelle and Sharon, when the episode ended with Michelle telling Sharon that Vicki was her sister.

But this two-header was between Sharon and someone called Michelle who was not even remotely like her. 

Good acting - Letitia Dean was brilliant. I learned today (Sunday 15.01) from listening to Elaine Page that Jenna Russell is another one in a long line of musical comedy actors to do a stint on EastEnders - John Partridge, Declan Bennett and Maria Friedman being the others, including the first musical comedy actor to appear on the show (Nigel Harman) - and that Russell is actually the 2007 recipient of the Olivier Award. Impressive, but she just isn't doing it as Michelle Fowler.

The acting was good, but there were so many holes in this storyline, probably due to laziness on the part of Carey Andrews in not researching things thoroughly, and some of the statements made by Sharon and Michelle in the piece were absolutely laughable.

Listen, I'm a purist who's watched the show from Day One. I'm entitled to my opinion, and being American - and part of this storyline takes place, not only in America, but in my old stomping ground (the South) - I know when I'm being sold a pup.

Realism, my arse, Mr O'Connor, and if I thought Dominic Treadwell-Collins was bad in totally re-writing various established characters' back stories (Sharon's, Phil's and Kat's, specifically), Sean O'Connor has just pulled the prize for the absolute worst thing to do to an iconic, seminal and original EastEnders' character ...

You make them a sex offender. Worse, you make them a sex offender, and you make her best friend, the mother of an impressionable yet precocious young man, forgive her for it, even make a joke about it.

Cradle snatcher.

That pithy attempt at a joke was in far worse taste than the jokes Phil and Ian cracked as they skipped away from Paul Coker's corpse.

A parent would be totally disgusted at what Michelle had done. You wouldn't joke about such a thing.

Here are the hilarities I found in this episode, things that made me choke on the popcorn I'm eating:-

1. Sharon:- When you're on that plane tomorrow, I'm coming with you. 

2. Sharon:- I've got skills. I can get a job.

3. Sharon:- You and Tim should know some good high schools in the area for Denny.

Let me stop being gob-smacked first.

Sharon lived in the US for many years. I can only assume that she got a Green Card because Angie made her a partner and co-owner in the bar she owned in South Miami, which is the only way Angie got a Green Card, herself. The US is way past "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free", especially now that it's about to become TrumpLand INC and especially in Florida where the felon Rick Scott holds sway.

The US wants to give Green Cards to doctors, physicists, scientists, mathematicians, IT experts and entrepreneurs ... or anyone who buys a US business and employs US citizens. As a business owner, Sharon got a Green Card, which Michelle would also have.

Green Card holders cannot stay out of the US for longer than six months, or you lose your residency status. John Yorke and Louise Berridge never let a little thing like the law, however, bother them, because not only was Mark Fowler hoping to emigrate to the US (he couldn't then, being HIV positive), but Sharon came and went and spent more than six months here all the time during her last stint.

On the other hand, was she thinking she could return based on her anchor baby? That's right. Dennis Rickman Jr is a US citizen, having been born there. Of course, he's entitled to a British passport, because his parents were British, but by virtue of the good old 14th Amendment to our Constitution (which is probably about to be shredded sometime in the ensuing year now that we're all virtually Russian citizens), Dennis is American by birth, and as such, he can get his old ma residence status, especially as he's a minor.

But I don't think Sharon's clever enough to think of that - or rather, I don't think Carey Andrews is clever enough to think of that.

Secondly, Sharon's claim about having skills and getting a job. As what? She can pull a pint, but, even with an anchor baby, she's got to have someone guarantee her employment, and whoever employs her has got to prove to Immigration and Naturalization (the US version of UK Border Control) that there isn't a US citizen in the area or, indeed, in the land who is capable of having any of Sharon's "skills." And we all know that there are umpteen college students and then some who are more than capable of serving drinks in a bar.

The last time I looked, Sharon wasn't a neurophysicist, so that remark went out he window too.

As for her third remark, Denny wouldn't be starting high school. At best, he'd be entering middle school, but that's debatable. School districts discriminate between middle school and high school. Some districts equate middle school from years 7 to 9 (12 to 14 years old), others from years 6 to 8 (11 to 13 years old). Denny wouldn't start high school until he was at least 14 years old.

Besides, what happened to this super-dooper British school to which Michelle sent her twatty totty son? Surely, Sharon would want to send Denny there?

I'm saying that, for all the years Sharon spent there - and she never ever spent anytime with Michelle, apart from visits - she would have known how the school administrations were set up, at least from Michelle.

Other risible moments:-

4. Michelle's grammar.

5. Michelle gave private English tuition.

6. The aftermaths of Michelle's crime.

Throughout all of this, Michelle's grammar was atrocious. I was raised rurally, and there are members of my family whose grammar leaves much to be desired; but in the US, good grammar is a sign of good education, and it's something by which you are judged, especially if you are an educational professional.

I totally get it that people of various regions the world over often have a dialectical version of their own language and speak that within the confines of their demographic; but this isn't even Cockney dialect or East End parlance, it's just fucking bad grammar.

To hear her say that she gave private tuition in English is a joke, considering the amout of times she used the word "ain't" in conversation tonight ot "me and him" - and I still remember her letter on the eve of Sharon's wedding to Phil ...

Me and Ian ain't coming on account of Ian's health.

Seriously, this is a high school English teacher? I'm beginning to think that this was the real reason Michelle was dismissed from her job, and not just the fact that she'd been banging a student.

As far as that little episode is concerned, know this: In Florida AOC is 18 - no ifs, ands or buts. Anyone above the age of 23 having sex with anyone between the ages of 15 and 17, and anyone above the age of 18 having sex with a 14 year-old, is guilty of statutory rape. 

And that's Michelle. 

This is a crime. A sexual crime of rape. Worse, she was in a position of trust with a duty of care (a schoolteacher) and she had sex with one of her students - an affair that lasted over a year and began when he was sixteen. Michelle said the school found out and sacked her on the spot, even citing that she'd broken the law. Bullshit! They'd have done more than sack her, they would have immediately phoned the police and had her arrested. Schools act in loco parentis, meaning that they are the virtual parent when a child is in their charge. Michelle stressed that the school found out, only when the boy's mother found out about their plans to elope.

Where were they going? To another state? AOCs vary from state to state, but most of the Southern states have an age limit of 18, but even if they travelled North where AOCs are 16, then the fact that she's transporting a minor over a state line for the purposes of having sex makes it a Federal offence, and that is even worse.

This is a crime which is non-negotiable, and if the school simply sacked Michelle and left it at that, the parents could have sued not only Michelle, but the State of Florida and have taken away the livelihood and the employment prospects of everyone connected with that school district. Mud sticks.

That was totally unreal.

The two-header achieved nothing in the way of revealing the characters of Michelle and Sharon. The episode began where Tuesday's episode left off, with Sharon inadvertantly finding out that Phil had impregnated Denise. For me, the highlight of the episode was a subtle incident - when Sharon emerged from the toilet, with a bewildered Honey in pursuit, the first person to see her was Shirley. In a split second, faster than the speed of light, we see that Shirley suddenly realises that Sharon was in the loo at the same time as she and Denise. Instead of facing Sharon, from the look on Sharon's face, Shirley thought it best to duck back into the bowels of the Vic. For a moment, I thought she would smack the shit out of Denise at that moment. (She really should have); but she restrained herself.

Sharon's first and righteous reaction is anger at Phil and his betrayal. She wants to leave him, and I was cheering her on at this point, even though the insipid Michelle was telling her again and again that she really loved Phil. (And where did the two of them get off having this showdown in the Beales' house? I totally get it that this was the old Fowler house, but Sharon and Michelle were liberally helping themselves to Ian's booze).

I loved Sharon's initial reaction to Michelle, after telling her that Phil had taken this one a step too far. Michelle said she'd stay with Phil and hear him out.

This is not my mother you're looking at.

Great line, and great that Angie is yet again being referred to as Sharon's mother.

This was a perfect opportunity for Sharon to break off from Phil and their toxic relationship, and she was right in knowing about Denise's son would gut Denny  - this harkens back to Phil's "blood Mitchell" remark when he was making his will, and it harkens back to that moment Denise's eyes took the shape of pound signs when she heard Ben confirm this. As soon as Phil learns about this child, any relationship he's cultivated with Dennis is forgotten.

But running away to America (an impossibility) wasn't the answer. She should stay and fight her ground, shame Denise for her stupidity and assume the moral high ground. And who is Michelle to encourage her to stay? Was it because Sharon was angling to come to America, and Michelle was reluctant to tell her that Sharon wouldn't have a place to stay because she, Michelle, didn't?

Real Michelle would have encouraged her to leave Phil, not to take any shit such as this, and she'd hold Sharon's corner in shaming Denise. But then the next moment, Sharon does her maths and comes up with the pithiest and weakest excuse to stay with Phil - that Phil slept with Denise in April, when he and Sharon were separated.

Oh, well, that's all right then. Well, no, it isn't. They were still legally married. Just because you're separated from your wife or husband doesn't automatically give you the right to sleep around. And that morning after the night before, Sharon showed up to take Phil to his hospital appointment, and found him drunk and Denise slinking out the door.

It's still cheating, and I'm disappointed that Sharon saw fit to excuse this and to stay with Phil, even more, to stay quiet about what she knows. For some reason, as she told Michelle, it keeps her in control. How? If Denise keeps the child, then can Sharon impart to her that she knows the truth, and hope that the most irrelevant character still stinking up Walford slopes off? That would make Sharon the bitch and Denise the victim, and Denise just loves playing the victim in this.

If Sharon's truth to power means we get rid of Bumfaced Denise and the atrocious Libby, I'm all for it. But I doubt that will happen at all.

Now onto Michelle's sordid little secret. When, exactly, did Michelle become so shallow? She also said that Tim was much older than she - how much older? As Sharon indicated, they were at an age where an older man was actually a geriatric. Den would be in his seventies. Does Michelle seriously think that his libido would be at an all-time high even then? Also, a remark was made by Sharon about Michelle's conduct twenty years ago, and Michelle inferred that this was about her affair with Den, remarking that Den didn't cheat on Sharon. I wonder if Sharon's twenty-year remark had to do with Michelle's betrayal, again, of Sharon by sleeping with Grant.

If Tim is, indeed, that much older than Michelle, then sexual libido does decrease in people after a certain age. And when people have been married a long time, love evolves from a great passion into a comfortable, trusting companionship. The fact that Tim wasn't cheating says a lot, although Michelle remarked that he was "cheating with his mind". What the hell was that? Did she catch him watching porn, having telephone sex, reading Playboy?

As someone remarked, Michelle was a user of men. Every subsequent relationship she had, after the one-off with Den, was measured by him. She carried a schoolgirl crush on this man, who used her and only kept her on hand for access to his natural child, a child he eventually refuted in favour of the child he considered his true daughter, Sharon. Den's significant other throughout the time he shared in Walford with Michelle at hand, was his mistress, Jan.

She cut a swathe through a bevy of men, and when she bored of them, she moved on - Lofty, Clyde Tavernier, the student Jack, the horny lecturer. She had a penchant for older men, and it's always said that this had an Oedipal ring about it. Michelle's father was a nice, albeit ineffectual man, and I actually took the remark Michelle made about Lofty as likening Lofty to Tim and not the boy with whom Michelle "fell in love."

In that respect, she was "typical Michelle" - dumping Tim, or rather, as she said, "giving up" and seeking solace elsewhere. This was a student, a minor in her charge, and somewhere along the way, a line was crossed. It doesn't matter who made the first move, she sought to continue the relationship, which developed into some fatal fantasy of such proportions that they were going to run off and start a life together, significantly at Christmas of this year, and the mother in question found the boy's suitcase, coincidentally, on what would have been the last day of term before the Christmas break-up.

I agree with Sharon ... this is menopausal behaviour, and I think that Michelle is probably in denial about the fact that she is, indeed, menopausal, with hormones all over the place and, thus, not thinking straight.

Well, she's blotted her copybook now, and in the age of globalisation, any job in education she'd seek in Walford, the employer by means of e-mail could get the low-down on her last job and why she was dismissed.

I resent the fact that we are meant to feel sorry for this character, who's suddenly gone from a strong, often obnoxious and unlikable, character - very much like Stacey in having a high moral calibre for everyone else but herself, to a weak, whining, selfish, pathetic woman who, unwittingly, turned herself into a sexual predator and who has, quite possibly, ruined a young man, psychologically, for life.

She did make a comment, which I found offensive, in justifying her actions. She stated that if she'd been a man, half the blokes in the pub would have been shaking her hand and patting her on the back for scoring with a 17 year-old girl. Er, sorry, but no, they wouldn't. Lucy Beale was an adult when she and the single Max Branning slept together, and he was regarded as a lech. Mick Carter can't abide the sight of Jay Brown, who didn't sleep with an underaged girl, but texted her. Jay is 21, and he's still treated like a pariah. 

Any father of a daughter, who hears of a middle-aged male English teacher having sex with one of his 17 year-old students doesn't view him as a hero, but as a perv and a lech. Carey Andrews dropped a clanger there.

And Sharon, mother of a young son, inviting Michelle to stay with her and treating the whole episode as a joke, was wrong, wrong, wrong as well.

EastEnders epic fail on this one.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Much Ado about Something at the End - Review:- Tuesday 10.01.2017

Let's cut to the chase, because this episode made me angry, and it proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Denise is nothing more than a self-serving bitch, with no thought at all about anyone but her ... and whatever inappropriate man she's happened to cross.

This was a strange episode, almost surreal, a lot of nothing about nothing - Mick's moobs and his latest bromace, this time with Vincent. It's also bothering me just how much female objectification is being illustrated now in the show. With the Pussy-Grabber-in-Chief about to assume power in the Western World, we get to see EastEnders draw a line under the overt demarcation of women as objects, as well as watching women determine their own destiny in a way that's only insulting to their own gender.

We'll never get gender equality in this world if we look to EastEnders, and the people who produce it, to lead the way by example.

We had to listen to Mick going on and on about how his moobs were "bigger than the old lady's" and how Vincent spent his fortieth celebrations ending up in Surrey in the home of a girl who's "rack" would put Mick's moobs to shame.

Yes, I know men speak this way; and, yes, I know Sean O'Connor is striving for realism (and succeeding sometimes, whilst failing at others), but Mick and Vincent both have daughters. Would they like some man assessing Nancy or, eventually, Pearl, when she's older, in such a manner?

We even got a hefty dose of misogyny in the kitchen scene when Ben condescendingly confronted Abi, who was overwhelmed by Johnny's stupid entitlement at making the kitchen an "event" to be savoured by his uni mates. Abi handed him his arse, but at the same time, she was wittering on and on about having to work when she could be at a vets' practice do trying to entice a partner who has a girlfriend she doesn't deem good enough for him. 

And all the while the insipid Rebecca sat making cow's eyes at Shakil and his misogynistic little scrote, Keegan, who's interested in scoring with the "frigid" Louise.

What a mess, and what a message this show is sending out ... EastEnders in the age of Trump. What next? Nigel Farage doing a cameo at the bar of the Vic? And who the hell runs The Albert, whilst Vincent is drinking in the Vic?

Millennial Michelle's Moping About. Sean O'Connor has made three major mistakes since taking over EastEnders:-

  • Killing off Roxy Mitchell
  • Attempting to resurrect a character like Denise by linking her to an A-Grade Walford family
  • Re-casting Michelle Fowler
I'll rant about the second point below, but the third point was simply, suffice it to say, not only daft, but unforgivable.

I've read countless comments in various fora by viewers who admit that, since they were either too young or not yet born when Susan Tully played Michelle, the re-cast doesn't make any sort of difference to them. Why should it? For them, they'll always accept Jenna Russell as Michelle.

But EastEnders didn't begin in earnest in 2000 when John Yorke took over. It was fifteen years old by then, and the way the show is being written (or rather, rewritten) today seems to imply that everything that went before 2000 and Yorke's tenure didn't count for anything. Hence, we have the Sharon, who's a cross between a doormat and a tragic heroine, the love of whose life was Dennis Rickman. Grant Mitchell never happened, and she actually loved Phil Mitchell, who - since 2000 - has been a continuously more depraved thug, not Grant.

This Michelle still isn't working, but I doubt O'Connor will do anything about that. The people who dislike her are the demographic which doesn't matter, and, besides, the actress is a favourite of the EP, so the opinions of the legions of licence-fee payers who pay his inflated wage don't really matter. But she isn't Michelle. In a million years, no one would chnage this much having lived in a different culture. I've been in the UK for 36 years, and I'm still recognisable, both as an American and as myself, whenever I return.

Michelle says she's leaving on a jet plane, don't know when she'll be back again, the next day and has the ticket all booked and paid for. In fact, as she states, Tim, her husband who has no last name (which means she and her son have to keep the name Fowler) and her effete Surrey-sounding twat of a son will meet her at Pensacola airport.

Wow, she's going to have a looooooong flight. Roughly, a total trip time of about 14 hours. There are no direct flights from London to Pensacola, so Michelle will have to mosey about Atlanta airport for awhile before taking a domestic flight to Pensacola. (Pensacola, incidentally, is a big naval base in the States.)

But we first see her coming out of the local pawn shop, with cash in hand. There's a big farewell do being got together for her at the Vic, courtesy of Sharon and Stacey and with a little help from the Beales.

This was a really weird piece,because half the people there didn't know Michelle at all - Honey and Billy certainly weren't around, and she hasn't said two words to Ian since she's returned. In face, she and Kathy were close as relatives and friends, but she hasn't even acknowledged her.

All in all, this episode, indirectly, was about Sharon, because ultimately, Sharon got the duff-duff, for a heartbreaking reason. 

The vignette centred around the banter about the table, Sharon feeling guilty about making a joke at Denise's shower the other evening, Shirley simmering with suspicion about Buster having fathered Denise's child, and lots of chatter about Denise and childbirth and speculation about the child being healthy- resulting in a lot of faux pas being made - Jane inserting her foot into her mouth about Down's Syndrome in Honey's presence and Honey remarking pointedly about Sharon's biological clock running down, when someone referred to Denise as a "geriatric mother" (it's medical terminology).

As much as we learned about Michelle in all of this is that she's got a big house - well, bigger than the houses in Walford - and a cleaner and a gardener (both of which, I might add, probably are illegal latinos who are paid less than the minimum wage). That's the way things are in Florida, as much as Michelle dispelled the myth that all Americans have guns and drive trucks. (No, they have guns and drive SUVs.)

The cleaner bit I can buy. Mexican labour is cheap, but the gardener takes the mick. Michelle is a high school teacher, and it's implied that she teaches in a state county school. Her husband is a lecturer, ostensibly at one of the three universities/colleges in Pensacola (none of which are top-flight). With this in mind, and considering that even though state school teachers in the US make more than their British counterparts, they are still woefully paid in terms of the relative standard of living, and especially badly paid in Florida, where the governor, Rick Scott, is a Republican and a convicted white collar criminal who steals from the poor regularly and gives to the rich. I don't suppose her husband would earn much more than she, so how they can afford gardeners or how they can laughably send their son to a non-existent British school (Believe me, ain't NO British schools in Pensacola or any other place in the US - there might be some Spanish-speaking schools nearby, however) is beyond my ken.

Michelle is adamant that she's leaving the next day, but what I think niggles me the most about this character is her voice and the dialogue they give her ...

We're survivors, Sharon ...

Really? Really? Do people even talk like that? The entire vignette, instead of focusing on Michelle, and Sharon begging her to stay, instead focused on everyone's concern for Denise (see below) and Shirley confiding in Sharon that she thought Buster fathered Denise's baby - because as Shirley and everyone sussed at that table, it had to be someone they knew.

I doubt Michelle is leaving. This was a calculated lie, either for her to insinuate herself into staying at Sharon's or to slope off to a B and B someplace. Stacey could barely contain her glee at the thought of her leaving ... and neither would I.

The Most Ungraeful Bitch on the Show. I don't know why anyone wastes time worrying and simpering and mollycoddling Denise. She is one of the most ungrateful and rude characters on the show. She honestly never shows gratitude to anyone on that show, even her sister, and she's always looking down her nose at everyone and their motives. No wonder that both her daughters were similarly condescending.

Of course the toilet scene was the apogée of this episode, with Sean O'Connor's own brand of twist at the end. Sharon in crouching in the next cubicle, hearing Denise confess to Shirley that Phil was the father of her child.

This scene was disturbing and angering, because Denise's sole concern about this pregnancy was Phil finding out. Neither she nor Shirley ever mentioned Sharon, or the fact that Phil is a married man. Yet Denise managed to sit at the table next to Sharon for the better part of the evening, as shameless as the sin, itself.

Shirley's tearful reaction was the most baffling, following Denise's remark that she knew that Shirley "had history" with Phil. So, let me get this straight ... that bum-faced bitch is concerned about hurting Shirley's feelings in all of this, but the thought of what this might do to Sharon, should the truth out, never crossed her mind?

Why was Shirley silently crying at the news? Because she was still obsessed with Phil? Because she thought it tragic and sad that Phil wouldn't get to know "his boy"? A few weeks ago she was giving Sharon respect and telling her how lucky Phil was to have her, and now this reaction? Or was she worried about how this would affect Sharon when - I say when - she found out?

I hope, now that Sharon knows, that she doesn't go into doormat mode. I think she should, at the earliest opportunity after the birth, smack the living shit out of Denise, and I would hope Louise is on hand to pack a punch upside Libby's condescending gob.

Roxy should be alive, romping the beds with Max and bantering with Donna, and Denise and po-faced Libby should have been sent packing.

The Situation at the Pub. I guess the next big neal is Mick's 40th, considering that Vincent was employed by Whitney - her face clearly glowing with love for Mick - to find out what he wanted for the big 4-0.

In between laments about his moobs being bigger than Linda's and Vincent's waking up on his fortieth birthday with a girl who had a "nice rack", I gather that things aren't going so well at the pub, with Abi and Johnny left in charge of the kitchen.

What was that scene all about? Johnny is supposed to be clever, but he's pathetically stupid. He's miffed that he's not spending time with his friends at uni - which was a surprise because old Johnny had no uni friends; he holed up on the sofa and was waited on hand and foot by Linda. Then there was Abi, whining on and on about a person at the vets' practice who held her interest - except he had a girlfriend. There was some sort of party, to which she hadn't been invited (she reckoned because they knew she had to work another job, otherwise, they would have really, really invited her), to which the bloke's girlfriend wasn't attending. 

I can't figure out why Johnny invited his uni mates to an "event" in the kitchen when he knew that he and Abi were in charge of the cuisine on a night when the Vic was beginning a series of supper evenings to earn money. And what was the purpose of that wierd scene between Ben and Johnny, as if Ben were trying to come onto Johnny? Didn't he try that once and get rebuffed?

Tantamount to all fo this was Ben's condescending attitude toward Abi, and I was glad she handed him his arse for pretending not to be gay, before storming off to her part and leaving Johnny to fend for himself.

Needless to say, the dinner was a failure, and I think this might be leading to Mick eventually losing his licence at the pub, and perhaps Sharon and Shirley taking it over. 

And what was that all about, Dennis referring to Sharon as a "cow"?

Unusual episode, and quite disturbing.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Secrets and Lies - Review:- Monday 09.01.2017

This should be the official song of Walford.

In this episode, we were presented with alcohol being introduced into the home of an alcoholic who'd just had a liver transplant and teenaged boys objectifying girls from a distance over generous helpings of straight vodka. And Millennial Michelle drinking and drinking and drinking and wallowing in self-pity.

I'm surprised I liked this episode so much, considering that it was fraught with cruelty, self-centredness, hypocrisy and outright misogyny. Has Walford become Trumpland?

Millennial Michelle: The Epic Fail Continues. Okay, I know what her dirty little secret is, and I'll deal with that sometime over the weekend when I've seen the offensive episode. 

Suffice it to say that I can now opine that Sean O'Connor should be taken out and kicked.

He should have been taken out and kicked for even considering a re-cast of Michelle, much less re-casting her with this particular actress. I'm sure Jenna Russell is a very accomplished and very good actress, but this will probably be her first failure in a role, recreating a character that was so seminal, so pivotal and so iconic that the job had "failure" written all over it before it began.

I remember someone being commissioned to write a sequel to Gone With the Wind because people just had to know if Scarlett and Rhett ever got back together. The book was rubbish and the mini-series which depicted it, even worse. How could Timothy Dalton even come close to Clark Gable's Rhett Butler? Well, he couldn't, and Jenna Russell's Michelle is nothing like Susan Tully''s character in any way, shape or form.

This woman is presumptuous, arrogant, interfering, overriding, self-pitying and rude. She walks into anyone's home - her brother's, her childhood friend's - and takes over, unasked.

She pushes the hospitality of Martin and Stacey, helping herself to what is probably their one bottle of wine, being kept for the ubiquitous celebration between themselves. Even her pithy promise to replace the bottle she drank stank of a promise the nature of piecrust - easily made, easily broken.

She is, however, sensing some hostility from Stacey and a presumption that she's overstayed her welcome. The story about cooings with Tim over the phone and a plane ticket back were so obviously lies. Feeling thus, she decamps to Sharon's house, knowing that this is Phil's first night home from the hospital and never thinking that the couple might like some quality time alone and that Phil might need some quiet and rest for his first few days.

Instead, she barges in and instantly begins to cook dinner for the couple. When Louise appears and protests that she had wanted to cook dinner for her father, Michelle tosses off a casual insult over her shoulder, remarking that with her, Michelle, cooking dinner, at least it would be nice.

At least someone's remembered the animosity that existed between Michelle and the Mitchell brothers, because Phil stomps off to bed, and once he does, this strange woman immediately whips out a bottle of wine and starts raiding Sharon's cabinet for wine glasses. Is she that tactless or lacking in common sense? Because as prickly as she could be, Michelle, Tully's Michelle, was rarely tactless and was grounded in good common sense.

Phil is an alcoholic. He's just got a new liver, and his next drink could send him spiralling out of control again. When both Sharon and Louise inform Michelle that there can be no alcohol in the Mitchell household, ever; this stranger simply shrugs her shoulders and says, nonchalantly, 

He's gone to bed, he won't be coming back down.

And? Really, Michelle? I was too glad that for once, Sharon stood her ground and thought of her husband, even though Michelle, later over a cup of tea, which she wishes was a cup of wine, she disparages Sharon's husband and her marriage.

Left to her own devices, because she didn't accompany Sharon or Stacey to the baby shower (in and of itself an oxymoron as far as Sharon is concerned), she downs the bottle of wine on her own. She must have been drinking upstairs in her room because Rebecca and Louise were on babysitting duties. Still, she meandered downstairs long enough for Stacey to overhear a whiningly pitiful phonecall to the unseen Tim in the States.

This character isn't working at all, and the sooner she leaves Walford, the better.

Trumps-in-Training. I think we met one of SOC's heralded new characters tonight - another teenaged male, Keegan. Obnoxious, sneering, self-absorbed and frighteningly misogynistic.

Donald Trump would adopt him, no questions asked.

As bad a character as he is and portrayed by an inadequate actor, for the first time tonight, I actually liked Shakil.

With Carmel otherwise engaged at the baby shower, Shakil was coerced into having a male bonding party with a group of loutish lads. The overt misogyny exhibited by so young a character, his appalling objectification of women and girls, was, frankly, quite frightening.

According to Louise, she was invited to this party, where - it happens - she would have been the only female there. Considering Keegan's overt arrogance - the way he callously laughed when he accidentally damaged her new phone - you have to wonder why she was invited. 

She refused, but Keegan was insistent that you didn't need women to have a party, not when he had, on hand, a video taken of someone named Callie, a girl who was having a party and to which Keegan hadn't been invited.The video showed the girl undressing, and this piece of shit was shown gloating at the fact that he'd sent the video to other students all over the school.

He thought that was a joke, but Shakil didn't. He objected to what Keegan did, as much as he could raise any sort of objection.

If SOC is about to raise the question of misogyny in this day and age, and particularly, misogyny amongst younger men - mindful of the fact that EastEnders has always exhibited a casual misogyny, from Mick's passive aggressive bullying of Linda to Jack's petty horniness - it's good that he's doing so. But if this is just another quirky character, he's someone we don't need.

And just a thought ... this is an Afro-Caribbean male, and this demographic has always been famously discussed amongst sociologists for supposed overt misogyny.

As Rebecca seems to be intent on leaving the area for a Sixth Form college, ostensibly, away from Walford (Kidderminster?), Louise will be left on her tod, at the mercy of shitheads like Keegan, and whilst I won't be sad to see the drippy Rebecca leave, if she is leaving, I don't want to see Louise bogged down in what is tantamount to an abusive relationship.

The Skank Denise and Her Annoying Daughter. Of course, this is the week where the blessed Blood Mitchell is born, and Mick, lamenting the the fact that he never knew his birth father until it was too late, remarks to Saint Denise that he thought Buster may have stepped up to the plate and assumed responsibility, if Shirley had just allowed him to know about Mick's birth.

Denise has let it be known that her babys father doesn't want anything to do with the child, but she's left with food for thought from Mick, so you know that she's going to spill the beans to Phil.

The surprise baby shower was a complete sham, and you wonder at the brass of Denise, sitting in the same room with the wife of the man who fathered her child. She's got herself into this mess, first of all, by doggedly refusing the option of an abortion and choosing to bear the child of a man she hated. To what purpose? That leads to the second problem - deciding to give the child up for adoption and then keeping this a secret from everyone remotely close to her, except Patrick. If something like that doesn't cause the mother of all hellraising fights, then nothing will.

But then, Denise has always been immersed in the repercussions of poor judgement. She'll expect to come out of this smelling like a rose, when she really shouldn't. She's an annoying character, and I'm fucking sick and tired of her perpetual smacked-bum face, her arrogance, her condescension, and her annoying relatives - the insipidly shallow Kim and that awful prig Libby, who's returned home, just to be present at the birth. Libby is as annoying as Michelle in much of the same way, swanning in and subjecting everyone to her way of doing things. She needs a slap, and Denise needs to go.

The irony of this is that Shirley, her sometime best friend, who purports not to judge her, wants to know who the baby's father is, as if she could become an avenging angel in getting the guilty party to own up to his responsibilities toward Saint Denise. However, once the idea is planted in her mind that Buster was in the thralls of an affair behind her back, the judgement motif goes out the window, because she thinks that Buster is the father of the Holy child.

Jack-Attack. There comes a time when grief becomes sheer selfishness, and that's Jack. He's surly, he's taciturn, he's like a bull in a china shop, keeping Max and everyone else at arm's length, insistent that he's going to move to Ongar - something will stop him from doing so.

He's in the anger phase of grief at the moment, and he's looking for someone to blame for Ronnie's death. In this episode, he found someone - Roxy.

It transpires that Roxy suffered a heart attack the moment she hit the water and literally sank without a snowball's chance in hell of a hope. Ronnie died trying to reach her sister. The police, at the moment, don't know how she died, but we saw her get tangled in her wedding dress and silently scream in the water. It's enough for Jack to draw his own conclusions - Roxy was a junkie. Her cocaine habit played havoc with her arteries, she suffered a heart attack and Ronnie died saving her. If not for Roxy, then Ronnie would be alive.

It plays in with Jack's myth about Roxy always bringing Ronnie down (when the truth is exactly the opposite). But the cruelest thing about this was the way he treated Glenda in the aftermath of this discovery, insulting her over her "junkie daughter" as if this were Glenda's fault. Here's a woman who has lost two children, and Jack is callous in his contempt. As well, he needs to remember that the "junkie daughter" is the mother of his child, and that his sainted wife cold-bloodedly killed two men.

Glenys Barbour is playing a blinder in this, and whilst I know she won't be a permanent addition to the cast - she spends half a year in the States - she'd be a welcome addition.

The Carters Come Full Circle. Karma bites that fat arse, doesn't it, Mick? After a terribly cruel phone conversation with Lee, where he reminds him that he's cleared Lee's debts with his own credit cards, Mick is forced to find £14,000 to ship Elaine and Linda home, medi-vac, from Spain.

Mick owns a pub. He bought the place outright with money. He pays Sharon and Tracey as barstaff, and probably Whitney too, and Abi. The rest of his help is family, two of whom take a share in profits, and people like Johnny and Babe are paid cash in hand as and when.

That pub mist mint a cool million a year, yet he can't find 14K in readies to ship his wife and mother-in-law home? The Vic is a solid business, which has been going in the community for years. I would suppose Mick has good credit history, considering that, working for Elaine, he had his room and board paid for and only had to worry about clothing his kids, so why won't the bank sub him what is actually a small loan to cover the cost of the specialise plane fare? I simply can't see why he couldn't get his hands on that amount of money. He must take that in in a week.

But I suppose it establishes the fact that, after berating Lee about his lax finances and taking money from loan sharks, he inevitably has to do the same, himself. This, and the fact that Babe was caught red-handed selling booze disguised as tea for the morning buffet lunch might hint at trouble ahead for Mick and his licence. 

Hmmm ... I wonder if Shazza might re-claim the licence and arrange to have the Carters manage the pub for her? And Shirley is on the licence too.

Shirley and Sharon as licencees of the Vic. I like that.

I would think as well that Babe's underhanded behaviour will lead to her leaving as well. I'd bet, with this feud she's having with Kathy, leads to Kathy finding out about the Carters breaking licence rules at Babe's behest. 

And everyone that matters in the Carter household is blaming Lee.

More departures on the horizon..

Pretty good episode.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Eleventh Night - Review:- Thursday 05.01.2017

Well, that didn't take long, did it? The immediate aftermath of the Blisters' death and from a week's distance, it didn't take long for EastEnders to sink back into comfortably entertaining mediocrity, with two essentially filler episodes.

Manky Millennial Michelle. Please God, that this woman isn't going to be a permanent fixture on the programme. With every appearance, the fact that he's made a major mistake in this re-cast should strike Sean O'Connor like a wet fish in his face. 

Never in a month of Sundays would Michelle behave in such a manner. As I've said, I get it, I really do, that TPTB want to recreate another generation of Pauline Fowler, but Michelle, with twenty years under her belt living in another country, a world away from Pauline, who always returned from any of her visits to Michelle, gasping stereotypically for a "proper cuppa tea". She's educated, and she's supposedly got common sense enough to realise what worked for her, re Pauline and what didn't.

And it's the height of ignorance for anyone to go into someone else's home the way she does and impose upon their hospitality. In the previous episode, it was the thermostat. In this episode, the towels weren't good enough. They had to be boil-washed to serve the Fowlers' sensitive skin. Funny that. This is the first I've heard of such a malaise in the Fowler clan. Such was the reality of 1980s EastEnders, that we'd surely have heard Pauline's strident tones bemoaning the fact that she had to boil-wash all her linens in order to protect her childrens' sensitive skins.

Also, the story and the scene at the allotment was another bit of wishful thinking - the story about Martin and the cauliflower with the slug. By the time Martin was compos mentis and able to drag home such a species, Michelle was long gone from the Fowler household to remember such an incident.

I also get that her presence there makes Martin nostalgic for his parents and for a closer, more thoughtful relative than his Beale cousins, but it astounds me how Michelle hasn't said one word to, hasn't sought out Kathy, with whom she was close as a young girl and adolescent - as unreal as Kathy never once having mentioned Pat's name. These are things the writers - and the producer - are not getting right.

Worst of all, this re-cast is some sort of plot device, intended to sow disharmony and discontent in the marriage of Stacey and Martin. Already, Stacey is smarting and sniping at Michelle's intrusion and the way Martin kowtows to her very word instead of spending time with Stacey. She feels excluded, like an outsider in her own home, and the cheekiness of all was Michelle buying supposedly superior towels for the Fowler household and then palming the money Martin could ill-afford without any sort of demurring. The consternation and upheaval she's caused in the house, she should have offered the towels to her brother and his wife as a gift for their hospitality. She didn't, and that was entitled and rude.

Zombie Jack and Dot's Common Sense. Okay, now even Jack's returned to wooden Indian mode. I get his grief, but mostly in this episode, he came across as a plank, or at best, some sort of zombie Jack tromping through the Square. 

Everybody's there for Jack. We know that, because people kept telling him that - from Billy, self-consciously failing, in a way only Billy could fail, by coming over at Max's suggestion, to talk about funeral arrangements for the Blisters and talking as a professiional undertaker would speak to an unfamiliar client to Mick, always Mick, because the show insures that Mick's undue influence extends the length and breadth of the Square, even with all his troubles, Mick is there for Jack. There's Glenda, who's turned up, tearful and murmuring platitudes about "her girls", wanting to do for her grandchildren what she never did for her daughters. She's there for Jack too. (Was it me or was there some sort of frisson between her and Max? What is it with the show and its overly glamourous nipped-and-tucked grannies - Glenda at sixty-three and great-granny Kathy about to turn sixty-seven?)

Maybe Glenda can stay, and she and Kathy could become mates and go out cougaring together.

There's a shift away from the Mitchell emphasis on these deaths and a shift toward the Brannings bonding with Jack's need - Jack and Max appealing to Dot for explanation and understanding only to have Jack draw into himself in grief and an enormous dollop of self-pity. Dot tells him that the children will be Ronnie's and Roxy's legacy to Jack. I contend with that.

Yes, Amy will be Roxy's legacy, and Matthew is Ronnie's son; but I was surprised at Dot not mentioning, at least to Max, that Matthew is her grandson's child. He has a living father, who was willing to fight for his son until Ronnie had Vincent scare him away. No one's mentioned the fact that Jack has no right at all to Matthew. Shit, Glenda has a claim, but Jack has nothing; and Ricky ... Ricky is certainly Sam Mitchell's legacy to Jack, but the only Blister legacy to which Jack has a claim is actually Amy. His "legacy" from Ronnie is the child of another man.

And we got to see how, even though Sean O'Connor had the balls to inflict long overdue karma on the psychopathic Ronnie, he had her go out as a loving, suburban Yummy Mummy, shyly cooing to the wedding video camera about her love for Jack. She went out being remembered as a loving young mother, whom everyone in the community adored. I must admit, I got more than just a bit tired of hearing "those poor children" tonight.

But what's frustrating me the most about this is how the show's writers never seem to get children right. Amy will be 9 years old this year, yet she has the dialogue and comprehension of a 5 year-old at best. I get it that Richard might not comprehend why Auntie Ronnie isn't around. He may even struggle with the concept of death, even though he attended his grandmother's funeral, and he'd certainly have been close to her, having lived with her in Portugal. But Amy's certainly old enough to understand death - her pet rabbit died, her Auntie Peggy died, she would remember Lucy Beale's passing.

Instead, Jack got as far as telling the kids that the Blisters had gone and weren't coming back. They didn't understand, Amy only knowing that her mother always came back for her. Their questions at the dinner table got too much,and eventually Dot had to intervene in a timely old-fashioned way and explain death in a way small children could understand. The Blisters, in DotLand, are now angels in heaven (well, I think we all know that Ronnie's toasting over a spit somewhere and the spit's probably being turned by Carl White, but let the children have their fairy stories). They are God's angels who are watching over Amy and Ricky all the time. They can see the children, and one day the children - probably when theyre old and gnarled like Dot - will see Ronnie and Roxy again, sitting at the right hand of God, and eternally young.

By the way, when Glenda was in the pub blubbing, did anyone clock that Danny's only concern about his sisters' deaths is their wills, if anything? And when he promised Glenda that everything would be all right, didn't he look a bit melodramatically shifty? Liam Bergin needs to do something about his obviously thinning hair on the crown of his head, much less his inability to act.

It's nice how in times of strife and grief, the Brannings do manage to come together significantly, and the continuity about Max reminding Jack about the dark place he had been after Bradley's death was where Jack was at this moment. He got the dinner right as well, as did Lauren, handing Abi her arse when she smugly bowed out of the dinner in order to hang around Babe and the Carters at the Vic. After the trick she pulled on that family, you'd think she'd want as minimal contact as possible.

Oh well, Jack says he's moving to Ongar for the kids; sake, but I have a feeling he's going to be sticking around.

Denise the Pukewad. Oh, please God, here's another character who should be consigned to the rubbish bin. But noooooo, she's the martyr who's bearing and giving up a Mitchell baby, another infant to be consigned to the Social Services care of Trish Barnes, the social worker from hell.

Of course, Denise is far too noble to keep a child fathered by a man she hates. Does she feel a modicum of fear that he and his wife might find out? Is she afraid of walking the Walk of Shame?

Let's hope her dishy instructor never gets the class to read Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities.

We'll have Denise dramatically strutting around the Square in Sidney Carton mode, intoning ...

It is a far, far better thing I do, than I have ever done ...

Who am I kidding? She'd say:- Hit's a lo'be'ah Ah'm doin' vis and not what I ain't evah done.

Mother-of-the-Year Kim has stayed behind in Martinique, and we're being heralded with the impending arrival of Denise's mother, Ada, calling herself Emerald, who sounds like a right bitch. That's right. EastEnders' ethnic quota system, as described by Angela Winter (Yolande) means that as one black character leaves, another descends to take his/her place. So as we've lost Class A psychopathic bitch Claudette, we welcome who appears to be the eminently narcissistic Emerald, who'll probably end up bonking Patrick - an older version of Kim, and I don't think I can take two of them.

I wonder if, like Kim, she looks like a man in drag. Kim always reminded me of the late Flip Wilson, whose signature character was a woman named Geraldine Jones, who was remarkably like Kim in personality ...

Mick's Bromance and Carter Roadkill. First of all, I love Linda Henry's new haircut. It's very flattering, and it shows that she's really a very attractive woman.

But the rest of the time, the Carters were all over the place. In fact, no one had a clue in this episode how they should function. There was the comedy element with the Twelfth Night that wasn't, and Johnny's indignation at having to dress up in drag, which resulted in him advertising the event over social media, billing Babe as a drag queen.

But the Carters doing a scene from a Shakespearean play? Give over. I'm only surprised that eminent scholar Denise wasn't there to critique their performance.

There was the incident about the pigeon pie, made from an authentic Elizabethan recipe, actually had the main ingredient captured by Babe on the roof of the Vic. Seriously.

We had to have the ubiquitous scene of Mick reaching out to his new BFF Jack (and being rebuffed) and the Carters thinking a knees-up was exactly what the community needed on the backs of the deaths of two women who stirred controversy and ran roughshod over most of the great unwashed. Good continuity, however, in remembering Shirley's animosity towards Glenda (because of Phil's infidelity), but not having enough nous to realise compassion at Glenda's plight. it took Johnny, who really didn't even know Glenda or who she was, to remind Shirley that Glenda had lost two children.

We also got to see Mick's handiwork result with Oz, and somehow, I don't think this is the end of Lee's problems at work. What's more, Lee knows it. And I'm uneasy at the easy closeness that's developing between Mick and Whitney, who's still whining about never wanting anything when all she did was nag at Lee to buy her more and more material goods, when she wasn't spending their money to buy them, herself. For Mick - for Mick - she sells the diamond necklace and bracelet Lee bought her at Christmas (with the money he got from selling the stolen virtual reality game. She'd never have done that for Lee.

And Mick seems to have gotten over his bromace with Jack, for another bromance with his latest squeeze, Vincent.

Not only is Mick a bully, he's a bit of a slut as well.