Monday, September 15, 2014

The Jim Morrison Episode - Review:- 15.09.2014

Let the Lizard King sing:-

I did something I don't think I've ever done before. I gave this episode a ten.

Cast aside the lead-in to the fire as totally unbelieveable and riddled with potholes, tonight's episode showed the show at its best. There were a diversity of characters, with the subtle beginnings of some things that are going to transpire, and you saw some first rate performances from most everyone concerned. Oddly enough, for the brief time they were in the episode, the weakest links were Lauren, Peter and the atrocious Tina. I have a feeling from the trailer that this whole ordeal is a vehicle by which two of the most entitled and self-centred characters find and deserve each other.

Special mention goes to Danny Dyer, Shane Richie, Letitia Dean, Kellie Bright and Jessie Wallace.

Background Bits: -

Some of the background scenes were the most normal and realistic I've seen in the show, especially from an EP who wasn't strong in aftermaths during his last stint with Diederick Santer. I'm talking about the scenes with Carol, obviously experiencing Empty Nest Syndrome. Carol's always only ever had a gaggle of kids around her - first as the mother of four and now as the grandmother of more. Now, in the house with only Liam and Whitney - and both of them at school and at work daily - she's all alone in the house - no Bianca popping back in, no kids to pick up after, no ginormous meal to organise.

I thought it nice that Whitney perceived this and also perceived that - for all she can be a diva sometimes - there are times when Carol wants acknowledgement without much of a fuss, and so, she offered her a comforting pat on the shoulder. I thought for a moment she was going to give her a kiss on the cheek, but it was mete that DTC remembered that the relationship between Whitney and Carol has always been prickly. It might be silly, but I was more than a little touched with emotion when Carol told Whitney that if she had any ironing, Carol would do it. 

Poor Carol! She's lived for children's needs for so long, she's lost without children around her, and that makes me wonder in which direction they are going to take Lindsey Coulson's character now. She's obviously not ready, physically to go back to the cafe, which makes me wonder how she's going to make household expenses, including the nominal rent she, presumably, still pays Janine.

With the ubiquitous appearance of Sonia, one wonders when she is ever at her home? It seems as if every waking hour when she's not taking another day off from her job as a nurse, she's at Carol's. Now I understand that Carol has been ill and is now on the mend, but Sonia also has a child, herself. Today, she scooted right over to Carol's, presumably, after her shift at the hospital, and got ready to attend Sharon's hen night, which, more than likely, would go on for awhile. Would it be too late and would Sonia be too drunk to go home? It amazes me how she can hang around the Square, almost exclusively - either at Carol's or running a Fat Blasters class - and then trash talk Martin about the way he treats her. Who, precisely, is caring for Sonia's child, when she's on the Square? Martin, Rebecca's father. The saving grace of tonight's episode is that we heard much less of Sonia than we've formerly been called upon to hear, and that is only for the better.

I suppose tonight saw the proper beginning of Namwar or Tancy. Nancy so deserves better than a miserable, self-pitying, moral coward. Tamwar's astounded that Mas would stand up having dinner with him in order to spend the evening planning a stag do for a man with whom he has little to do, but I'm astounded that Nancy likened Tamwar to James Bond. Still, I suppose she could do worse - she could be paired with Dexter. Nancy is such a delightful character, I hope Tamwar doesn't bring her down.

It was kinda unusual, in a good way, seeing Stacey as pretty much a background character, but this sort of took her back to the way she used to be before certain producers became obsessed with her character. I was never a Stacey fan, but I find this time around, I'm liking her more and more. It was reminiscent of old times, the way she bantered back and forth with Big Mo, over the dodgy hairspray. The two lines of the night go to Stacey and Carol.

Stacey (in the Slater/Moon kitchen): Stop it, Nan! That stuff smells like cat food.
Carol (in the pub): Not being funny, but do you smell tuna?

Even the scene in the salon with Dean, bantering about the dodgy mousse and wanting to experiment on Stacey, took me back to both their first stints, when they were teenagers, and it did make me feel sad, especially about Dean. Speaking of Stacey, we have to mention Roxy as well, and how Roxy's making peace with everyone.

I've always been a Roxy fan. I know she's selfish and can be arrogant and more than a bit ditzy, but she has a great heart, and is so much more personable and likeable than her psychopathic sister. It was inevitable that Roxy and Stacey would cross paths - as Roxy said, they're never going to be best mates, but they can, at least, get along - followed by Roxy's rapprochement with Alfie, who's at his lowest ebb. It was ironic that she, his ex-wife, should remind Alfie of what he has that's so important - three lovely boys and Kat, who loves him - ending by reminding him that he's Alfie Moon, who can make things happen. Lovely moment.

I'm still left to wonder, however, where Amy and Tommy are.

The Two Alfies or The Two Micks. 

Seriously, I've been totally going off Mick for quite awhile, but he went a long way in redeeming himself tonight in his interaction with Alfie. Let me be frank - Ido think the Carters are overused and infiltrate a lot of storylines in certain ways, and - OK - they're now involved in the fire storyline, but that scene needed to be aired. Any other day, and maybe Ian would have sat down with Alfie. As it was, I'm glad it was Mick.

Mick and Alfie both have the Vic in common, and they are similar sorts in personality, although people would disagree. Mick likes a peaceful life, and so he likes to see those around him happy, especially Linda, and sometimes that does mean erring on the side of caution and creating a lie or a myth, even to the point of enabling Linda's childishness. Alfie is much the same. He's always been an enabler and someone who wants the people around him to be happy, often at his expense. 

The scene where Alfie gazes at the picture of Nana Moon tonight was significant, especially his anecdote about lying to keep her happy about her bread-and-butter pudding. Alfie isn't a stupid man, he isn't feckless or xenophobic or racist or a fool. He is, however, desperate, and he wants to look after his family. His masculine pride is dented because, at the moment, he can't. I don't know what Alfie did before he came to Walford or before he took the blame for his cousins' crime and went to prison. It would be interesting to know.

The Mick-Alfie scene was the richest and most poignant scene tonight, but more than anything, it made me realise how similar in type and delivery both men are. Alfie needed someone with whom he could be brutally honest, someone detached from his family, who could listen to him dispassionately. But once again, something didn't make sense. Alfie only wanted a small fire, smoke damage, but it's debatable that smoke damage would even cover the back rent that's owed. I still keep wondering where Mo is in all of this. After all, she is the principal tenant there, and yet, everyone is acting as if this is Alfie's responsibility. All the correspondence coming to the house is in Mo's name. Surely she should have been paying the rent all along, and ensuring that the Moons paid her. She certainly badgered Kat, Alice, Joey and Michael enough when they lived there, and Kat was still family then. Instead, her answer is to flog dodgy Romanian hair products.

My Sharona.

 Sharon is another one who isn't stupid, and she certainly is on to Shirley's venomous smiles and bitchy looks and attempts at playing nice. Shirley certainly thinks Sharon is stupid, all the moreso because she thinks Phil is going to humiliate her publically. She's like the cat who's caught the canary. Little does she suspect that her behaviour sparked suspicion in Sharon. Sharon hasn't forgotten that it was Shirley with whom Phil was talking about the attack. Good. That's registered. And Carol's remark about likening her and David to Sharon and Phil struck a chord too.

Let the games begin. Good episode. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Second Fiddle to a Cryin' Violin - Review:- 12.09.2014

Is it possible to like an episode and yet to feel great consternation at the overt hypocrisy and ignorance of some characters? I think it is.


Alex. Alex is quick to label Alfie a liar, a cheat and a thief, but that's a bit pot-meet-kettle. One of the first things I remember Alex doing is pocketing the pitch fees Bianca and Kat had given to Tamwar, lying to Tamwar about making out a receipt later on. So not only was that lying, it was also stealing - two of the three sins of which he accused Alfie. He wasn't averse to taking bribes either, because wasn't that the way Alfie originally got his pitch - by throwing Aleks some money and a share of the profits for the first few months? Aleks is in a relationship with Roxy. Until recently, she thought he was a single man. He isn't, and he refuses to end his marriage. He is, effectively cheating on his wife. He is a cheat - again, something of which he accused Alfie. He was also part and parcel of the spray tan scam on Bianca's stall - a scam, another thing of which he accused Alfie. His vendetta is entirely against the Moons because Alfie exposed him as a liar and a cheat, himself; and he's now including Kat in his vendetta. He could give a rat's arse about the Moons' situation, and maybe he shouldn't, but then again, he has no right to take the moral high ground. Aleks has a child who lives in another country. It wouldn't surprise me if he's claiming child benefit here, which is illegal.

Phil's Gullibility. Of course, Marcus lied to save his skin. But Phil's either become a victim of the latest stupefication epidemic trolling the Square or he's a victim of early onset dementia, because he should know Sharon well enough to know that she's soft-hearted enough with those people with whom she has a long-standing familiarity and that she's open-minded enough to see the wider picture. Did she tell Marcus about what Phil did? I don't remember. Phil should remember that when Sharon hates someone, that hatred is open and visceral - think Cindy Beale, whom she hated after Cindy broke her and Wicksy up. Sharon is incapable of dissembling and deceiving. Had she have decided to leave Grant for Phil all those years ago, the first thing she would have done is told Grant and accept the consequences. Because Grant was in such a vulnerable state, she chose to end the affair with Phil and return to Grant. If Sharon had really wanted to blame Phil for Dennis's death after his confession, she'd have been on a plane for Florida months ago - in fact, within a few weeks of his confession. He should know Sharon well enough to know that she's utterly incapable of bitchery and dissembling, no matter what the present writers' room might want to depict.

Instead, he chose to believe Marcus, the only man left standing who successfully scammed the Mitchells. Phil would believe a bent brief, who'd done his family over, rather than stop and ask himself why Sharon would approach Marcus, or if he should even believe Marcus. The old, deliberate, analytical Phil would have done just that, and then, we would have had a brilliant two-header with Sharon and Phil akin to the episode we had back in 2002, when Sharon was in a relationship with retconned Fireman Tom, something that would get everything out into the open - Sharon's feelings about Dennis, what happened in the States, Phil's concerns for Ben. But no, it's far easier to close Phil's mind off to anything other than getting revenge on someone he now believes hates him. Well, he's lucky Sharon doesn't hate him - having two thugs beat you up would make most women run a mile. Still, Phil's got his doormat onside now. Lest we forget, Phil covered up the identity of the murderer of Shirley's so-called best friend for months. But no one ever mentions Heather's name anymore. Shirley can goo and daa over her son, but she'd throw George under a bus if it meant getting back with Phil. She's really a bitter and jealous woman, but the entire episode served as confirmation of the fact that Kat, Linda and Sharon are all the victims in the tragedies that are about to occur.

Alfie's got insurance, but he can't pay the rent. Actually, it looks as though he'd just taken out that home and contents insurance, which is sorta kinda weird only in the fact that, if he did, he'd have to pay the first instalment there and then - usually through a debit or credit card payment or cash, if you're dealing with an insurance broker. If he's just taken this out, and he's planning this fire, then the insurance company will surely smell a rat. Even if it's been in force for awhile, it's impossible to fathom how they could have paid insurance premiums, yet not paid the rent.

It seemed from Stacey's getting the post tonight that it's Big Mo, who's been in receipt of all this documentation. Where is Big Mo in all of this? She is the principal tenant. Does she even live there? If she doesn't, maybe she's charged the Moons with paying the rent, and they haven't been. We certainly need her part in the piece clarified.

Once again, Shane Richie played a blinder as a man so desperate to earn a crust for his family that he was reduced to rifling through rubbish for something to sell. The lead-in storyline for the fire is full of potholes and, quite brutally, insulting to the viewers' intelligence, and Jessie's face was beautifully expressive. She didn't have to say a word in her worry about Alfie, who's fast detaching himself from reality in this instance.

The Inevitable Carter Connection. Thank goodness, tonight's episode featured mainly the better Carters - Nancy and Linda. How deep is the hole Linda's going to dig for herself? If Dean came onto Linda, why can't she tell her husband about something that so offends her? It's all ambiguous enough to plant doubt in the head of people who should know, trust and love Linda, when the inevitable happens. Their naivete at believing Dean was genuinely apologising is quite jarring. The shock that Linda will endure when Dean does show his true colours will be all the more riveting. This is another example his manipulations.

Interesting that Nancy differentiates between her family - Mick, Linda, Johnny and Lee - as opposed to all of the other recent arrivals, specifically emphasising that she didn't want Dean's problems he had with his mother, boiling over into her family. It's also interesting to note that, apart from that initial "you-can-talk-to-me-whenever-you-want" scene at the beginning of the year with Johnny, Shirley's had almost zilch interaction with any of the Carter "kids."

Sharon. They're getting there with her character, but let's stop this five-minute-wonder "you're me best mate" palaver. She's known Linda less than a year, and during the better part of that year, they were at loggerheads. I love their interaction, but it took years before Pat called Peggy a friend, and vice versa. Now - or at least since 2008 - it seems as if friendships are instantaneous, almost as if every aspect of good friendship has to be explored now, rather than later, because later, one of the two friends might be gone. Bianca is the first and only friend Kat has ever had. Alfie veers between Ian, an old friend, in terms of his new bromance with Terry, but Sharon was BFF's with the abysmal Tanya, and now Linda's her best mate? What happened to Michelle? Distance doesn't dim true friendship. Friendship is based on a history of shared experiences, and Sharon shared nothing of that sort with Tanya and only a tangetial common background of being raised in a pub, which relates her to Linda. I love their interaction, but please, stop them running before they walk.

Bye Bye Butchers (Well, some of them). So Liam gets to stay. Not because of his exams and the difficulty of his GCSE year, as argued by his grandmother and by Saint Sonia - a valid reason for him to stay, but because Bianca sees him hugging Cindy the Single Mother, and reckons he's man enough to stay on his own. All this after the stroppiest of strops Liam threw, with his sole rationale for staying being "I'm-not-going-anywhere-if-Whit-can-stay-so-can-I". I know Bianca is extremely childish, but that was a childish paddy if ever there were one, and for that reason and that outburst, he should have gone to Milton Keynes.

The Liam-Cindy-TJ dynamic rings a bell of familiarity. The soap genre is known for its ability to re-cycle storylines, and I can so easily see this as a redux of Ian and Cindy Snr. TJ, IIRC, was the one who was keen for Cindy to keep the baby, saying he would stand by her. I accept that lads his age might change their minds about situations like that, but casting my mind back, Simon Wicks wasn't too keen to know Cindy, pregnant with his child, whilst he was involved with Sharon. Moving Liam closer to his Beale heritage, his pledge to support Cindy, that contrived speech about Cindy being a strong woman (please! Cindy is fifteen years old, having a child doesn't make you a woman - just look at Roxy and Bianca), it all points to Cindy linking up with Liam, being fond of him, but not loving him, only to have TJ or someone like him return in a year or two to turn her head. I wouldn't rule out a TJ return, when he's over sixteen and able to live away from Terry and Co - he's the type that this EastEnders likes to have on board in the "young male ingenue" category.

Did I hear Cindy wail that she's a "teenaged mother with a kid", who wouldn't be high on anyone's priority list (meaning - yes - the male stakes). Good grief! Is that all she's worried about? How about going back to school, getting qualifications, even going to university - it can be done with a baby - and getting a good profession/job/skill with which to support her child?

One of the best scenes was the last scene between Bianca and Carol outside the pub. At last and in the kindest way possible, Carol told Bianca to grow up. I know she's another character whom it's fashionable to dislike, but I'll miss Bianca. Yet another Beale departs this year, and a gaggle of Butchers. Post-2000 Bianca, especially 2008 and onwards Bianca wasn't a drop in the ocean to her original self. At least she got a happy ending - but it should have been with Ricky, she should have got the duff duff, and she most certainly should have got Julia's Theme. I was certainly surprised that she didn't. Coulda been worse, coulda been Little Mix, but Terry's godawful daughter singing was bad enough.

Better episode than the previous ones.

Too Much of One Thing - Review:- 11,09.2014

As much as I like Daran Little - and he's my favourite writer on the show - he's completed a hattrick of meh episodes.

God, the Carters are in overkill at the moment. Nancy, Linda and Stan, I can tolerate. I like them. Despite his gurning, Johnny's OK. I do like Dean. But - Lordy! - the rest! The pits were out in force on Thursday - from Tina and Tosh (~ We're pregnant!~) to dumbledore Lee to the abysmally hateful Babe and the Marmite matriarch, herself, Shirley. Oh, and there's Mick, who has gone from hero to annoying zero pretty damned quick for me.

Good God, enough of this Brady Bunch-Waltons-Partridge Family crapiola. Let's just say it: The Carters are the new Brannings.

It's tough, I know, for some people to admit this, but it's true - the constant family gatherings that always end in conflagrations, curmudgeonly patriarch unliked by most of his children (Jim/Stan), blunderblusting, manipulative old psychopath (Derek/Babe), selfish anti-hero child (Max/Shirley), golden boy (Jack/Saint Mick), pink, fluffy wife (Tanya/Linda), brooding, peripheral pretty boy (Joey/Dean), geeky, blushing sibling (Bradley/Johnny), daughter who always knows more than she should (Lauren/Nancy), annoying giggler (Abi/Tina), no-nonsense miseryguts (Carol/Tosh) ... see the similarities?

We're seeing far too much of the Carters. Yes, they front the Vic, but that doesn't mean they have to extend their tentacles into other major storylines. Already Sharon's so-called "big storyline" isn't about Sharon at all, but more about Phil and Shirley. Of course, Sharon's big storyline, if the trailer is anything by which to judge, becomes a victim of sort. I have to ask: Does that mean that she'll behave abysmally in the future and use whatever trauma is coming her way as an excuse for such behaviour?

The other bad omen of the piece is that Zsa Zsa got a mention in this episode - more than a damned mention, she got this from Tina:-

I wish Zsa Zsa was'ere.

And you know what a wish like that means ... how many other Carters are there yet to emerge? Well, there's Carly (who hasn't got a mention from her putrid mother) and her husband and child, there's Zsa Zsa, there's Sylvie. Somewhere along the line Mick's father will appear. Then there are the satellites from Linda's side - her mother and whatever cousins, aunties and uncles she may have.

There were some seriously good bits about tonight's third meh episode of the week, but stuffing the Carter birthday party down our gullets is beginning to cause acid reflux.

Yes, I know this is the prelude to the rape, and it looks as though Lauren/Nancy is going to get the wrong end of the stick about what's about to occur, which will be to Dean's smirking advantage. It doesn't help matters that Linda keeps eyeballing Dean, with a combination of fear and warning in her eyes that can easily be misread by someone looking to find something that "isn't." It also doesn't help matters that Dean affects to be around Linda as much as possible, unnerving her and putting her on edge. For someone like Nancy, who's definitely got the wrong end of the stick, such behaviour, especially Linda's unease, looks as though there has been something untoward going on.

Even the panicky excuse Linda gave Nancy tonight reeked of double entendre - it could be easily misconstrued that Linda was hiding a dirty little secret from Mick. The moment Nancy said that Sharon had told her about the kiss, Linda should have refuted that. Instead, she went the ambiguous route, and Dean said nothing, which - of course - reinforces Nancy's suspicions.

There are so many secrets and lies swirling around the Carters at the moment, it's mind-boggling. Even Saint Mick's "family first" speech reeked of phoniness. Within four months, this whole shaky facade will be shattered. And you still have the majority of them disrespecting Stan behind his back, egged on and encouraged by that hateful old bitch, Babe, whilst bowing from the waist and currying favour to his face - all because of the fear that Stan just might rein in his loan. Stan knows exactly why they are the way they are. The Billingsgate clock wasn't for Stan's birthday, it was for the pub.

Stan now gets his own room, instead of a camp bed in the lounge, and Nancy suffers, because she now has to share with Shirley. Yuck. Imagine having to go to sleep amongst the smell of stale booze, ashtrays, sweat and flatulence and the sounds of hocking, gobbing and smokers' cough. Why does Shirley even have to live there? Oh, right ... because her name is over the door , as she never ceases to remind us, even though all she manages to do is pilfer booze and drink up the profits.

The reality of the situation is that Shirley doesn't give a rat's arse about her so-called "family". Her mind was all over Phil and his rejection of her. She'd sell the whole lot downriver, including her two sons, if it meant spending the rest of her life with Phil Mitchell.

Shirley the doormat strikes again. Phil blanks her and she goes running after him. There's such a thing as angry sex, Shirley, and that's what Phil had with you. Gosh, sex is such a multi-layered subject now and this is just another way sex is used in the unequal relationship between men and women. Dean is going to use forced sex as an exertion of power and control, Mick cleverly uses the softer side of consensual sex, even to the point of grooming and conditioning his partner, in order to exercise his power and control. Angry sex is an uneasy meeting ground between the two opposite ends. The woman consents to what she thinks is sex for affection and love, when the man takes her assent as an excuse to vent his anger on a situation, usually (as in Phil's case), another woman.

I actually believed Phil when he told Shirley tonight that he still loved Sharon, after what she did. He's conflicted because he thinks this is all about Dennis Rickman, and he still feels an enormous amount of guilt for that situation. I want him to find out that Sharon knows everything - about the attack, about the gun, the lies and, eventually, his affair with Shirley. However, the only things which matter to Phil are his bank balance and Ben. That was proven tonight in his treatment of Jay. Once again, Jay gets booted out of the Mitchell sphere for having betrayed Phil.

Actually, wasn't it Shirley, some years ago, who reminded Jay that he and she were only in Phil's life at Phil's pleasure? That the moment he woke up and realised they were surplus to requirements, they'd get the boot?

Well, Jay realises that now. He saw through Phil's pithy attempt to make amends and play nice. As much as Jay would do is text him Ben's mobile number. It's a shame that neither Shirley, with her bad experiences of Life with Phil, and Sharon, with her long association and familiarity with the Mitchell family, can bring themselves to realise this about Phil as well.

Both women are better than he.

The stars of the show were easily Ann Mitchell and Timothy West. As usual. The saving graces. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Phil Likes the Taste of Ashtray in the Morning - Review:- 09.09.2014

Poor pitiful Phil! He must surely (pun intended) like the taste of ashtray and stale booze. Of course, now we know the measure of Shirley. All this hump about Ben being back was the key to the door to get her back with Phil.

And so much for Sharon's big storyline. It's a smokescreen, really, for Shirley, as are most things on the show now. Not only that, but Sharon's yet another victim of the stupefication syndrome which this EP uses against certain characters. We even had it articulated tonight, by none other than the new all-purpose matriarch-cum-enforcer-cum-power player on the Square - Shirley.

I know Sharon's stupid ...

Really, Shirley? What's Sharon done that's more stupid than you? Not much. You're both pretty dimwitted to put your apples in a cart owned by Phil Mitchell, but then DTC has made Sharon stupid in the same way he's made Alfie stupid and continued the stupidity of Bianca - characters who may have made mistakes in the past, but who were anything but stupid.

The most amazing thing about Phil's reaction was that it seemed to me that what upset him the most was his loss of money. Sharon really did know where to hit him, and he really thinks himself so clever that Sharon wouldn't have found out about his masterminding the attack on The Albert? How very patronising of him to dismiss Sharon's first attempt at taking The Albert as the little woman trying her hand.

Here's irony to Phil's dilemma - not knowing that Sharon knows about him being behind her getting beaten up, Phil shows great consternation that Sharon would even associate with Marcus after what he did to Sam. (You want stupid? Sam was stupid). If he only knew that, looking at a picture of Sam, Phil and Grant, spurred Sharon's memory of exactly what Marcus did to Sam and prompted her to contact him. I cannot wait until she reveals what he did, and I hope it's done publically, but I have an awful feeling that Sharon's not made to succeed in this mess.

Ne'mind the fact that she is an original character, ne'mind that she was on the Square well before any of the Mitchells, ne'mind that this producer in a previous interview cited her as his favourite character and tweeted more recently a vow to bring Sharon back to the centre of the show and bring back the "old" Sharon, that was a sop. A sop and a porky pie, because this producer cannot resist putting the Mitchells on top of everything, and nothing will stand in the way of his aim to promote a marmite character as the central focal female point in the programme.

He still thinks this is about Dennis, which indicates to me that he does still feel tremendous guilt about Dennis. As for Shirley, this whole escapade only proves how utterly and totally pathetic she is. When Jay trusts her with a confidence, she runs, like a tale-bearing schoolgirl, to tattle to Phil, because that's what this is all about.

I care about you, Phil.
You can trust me, Phil.

I'll be your doormat, Phil. Let's bring Sharon down, Phil, because you certainly wouldn't do what you've done to Sharon to me, would you, Phil?

This is why I hated Shirley and Phil as a couple so much - seeing Phil morph into a perverse and pathetic version of Grant and watching Shirley move into Mastemind Phil mode. How cozy that they seal their pledge to grind Sharon to the ground with a sex session in the dirty, squalid, oily Arches. That's a step up from where Shirley's slept.

As for the stupefication of Sharon, that scene in the Vic with Linda reminded me of two dumbassed schoolgirls, a watered-down version of Bianca and Roxy slanging at each other. Even though there were home truths spoken about Linda - as in the fact that she does look down her nose at everyone else and holds a higher standard, the hypocritical point of that being that, for all the cheap Lady Di version of an engagement ring she wears, she isn't married and would be mortified if anyone found out. And she is keeping Dean's advances secret from Mick. Had she told him what happened, this would have been nipped in the bud. But she didn't, and now Dean's obviously got the idea that she may be playing hard to get.

But I've watched Sharon since the very beginning, in all three of her permutations - from the original version, to the damaged and bowdlerised version of John Yorke, to this totally unfamiliar Sharon about whom the writing room cares for only slightly more than they care for Alfie. Her characterisation is inconsistent. The writing for her is mostly bad. Is anyone surprised at the actress's substandard performance? Actors can tell when they're being given the shaft, so they either phone in their roles (Jake Wood) or they caricature themselves (Shane Richie/Letitia Dean).

Sharon was rarely a bitch and never judgemental. Yet, there she and Linda sat tonight, trading barbs under the influence of wine in a scene reminiscent of Tanya and Jane. Sharon drunk is a rarity, Sharon drunk and loose-lipped, passing an assumption as gossip is something that would never happen. Who are the people who write this?

And, please ... how to emphasise that the Carters' partnership is based primarily on sex! Linda is about to become a bona fide victim. She is going to be raped. Rape is a sexual crime of power and control. Suffice it to say thatconsenual sex is often used as a means of control and an assertion of power in a relationship, as well. Mick does it all the time. Linda left him, and during her time apart, she had an epiphany - that she could live apart from him. She felt this so strongly that when she returned for a visit, she was repulsed by the memory of his betrayal. Instead, all it took was a roll in the hay for her to come around. Interesting to note that what Mick missed the most about his "wife" was the sex - not her presence 
or her humour or anything else, but the sex. Mick knows that whenever Linda disagrees with something or he needs to get her onside about something or distract her in an argument, he can always pull the sex routine - seduce her and get her in the sack and she'll agree to anything.

Just a final note to ponder about Linda, who's about to become a rape victim. Yes, rape is a crime whereby forced sex is used as a means to control and exert power; but consensual sex can also be used in such a manipulative way. The Carter partnership between Mick and Linda (because it isn't a marriage) is grounded on sex. Mick knows Linda likes sex. He also knows that anytime he wants to get a reluctant Linda onside about something or quell any disagreement, all he has to do is aim for a bonk. Get her in the hay and she'll agree to anything. That's consensual sex used to control and to exert power in an unequal relationship. Mick missed Linda. He missed the idea of having sex with her and playing the big head-of-the-household. It's an unequal partnership, and his consensual sex is used as an extension of his passive-aggressiveness.

This was a Carter-heave episode, again with Babe lumbering around. It's obvious that Sylvie is staying with her. I'm wondering if Sylvie is some sort of Boo Radley-ish recluse, with Babe buying lilies to humour her. I'm glad both Stan and Les, in a macabre sort of way, scared the old bitch off. She deserved it, after her rudeness to Pam.

The Carters don't infiltrate the Moon storyline until next week when the fire happens, but the less said about the Swiss-cheesed Moon troubles, the better. The lead-in storyline is so ridiculous, it isn't even a fantasy - it's a fallacy.

Bianca is leaving, and her leaving line is all about Whitney's dilemma. Whitney didn't need Bianca's permission to stay. She's an adult, with a job and a place to stay (with Carol), unlike the sulky, lumbering Liam, who's fifteen and acting like a spoiled brat. News flash: When it comes to some things, adults do make collective family decisions. Maybe Bianca is wrong, asking Liam to re-locate in his GCSE year, but he is still a child. TJ is saying nothing about the move, and he's got a myriad of reasons to want to stay behind in Walford.

Still, Whitney's decision is made for her by Lee. That's right - Whitney, who never hesitated in making decisions for other people and overstepping the mark - like contacting the fathers of children whose mothers had forbidden it and with whom she had no right - now bases her decision not to move to Milton Keynes on the fact that Lee "loves" her. I'm pretty sure Lee said that he loved Lucy too, or words to that effect. Bianca tells Whitney she shouldn't worry about getting hurt. Famous last words and overshadowing.

In a different way, Lee is as creepy as Dean. There was a cold shudder when he promised Bianca that he would take care of Whitney. Like he took care of Lucy, perhaps? Or maybe it's just that I'm bored with the umpteenth exploration of Whitney's lovelife.

Another meh episode, more me than Monday's.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Where Men Are Bad and Women Are Worse - Review:- 08.09.2014

EastEnders doesn't just have a problem with the depiction of male characters, it also has a big problem with the female characters as well. The men are all depicted in varying shades of pathetic, whilst most of the women define themselves by their sexual relationship. 

All of that was on show tonight, in the 14th year of the 21st Century.

It's interesting to note that there are three educated, well-spoken female professionals, all of whom are incidental and recurring characters - DI Keeble, Ritchie Scott and Emma Summerhayes. Summerhayes is a weak, neurotic flake and more akin to some of the other middle class female professionals previously in the programme who ended up being certified head cases, but Ritchie Scott and Keeble are monotoned and asexual. Interesting characters, yes, but dry, acerbic and openly cynical. 

So there are two ways of seeing educated female professionals - as neurotic, weak-willed sociopaths or dry, brittle ballbusters, aloof and haughty to the point of being frightening.

Then there are the rest of them.

Whitney mopes around Walford - and it looked as though she never made it to work that day, much less never told her workplace that she was leaving - with tear-filled eyes at the thought of leaving Lee. Her visit to him in the Vic was a deliberate bait to gauge his reaction.

I'm moving to Milton Keynes.
Oh, OK, nice while it lasted. See you around.

The classic romcom device again - the perpetual misunderstanding. Whitney's fishing for something definite there and then which will determine whether or not she goes to Milton Keynes with the rest of the family. She shouldn't need Lee's opinion or approval. She is an adult, she's 21 and she has a job. It isn't as though she doesn't have a place to live, because - at the moment - when Bianca and Co leave, Carol will be rattling around on her tod in that house.

But noooooooooooooooooooooooooo ... Whitney's geogrpahical future is dependent upon gormless Lee's immediate reaction. (BTW, what happened to the plumbing course he never started?)

So Lee bites the bullet on the advice of Stan - only fighting for the woman he loves, for Lee, means presenting an engagement ring to a girl you've known for a matter of weeks. Lee was intimate with Lucy within hours. When she binned him, he was practically on the verge of getting intimate with Whitney, again, within hours of Lucy letting him down. He dropped Whitney the moment he knew Lucy was definitely interested, only to get intimate with her again. Then she died, he left, and returned to stalk Whitney through Walford.

Now he wants to marry her. Either this is the most cack-handed romance storyline the writers have ever developed for two of the most unlikeable and pointless young characters in the show ... or Lee's Lucy's killer. Go figure.

Whilst we're on the subject of the Carters - and how could we avoid them? - they were out in force tonight. Even the nefarious Babe the Beeyatch, who more than makes up for Tina's absence. What a miserable, rude old bitch! Pam was nothing less than nice to her, and she was just a rude old biddy. I'm even more convinced that the only members of that tribe worth their salt are Linda, Stan and Nancy.

Mick has officially now joined the League of Walford Weak Men, the way he whined, moaned and stumbled around practically crying because there was no milk for his tea. Boy, was that a Freudian slip! Mick's missing his milk was a euphemism for Mick missing Linda, whilst his sister-mummy stood by ready to right the wrongs done to him.

She was everywhere tonight, wasn't she, SuperShirl? What's the football chant?

She's here, she's there
She's every f***ing where!
SuperShirl, SuperShirl!

There at the CarterVille Breakfast Table to quell Stan's double entendres, lest they offend Mick's delicately innocent ears, there emerging from the cafe to overhear Phil interrogating Abi and Lola about Jay's whereabouts on Good Friday night, long enough to hear the magic name of "Ben" uttered. Can anyone ever remember when Shirley had even given Abi the time of day, and yet there she was, literally scaring the shit out of her with her hectoring demands to know what was going on with Jay and if he'd seen Ben?

Here's food for thought: Ben was released sometime before Easter, released on licence. Cast your minds back a couple of years to the time it was announced that Ronnie was being released on licence. The first thing the authorities did was notify Kat that she was about to be released and to ask Kat if she, as the mother of Ronnie's kidnap victim, had any prohibitives to put on Ronnie's probation conditions. (Kat didn't want her anywhere near Walford, but the writers conveniently forgot that, didn't they?) My point is this - wouldn't the authorities have contacted George's responsible adult (his father, Darren, who would be trusted to act in Ben's interests) to inform him that Ben was about to be released? And, knowing this, and being in touch with Shirley, wouldn't Darren have informed Shirley as soon as he knew?

Just saying.

Once the truth was established about Ben with SuperShirl, the Avenger went around to the Arches, just to pick an argument with Phil. That's when I honed out of this, because we know what's around the corner with these two, and I really can't invest anything in this silliness again. Shirley is supposed to be this so-called strong woman, but all she ever seems to do is bully younger people or people in on condition to answer back and moon after Phil. So she's yet another woman who defines herself by a totally self-obsessed man, who makes a habit of throwing women under the proverbial bus when it comes to defending the skewed honour of his putrid family. Shirley deserves better, but because she doesn't think so, she deserves every crock of shit Phil chooses to throw at her. She's got her own family about to implode, yet she's more concerned about what's going on in Phil's.

And finally, there she is, skulking about an equally skulking Jay, who's obviously talking to Ben on the phone, just for a final session of bullying.

Do me a favour.

In the meantime, Mick's still sniffing after Linda, and here were the best scenes in the programme -the scenes between Linda and Sharon with the wedding dress. Linda, for the first time in her childlike adult life, has finally had an epiphany - life goes on without Mick. In fact, life goes on so well, that the moment she sees him again, she realises that she really is pretty pissed off at the way he's treated her. And that's a positive development, or so I thought. 

The moment she sought to confide in Sharon about the fact that she and Mick weren't married, about keeping a secret from the children and how mortified she'd be if anyone ever found out, was really quite poignant. I wasn't too keen on Sharon's advice - either leave him or forgive him, and then implying that she'd forgive him. I disagree entirely, both with Sharon's advice and with Sharon's own decision to forgive Phil.

That's the other thing about these weak-willed Walford men - you give them an inch, they take a mile. Again and again. Did Sharon's decision to forgive Phil really hinge on that double-edged sword of a conversation with Phil at the Arches?

You can't just go barging in there shouting the odds. That would make things bad for Jay. Sometimes when you go barging in, people get hurt, Phil.
Well, I don't mean for them to.

Oh, well, that's all right then. Sharon isn't stupid - although I'm beginning to discover that various characters not at the top of a perceived A-List are subject to stupefication by the writing room. No, Sharon isn't stupid, and she'd surely remember how Grant didn't mean for her to get hurt when he torched the Vic, but she did. Even if she hadn't got hurt in that raid, it was meant to frighten her, and a fright of that calibre could affect a person for life. That was a callous and cruel bit of covery bullying on the part of Phil, but now it seems that Sharon is intent on hitching her wagon to this moron.

Her smug, self-satisfied assessment to Marcus that she knew Phil better than anyone was pre-designed to presage a fall. Dot was being mightily smug about Charlie's presence a few weeks ago, and now we have Sharon secure in Phil's affections enough to brag about it to Marcus. Yes, Sharon should know Phil, and the Mitchells, better than anyone else. She's lived through hell with them, but once again, TPTB have dumbed her down for a purpose.

Just as they made Linda return to Mick on the promise of a slap and a tickle. The Carters' relationship is based on sex and little else. Linda begins to mature as a person and realise that, hey, there is life after Mick, when she returns on the skewed advice of a friend and falls right back to where she was before Mick disappointed her. So Mick will continue to sideline her in favour of SuperShirl, passive-aggressively bully her in the knowledge that a bit of a bonk would put things right. When he realised she was back visiting the kids, without his knowledge, the only thing he was interested in was spending enough time for a sex session with her, even if it were in the shower.

The Moons' situation is such an insult to viewers' intelligence, it isn't worth the hassle of discussing, except to say that, back in 2013, Alfie secured the market stall for Kat, paying her first month's rent, in Kat's name. Bianca was the employee, so now how does Bianca own half the stock? Of all the men in Walford, TPTB have stupefied Alfie the most, and I'm sure there's a reason behind that. Maybe they should have dug deep, found their own pair and shown him the axe. This is painful, embarrassing and insulting to watch.

Once again, the only adult in the room was Stacey, and the subject of the key was brought up again. She spoke to someone on the phone about the key, and we know it's now a key to something in storage. The person wasn't Ryan. It wasn't Jean. Could it be Sean?

Two suggestions: Jacqueline Jossa needs to stop with the screechy voices, and Danny Dyer needs to lessen the Cockney rhyming slang.

Meh episode. 

Everybody Hurts

Seen the new EastEnders' trailer yet? Everybody's talking about it - well, the fanbois are. In case you haven't seen it yet, here it is - the gist being Linda gets raped, Sharon gets dumped (and quite possibly shot) and Kat gets burned. After Lucy Beale being bludgeoned to death earlier in the year, here's yet more violence being meted towards women.

Ne'mind. Shirley's still standing, and that's all that counts. Innit?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Insult to Intelligence Week - Review:- 01.09.2014-05.09.2014

I am conficted. After the week, we've just had and getting an inkling of what's coming up in September, I need to ask myself two questions:-

  • First, how can something be so good, yet so bad to the point that it's the antithesis of what the show is supposed to be?
  • And second, is it time I called it a day in watching the show, in general?
For those of you who haven't yet seen it, here is the much-touted BBC trailer pushing everything that's happening in the show for September:-

OK, so let's recap. We've got a big bang explosion, which causes the Slater/Moon house to burn down (again), then we've got the welter of lies and deceit around the wedding of Sharon and Phil - she's trying to fleece him, he's unfaithful to her - Phil! Unfaithful to Sharon! With Shirley! The whole gaggle of retconned Mitchells and the old non-Mitchell coot that is Auntie Sal ganging up on Phil, along with NuNuBen, who looks like a raffish, teenaged Clark Kent, urging him to ditch Sharon.

After all, bellows Sal, she chose yer bruvva.

Not quite true, Dom - do try not to retcon history. Sharon cheated with Phil on Grant, after she'd married Grant and after he'd beaten her a couple of times. There was never a choice between Grant and Phil from the getgo. It was always Sharon and Grant. When Grant returned from prison, rather than leave him for Phil, Sharon chose to remain with her husband.

There was never a choice, but there was a tissue of lies the bruvs told Peggy, making Sharon out to be the n-word in the woodpile, who broke up some brotherly love.

Then, there was that monumental scene from the Bryan Kirkwood era (which doesn't count, except that Dominic Treadwell-Collins is as much a Shirley-Phil shipper as Kirkwood was), when Shirley discovered Phil's infidelity with Auntie Glenda and asked him to promise her complete fidelity - remember, they were about to be married as well?

Phil refused to promise that. 

I can't. That's the way I am.

When Shirley asked him if he would ever be unfaithful to Sharon, he looked at her as if to imply that he never would.

Along with the wedding shenanigans, we've got a rape. This time, Dean - the first of a gaggle of pretty boy bland characters who've graced the Square since 2007 - rapes his sister/auntie Linda. (Think an evil Wicksy raping Angie).

As someone pointed out to me, we've had Deano Wicks, Callum Monks, Danny Mitchell, the Moon brothers, Joey Branning and now Lee Carter - all shallow, cheeky boys hired mostly for looks and easily forgotten. However Dean returns, minus the "o", and takes his former character to both a new level and a new depth. And what do they do? The box him into a corner as a rapist and, I'm pretty sure, they'll despatch him in a box. As if that isn't enough, he'll sew his seed in the immensely unlikeable Tosh, giving matriarchal Shirley yet another grandchild in which to invest her venom.

Because this trailer, ultimately, is about the real star of the show, Shirley. The central attention of the trailer is all about her, and the end of the thing features a single gunshot ... but who's been shot? Certainly not Phil again? Shirley by Sharon to make us more empathetic to poor, pitiful Shirley and to make us hate Sharon even more?

And where, pray tell, is this Sharon Watts of Old, promised us by Dominic Treadwell-Collins, who also promised us no "greatest hits" and no sensationalsim?

Because, peeps, that's all September is - one big, enormous mishmash of sensationalism.

Its bums-on-seats time in the run-up to Christmas. Ian's away, and there's nary a mention of dead Lucy, a-mouldering someplace in her grave.

For those who would care to remember, the key elements of DTC's last tenure as second-in-command, were comebacks, retcons and sensationalism. Well, add to that, the surprise return. Don't worry about Dean's short shelf-life, when we have the wonderwet that is Ryan returning. That's right, Ryan of the eternal bumshot, an actor who, like the actor who plays Dean Wicks, did not have his contract renewed.

Far more worrying than the retcons and the sensationalism are the storylines contrived to arrive at the point where the big reveal/the big bang/the big death occurs. They are, quite simply, an insult to the viewers' collective intelligence. I'm all for dramatic licence, and I could just about take the total unreality of Stacey's instant appeal; but the farce that's surrounding the Slater/Moon situation is cruel and demeaning, to the characters it concerns, the actors who portray them, and the audience, most of whom know better. All in all, that's just a contrived hatefest, enabling this executive producers acolytes amongst the viewing public an opportunity to rant at Alfie Moon, who's become the fashionable figure of hate about at the moment, and giving Dominic a self-satisfying giggle.

It's all about re-writing history and reality. 

This isn't EastEnders anymore. This is dumbing down.

Monday 01.09.2014 - A Cheese and Onion Filler

The Moons.

Yeah, andWhitney needs a bath as well as being a snide bitch, filled with her own self-importance and suffering from incurable headuparse-itis. Stacey has issues? Really, Whitney? Have you looked in the mirror, yourself? Stacey's messed up? Really, Whitney?

Stacey killed a man, and that's something with which she'll have to live for the rest of her life. She's spent the majority of her life, looking after a mother with bi-polar syndrome when she was just a kid, herself. But Stacey has acknowledged what she's done, confessed her crime, shown remorse, and has learned from her misdeeds. She's returned to Walford now, intent on settling down, finding work and making a life for herself and her daughter.

But Stacey, according to that eminent judge of character, Whitney, has issues.Ne'mind the fact that Simon Parker Ryan DripHead, her brother, is on the run for murder - didn't you accuse Stacey of going on the run, Whitney? - and didn't he arrive in Walford, having stabbed a man? He was a grifter, a drug dealer and a cheat. He had no morals and had the backbone of an amoeba. If Whitney thinks Lily would, in any way, benefit from association with Ryan, she's deluded. Ryan barely acknowledged Whitney's existence, once he' dipped his wick in some girl's knickers.

It's not up to Whitney to decide what to tell Lily about her father, if anything. That's down to Lily's mother, but then, Whitney overrode Bianca, Morgan's mother, in that same situation too. But then Whitney always knows better than any parent.

The fact that she's been using the hospitality of the Moons, accessing Lily for the purpose of making Ryan aware of the fact that she was back in Walford, is nothing less than scurvy. Ryan's rights to Lily depend on Stacey, her mother, and what does Stacey hope to achieve? Ryan can't even use his given name, and he must be nearby for Whitney to arrange to meet him.

Stacey was well within her rights to prohibit Whitney from seeing Lily. Whitney is undermining Stacey's position as Lily's parent and principal care-giver, and she's abused the hospitality of Kat and Alfie.

You have to wonder at Whitney's stupidity. At the worst, Stacey had been sentenced to five years; she would have been out, after 2-and-a-half years. Did she think Stacey wouldn't come back for Lily?

The weak link in this storyline was the dialogue in the cafe between Stacey and Kat, where Kat started sounding like a clinical psychologist spouting textbook analogies, yet, it was in the cafe where Stacey renewed her acquaintance with Dean(o), both comparing their respective prison releases. That was the only bit of bad continuity to be found in the show - Dean referring to his release being one big celebration.

Nope. Dean returned from prison angry and aggressive. He secured the services of a prostitute and made Shirley pay, he took money from Shirley, verbally abused her and left, blaming her for his woes. Hardly a celebration. When Stacey threatened to smack Whitney, I punched the air. Stacey might need to wash her hand afterward, as much as Whitney looks as though she needs a good scrub.

Whitney and Lee - bleah! And Lee had such promise, initially, as a character.

Just an observation, but it appears that the council correspondence regarding the Moons' arrears are in Big Mo's name. That means she is the principal tenant. Surely, she must realise that the rent is not being paid, unless she assumes that the Moons are doing that for her; but I didn't think Mo was that obtuse. (This is the beginning of the dumbing-down, people).

The Non-Beale BabyMama

Amongst many things, this was the beginning of the end for the Spraggans. It started with the return of Cindy from hospital with the baby, overseen - in Ian's weaselly absence - by Sharon and Phil (whose own storyline is about to be resumed). TJ's gone from being the force behind CindyBoy who was subtly encouraging her to go ahead with the pregnancy, promising to stand by her, to yet another weak-willed male who wants nothing to do with parenthood. 

Or is he?

TJ was potential university material and was keen on staying on in school, when this brouhaha burst. Over the period of time CindyBoy has been gone, he's had time to think. Not honourable and a bit too late to admit you're too immature to be a parent, but -hey - the boy and his folks are leaving, moving to Milton Keynes.

I'm still not warming to Cindy, who seems to be the only person missing Ian and who still looks like a hairy manchild in drag. That scene on the couch with Peter the Prick was simply that of two well-spoken, upper middle class kids, the older of whom was instructing the younger on why they should be looking down their noses at the less-than-salubrious working class relative of one of the two. Poor Peter's frightfully middle class sensibilities have been stung by the revelation of Ian's kerb-crawling because this actually makes his family as base as he reckons Lola to be, the pukeworthy little cur.

As for Cindy, she elicits less warmth than Melissa Suffield's Lucy. Her speech, movements, rolling eyes and open-mouthed pout denote a great boredom with everything happening around her, including the baby. I didn't feel there was actually any love or affection for the child, she just appeared to be going through the necessary motions.

Denise Denise

Oh, Denise, oobeedoo, Ian don't love you, Denise oobeedoo ...

I'm glad someone remembered Denise, and that those characters who did, were intrinsically involved with her from many years back. Shabnam is the daughter of one of her best friends, Dean is her stepson. I was glad that when Shabnam called on Dean to help Denise, he stopped what he was doing and went to help. Dean isn't all bad, and finding out the rape storyline about to ensue, I wonder if this is going to be as straightforward as has been hinted in the latest release.

Oh Carol

Oh, Carol ... you are but a fool.

She's back, and reality has just set in. Initially, Carol's return (with a great pixie cut), gave us another weak wobble of dialogue, in the scene where Carol waited outside the Butcher/Jackson kitchen, only to overhear Sonia's public service announcement about a post-op patient's state of mind.

However, her scenes with Dot were lovely. The one occasion when Carol wanted distraction from the kids, and she's left to contemplate her own fate. Typical Carol to postpone important appointments out of fear of what might be said, only to lie to Sonia, as per usual. Interesting that she chose to seek out Dot, who was sincere in her help, concern and interest, until the arrival of Charlie, and thereupon another storyline is touched upon - Charlie is afraid too - that Carol had told Dot the truth about Nick being alive, when Dot had only got emotional about Jim in the wake of Carol's confession of fear. Nice, subtle reminder that Carol still has Charlie pegged. Carol knows Nick is alive, Max has rightful suspicions that Charlie isn't a policeman. Who's going to cop the blame in the eventual reveal? Not Charlie.

(Sigh) CarterVille and SuperShirley - Kiss It Better.

(Sigh) This is DTC's remit for Mamma Shirl - to kiss it better for everyone. I hope the world and Walford likes the taste of stale cigarette blended with vodka.

 Linda's gone and Mick can't even wash a pint glass without cutting his thumb. Ne'mind, his sister/mommy is always lurking about, like an avenging angel, in the background. Boo-hoo ... Mick wants her back. In this instance, I agree with Phil. If Mick hadn't chosen to get involved in Ian's problem, Linda wouldn't have left.

These were scenes interjected for no other purpose than to remind the viewer that the Carters are there, in the pub, and, therefore, very important. And with SuperShirley there on hand to do everything but wipe Mick's nose, this is the beginning of an attempt to re-mould her as the new-age Pat. She isn't.

Danny Dyer is beginning to bore me now. The saintly image was wearing thin, the exposure of his passive-aggressive side sealed my dislike.

The entire gaggle of Carters can slope off, with the exception of Linda and Nancy.

Tuesday 02.09.2014 - When All That Is Bad Seems Good.

Family first family first family first family first family first family first family first family first family first family first family first family first family first family first family first family first family first family first family first family first family first family first family first family first family first family first family first.

Do you think you've got the message from Tuesday's episode? Jesus Christ. The writer must have a degree in stating the bleeding obvious, because if we'd all had a pound coin chucked from the screen every time someone said that phrase, we'd be rich. That wasn't repetition for emphasis, that was dumbing down. Again.

That wasn't the worst part of the episode, because there were some genuinely good bits, but this was one episode where the bad outweighed the good. Having the characters repeat that line like a mantra (because "family" has always been the ethos of this show) was annoying, but there were other bits that grated.

What Was BAD about This Episode

1. The Reappearance of Ryan - Hello, It's Me.

 You know the surprises are getting thin on the ground when they drum up Ryan Malloy as the next surprise. Puke. Santer made three mistakes during his tenure on the show - Callum Monks, Danny Mitchell and Ryan Malloy - and since DTC, his acolyte, seems to think anything from his time on the show, created by his team during his first stint is better than anyone from the Kirkwood and Newman eras, I shudder to think that there might be a surprise visit from Vinnie and Callum or Danny Mitchell somewhere down the line.

Ryan was just about the wettest, drippiest example of a sex symbol there ever was - that sad, hang-dog look wasn't edgy or tragic, it was just awful. As bad boys go, he stank. Make him a grifter, make him a fence, make him a drug dealer, he just came across as a loser. Oh, mercy me! I just remembered he's another victim of Lauren's lack of chemistry too.

Besides, just like his sister Whitney, he always looked as though he needed a scrub.

Ryan came after Dennis and Sean. And failed. 

And there he was on Tuesday, folks, slithering around the corner of that building - and I'm surprised he wasn't on his belly - to look longingly after his sister, Stacey and Lily. Know what? He still looked like a sad loser.

I have the awful feeling that, since the McBusted boy won't commit to the show, that somehow, Ryan (who stabbed one man and is on the run for the murder of another) will slime his way back into this so-called "close community" and settle down with Stacey. She deserves better, just when she's being likeable again. He brought out the worst in her, the nadir of their relationship being their having sex on the bonnet of Dot's car with Lily asleep on the backseat, only to have him return home immediately to Janine, his wife, and bonk her, without as much having had a shower between taking the two women.

Dean is going to be branded a rapist - someone who is a much more interesting character played by a much more talented actor - and will leave the series, whilst drippy Ryan, a murderer (maybe twice over), a drug dealer and a cheat, takes up residence. Go figure.

2. Whitney Rhymes with ****ney. Shut up. Just shut up. First, she needs to wash her hair. Then she needs to shut the whining up and dispense with the self-pity. Why TPTB persist in forcing this pejorative and spent character played by one of the laziest actresses in the show is beyond my ken. She's never been considered anything less than one of Bianca's own since the get-go, and Bianca has repeatedly told her that, even though the snide little beeyatch has undermined Bianca's position as a parent, and stormed off in a huff when Bianca went to prison the first time, because Ricky refused to turf Carol out - remember, Carol, whom Whitney hated because her latest badboy Connor preferred a granny to her?

Pissed off that Stacey called her out on overstepping the mark, she wallows in a mudmire of self-pity. Whining about Bianca and Sonia helping out with Carol and complaining about that - Carol is their mother, and Whitney lives in that house, earns a wage and doesn't even think to contribute to the housekeeping. The most ironic line of the night came when Whitney whined about all Bianca thinks about is herself.

Really, Whitney? And you don't? Those kids consider you their sister, nothing less, but now you have no one, according to you. Worse still, she gets the hump with Lee because he can't drop everything and run to her beck and call, because he's promised his dad he'd help him out at the pub, and all that gets is a sarc-arsed remark from her about his putting family first. Ah, but Whitney isn't appreciative of the fact that Lee's family have bee through major emotional trauma that caused his mother to need some space away from his father for the moment.

If Whitney and Lee are candidates in EastEnders' relentless search for the latest Love's Young Dream, it's another epic fail, at least for Whitney. She's been with so many boys - Todd and dropping Todd for Billie Jackson, Peter Beale and dropping Peter for Connor, Fatboy and dropping him for Tyler, Tyler and cheating on him with Joey - that she's a joke, an even bigger joke than Lauren, whom they regularly present (at the beginning of each or her romantic foibles) as the self-perpetuating virgin. No one cares about Whitney or whom she's with, because she'll be with someone else soon enough.

I liked Lee when he first arrived on the show, but I'm not so sure now. That he moved so seamlessly from the tragedy of Lucy's death into relentlessly pursuing Whitney indicates that he's either amazingly shallow, emotionally immature ... or a psychopath. Take your pick. Any normal girl would be seriously worried or affronted at a man who binned her for a girl who was brutally murdered only to fall back on her as second choice, but not Whitney. She's bagged her man. Mission accomplished.

3. Carter Mathematics. Please. Get your damned stories and backgrounds straight. And your maths. Sitting on a bench at the allotments, nursing bottles of cider, Shirley reminisced with Mick about the time she and Kevin took Mick to "Viccy Park" and got him drunk on cider. Mick asked Shirley how old he was - she reckoned sixteen, he reckoned thirteen.

Well ...

Shirley is fourteen years older than Mick, so if Mick were sixteen, then Shirley was thirty. By thirty, Shirley had long left Kevin. She's 52, he's 38, four years older than Shirley's oldest son with Kevin. So she was 18 when she had JAMES, 21 when Carly was born and 24 when Dean came along, and she left when he was still a baby. Besides, when Mick was 16, he was a dad, the inference being he's too young to drink but not too young to be a father. If Mick's recollection were correct, it would fit in more with the timeline of when Shirley was still with Mick.

Not being a Shirley-shipper, I didn't mind her that much in this episode. Soften her abrasiveness, and she's almost likeable.

4. Not Romeo and Juliet. No, they're TJ and Cindy. I suppose it's actually realistic, but, presented with their predicament, she seemed immensely bored with the fact that she suddenly had a baby, and he's naturally terrified. All very well and good wanting a life after the fact that you've wantonly created another life whose existence now becomes your responsibility. I'll miss TJ, who's a good little actor and bears an uncanny resemblance to David Scarborough, and I'll miss Terry too, but Cindy comes across as a rude, snotty, little upper-class madam with no warmth whatsoever. I get it, we're suppose to empathise with her efforts to be a parent, but she's been such a rude and entitled little wotsit, I feel nothing towards her. I gather she's eventually going to get paired of with Liam. A 21st Century version of Cindy Sr and Ian. She'll run rings around him.

What Was Actually GOOD about This Episode

5. Detective Carol. 

Even though she's got worries enough of her own, Carol's still got Charlie's number, and she wants proof that he's really who he says he is. The dialogue between Charlie and Carol at the kitchen table was electric and poignant at the same time, from Carol's end. Charlie is trying to convince her that, for the first time in his life, he's part of a family (that wo again), and his grandmother was such a warm, kind and loving person. Carol agrees, but reminds him that she's keeping a heart-breaking secret from Dot. Just as Whitney had no right to decide what's good for Lily, Charlie has no right to decide what's right for Dot. Maybe Charlie is sincere about his feelings - he's another Whitney type on the outside looking in - or maybe he's a master manipulator for a reason. Very watchable actor and very intriguing storyline.

6. The Moons. Well. welcome to the world. Albert and Ernest. Traditional, old-fashioned English names. This time, form was followed. Unmarried mother and father both register the boys' names, and set a wedding date. I know Alfie's a popular hate figure, but it seems as if Mo is the principal tenant, and most likely, Alfie may have told her he'd sort the rent out. He's lying to Stacey.

7. Bye Bye Bianca. This is the beginning of the end. I know she's mostly been loud and vile, but I'll miss her. She's been a part of Square history for a long time and is connected to three of the Square's most important families, an important legacy character.

8. The New Improved Stacey. Brilliant character direction. The only adult in the room. The fact that Stacey approached Whitney and apologised for her outburst made Whitney look small. Surprisingly, Stacey was very nice and mature about the entire ordeal, reminding her gently that it was Stacey's place to explain to Lily about Ryan, and also explaining to Whitney that sometimes family ties didn't involve blood kinship either. Stacey's proving bery watchable - just don't bring Ryan back to mess her up again.

9. Denise Denise. The more I think about this scene, the more I'm sorry that Dean is being dispensed with by TPTB. He's genuinely fond of Denise, and so, in her own quirky way, is Shabnam. Denise, like Charlie and Whitney, is having her own moment of isolation and doubt and feeling alone. When Dean gave her a kiss on the cheek, it was really sweet, but is she finding Patrick too much, and will she seek solace in drink? Yet another one to add to Walford's growing list of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Thursday 04.09.2014 - Begin the Beguine of Unreality.

The Moons for the Misbegotten. Well, now we do know that Big Mo is the principal tenant. There's been no transfer of tenancy, and this begs the question that if Dot is only allowed one lodger, why isn't Mo? Why does no one shop her? 

I imagine Alfie told Big Mo that he'd take care of the rent and didn't, but now he's saying that Mo would take care of the rent. It's difficult to know who's at fault here, considering Big Mo has been known to cheat on benefits, herself.

What's sad about this whole brouhaha is to see the point to which the Moons have descended. I know Alfie is a popular hate figure at the moment, but people forget what he was like when he first arrived in 2005, which was why I thought the pub scene between him and Mick was so significant. Alfie was the prototype of Mick. Mick is what Alfie was. The scene in the market tonight could have easily been Alfie as Mick helping out a desperate Billy, for example.

The fall of Alfie is down to three people - Bryan Kirkwood, Lorraine Newman and, yes, Dominic Treadwell-Collins. Kirkwood returned the Moons as two strangers in an unbelieveable situation, which only got worse. The Alfie of 2003 had an edge and a darker side to him. Alfie 2010 was a blubbering, crying doormat, who allowed himself to be physically and emotionally abused by Kat, who'd been re-booted as a thoroughly unlikeable bitch.

But whilst Newman forsook everything else to redeem Kat, Alfie was abandoned to a lazy writing room, who found it far easier to write for Shane Richie than to write for the character Alfie Moon, who wasn't Shane Richie and wasn't supposed to be. Enter DTC, with bigger fish to fry than the Moons, who get lumbered with the usual DTC standard - babies - and the usual loser end-of-the-road storyline of financial difficulties, which beset so many characters consigned to the background of eternal hopelessness.

From the getgo, everyone knew that Alfie never worked well on the market, but there he was, on the market, after getting ditched from the pub. For the record, I'm Team Alfie, when it comes to the market situation. Aleks has absolutely no right to take the moral high ground. He's shown himself to be a cheat in more ways than one (pocketing Bianca's and Kat's pitch rent), involved in illegal selling on the market (Bianca's spray tan). He's dishonest, but hate being put in the humiliating situation of having his dishonesty discovered.

Alfie pulled a sickie. Who hasn't? He followed the prescribed procedure and left a voicemail, which should have been logged by either Aleks or Tamwar. The call was, in fact, being logged by Tamwar, until Aleks wiped the tape. As a gesture of revenge for Alfie finding out that he was married and playing Roxy.

Why is Tamwar even in that job, considering that he was caught hacking into Aleks's computer? That's gross misconduct. He openly opposed Aleks in the proposed closure of the market. Again, gross misconduct. Yet he couldn't think to stand the moral high ground over Alek's gross misconduct. Tamwar is a moral coward.

I dread the upcoming fire storyline. I wish the Moons had left after leaving the pub, and for the record, I don't think Kat, who's about to be a disfigured mother of three children under five, eking out a living on a market stall, would work in any other way other than to devokve into the next Bianca.

Just a final word about Alfie's rant to Aleks, which was neither racist nor xenophobic, but the rant of a man, who knows he's been outsmarted by someone just that willing to bend the rules even more for his own purposes, someone in control.

I don't know how many people remember Alfie's initial stint on the programme, where the copper who arranged to have him jailed for credit card fraud appeared. It transpired that the policeman was a bent copper, himself, and that the charges with which Alfie was encumbered were trumped. He put Alfie into an impossible situation, the way Aleks has. In fact, testing memories and listening cognition even further, as someone else pointed out to me, did anyone realise that Aleks actually started Alfie's rant by pointedly remarking "you English". That's as pejorative a remark as any, and I'll bet - in fact, I know - that most of the people who were belloweathering Alfie as a racist, a xenophobe, a candidate for UKIP or even a fascist, have been on the receiving end of some sort of slight to your country or your nationality which makes you want to go onto the defensive. Just saying that Aleks isn't lilywhite.
Oh Carol. I think this is the new, adjusted ending to a storyline that was supposed to emphasize and educate people about genetic cancer. Instead, Carol's cancer is now ending, it's gone - poof! - along with Carol's boobs. The cancer wasn't hormonal (really? She was menopausal), so there won't be any need for chemo or radiotherapy, and it seems to have been conveniently forgotten that Sonia inherited the BRCA gene, so there's no mention of her couselling or any therapy or preventitive examinations, mammograms. Nothing.

Because now begins the non-storyline of Bianca leaving with Terry, whom she now loves. Bianca and Ricky were the ultimate endgame couple, and when Patsy Palmer returns in about three years' time, which she most likely will, what will have become of Terry? Will he be another loser who abandons her and the kids, or will he be a victim of a road crash in which he's copped it, because I can't see Terry Alderton being invited back, as nice as Terry Spraggan is.

And there's the trendy vicar again, complete with body art and placebic comments of comfort, complete with the gift of a copy of the Bible, with instructions that she an "use it as a doorstop." Sorry, I'm not a believer, but I'd have scant faith or trust in a vicar who treats a book of doctrine by which he's supposed to live his life as little more than a doorstop. I hope this is the last we see of the Easy Rider biking vicar. Carol had an epiphany with David - she needn't live her life on the lookout for another man. Her priorities lie elsewhere.

The better part of this vignette centres on her suspicions about Charlie and the grandparent DNA test. I'm pretty sure Charlie is a psychopath, but he's a charming one (they often are), and he's put Carol off her stroke by willingly going along with her request for this test, even though he reminded her that more of this type of DNA testing was unreliable than was proveable - so if the test is inconclusive, he can point this out to her. Dot's discovery of Carol's doubts was downplayed, so certain Dot is of Charlie's goodness. Nick's return is yet another signature long hello, without the mysterious sightings.

I'll be glad to see the back of Tiffany, the 13 year-old done up to the nines, make-up-wise, and playing an eleven year-old. I hope she never returns.

Sonia, in this instance, was almost bearable, but there was more inconsistency in her character. She said she took the morning off her job to accompany Carol, yet when they all returned, the kids had finished school for the day. When does Sonia see her child? Bianca made reference to Sonia sitting about watching television whilst Martin was up to "all sorts," when Sonia seems to be on Albert Square more than she is at home. The obnoxious Tina is back in the frame, binning off any thought of Tosh to pull out a bottle of vodka to swill with Sonia. So Sonia forgets her child, yet again, to neck some booze from the bottle with a one brain-celled court jester. Still, ya gotta get a Carter in a storyline somehow.

Mick infiltrated Alfie's storyline, Tina's now a part of the Jackson-Butcher wind-down, and Dean's a part of Stacey's.

Stacey. Keep up the development. Once again, who does Dean think he is? Obviously, there seems to be a glut on hairdressers in the Square at the moment. Lola's an apprentice, Stacey's become a stylist and a colourist under the name of Jennie Smith, and somewhere along the lines, Dean learned hairdressing.

He's really enjoying lording it over Stacey, but Stacey has the last word always. Loved the way she called him "Dean ... o."

Watching that vignette in the salon makes me angry that Dean is going to be sacrificed at the Carter altar as a rapist. He and Stacey bounced off each other very well, and it would have been interesting watching their banter turn to something else, but I was glad Stacey played the adult and kept her priorities straight - Lily first - but we all know Max is offering her a job for the wrong reasons.

I don't know if the writers intended this (I can't give them any credit because I don't trust them), but the scenes with Dean and Stacey in the salon perfectly illustrate exactly how and why Dean might be acquiring the mindset of someone capable of rape.

Rape is a crime of control and power and exercising that control and power through the sexual act. Thursday's episode illustrated perfectly that Dean is someone who is meticulously in control of every situation. He has Lauren hanging on to provide sex on tap by manipulating her into believing that he wants to be with her. His "trial" for Lola at the salon consisted of getting her to do the most menial tasks in the place - sweeping hair and cleaning; as soon as she ventured to comment on a client's hairstyle, Dean plonked her back into her lowly place. Because he could. On Thursday, he led Stacey to believe he had a post for her and got a day's work free from her. All because he could, being in charge and in control. Every stylist who works for him in his business is a woman, and more than anything on Thursday, he was annoyed that Stacey persisted in calling him "Deano."

Friday 05.09.2014 - The Facepalm Episode.

What Alfie is about to do makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. What can he gain from it? The Council owns the property, so any damage would be claimed by them on their insurance. The only sort of insurance the Moons could have would be contents insurance, but they own nothing of any worth. I know that you can insure your contents up to an amount worth more than you have - people do this, that's why in genuine (and otherwise) bad circumstances, you can net yourself nicer gear than you had before; but if the Moons cannot afford to pay council rent, how can they afford to pay insurance premiums? 

Besides, it's not as if they'd be given a cheque for the inflated value of the contents of the Moon/Slater house,and if Alfie's aim is to get re-housed, the Council won't forget that the Moon/Slaters are in arrears.

Where's Big Mo? She is the principal tenant? I thought she lived in the house with them. Surely, she knows of Alfie's difficulties, and doesn't she get housing benefit? That was the whole ethos of subletting to Eddie Moon and his sons - get a grand in rent and still collect housing benefits.

This storyline is pitted with potholes and it totally, utterly senseless, unless we're being asked to believe that Alfie has taken leave of his senses upon hearing Tosh's insurance scam storyline. He would accomplish nothing.

Look, over 20 years ago, when Sharon and Grant were married, she wanted to re-decorate the Vic, but they had no disposible income and couldn't get a business loan for that purpose because they hadn't been actually in the business for that long. That's why Grant came up with the rat-arsed idea of setting fire to the Vic - a bit of smoke damage throughout, and - Bob's your uncle - Sharon gets to re-decorate courtesy of the insurance company; but the difference was Grant owned the Vic. Alfie owns nothing except a 1983 Capri - a car that, marketed correctly, would bring in a lot more than the 3.5 grand he was asking. Instead of advertising on a cardboard sign outside the house, there is the internet - Auto Trader or E-Bay. He could have netted a small fortune and repaid the arrears if the prices on this website are any guidline.

Look, we all know the endgame of this storyline - the Slater/Moon house going ~boom!~ reminiscent of Mad May's venture and Kat's disfigurement ... or in other words, the return of a staple element of the 2007-2010 Santer regime, of which DTC was a part: senationalism.

Now what did he say about no explosions etc at the beginning of this tenure?

On the upside of this situation - and there's a silver lining in every cloud - Shane Richie played a bloody blinder. I know Alfie is a popular hate figure, whom everyone wants to leave (and well he may), but on his day and used properly, he's one of the strongest actors in the programme. Put it this way, Neil McDermott couldn't have carried those scenes off. Alfie's desperation was palpable.

He's a good man, who's in an utterly hopeless situation that, yes, is his fault, but not entirely. People are too quick to forget that Aleks has a vendetta against Alfie, for exposing him as the dishonest cheat that he is. The final scenes at the barbecue between Mick and Alfie were very good, if for no reason than, juxtaposed, you saw (in Mick) what Alfie was originally intended to be, before a lot of well-meaning EPs panicked and started interfering in the process.

I continue to be impressed with Stacey and the way she handled Max. It was mete that Kat informed her that Max had been bonking Lucy Beale before her death. Stacey now knows that a leopard doesn't change its spots, and she definitely doesn't intend to backslide onto Max. 

As impressed as I was with Stacey, I was even more annoyed with the representatives of the Brat Pack tonight. Abi is bum-clinchingly annoying - snort, giggle. I have a distinct feeling that the move to Bolton won't come about in the end (more's the pity because I think Abi is a character who needs to go),but Jay's apprehension for questioning at the end of the barbecue is a prelude to the return of Ben, because that's where he was going on that night. Meanwhile, back at the Beale Ranch, is it me, or is Cindy bored already with the chores of motherhood? Tough titty. That's what it's all about, girlfriend, and you should have thought about that before you trod the primrose path. She didn't seemed bothered at all, more as if she were waiting for someone like Phil and Sharon, who have experience with small children, to come in and take over. Peter the Prick still has a face like a smacked bum, and who was looking after his stall, pray tell?

As for Emma Summerhayes, the less said, the better. Still say she's the new Stella.

The other good bit about tonight's episode concerned the Jackson/Butchers. Ricky actually got a mention!

Ricky's moved on. How? Where? What's he doing? Is he in another relationship? Because until this time, from Liam's stabbing onward, Ricky has been effectively whitewashed out of existence. At least, they gave us the courtesy of acknowledging that he still exists, because I was ready to explode when Bianca mentioned that she thought she could never trust another guy after Tony, yet when she realised Ricky was "the one", she moved heaven and earth to get him back. Remember how she shopped Sam Mitchell?

Yes, the ending is rushed, and she gets a happy departure with Terry to Milton Keynes, but feck me! Whitney's presumption and arrogance is astounding.

We ain't moving.

As if she spoke for everyone, but it's all about Whitney. It always is. What about Lee? (You know, Lee, the five-minute romance who wants to marry her?) I know Bianca wants all of the kids with her in Milton Keynes, but the truth is that Madame is almost 22 and is an adult. She doesn't have to go to Milton Keynes and can stay with Carol or whoever or Lee, instead of pulling a sulky face for attention.

Bianca and Sonia are as bad as one another, and there were plenty of home truths flying about that room. Carol's just been given the initiall all-clear for her cancer, but she's still feeling psychologically fragile, yet -behind her back - Bianca reconciles with a man, whom she'd brought into the house as a stranger to live with her family, and she was "gonna get round to telling" Carol. When, Bianca? They were leaving the next week. She never once thought to broach the subject the night before with Carol or even to tell Terry that she'd love to come with him and would join him later, when she was certain Carol was coping adequately. Instead, she puts the cart before the horse as usual.

Yet it's true what Bianca said about Sonia. She's jealous that Bianca has someone she loves. I refuse to believe that Martin has become a lout overnight, when we've been through all of this before with Sonia getting bored and looking down her nose at Martin. Carol has every right to be annoyed with Bianca in this situation, but Sonia didn't behave well either.

However, the more interesting aspect is Carol's deepening involvement in the Mystery of Charlie Cotton, who is Charlie Cotton after all, and who is probably a smiling cobra of a psychopath. His attempts to play nice with Carol, showing his concern and his caring side, don't cut any ice with her, and I fear she might subsequently be endangered.

And, finally, we get the ubiquitous Carter scene. Because we rarely have an episode without at least one of the new Brannings and their new matriarch. 

Prelude to an autumn of unreality, retconning and sensationalism.