Sunday, April 12, 2015

L'Amour et Le Mort - Review:- 10.04.2015

The long-awaited death episode. The reactions to one man's death and the dying of another. For all the casual critics of EastEnders as a proponent of misery, this episode certainly gave them ammunition.

Was it a good episode? It was watchable, most notably for the performances of Linda Henry, Danny Dyer and the subtleness of Lindsay Coulson, easily the best actress on the programme.

Yet it was also annoying. And frustrating. And it emphasised the fact that there are some supremely irritating actors who happen to play some supremely irritating characters.

Don't get me wrong, a lot of the episode was very effective and affecting, and for once the slipshod writing room had done their homework in the intricacies and detail of a terminal cancer patient's death; they even captured the most hateful and selfish aspect of Shriley's character and allowed us to see beneath the surface of that.

But it was an episode which I watched in a state of great perturbation.

It's ironic that The Death Episode concerned the two families who have dominated the horizon of the piece for the past four years, the latter dominating exclusively this past year. Yet it took a full three years' of continuous domination and unbridled growth - i.e., relatives and satellites coming out of the woodwork - for the Brannings to be so hated and reviled, and only one year for the Carters to achieve overkill.

It's not over for them yet.

Pray silence for the deceased ... both of'em. I really don't know whose relatives annoyed me more.

The Lesser of Two Deaths: Jim

It's life, Jim, but not as we know it ... It's worse than that, he's [i]dead[/i], Jim!

OK, OK, I know. John Bardon died a year ago, and Jim has been an off-screen presence since 2011. Since 2013, the Brannings have been dwindling down until they are a spent force. Now the mighty Pretender family foisted upon us by Bryan Kirkwood (after Kate Harwood and Diederick Santer began their expansion) as a possible replacement for Mitchell domination has been reduced to a shell of its former self - the original Branning, Carol, who's never really been a Branning at all (we've always known her as a Jackson); horny lounge lizard, Max; spoiled brat Abi, and the abysmal Sonia, her Fowler daughter and the weakest link either the Brannings, Butchers or Beales could achieve (Liam the Lug), and Whitney, who never knew Jim and, I daresay, never gave a rat's arse about him.

Jim is dead. Dead as a doornail, as Dickens said about Marley. Since he's lived off-screen for the past five years, meriting only a mention here and there from Dot, and an almighty blessing-out by her of her family's negligence of the old man, it behooved the show to kill his character off, off-screen.

It also behooved the show to use the death of this character, who graced our screen for the first eleven years of this century and who married one of the show's principal dame characters, a man who could claim relation/association by marriage to the likes of Pauline, Pat, Peggy, Patrick, the Beales, the Fowlers, the Butchers, the patriarch of the Branning family ... as a plot device for further enhancement of DTC's pet project family, the Carters.

As expected, Jim's off-screen death was a vehicle through which we could see the people who should be most affected by it - bar Dot - use it as an excuse to behave badly. 

Yes, grief does strange things to people, but then some people's true natures come to the fore by things which are associated with death.

First, there's Carol, and Lindsay Coulson never gives short change. She's a whirling dervish, from rising early in the morning, to be surprised by the foul stench of Tina, who seems to have implanted herself into that dynamic (puke), when she mused about having to collect Jim's clothing from the care home as soon as he died, because there was a waiting list for his bed. (Harsh reality in 21st Century Britain, and kudos to the show for having the guts to proclaim that. This is the stuff of Julia Smith's EastEnders. It's little remarks such as this which give the show it's cutting edge, not overt sensationalism). Then she winds herself up like a spinning top, whipping about the kitchen, fixing breakfast for the waifs and strays who make up her family these days, and concerned only about breaking the news to Dot about Jim.

Sonia the Dumbass: Do you want me to ring the prison?
Carol: No. This is something I have to do face-to-face.

How interesting that Nurse Sonia should opt for the easy way out, initially, and fail to cut her mother some slack for being unable to face Dot later in the episode. Bitch.

Carol can be quietly broken, and it was the sight of the contents of Jim's old suitcase, which seemed to break her resolve. Once opened, she had to go through his clothes, under the guise of separating them into piles for the charity shop or the clothing bank, yet touching every single item, until she's stopped by the sight of Jim's familiar flat cap, and she's interrupted by Saint Sonia the Self-Righteous, who doesn't seem to equate Carol's sudden reluctance to face Dot with her mother's own grief and shock and the fact that once Carol admits to Dot that Jim has died, then he really and truly becomes dead. But for just now, Carol wants to be alone for a few more moments with what's left of her father - his familiar clothing.

Not Sonia the Self-Righteous ...

She storms off to the prison with a bee in her bonnet about how pathetic her mother is. (Christ, can you imagine that bitch as a nurse? She's a geriatric nurse as well. Poor elderly people!)

Later, when Her Royal Saintliness has returned, she publically upbraids Carol for actually going to work to do a shift in the cafe.

Ya can't be bovvered to visit Dot, but ya can come in'ere and serve bacon butties to strangers!

You ignorant asshat, haven't you studied the stages of grief? Some people channel their grief into activity, in order to grieve during a quiet time. Sonia loves to put the emotional boot into people who don't measure up to her high hypocritical standards. Were I Carol, I'd have belted her one across her vile gob. 

It's this incident and Rebecca's innocent, overheard question about wondering whether Nana Carol actually liked Grandpa Jim, which sent Carol over the edge.

(Question: Rebecca is fourteen years old. Why the hell is she talking like an eight year-old? What the fuck is it with this show and child-women? The Carters have treated Linda like a child for most of her adult life. The result is that she delights in childish things - parties at the drop of a hat, being praised for doing something badly etc. Silly Tina dresses and acts like a five year-old. Nancy speaks in the singsong voice of a ten year-old, when she's twenty-one; and here we have someone who's supposed to be gifted and intelligent, asking the sort of question Amy Mitchell might ask as a norm.)

Carol storms around to Max, with a reminder of what Jim was before he alighted on the Square - he was a cantankerous, bigoted old wotsit. She had daily chores to do, and he held her to doing them, and when she got pregnant with her fourth child by as many men, Jim the racist proclaimed that she was the dirty slapper who got knocked up by a black man.

Wrong, Jim. Carol was the dirty slapper who got knocked up four times by as many men, a four-by-four.

Yes, this was the anger phase of grief, but Carol, being Carol and a Branning, which means being selfish, doesn't realise that the overgrown children in the household have followed her and now hear the worst about their grandfather.

Then, there's Max.

Why is it that, whenever Max is caught with his trousers down around his ankles and his back against the wall, the camera always manages to make him look like the iconic (in the US) character for whom he does a voiceover as the voice of GEICO Insurance, the Gecko:-

Max has spent all night exploring the hills and valleys of Karin Smart, who wants some more.

An aside on Denise Van Outen: I don't mind her. She's not a great actress, but she's the sort who could do well out of EastEnders, and she's certainly a better actress than Cassidy or the frightful woman who plays Pam Coker.

Of course, she's been primed by Phil Mitchell and knows exactly which button of Max's to push. As she admitted to Phil:- I quite fancy him.

So the scam is for Karin to sleep with Max, juice him up and sell him some dodgy motors - probably cut and shuts (Kevin Wicks redux?). Max pays her off in cash, she gives the cash to Phil, and Phil pays her a commission. Simples.

In the midst of this, we have a delightful, but brief scene with Sharon and Phil in the pub, where Phil shows Sharon the profits of greed. He's been selling some motores, he tells her, which aren't strictly kosher. I loved how prudent Sharon became when she thought it was Phil who was going to be offloading these dodgy items, but her face changed at once, to approving admiration when Phil assured her that it would be Max who'd be doing the selling for him. Now watch Max grass Phil up - or rather, watch Karin Smart grass him up.

Max's reaction to Jim's death is the biggest non-reaction of non-reactions. The only thing he offers to do is call April, Suzy and Jack (because, of course, none of them would ever come, even though we know Scott Maslen was asked). Max can't be bothered, either to see Dot or even go with Carol to view his father's body - or corpse, as they refer to it. Maybe they were afraid of that, or maybe that would have brought back memories to Max of having been nailed into a coffin all night, not once, but twice in his life.

With the Branning siblings - on National Siblings' Day, no less - it's every man for himself in promoting selfishness in order to allay grief.

And finally ... there's Sonia.

Sonia is the most annoying character on the show, and Natalie Cassidy is the most annoying actress. Tonight, when she visited Dot, we got yet another glimpse of her party piece when Dot was led into the room - the exaggeratedly sad eyes gazing, glazed over and pityingly into the distance, her mouth turned down in a little Pierrot moue and her expansive clasping of Dot to her as Dot twigged the meaning of the "important" visit.


Then the conversation with Dot, which took a decidedly weird turn on Sonia's self-righteous and judgemental part: as Dot reminisced about Jim, remembering that she'd taken photos to put up on the shelf for him and wondering about Carol collecting them, Sonia gets angry at her mother and berates her to Dot. Seriously, Sonia? Dot is a woman who has recently lost her son, and now she's lost her husband. She's seen her best friend, Pauline, die, and three of her grandsons.

Dot asks for the Vicar to visit her, reminds Sonia that she and Dot had the best of Jim and admonishes her not to be so hard on her mother, even included a note for Carol, imploring her to remember that Jim was, at least, her father. 

I honestly didn't know how to take that - was Dot being facetious, judging by Sonia's smug smile, that because they saw the good side of Jim, that they could allow themselves a subtle dig at those who mourn him who may have suffered at his hand? In the same breath with reminding Sonia that Patrick needed to be told, as Patrick was Jim's best friend - the black man and the racist.

People evolve. Sonia regresses. Axe, please.

The Big D: Stan and All Things Carter. 

Goodbye Old Shirl
I'm leaving the Square
But there'll still be 
Enough of you there.

There's Linda and Nancy
And Buster the Scrote
There's Dean out a-rapin'
And makin' some notes

There's Lee in the Army
And Johnny away
Sylvie a-rantin' 
And Babe holding sway

So while you're a-drinking
And Mick's looking sick
I'm off out of Walford 
Back to the Old Vic ... Shakespeare, that is ... bit of Othello, bit o'King Lear.

Stan certainly got the big send-off. I mean big send-off. Well, he's the big star, isn't he? So that means and merits that Stan, a character of whom we've only had one year's exposure, gets The Big Goodbye - full-on Tony Bennett singing "Fly Me to the Moon," big deathbed scene with all of his children and a deliberately underplayed in the only way such a stage-trained thespian as Timothy West could do ... with Shirley at his side, of course. This was always going to be contrived to have Shirly, DTC's muse and Stan's recalcitrant daughter, at his side as he popped his clogs.


Yes, it was affecting, and - my God! - EastEnders certainly did their homework regarding a terminal patient's last days, starting with terminal agitation - the way a dying patient may get restless and incoherent during his last days or hours.

There was a great interplay of gallows' humour from the beginning of Stan's story tonight, with Shirley hearing "hurts ... more" and ordering Cora off to find a doctor, only to have Mick arrive, spend some time with him and determine that Stan actually said "Hurst ... Moore ... Brooking" the Holy Trinity of West Ham players. Stan was preparing himself to meet his maker ... and Bobby Moore.

There was also a great and ultimate conflict between Mick and Shirley, almost for the soul of Stan. I'm glad that Mick stuck to his guns of declaring Stan his father, but Shirley, as fascinating as she was to watch tonight, was shown at her worst. 

This is really odd, because we know DTC wants the audience to like her, want to watch her and root for her, but a large part of people, now, don't.

Yes, she's nuanced. Yes, she's a complicated character; but she's simply not a character who's easy to like, and - at the same time - she's not a character you like to dislike, something that would make her watchable.

She's simply despicable. It's not enough that she's sided with her rapist son and openly declared Mick's life partner a liar for stating the bleeding obvious - that Dean raped her. Now, at Stan's deathbed, everything suddenly becomes all about Shirley.

Mick wants to remain with his dying father. He recognises Stan's shortcomings as a father, but he wants to revert to a time where he was known as "Stan's boy", buoyed on by the fact that Stan called out for him and recognised him. Shirley soon shot that down, harshly issuing a verbal smack to Mick by saying that Stan was drugged up to his eyeballs and didn't know what he was saying. Jealousy much, Shirley? Of your son?

When Mick articulates his desire to retreat to a happier time with Stan, being known as his son and always considering himself as Stan's son, Shirley attacks him again. That's right - over the deathbed of her father, she attacks Mick in the usual way?

You wanna be known as Stan and Sylvie's son? WhaddaboutME?

Kudos to Mick for his reply: It's not always about you, Shirl.

From a brilliant home truth, however, we go directly into a moment of maudlin, the gist of which reminded me of another moment of maudlin from years gone by, which led, incidentally, to a great jumping of the shark ...

Yes, Stan's sudden compos mentis moment where he joined the hands of Mick and Shirley, and strugglingly, reminded them of how much they needed each other; and as this entire storyline and the rape is, ultimately, all about Mick and Shirley, a boy and his mum. Mick misses Shirley. Shirley misses Mick. Yet, the mind game objective is cruel: Who has the right to be with Stan at the moment of his slipping this mortal coil?

Once again, Shirley uses the moment to her own advantage, subtly and deftly muscling Mick aside to assert her place. Mick refuses to be ordered home. He simply wants the right to be with his dad.

Mick: That's my dad dying in there.
Shirley: No, Mick. That's MY dad dying in there.

The inference was there, and rank was pulled at, quite possibly, the worst time in Mick's life. As I watched that, I was silently willing Mick to turn heel and go back into Stan's room, grow some balls and turf her out. But no. He didn't. He did what he always does when Shirley cracks the whip. He left. Disowned as Stan's son by Shirley at the moment when he needed Stan's acceptance and blessing.

Shirley was determined that it was she, and only she, to be with Stan at the end. Cora and the increasingly annoying Tina, whose silly little girl act grates on my nerves, were sent home. She's always talking and acting like a pathetically bewildered little girl lost during times of crisis when she's really a fortysomething woman. The family, when they learned of this from Mick, was right to take offence. 

Stan's final moments are spent with Shirley reminsicing about something, again, incongruous - Mick as a small child, dressed in a cowboy suit and acting like John Wayne. Once again, Mick spent four years in care - from the time he was about one year old until he was five. By the time he'd returned home full-time, Shirley was married to Kevin and expecting Jimbo. Where the hell did the cowboy story come from? Then, there was Stan's final rejoinder to Shirley to "protect" Mick, even admitting that he was hard on the outside, but soft inside, the standard PR blurb we've incessantly seen about him. Then - poof - Stan dies.

The highlight scene for me in all of this malarkey was when Buster Bloodvessel, King of Scrotes ...

... ambles into the Vic, intent on "bonding" with his grandchildren, only to be given short shrift by both Lee and, wonderfully, by Nancy, who defines beautifully the full extent of Buster's non-relationship to them:-

You don't have a past with us, and you certainly don't have a future.

Get Nancy some friends fast, please.

I was a bit put off by the Hollyoaks-ish ending, in that there were two deaths, and all we saw was Carol getting hugged by Sonia, and the rest of the vignettes were Carter, Carter, Carter, including the ubiquitous bedscene featuring Linda and a hirsute Mick, and ending with Shirley clinging to her lifeless old Pa.

They could have and should have shown Max musing into a glass of whiskey.

Decent enough episode, but not as good as some of the others this week and last.

Overkill - Review:- 09.04.2015

I was generous in rating this episode, but my generosity was extended only because of Ann Mitchell and Timothy West fronting the show. Of course, this was all about the real beginning of Stan's end - a character we've known for a year, but whose family have had and are still having a decade's worth of storylines thrown their way.

Old Walford took a backseat tonight. Worst off, the death of a long-serving, but long-time unseen patriarch of the only other Walford family on whom two successive producers overdosed their audience, served to be merely the ultimate in plot devices to achieve a final scene of peace-reckoning between the dying Stan Carter and DTC's marmite muse.

Hit it ..

The Long Goodbye.

Well, we knew it was never going to be a real wedding, didn't we? As soon as Stan wanted to see Sylvie, we knew exactly that - in true Carter tradition - there was another big, stinking secret waiting to burst out of the closet.

Of course, Stan never divorced Sylvie. The thought of divorce would have never crossed the mind of a fly-by-night as Sylvie was (possibly even suffering from familial Alzheimer's syndrome - see the brilliant film Being Alice to understand all of that), and Stan probably couldn't have been arsed to fork up the money for solicitor's fees. Besides, as he indicated tonight, he was probably carrying a torch for the old girl and thought she would return.

Sylvie was ferreted away, and he got Babe in return, hovering and helicoptering around all those years, spreading her special brand of poison and toxins. Awful character, and I'm not impressed with Sylvie either; but I was impressed by Timothy West and the wonderful Ann Mitchell tonight. 

This episode belonged to Mitchell, and I'll have to heap praise on DTC for bringing Cora, as a character, to fruition. Under Kirkwood and Newman, she was a horrendous, alcoholic old ASBO lag, not even worthy of influencing either of her granddaughters. Treadwell-Collins has given the character depth and fleshed her out. Under DTC, we've seen Cora for what she really is - a desperately lonely elderly woman, still mourning the loss of the husband she loved. As Ann Mitchell so eloquently had Cora state tonight, her marriage vows were forever, beyond "til death do us part." To Cora, marriage was forever, even though her husband had been dead for years, she was loyal to his memory.

We know enough of Cora's backstory to know she found it difficult to deal with terminal illness and spent most of her husband's illness propping up the bar in a pub. This is, most likely, how her alcoholism began in earnest. She drank to cope with her husband's dying and drank afterward to cope with her loneliness and her guilt.

Now, as she tenderly washed Stan's face at the beginning of a day, he recognises how deft she is with care-giving.

Stan: You've done this before.
Cora: No, but I should have.

Cora's care of Stan in his final days isn't just for Stan's benefit, it's her way of giving back to Bill, the husband who died young, and a way of expatiating the guilt she's felt for years of having abandoned the man she loved on his deathbed. She even visited his grave to tell him everything about Stan and to receive a message which only she could hear - Bill's blessing. She's ready to move on with Stan, be it only for a few months, a few weeks or a couple of days.

Ann Mitchell was absolutely amazing. She and Timothy West always raise the standard of acting on the show, but tonight, this was her baby. There was nothing so poignant as watching Cora leave Stan with a smile, only to walk out the door and steel herself against the pain of losing a man she loved yet again in her life. That five-second, wordless scene was powerful.

We knew, however, that this was all going to be a sham, as Babe said. Let's be honest, it was bigamy; but to be even more brutally honest, I have a feeling that the actual wedding ceremony was all for show anyway - a performance to favour a dying man in his last few days, and Babe's attempt to sabotage the occasion was as pernicious as it was pathetic for her hidden neediness.

The other good scene from that vignette, came in the pas de deux between Stan and Sylvie, which - in its own way - was equally as poignant. Sylvie, in the throes of Alzheimer's, not recognising Stan, but knowing, somehow, that he was at her wedding. Retreating to the shallow girl she once was, she witters on about her dress and how she prayed that it wouldn't rain on the day; and Stan, reduced to referring to himself in the third person in order to get Sylvie to talk.

Stan: Stan prayed too.
Sylvie: Stan? He never prayed a day in his life!
Stan: He prayed -
Sylvie: For sunshine?
Stan: That you'd show up.

Such banter back and forth, learning that Sylvie's mother, Edna, had warned her against marrying him and that Sylvie should have listened, because after two weeks, she learned that Stan wasn't the man he was ... and suddenly, she realises that the man with whom she's talking, is, in fact, Stan. The epiphany is heart-breaking.

Stan ... you got old.

Stan has to tell her, again, in the third person, that "Stan" wants to get married again. To someone else. To move on. As Babe slithers in to sabotage the moment and to order Sylvie outside, Sylvie discretely slips her wedding ring into the palm of Stan's palm. Whilst Babe scoffs that Sylvie didn't comprehend a thing Stan was saying, he got great pleasure in showing her what Sylvie left.

Same Shit Different Day.

And so it goes on. The Court Jester prattles on and on, harping the familiar EastEnders' tune of "fairmly" in trying to assemble the various and sundry Carters and their burgeoning satellites for Stan's "wedding." In the midst of this puerile prattling and looks of death Tina invariably shot both Shirley and Mick, Shirley got the line of the night.

Tina: Shirl, Dad's getting married. 'E needs 'is FAIRMLY.
Shirley: No, he doesn't. He needs morphine.

This is the Shirley of old - the zinger queen who could dole it out with the best of them. Of course, it's all about getting Shirley and Mick together under one roof for the ceremony, and Tina manages to get Shirley to agree to come, but the mood is soured when she shows up at the Vic, to the waiting family members, with Buster Blooodvessel in tow.

If Buster doesn't go, Shirley doesn't go. If Buster goes, Mick doesn't go. Buster bows out and - surprise surprise - Shirley follows like a good doormat.

There's the challenge set, but Stan taking a turn for the worst keeps demanding to see Shirley and wanting Mick to make it good with her, so when Mick finally swallows his pride again and goes in search of Shirley, Mr Scrote, himself, answers the door and doesn't know where Shirley can be found.

But we can guess.

Who got the duff duff by Stan's side whilst he called out in pain in the night?

That's right. Shirley Queen of Scrotes.

Le Plot Device and a Singular Lack of Talent. There you go. I've said it. Jim's death, the same week as Stan's was a plot device to bring home to Shirley the fact that her father is dying and time is running out for Shirley to make her peace with him.

Scores of things are going on in the background of this plot device, principally Martin's effort to come clean to Sonia ...

... about losing the house. (Look, that was partly the self-righteous bitch's fault for walking away from her marriage with her salary that probably helped to secure the mortgage, itself.) At least, Martin's told Ian, and now he's trying to tell his putrid wife, but she's got far more important things to do than to speak to the father of her child. She's got another family now, and she's letting Nana Carol parent Rebecca.

And speaking of Rebecca, that picture Martin fished out of the boxes Ian was storing, the one of Sonia happily holding baby Chloe

What the fuck?

That was one of the most traumatic times in Sonia's life, and there were no smiles and posed pictures of a happy mum with a child. Sonia was working furiously and fighting with Pauline too much to pose for a cosy picture like that. She wanted Chloe out of her life as soon as possible ... until she wanted to kidnap her two years later.

Pay attention.

The plot device began in the cafe, with Buster Bloodvessel and Shirley sitting down to a bit of breakfast and Buster morphing from Mr Scrote to Mr Responsible, admonishing Shirley about not going to the wedding, and saying he wants to stick around to get to know his grandchildren.

Pukeshit. Not only does he ooze total insincerity, the actor is total pants. The physical similarity to Phil is too coincidental, but he oozes low-lifery to the fullest extent, and the actor simply recites his lines. One feels he's reading an autocue as he hawks kitchen cleaner.

In the midst of this, Carol gets a phonecall, which causes her to stare blindly into space. Next thing you know, Sonia's called from the non-wedding, and here's the start of some more humdingery pit-sickening acting.

Strolling along the Square, Martin stops her to tell her that he's lost the house. (Cue Natalie Cassidy's Acting Technique #1: She narrows her eyes, screws up her nose, sniffs, and peers, open-mouthed, up at Martin, whilst repeating what he said):-

Martin: I lost the house.
Sonia (eyes narrowing, nose screwed, mouth agape): Sniff .. You lost ve'owse?

Now, it's Shirley - Shirley! - who summons Sonia into the cafe, where Carol's sat, stupefied at a table with Buster - Buster!. Sonia's first reaction is disbelief that Shirley and Buster are there, but Carol explains. 

I wanted them to go but they insisted on staying. (There's a reason for that, dear Carol).

Jim has died, it seems, and when Carol tells Sonia, we're treated to Natalie Cassidy's Acting Technique #2: Once again, open-mouthed, head thrown-back, sad clown look in the eyes, stereotypically tragic look on her face as she wordlessly clutches Carol to her.

There's a Natalie Cassidy Acting Technique #3 as well, and we've seen it. The mouth is agape, yet again, the eyes widen and stare blankly into space, and she clutches frantically at some part of her anatomy, as in her tits, for example, as she wails about something that concerns only her:-


Funny thing about Sonia's tits, she doesn't speak of the possibility of losing them anymore or the fact that she carries the BRCA gene.

So now you know it, ladies and gentlemen, the real reason why Jim was made to die a day or two before Stan. Jim's death brought home to Shirley how fragile time was and how little time she had left to make things good with Stan. Jim died so Shirley could get the duff duff. Go figure that one.

More Moon Monotony and a Familiar Minor Face. Sometimes EastEnders amazes me.

Derek Evans, the social worker. 

I may be mistaken, but wasn't he the social worker who placed Jay with Billy, who oversaw Louise's return and who eventually worked with Phil and Sharon when Sharon was trying to help Phil take Lexie?

Now he's back to evaluate Kat. Could be worse. Coulda been Trish Barnes.

Once again, this is a groundhog day moment, with Kat not cooperating, obviously raw from her suicide attempt, but savvy enough to quip that it was a one-off, it wouldn't happen again. (But it's the second time she's tried this, as people keep saying). Up steps Alfie, who again assumes blame for her condition and who confesses to her, in front of the social worker, that he lost sight of how important she and the boys were for him and promises undying support to the hilt. So, no, Kat's not quite right, just yet, but Alfie will be there with support for her to the end.

Of course, the social worker's assessment is vague, and he'll be back; but Alfie gets no thanks for his efforts from Kat, nor does he get any acknowledgement for his confession. Bet he'll get a lot of attention from Kat when he wins the Lottery.

Just saying.

Who's That Girl?

Well, there she was justa walkin' down the street ... Denise Van Outen. 

Her introduction was brief, and it's clear she's a honeytrap for the horniest man in Walford - wait, Charlie Cotton's sleeping with Roxy - the horniest gecko in Walford. Karin Smart, the widow of a dodgy second-hand car dealer with whom Phil used to "do business." We can imagine what sort of business, the sort which killed Kevin Wicks, the forgotten man.

Karin's looking for Phil ... just to do a bit of business. Jay warns Max not to get involved with the black widow-type, which only whets Max's whistle and wets something else in his anatomy.

Phil's face as he watched Karin totter after Max on marital aid heels was one of mischievous delight. What was even more surprising was Jay's part in the ruse, because I'm not 100 per cent certain of Jay's loyalty to Phil.

However, Jake Wood and Denise Van Outen worked well together. Just as he did with Vanessa, Max "sealed he deal" with a bit of 'ow's yer favva back at his place, at Karin's suggestion.

I liked Van Outen. Is she a good actress? Probably not, but there are scores worse than she in EastEnders, and she's an actor who's always wanted to be in the show. She looks like she belongs on the show, and I'd love to see a character who's a strong, independent businesswoman who isn't man-dependent and who is as capable of cutting a swather through men as some of the male characters have done on the show.

I hope she returns. Permanently. Denise Van Outen and Danny Dyer in EastEnders. Whoda thunk it?

CarterVille DeLuxe - Review:- 07.04.2015

Buster's song for Shirley:-

Oh dear ... it's CarterVille once more ... shooby-do-lang-lang.

The SideShow: The Brannings vs The Mitchells.

Poor Jay. He doesn't know who he is these days. He came to Walford as Jay Brown. His father was named Jase Dyer. He legally changed his name to Jay Mitchell as soon as her turned sixteen and got a pair of boxing gloves from Phil. After Heather's killing and his telling the truth on Ben, Phil cast him out, and he became Jay Brown again. Now, in what is rapidly turning into The Battle of the Arches, Ben calls Jay's loyalty into question.

Is he a Branning or a Mitchell?

Well, he's neither. He's a Brown. Or a Dyer, depending on which way Jay looks at it. At the moment, he just wants to keep his head down, do a job, get a wage and cause no trouble. The last thing he needs is Ben compromising him and Phil passive-aggressively bullying him into taking sides in a situation Ben created.

Of course, Phil wants The Arches back. More than The Albert, more than the R and R, it's the place where he's able to do his dodgy dealing. It'w the epicentre of the bent side of Phil Mitchell. With Max, it's a business, and Jay seems comfortable with that. He wants a peaceful life. Simples.

Jay also knows that he resides within the Mitchell kingdom by the grace of Phil's goodwill, and that's about as dependable as a weathervane in the wind. He's been booted out before, he knows he'll be booted out again. But Jay has something neither Phil nor Ben possess in a great way - a moral conscience. Max treats both boys decently; that matters to Jay. As for Ben, he's got form in double-crossing his old man. Now he's trying to do things by the book and stick with Phil like glue. He's pretending to be straight, something Jay knows he isn't.

There's a big staring contest in the Vic, with Max being Billy-No-Mates and drinking alone, whilst Phil and Ben sit by the wall staring at him. As Jay emerges from the loos and passes Max, Max offers to buy him a drink, but Jay chooses Mitchelldom for the time being. However, Jay's stare at Max is more baleful than funny or threatening (which is the way you can describe Ben and Phil, respectively). Jay's thinking critically. However Max may have acquired The Arches - and that was through Ben's stupidity and arrogance - he's been a good boss.

Somewhere down the line, someone's going to break with Mitchelldom. I don't think it will be Ben the coward.

The Carters: Just Another Fine Mess.

Gosh, there's so much going on here, it's hard to keep your head straight.

The centre of all the action is Stan, who's probably about the most stationary of all the family and their satellites. Stan is dying, and don't we all know it?

There's another central paradigm to the action tonight, and that's the mystery of who grassed Dean to the police?

Well, the viewers know, don't we?

This is what starts all the balls rolling downhill. Sort of like Thunderball, that would be Buster Bloodvessel ...

Yuck. He neither compliments either Tom Jones or James Bond.

Buster, and I may say it freely, is a scrote.

The character is played by an actor who's seriously embarrassing, and the character, himself, is Phil-lite - all mouth and no trousers, another man hiding behind, whilst manipulating, a woman. We got a snippet of Buster's and Shirley's backstory tonight when, whist waiting to see an imprisoned Dean, he related the story of the lesson Shirley taught him - never give up on what you've got - and then he proceeded to relate the story of how someone had nicked his bike as a youngster and it was Shirley -Shirley - who got the bike back. 

A girl fought his battle for him.

And that was the moment ... THE moment.

The moment what? The moment he'd sample the mechandise and then walk away? If Shirley taught him never to give up, why has it been always Shirley who's sought Bloodvessel? Bloodvessel's first action, after finding out Dean had been arrested, is to race out into the street and belloweather up at Mick's window, calling him "scum" and "grass." (In case you haven't forgotten, scrote, Mick is your son also). The next day, as he's sulking and preparing to leave, the only thing he can think to do is blameShirley and Dean for his not being able to abscond to Greece.

I truly cannot fathom whether Shirley believes Dean is innocent or not. I guess now she's back in the innocent camp. Most of the Carter action centres around what the rape crisis has devolved into - Stan calling the shots from his deathbed about wanting Mick to reunite with his real mother, Mick's relationship with Shrley and now with Buster, his birth father. Linda, the real epicentre of the piece, originally - ya know, the rape victim - has been shunted to the sidelines to such an extent that when Mick tells her tonight that Stan's dying wish is for Mick to make it right with Shirley, Linda gives this her blessing.

Yes, Shirley is Mick's mother, but she's also the person who's not been shy to put it about that Dean is the innocent party in the rape allegations, and Linda has been lying all along. Shirley and Bloodvessel are adamant about Dean's innocence. Dean even tells them he has substantial cash squirreled away at Blades - has he still been paying Phil Mitchell weekly? - enough for a good brief, whom, Shirley confides to Buster, can get Dean out in a New York Minute.

Bloodvessel's prime motive throughout the piece has been to stir trouble with "Mick the Grass," and this means hanging menancingly about the pub, trying to look fear-inducing and failing.

Kudos to Lee for sticking his oar in. Bloodvessel, a wheezing, unshaven, unfit scrote who's a poor man's Phil Mitchell thinks he can tackle a serving soldier (oh, all right, he's serving in the British Ava army) who's trained to the hilt and who's seen time in Afghanistan? Pull the other one. As Lee says ~You don't want to know.~

And kudos to Mick as well, for fronting that despicable scrotey little man out. Mick tells him that he doesn't need the extra aggravation, as his father is seeing out his last days, and they're concerned with him.

Up pops Mr Arrogance ...

Favvah? You wanna get yer facts straight.

And Mick does. Beautifully. Stan was the man who was there for him - only semi-there, but more than the sperm-donating scrote whom he doesn't know or like was. End of. Now Mick should mosey on down to the prison and scream that to Dean about Kevin; then he should mosey on across the Square and scream that to Sharon about Den and Ange.

Bloodvessel is intent on proving Mick was the person who grassed Dean - and he uses the royal "we" when speaking about Dean as if Dean is himself. After all, it was Mick who grassed "us" up the last time he was here. Shirley, on the other hand, was sublime in all her cowardice.

Linda Henry is right when she says that Shirley's motivating force is her cowardice. Usually, when the going got tough, Shirl got going. Tonight, it wouldn't have taken rocket science for Buster to fathom that Shirley was the one who'd told the police about Dean, after the way she dissuaded him from accusing Mick.

You don't know, you don't know became her mantra tonight. She was conflicted, yet again, by loyalty in protecting another son and loyalty to the man whom she supposedly loves, Mick's father. Finallly, Mick's demeanor was enough to convince the Scrote that he didn't grass Dean, and it's then and only then that Bloodvessel's one brain cell kicks into action.

Slowly but surely ...

... he comes to the conclusion that it's Shirley who's done the deed. He remembers her telling Buster and Dean that it could be a blessing that Dean's in prison. Then he'll get his day in court and be proven innocent legally. In the meantime, the police liaison officer is visiting Mick and Linda - ya know, the woman whom Dean raped? - apprising them of the fact that Dean had been taken off the streets. Not only had he been arrested for jumping bail, he'd assaulted a police officer, and he'd have to do time for that.

Shirley proves, yet again, how desperate she is for male company by tearing down the street after a sulking Bloodvessel, trying to explain to him how Dean needed to clear his name and prove his innocence in the court. Ironically, it was Lee and Nancy who inadvertantly reminded Bloodvessel of the importance of family, on the way to visit their grandfather (their choice of words). Even more ironically, Linda had stepped up to the plate and encouraged Mick to approach Shirley about a rapprochement.

But Shirley, being Shirley, is caught just at the moment when Bloodvessel returns, vowing to be there when Dean walks free from the court, an innocent man. Given the choice between reconciling with her son and cosying up with her babydaddy, Shirley chooses the man over the son.

I cannot wait to see their abject faces when it's finally brought home to them that saintly Dean is a rapist.

Meanwhile, we had Tina flapping about the place trying to move Stan's chair and find him a television, and Cora, steeling herself to visit Stan, in what was, probably, the best scene in the episode.

The quiet reminiscences and conversation between a woman and a man who found each other very late in life, too late - in fact - to have a life together, snatching whatever precious moments they could - the camera catching Cora subtly holding Stan's hand as Stan drifted off in one of the many pre-coma sleeps he'll have, only to awaken and ask that they be married the next day was poignant. Ann Mitchell and Timothy West, again, gave one of their many masterclasses in showing that acting needn't be all about shouting and screaming the odds.

Beautiful. And credit to Danny Dyer also.

Is This the Beginning of the End? (Sigh) ... the Moons. Kat is home, and I can't believe the psychiatric nurse simply told her that this would "take time." For what it's worth, I didn't think Alfie was shirking being around her by taking her place on the stall. I thought he was keeping the pitch open for her and earning money for her in her absence. Instead, he lets himself be convinced by Donna, that his place is in the flat, looking after Kat 24/7- probably because he's competition to Donna, if her face were anything to go by as Alfie made sales.

And, thus, we have Alfie swearing to move back into the flat, sleeping on the couch, in order to care for and look after Kat. 


This was a watchable episode, but it was by no means outstanding, apart from the West-Mitchell scene.

I am offended that the rape storyline became little more than a plot device to develop the relationship between Mick and Shirley. Very bad of DTC to do that.