Sunday, August 24, 2014

Another Fine Week Not - Review:- 18.08-22.08.2014

Let's not put too fine a point on it. This week sucked. It sucked so much and so bad that, had this been a week of Newman or Kirkwood episodes, people would be complaining of the horrific nature of it all.

Look, I know it's August, and most people are on holiday, so the form is for most soaps to tread water with lower viewer figures until September crops up and the nights start drawing in ... but guess what? The nights are drawing in, the weather's turned, and September is next week. Already, people are getting bored with the murder storyline. People remember that no one, least of all, the viewers liked Lucy Beale. The only thing this storyline has done is convince people what assholes Ian and Peter are.

As far as any of  the so-called supplementary storylines are concerned - you know, the ones that were meant to hold our interests until the Lucy thing hits full throttle ... like, whenever, well, the Charlie Cotton mystery is proving confusing and, at the moment, is acting as yet another long hello for Nick. And everything else, from Ian's liaison with Rainie Cross to Sharon's purported "big" storyline, has been taken over by Carters.

It took less than a year for the viewing public to suss that the Carters were simply a meaner version of the Brannings in disguise. Where the Brannings slept with each other, the Carters thrive on secrets and lies.

And family dinners.

Which brings me to something that concerns me greatly. Along with the usual problems this show has faced and is still facing, unabated, since 2007 in earnest, the bullyboi element has slithered from the woodwork.

These types range in age from 16 to 24 and are veritable Little Princes. Led to believe in a maturity they lack, they are arrogant to challenge others who have more life experience. This week, the culprits took umbrage at my mentioning of how far the show is catering to Millennials, in pushing such characters as Peter, Whitney, Lauren and Lee to the fore.

Yes, Millennials are those annoyingly shallow twentysomethings (and younger) who genuinely believe that anything which happened before their birth is unimportant and, therefore, can be disregarded - or, in the case of continuous fiction, changed to suit the storyline. The very fact that the bullybois were upset with this observation revealed them to be apt Millennials, themselves. One was even proud to take on the mantle - I wonder how proud he'll be in whatever profession he follows for his utter ignorance and arrogance to be revealed.

This led to an accusation of my being ageist. Not at all. Ageism is when you and your cronies assume that everyone who watches Coronation Street and Emmerdale is - in your words - old. When the tide is turned on you, for your ignorance, your shallowness, your preponderance for prolonging childhood well into adulthood, it isn't ageist. It shows how spoiled you are.

The worst part of this preposterous lack of critical thinking came from one of the bullybois, with a fetish for Liam Butcher, when he accused me of advocating slavery. I'll explain more about that piece of nonsense in the episode review, which happened to be the Monday episode.

Monday 18.08.2014 - We Are (Not) Family: Another Branning Beanfest

The central focus of Monday's episode was yet another Branning beanfest. They use any excuse imaginable to sit down, have a meal and then have a bust-up about it. The reason behind this debacle was Abi's exam results, which meant she was going away to Liverpool to study veterinary science.

Or did it?

Abi, as we know, didn't get the results she needed, but - as you do - she lied about it, to all and sundry, necessitating Max celebrating the first Branning ever to go to uni. Turns out she's going to Bolton, to study animal biology, which is a backdoor way of entering the veterinary profession. But that's not her only secret - the other one is that Jay, an apprentice passive-aggressive bully, intends to accompany her to uni.

Abi, needless to say, is horrified. Abi's intended all her life to go to university and has some sort of idea of what it's like - as in, it's not an extension of secondary school. It's an education in every sense of the word - living in halls the first year, getting to know people from all over the country, getting involved with courses and campus life. It doesn't mean coming home to a rancid flat and settling down in front of the telly with Jay after doing his meal.

The other source of tension at the meal - a family meal which included Max, his daughters, Carol and Dot, was Dot's invitation to Charlie.

A word about Max and Jay. Regarding Charlie, I was a bit Team Max in this instance. Max invited Dot to the dinner, as Abi's grandmother and Max's stepmother. He emphasised that this was a family occasion. Max doesn't know Charlie, but Max is very touchy about his position in the family, especially since Dot seems to have inherited Jim's assessment of Max as a son. Still, at least Max never tried to poison Jim, and Dot should take off the blinkers and realise that Max's daughter tried to kill him for no real reason at all. Of course, Max felt more than a bit put out by the fact a Carol appears in a late-model Beemer, along with Dot, both of whom have been to visit Jim, courtesy of Charlie. It didn't help with Dot prissily pointing out that she'd tried again and again to get Max to visit Jim. It was still out of order for her to have included Charlie in the invitation, when the meal was at Max's house, made by Max and at Max's invitation.

I couldn't figure out Carol in that instance. When she last confronted Charlie, she indicated that she was onto his scam, whatever it was, and until the last dialogue exchange between them, I thought she'd been snookered by him as well, but something about the way she assured him at the end that she and he were "still good" led me to believe that Carol was watching Charlie like a witch - keeping her friends close and her enemies closer. Max's animosities and suspicions are more open, and when Max's securities are threatened, he gets verbally aggressive.

Dot was wrong as well in remarking that Max had brought shame to Jim's family. Shame is something that found a regular place at the bosom of Jim's family - the problem is that none of Jim's children recognise the concept of shame: Carol with four children by four different men, Jack impregnating two sisters and their cousin, Derek in prison and involved in petty crime. Yep, Max can't keep it in his trousers - his first two wives were married because they were pregnant, and he left the first for the second. He slept with the girl who had been his son's fiancée and who went onto marry him, but Jack slept with Tanya as well (and Rainie). Does Dot know, I wonder, that Jim was behind the trick of nailing his son in a coffin for a night to "cure" him of his friendship with a black child?

As for Jay, he was just as bad and presumptive as Max. At first, I thought it was brilliant that he stepped up and encouraged Abi to find another place at another uni rather than continue the preposterous lie about Liverpool. She got into Bolton to study animal biology, which does offer another route to a veterinary career. But Jay isn't doing this for Abi, he's doing this on the condition that he come with her; it's a means of escape for him, and he takes it upon himself to become the voice of Abi at the table - a bit incongruous, since all the time he kept asking if Abi were planning on telling the people around the table the truth, he kept speaking in her place.

Abi's final comment was the very epitome of Millennial self-absorption. When Max objected to Jay informing everyone that he was going to Bolton with her, Abi informed Max that this was her life and nothing to do with him. 

Really, Abi? Who's going to contribute to your tuition and your upkeep in however long it takes you to get your Animal Biology degree? Not Jay, I can assure you.

It was this incident which led to the Liam Lover bullyboi accusing me of advocating slavery. What? Yes, go figure. Because Max silenced Jay's assertion and reminded him that he, Max, was Abi's father and that the last thing she needed was Jay traipsing off after her and because Abi got into the usual huff and said that Max had nothing to do with her life, this led to the Millennials being upset at my interpretation of this event.

First, the Branning girls are the very epitome of spoiled entitlement. They have, on occasion, even exiled their father from his home and from the very Square, forbidding him to come near them, but what happens? Usually, there's a crisis - Tanya's cancer cold, for example - and dear old Dad is needed to hold down the fort. Otherwise, dear old Dad is needed to pay the bills, which neither Abi nor Lauren is equipped to do.

For Abi to say that Max has nothing to do with her life means she will declare herself independent of his support and apply for any and all kinds of student loans and get herself up to her fat arse in debt for the first ten or fifteen years of her professional life. Because Jay won't have the wherewithal to pay those fees back.

Mr LiamLover took offense at my defence of Max imposing his will on what Abi could and could not do. That isn't Max using Abi as a slave, that's Max being a parent, and LiamLover wants to do a serious, in-depth study of what slavery is and what it entails before he takes the moral high ground with me, accusing me of advocating slavery. Is Abi held at the Branning house against her will? No. Is she forced to work from dawn to dusk, starved, forbidden contact with the outside world and forbidden education? No. Is she kept in chains? No.

She's simply asked to abide by the rules Max determines if she's going to live under a roof which he owns and she doesn't. Both of those girls are over sixteen. Max can kick their arses out if he wanted. He doesn't. He could also ask them to contribute funds in the form of rent or room and board, for the family housekeeping. That's not unreasonable, but he doesn't ask that. Shit, as hard up as Bianca is, she doesn't require that of Whitney. Maybe she should.

The simple fact of the matter is that when you live, rent-free, in accommodation provided for you by your parents or anyone else, you adhere to the rules they specify. In fact, when you rent from a landlord, you do the same - otherwise, you get thrown out. That's not slavery, Mr LiamLover, that's common sense and decency.

The final image of Max left alone at the Branning table, toasting himself, was priceless. Still, two Brannings are onto Charlie's deception.

Tuesday 19.08.2014 - Frets

This was a Daran Little episode, and that surprised me, because it seriously wasn't good, and Little is just about the best there is writing for EastEnders at the moment. Because it was so bad,I genuinely couldn't remember what happened, so I had to watch the episode again.

It was about a lot of "frets." That doesn't mean it was about Jay suddenly getting the idea of being a sidewalk busker and shopping for a guitar. It doesn't mean someone's about to worry over a particular situation, as in "fretting" over something, although it could mean just that, the way Abi is fretting over going to Bolton or Bianca is fretting over Whitney seeing Lee or Max is fretting over Charlie Cotton or the way I'm fretting over the fact that EastEnders seems to have lost its way again.

Nope, it's "fret" as in "threat" and line of the night goes to Lee Carter who challenged Bianca's t-h-r-r-r-e-a-t to do him harm if he hurt Whitney with the repost:-

Izzat a fret?

The tension in the tale was twofold and concerned mostly Patrick's situation in relation to Ian's
fear of Patrick exposing Ian as a kerb-crawler to Denise, thus revealing his infidelity with Rainie Cross. The rest of the tension was provided by Max's suspicions of Charlie Cotton.

First, Patrick's situation.

Rudolph Walker is playing a blinder in this situation, without uttering a word. His facial expressions are so eloquent, that it's easy to feel Denise's dilemma as almost palpable. 

It's true. Patrick has no one, and the other hero of the piece is Masood, who's vocal tones spoke volumes regarding the contempt in which he holds, not Ian, but Anthony, Patrick's son, assessing that Anthony's cheque for two grand he wrote is the value he puts on his father's life. Masood understands Denise and what she's going through, and why is it that I see a Masood-Denise relationship on the horizon?

Denise refuses to be swayed by Ian's arguments, which have the prima facie appearance of being concerned about Denise and how she would fare as Patrick's carer, but it's Dot again  - and Dot was being surreptitiously presented as someone presuming bad judgement as good in this episode - who manages to convince Denise that Ian's way is the best way.

Dot was at her hypocritical, unlikeable best in this episode, meaning she was immensely pukeworthy. She's an elderly woman who played the martyr in looking after her stroke-ridden husband, whom we're supposed to believe she visits every day. Dot is quick to quell any notion of Denise taking care of Patrick.

You'll die before he will,and that's something you don't want to hear.

I thought her manner pithy and abrupt with Denise. It almost seemed that she was apprising that what was good enough for Jim to suffer, so should Patrick.

She was in the same sort of judgemental mode with Max, who's suspicious of Charlie, seeming to horn his way into the Branning family, uninvited. Dot's vision of Max is clouded by Jim's disdain for him, and she doesn't stint in calling him out on what she refers to as his "sordid affairs." With bad grace, she accepted his apology, without acknowledging her own presumption in bringing along someone to a family dinner who had no invitation and nothing to do with Abi or Max at all.

Still, Max is the second Branning family member to suss that something is not quite right about Charlie, and Charlie feels it as well. However, he's got a trump card, seeing Max's intimate little conversation with Stella Crawford Emma Summerhayes, easily the flakiest and most inane copper the show has ever had. What a shame Jack isn't around to suss Charlie's claims also. Instead, we have Emma, how did a background check on Charlie, only to find that he isn't what he says he is all along.

The other vignette presented a horror spectacle - the first mention of Ryan Malloy.

Thursday 21.08.2014 - The First FacePalm Episode

Daran must have had a bad week when he wrote Tuesday's and Thursday's episodes. Just some observations, amongst the obvious face palm moments.

1. Lola

... is one of the most honest and sincere characters on the show, and it amazes me that the collective likes of Peter, Dean and Lauren look down their noses at her. Who are they? A moocher and a deadbeat, a wimp who went to prison for trying to frame an innocent man and an attempted murderer who slept with her cousin. Lola was brought up in care, the daughter of a known thief. Peter's father is a serial monogamist who treats his wives like skivvies and has a penchant for prostitutes. Dean doesn't know who his father is, and his mother is a functioning alcoholic who abandoned him as a baby. Lauren's mother, grandmother and aunt are alcoholics and/or drug addicts; her aunt is a prostitute; her father is a serial adulterer, and her family is basically scrubbed-up trailer trash. Yet Lola offends Peter's effete middle-class sensibilities, she's too common to work in Dean's trendy upmarket salon, and he takes pleasure in telling her. And Lauren barely acknowledges her. She wasn't offended by the way Dean spoke to Lola; that was all about the way he spoke to Peter. Peter is using Lola as a means of spying on Lauren and her new-found boyfriend, Dean. Dean is using silly Lauren as a means of attempting to make Linda jealous, and that sucks too. Lauren is silly enough to think that a man closer in age to 30 to Lauren's naive barely twenty, is seriously interested in her enough to want to date her after "getting the milk for free." He even reiterated as much to her.

2. Lauren and Whitney

...were the very epitome of self-obsessed shallowness, in that brilliantly contrived scene when they sat, side-by-side, at the Branning kitchen table, talking at each other. Lauren is supposed to be Whitney's friend, but she was nothing but smug in the way she prissily went on about her "date" with Dean, who - in case Whitney didn't realise - was seriously "fit." Whitney could only give a choked assessment of Lee's fitness and remark about how afraid she was of continuing this relationship.

3. Whitney and Lee in a farcical scene.

Whitney: You've been in the army. You've had thousands of girls. I don't wanna be just another girl.
Lee: I want what my parents have. I wanna get married young and have kids.
Whitney (euphemistically): Oh, all right then, let's go to bed.

Whitney said Lee "dumped" her for Lucy. Sorry? I thought it went like this: Lee met Lucy and slept with her the same day. Lucy binned him, saying she was seeing someone else, Lee flirted with Whitney, Lucy saw him snog her and showed friendly again. Lee slept with her, and the rest is history. He kissed Whitney. They were never an item, and the ease with which Lee transferred his suddenly deep affections he felt for Lucy to Whitney makes me suspicious of Lee's emotional maturity.

The fact that Lee is ready to settle down with whatever girl happens to pass his way and catch his fancy also tells me how mature emotionally he is. He knew Lucy less than a week, yet he slept with her twice. He knew nothing of her background, her family, the events in her past which made her turn out the way she was, and yet, had she lived, he'd have been giving this dialogue to her. Instead, he's telling Whitney, a girl about whom he still knows nothing except that she was at one time a prostitute.

The Carters really are children who begat children.

4. Emma Summerhayes

is seriously dumb. Flakey and dumb. Charlie is a confident enough liar to suss her naivete and take advantage of her Achilles heel - the fact that she's bonking Max, who is (as she parrotted repeatedly) a suspect in a murder investigation. She is the next Stella Crawford. Now Charlie knows her sordid little secret, and so does Jay. And surely if Charlie were "special ops" and they're so ingrained in secret police activity, he wouldn't be revealing that piece of information to a detective constable on "normal duties".

5. So Charlie's a caretaker (specialist bog cleaner) in a care home for the elderly. He complains about a low wage, which is accurate because care workers do get pitiable wages. Yet he swans about in a late model Beemer. How, precisely? Oh, and he's a thief.

This was the biggest twist in a tale which I think has a lot to do with Lucy's murder.

6. Upswing? Nick is back and watching from afar. Downswing? It would also appear that "Simon Parker" (otherwise known as Ryan Malloy) may be on the way back to Walford also, judging by Whitney's social media message. Puke. 

Friday  22.08.2014 - The Second FacePalm Episode

Yet more of the same Newmanesque shite. People wonder why the young people are disliked so much in this programme. Friday's episode offered plenty of examples why.

1. Whitney, Lauren and Peter. Go. Go now. I know Lauren is leaving. I just hope the actress takes to motherhood like a duck to water and retires gracefully. This week was a perfect example of why whoever goes onto be a future Executive Producer should never ever ever ever move either Whitney or Lauren front and centre of the programme.

I've had my fill of Lauren's funny voices, off-kilter delivery and windmill arm movements, all of which were on display tonight. Both Jossa and McGarty are lazy actresses, and McGarty's delivery is smug and mumbling. Maybe I'm in a minority, but I was more interested in Whitney's lethal acrylic nails than anything she might have to say.

Quite frankly, I'm not interested in the slightest in the silly romances concerning these people, and someone is thinking they're mighty clever thinking up complicated scenarios like this surrounding them, when the storylines aren't complicated, just silly and boring.

Lola likes Peter likes Lauren likes Dean. We all know Dean's modus operandi,but Lauren doesn't. She's filled with the notion that Dean, an older man and an entrepreneur, would think her worthy of a serious relationship. Peter the Moocher and Deadbeat was in full Tim-Nice-but-Dim mode tonight, especially in the restaurant scene. Looking after the family business is a chore to Peter as if flipping burgers is so beneath him, and he doesn't have the common sense to know that when two people are dining and there are several tables for two and one seating four, you don't seat two people at a table for four. The whole dynamic between him and Lauren was just puerile in the extreme, especially the ketchup scene.

Surely, those naff teeshirts are kept, in bulk, at the restaurant. It would have been far more sensible for Lauren to have gone into the ladies and changed her teeshirt to a clean one. Instead, she stomps off in high dudgeon, after promising Ian to work and help people out. This is what I mean when I say her character is the epitome of Millenial entitlement!

How many of us who work can afford to storm off in a self-righteous huff when something doesn't go our way at the workplace? Well, Lauren can. And who the hell would want to dine at Beales, after listening to Lauren snipe at Peter like a fishwife?

The hilarious part of this vignette was Lauren's obvious conceit with regard to what she thinks Dean thinks of her (hint: she thinks he thinks a lot of her, whereas for Dean, she's a warm body and a recepticle of the seed he'd rather be planting in his Auntie Linda). I loved it when Dean disabused her of the notion that he was giving Lola a trial because of Lauren. He wanted to see for himself how good Lola was, and he handed Lauren her arse about her own propensity to judge others.

Peter the Moocher and Deadbeat continues to be self-serving snob and an all-around jerk. The disdainful way he remarked about the work in the restaurant being simply "flipping burgers" (followed by his inability to unlock the restaurant door) was awfully condescending. And who was on the fruit and veg stall, pray tell? The income from all these working-class fixtures - a greasy spoon cafe, a burger joint, a fruit and veg stall, a chippie -will pay for the sort of middle-class lifestyle which Peter snobbily affects.

Whitney is doing what she does best - making decisions and judgements to which she isn't entitled. On Bianca's expert assessment that Stacey won't be released from prison anytime soon, Whitney contacts "Simon Parker" on her social media page - Simon, being none other than that wet, drip murderer of a brother of hers. (God, I hated the way she whispered, "He's on the run.") I hope he's on the run from the wrath of Janine.

Whitney has put a picture of Lily on her social media page. Really, Whitney? You had no right to do that, without the permission of either Lily's mother or the people acting in loco parentis, who are the Moons. Anticipating Stacey's long incarceration, Whitney reckons that Lily needs her father - both of her parents being murderers - and so she contacts Ryan.

What an arrogant, little self-righteous gobshite! This is not Whitney's call to make. Stacey entrusted Lily's custody, first to Jean and then to Alfie and Kat - not to Whitney, and for obvious reasons. The only rights Ryan has to Lily are the rights which Stacey affords him. Whatever Whitney thinks has nothing to do with what Stacey wants, and when Stacey returns, I hope she beats Whitney's arse for her arrogance, and I guess that means we are going to see one of the drippiest male leads since the Moon Goons and Callum Monks. I've just realised that DTC's last tenure not only gave us Ryan the Wet, but also Callum Monks and Danny Mitchell. Please tell me we can't expect to see a hattrick of jerks?

The fact that such a loser character as Ryan Malloy got so many mentions this week can only mean one thing - that a return is imminent. I get the fact that Ryan was supposed to be what Sean and Dennis were, but wasn't. He was a wimp and a wet. A pisspoor sex symbol who brought out the worst in Janine and absolutely destroyed any vestige of character Stacey had left. Besides all that, he's played by a meh actor who lacks the appeal of a lost puppy. Neil McDermott is doomed to walk in the shadow of more capable actors - taking up the limp noodle reins left by a blazing Robert Kazinsky, dumbing down Lord Farquaad in Shrek after the brilliant performance by Nigel Harman and wimping down Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice after the divine David Oakes.

When I think of the return of Neil McDermott and Ryan Malloy, I hear this ...

By the way, did I detect a spark between Dean and Lola?

2. The Ubiquitous Carter Scene. Line of the night goes to Linda about Whitney: 

She thinks Whitney's a sensible, down-to-earth, nice girl. Lee's face when she said that was an absolute picture. Who's going to tell Linda that Whitney is an ex-prostitute and a girl who has a reputation of binning nice blokes for the latest bad boy, who comes along? Other than that, what was the point of that shower of Linda inviting the exercise class who didn't show? The ubiquitous Carter scene, reminding us that they were still ... there.

3. Ian is still not a nice man. He isn't, and he has Patrick over the proverbial barrel. Ian thought on his feet, when he saw the fear and desperation in Patrick's eyes about going to a care home. He insinuated a brilliantly cruel piece of emotional blackmail by agreeing, in front of Patrick and Denise to Patrick being brought into their home for his care. Ian didn't have to say a word to Patrick. His look, over Denise's shoulder, was nothing short of a threat and a dare to Patrick to say anything, this reiterated after his assurance to Patrick that he "loved Denise to bits". (He doesn't. He loves her because she's the only woman standing who'll put up with his bad behaviour). He even invites Patrick to tell Denise everything (reverse psychology). Ian isn't doing this out of the goodness of his heart or out of concern for Denise and/or Patrick. He's doing it to protect his sordid little secret.

4. Surprise surprise. Just when we were wondering who kept phoning Phil, up pops Rainie, installed in none other than Heather's old flat, and Phil's been paying her rent. Remember that Phil and Rainie have all sorts of history. Does this mean that there'll be a total of three women lusting after Phil now?

5. The Talented Mr Cotton. The janitor who drives a top-of-the-range Beemer, pays off a stranger's £6k debt, and hands a serious wadge of cash to Les Coker. The plot thickens. Mrs Doyle was great in her part, but are we to believe that Nick has consistently returned to Yvonne, who was obviously his first wife, in between dalliances with Zoe, his second wife, and Sandy, his third?

Most interesting here was Nick's cryptic text to Charlie: 

What's going on here? Did Nick devise some sort of elaborate plot which would entail faking his death, only to have Charlie go maverick on him? Why? This cannot be a scam on Dot for money; she has none; and then there were those two calls Nick made to Dot when she was away, which Poppycock took. What were their significance? Has Nick been involved with this from the getgo, or has he only just found out?

One thing for certain, and that's the fact that Charlie is a psychopath, a seasoned liar and a thief, who's adept at covering his tracks and even psychologically manipulating his mother into enabling his behaviour. Interesting that Yvonne was desperate to keep Charlie with her, but in the end, Charlie returned to Dot. Pyschopaths obsess over certain people and things - Michael over Scarlett, Ronnie over Roxy, Dot's the Grandma Charlie's never known - a thirtysomething man so strongly attached to his new-found grandmother? Charlie's an opportunist, who sees Max (who is another person who's onto him) suspicious of him, and now he hopes to cleave close to Dot as a shield against the wrath and suspicions of Max and Carol.

We also saw how angry in a flash Charlie can get when crossed, as Yvonne pointed out tonight. So, is that the last we'll see of Yvonne? Has she gone? Will Nick find her? Is she even alive now, for I am still convinced that Charlie had something to do with Lucy's death?

Charlie Cotton is easily the most interesting character to come out of this year's storyline. He may not have been intended to be thus, but he is. I wouldn't want him to be a long-term character, and I would imagine that the truth would be out sometime between now and the 30th, which would - yes - devastate Dot, but I'm interested in seeing what Nick's part or non-part in this ruse is.

Oh, yes, Ian and Denise almost running into Charlie the Janitor ... contrived and expected. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The BratPack Are Back - Review:- 11.08-15.08.2014

You live on a street in a working-class neighbourhood. There's a bloke who lives in the end of terrace, much tattooed, hair perfectly coiffed, in love with himself and knowing he's a babe magnet. He gets involved with a nice young woman, leads her to believe he loves her, then bins her for someone else. He finds out the ex is pregnant, then bins the new girlfriend to move in with the old and raise their child.

The child is born, and before long, the bloke is seeing the other girlfriend, whilst living with the mother of his child.

Not good form, you say. Then, the current girlfriend announces she's pregnant. In neither case is there a proposal or an engagement ring or any voiced avowal of commitment.

The bloke is 23, the women, each, are 21.

Were this a story from your street or from the tabloids, all parties would be roundly condemned, especially the man involved, who neither could keep his dick from over-exposure nor could he commit to either mother of his children. At the very best, both women involved would be pitied for their stupidity.

Still, an incident like this would lead to most people sucking on their teeth and describing it in one word.


The Only Way Is Essex is a scripted reality show with people of little intelligence, no talent and a desire to be rich and famous without working for it. The men on the show are shallow and self-obsessed, and the women are likewise.

Jacqueline Jossa is a very young, very naive, functionally illiterate and spoiled youngest child of an embezzler and graduate of a fame academy. Note, I said "fame academy," not drama school. Drama schools admit via proven talent; fame academies admit by cheque. Jossa is the self-proclaimed leader of EastEnders' Brat Pack, a talentless actress who is all too aware of the camera, and who is and whose character on the programme is the very embodiment of Millennial entitlement, shallowness and self-obsession.

She's pregnant by the stud dude from TOWIE, whose ex-girlfriend, with whom he lives, has his 8 month-old son. Yet instead of eyebrows being arched, people are rushing to congratulate them both. Dan Osborne walked from the mother of his child, and his relationship with Jossa has been jagged from the beginning.

For the record and for the benefit of the rude person who labelled them thus, you can live with someone for donkeys' years, but if you ain't got that piece of paper, honey, he can walk anytime.

Just ask Jeri Hall. Or as Beyoncé says, if the respect and the commitment is there, "put a ring on it.."

And I'm not talking about the appendage wherein lies most of Mr Osborne's dubious talent. And if I were Jossa, I'd be getting checked for STDs.

Down to the review.

Monday 11.08.2014 - Emotional Rescue

 I didn't know how to take that episode. Seriously.

First of all, it was easy to fathom that the overall theme was emotional blackmail, and the best scenes were with the Moon/Slaters. Once again, Stacey stole the show. I have to say it yet again - her initial return sucked, but from the moment Stacey took responsibility for her actions, she's become one of the best characters on the show. Lacey Turner is awfully good at playing Stacey, and showing Stacey maturing is very good as well. It's good the actress has found her niche and is comfortable enough in character to want to stay indefinitely.

The rest of the show was infuriating, and I have to say it, the Carters are beginning to become a bit rank at the moment.

First things first: Alfie and Kat are back to where they should have been all along before the Kirkwood fuck-up. It was a joy to see them dealing with the newborn twins and the house a welter of baby things and the confusion that inevitably surrounds newborns. It's also good to know that "Bert and Ernie" are only temporary names.

I felt sorry for Stacey's dilemma, being hit hard from both sides by, first, Alfie's emotional blackmail and then Jean's. It's a bit disconcerting that all of the kerfuffle around getting Stacey to appeal comes from the ability or inability to cope with poor little Lily. Of course, Alfie has a point. He and Kat have three children, two of whom are infants. I wanted to scream, however, when Alfie used the line asking Stacey if she realised exactly how hard Kat was working, because I wanted to shout back to Alfie You should be working and all!

Then Jean rocked up, and I thought Stacey was pretty accurate in her accusations of Jean manipulating her, because that's exactly what Jean did, even though she originally denied it; she subsequently, practically admitted that she cut her wrists without thinking, as a means of making Stacey reconsider, and at least she eventually admitted that she couldn't cope with Lily.

The line of the episode goes to Stacey, the only one of two adults in the room at the moment (you'll be surprised who the other one is):-

I just want to serve my sentence and be a good person.

Of course, the appeal storyline is hard to swallow in its unreality. It is EastEnders' Tracey Barlow moment, when Corrie, some years ago, decided to imprison an important legacy character on a charge of murder she actually did commit. Three years down the line, when they wanted the character to return, they had to invent an equally unreal technicality. 

In this respect, as Stacey has reiterated, the police and judicial authorities know she was in command of her faculties and not having a bi-polar episode when she killed Archie. That much was established, and she would have been thoroughly examined when she confessed to ascertain that. How this appeal hinges on alerting the authorities to a history of bi-polar syndrome in her family, how she grew up caring for her mother who suffered from the condition and how she subsequently developed the condition, herself, would be money for old rope in real time and wouldn't even be considered.

But you know - and I'm a purist's purist when it comes to EastEnders - with the show being overrun and our being force-fed situations like the Carters, fronted by an outright bully, I welcome a character like Stacey, and if this is the only way she can return, then I grant them their dramatic licence. It could have been accomplished in 2010 by sending her to prison and having her being released on licence right about now. Still, she's back and I'm glad.

The other adult in the room tonight was - wait for this ... are you sitting down? 


At first, I was astonished that she was even palling around with Johnny and Nancy. There has been some friendly banter with Johnny, and if they're thinking about mulling a friendship between Lauren and Nancy, I hope that they pull Lauren up to her standard instead of Lauren bringing Nancy downto hers.

With all the angst and wordless blame hitting fever pitch in the Carter household, it was supremely adult of Lauren - considering the behaviour of all of Walford - to cast aside everything that happened and hang out with Johnny and Nancy, and actually, tactfully ignore the situation.Fat chance of that with Shirley's menacing glare greeting her, and all it took was a joke from Lauren about Nancy forgetting to remove her rubber gloves to get Nancy to put the proverbial pugilistic gloves on and blame Lauren's nan for the current situation.

The simple truth is this - that whilst the ultimate blame for this situation lies with Ian's penchant for kerb-crawling, Mick didn't have to agree to cop the blame for Ian's crime. Even good intentions and Good Samaritan-style deeds often have bad repercussions, but Mick wears his suffering like a Christian martyr. Has there ever been such a saintly character?

This is getting extremely melodramatic - the noble Mick the good brother; his partner Linda, chin held high and suffering with dignity and evil brother Dean, determined to corrupt the virtuous woman - all whirling around Mamma Shirl, daring anyone to cross her family.

Actually, I'm getting a bit browned off with all this "fairmly" stuff.

I'm a Mitchell!

She's a Slater!

Us Beales stick together!

We're the Carters, we stick togevvah and front it out!

Ironically, the most obnoxious family of the lot, the Brannings, never pulled this family bunkum - probably because they realised they were obnoxious. Of course, Sharon doesn't have that problem either, but let's hope that DTC remembers that Walford is Sharon's manor, by virtue of the fact that she is Den Watts's daughter.

Of course, the Carter-Cross conundrum is six of one and half a dozen of another. The scene between Cora and Lauren, when Cora is force to explain to Lauren the identity of the prostitute in question, was priceless.

The Carters are annoying me. If Mick gets any saintlier, he'll ascend into Heaven to sit at the right hand of God. 

This is London. I can't imagine that a place like that would be small-minded enough to gossip and giggle about a landlord's indiscretion. And instead of whispering behind their hands as Linda does the requisite walk of shame, you'd think all the sympathies would be with her. She's so caught up in keeping up appearances and belligerantly fronting it out, she's doing herself a disservice and forcing people to talk. Instead of putting themselves so front and centre, and making their front a challenge to the community they are supposed to serve, they'd better just to keep it subtle and carry on, business as usual. This way, it looks as though Linda is throwing down the gauntlet to the community and viewing them as almost the enemy in this instance.

The scene between her and Denise was ironic, considering that Denise's partner is responsible for Mick's predicament and doesn't know about what Ian's done, but - Lordy! - when did Mick become a pillar of the community? He's not been a part of that community five minutes! Patrick's a pillar of the community, even weaselly Ian, who should be exposed, but Mick? Not yet.

And Linda, herself, is so caught up in this dilemma that she's actually paranoid. She's worried about Shabnam's initial reaction in the Square. Shabnam would rather eat her fingers rather than enter the pub. She's not a customer, not a regular; and no matter what any of the Carters did, Shabnam would always judge them. There's a difference between Shabnam's judgement, considering that her father was once ready to run off with a woman young enough to be his daughter, and Lauren's non-judgement which earned her a pissy comment from Shirley regarding Max's conduct. Shirley has no right to make such judgemental comments, herself, after some of the shit she's dished.

Linda even imagined that Sharon was blanking her, and if that were so, this is yet another example of yet another writer who doesn't understand Sharon. Sharon doesn't know about Ian's behaviour, and she probably was off to help him with his appeal; but, given the right writer, she'd be more sympathetic to Linda's position, considering what she lived through with Angie and Den. The remark Shirley made likening Sharon to a witch on a broom was pukeworthy. A broomstick and a pointed hat would suit Shirley very nicely, and I hope when Sharon finds out the true extent of Shirley's association with Den, that she metes Shirley the same punch she gave Chrissy, and publically too.

Linda's on a hiding to a massive self-pity trip, and that's exactly what Dean wants to see. Misery loves company, and Dean is intent on keeping Linda company. The secret smile and the caressing of the wineglass as Linda left the salon was nothing short of creepy. And EastEnders seems to dwell a lot on creepiness at the moment.

Watchable episode, but the Carters are beginning to grate on me for the moment. 

Tuesday 12.08.2014 - Secrets and Lies

Better than Monday's, but there are so many secrets and lies swirling around various citizenry that it's difficult to keep track of everything. The Carters dig themselves deeper into a hole with the situation surrounding Saint Mick the Sin-Eater.

The Carters keep secrets from their kids and each other. They probably keep secrets from themselves and don't realise it. So now Mick and Linda are keeping yet another secret from the kids and presenting a lie to the public in order to cover Ian, whilst Mick resorts to telling Stan a lie when Stan's about to suss the truth. Pretty soon, no one in that family will know what the truth is anymore. Prediction? Stan will probably present what Mick's told him to Dean as the truth, giving Dean reason to think he's in like Flynn with Linda.

Speaking of Linda, this is probably the first time since she's been with Mick that he's let her down, and you can tell that she thinks he has. Saint Mick is too selfless to be believed. He'd rather sacrifice his own reputation to the public and to his children to cover for someone whom he's only known briefly in compassion for the fact that Ian's lost a daughter. Linda, on the other hand, takes the humiliation personally, and is offended that Mick would put a stranger's needs before the emotional security of his family. Here are the first cracks in the Carters' pseudo-marital armour. Linda feels let down and disappointed by her hero Mick, Mick is disappointed in Linda's behaviour, and isn't above using a bit of emotional blackmail in order to get Linda to back off her moral quest.

An important point to note is that there has now been a secret witheld by one Carter from another. Ian busted Linda's little secret visit to Mick. You can just hear the chinks in the armour begin to rust.

Ian's more worried about Linda revealing his sordid little secret than about the press conference concerning his daughter, and Phil is suss enough to realise that he's hiding something. And it was obvious that the police deliberately leaked the information about drugs to the press for exactly the same reason Phil told Ian. The police suspect Ian or someone within the family. 'Twas ever thus when they do those press conferences in real life. Ian blubs again - something that's getting old. The Beales have not come out of this smelling of roses, and Peter is rich, the way he he's ignoring Lola to subtly hanker after Lauren, whose five minutes of my good graces were up last night. Trust Whitney to be the one to point out to Lauren that Lola's behaviour toward her had something to do with Peter being Lola's boyfriend. Ian not only had to have a cuddle from Peter, he had to bring along a whole army of support. One wonders what Sharon's reaction would be to the fact that it was Ian, not Mick, who kerb-crawled. Or Denise.

Finally, Ann Mitchell and Timothy West stole the show again. Cora was brilliant in her dignified assertion that she knows Mick was guilty of his crime. She wasn't a witness, and she's basing it on Rainie's character. She's wrong, of course, and she's tragic. Everyone is wrong, and it's going to lead to a bigger wrong.

Ian should employ Alfie to run his cafe.

Thursday 14.08.2014 - Children Should Be Seen and Not Heard

I gave this episode a 7. I would have given it an 8, but I didn't and here's why (and, no, it's not because of the Carters).

The Brat Pack, specifically Whitney, Abi, Jay and Lauren. For good measure, I'll add Peter the Deadbeat Moocher to the equation as well.

I know they were there for a purpose tonight, but I'm still trying to figure out what the purpose is. Their remit was twofold - to emphasise the fact that Lauren has a crush on Dean, and to emphasise the fact that Peter the Deadbeat Moocher is also Peter the Deadbeat Moocher Condescending Cad, because he was jealous of the attention Lauren was giving Dean.

Dean is 27 years old - closer to the age of someone like Janine Butcher and the almost exact contemporary of Stacey. The female members of the Brat Pack acted like a bunch of screaming schoolgirls tonight. He would never, in a million years, show an interest in them for anything more than for what he could get sexually. Drunken Abi (who went straight onto alcohol after imbibing five coffees) snorting and giggling more than usual; Whitney shrieking encouragement like a fishwife, and Lauren doing her self-perpetuating virgin act tonight.

They stank up the place. I actually felt sorry for Lola again - much younger than the rest of that gaggle, apart from Abi. Peter persuaded her that he loved her, and now he openly treats her like a nuisance. She was trying her best to be there for him. Sometimes, it's very difficult to offer support to someone who's lost a family member, but Lola is so young, and we have to remember that, for all the beatifying Peter's doing for his not-so-nice sister, Lola, directly, doesn't have any nice memories of Lucy at all.

Granted, at the time, Lola was acting pretty badly, herself, and Lucy was struggling to keep Ian's businesses afloat, but it seems that Peter is ashamed of the fact that he's got himself involved with someone so socially inferior, when he can have, instead, a spoiled, entitled, self-obsessed attempted murderer, who has already broken up one marriage and think herself a moral arbitre. He seems to resent the fact that Lucy is dead, whilst Lola is alive. 

What he doesn't perceive is that Lola is more perceptive than he is. She honed in right away on the fact that Peter, who wanted some quiet time, suddenly wanted to stick around a packed pub once he saw Lauren was around; she also perceived that he left in a jealous huff when Lauren started flirting with Dean.

Oh, and Nancy's and Lauren's snide exchanges were equally as bad as the other. Lauren bitchily remarking on how immature Nancy was acting was cancelled out by Lauren's giggling twelve-year-old-girl-with-a-rockstar-crush routine with Dean.

Apart from Lola, those brats offer nothing, not even Jay, whose subtle passive-aggressive intimidation of Abi regarding her university career is appalling. Of course, that's him in the video, and he knows it, for all the red herring honing ins on Les, Dean (who hadn't even come to Walford) and Billy; but he's scared shitless because he's afraid Phil might recognise him and want to know what he was doing on that bus. Easy ... going to see Ben. I reckon that's how Ben's whereabouts will come to be known.

So now Phil knows about Ian and Rainie, his old crack cocaine partner-in-crime. And Phil just happens to have retained Rainie's mobile number after all these years. Pull the other one. It always amazes me how everyone on the Square has everyone else's cellphone number, but you'd think that Phil would long ago have wiped any contact with Rainie from any device. Ian being blackmailed by a prostitute whom he knows is a staple of EastEnders, and it's almost comical.

This murder storyline has done nothing for either Peter's or Ian's characters.

Another observation: As much as I want to believe that Phil was morally outraged at the Carters using the Lucy appeal as an added bonus to their Two-for-the-Price-of-One drinks night, I think there was a fair amount of financial concern involved in that as well, especially since he'd found the publicity for their drinks' campaign and reckoned they were pinching The Albert's trade. Standing the moral high ground and shaming the yokels from the pub was amusing. The pub has nothing to do with the Mitchells anymore, and yet it does. It's laughable - almost as laughable as Mike's watery threat. The most effective threat Mick could hope to make to Phil would be to tell his sister-mommy on him, and then, to his surprise, Shirley would reveal herself to be Team Phil.

As for Sharon, please, DTC, style her hair to be worn up off her shoulders. Other than that, she played a blinder. For a moment, I was worried that she was having second thoughts about Phil, but I'm glad she's putting herself before being impressed with the compassion Phil showed Ian. She has herself and her son to consider, as well as remembering the fact that Phil thought nothing of scaring the piss out of her in order to get his own way.

The final scene where Phil is informed that Sharon will be late had a twist in the tale, as when Phil pulled out his phone, I thought for sure he'd be ringing Saint Shirley. Instead, he's going to phone Rainie.

The truth and lies are getting so confused at the Carters, it's mind-boggling. Mick's going to lie about being with a prostitute so much that he's going to begin to believe it. Mick's concern is for a "mate" who fell off the morality wagon on the night his daughter died. Linda's concern is for herself and her image in the community. 

The Carters are quarrelling, probably as they've never quarrelled before -over the truth he told Linda and the lie he told Stan, who believes it to be the truth and who's passed this version of the truth onto Dean, which gives Dean some sort of ammunition which turns out to be blanks.

Dean and Linda are an obvious rehash of Sean and Tanya (simiar assonance in the names), but with some sort of sardonic twist. I hope this isn't a rape, because that would limit the shelf-life of Dean's character, and we're low on the number of males in the 25-40 demographic.

The line of the night went to Nancy about her parents:- You two act are worse than teenagers.

That entire lot has the mentality and the behavioral patterns of teenagers.

Watchable episode. Could be better. The "yoof" stank it up.
Friday 15.08.2014 - The Weakest Link

Once again, a weak episode ends the week, the high points being Jay getting antsy about the police wanting to trace the man in the beanie hat and then burning it. 

Oh, and Abi's non-results. Abi doesn't get the results she needs, so she comes home and lies to everyone about it. As you do. And thus boxing herself into an impossible situation. Am I to understand that her grades were so bad, she couldn't find a place in clearing? Somehow, I'm sure she'll either end up studying something else at the University of East London, thus remaining on the Square, or she won't go to uni at all and eke out some sort of part-time living on the Square, whilst Max subsidises her. Again, as you do.

Crumbs, I was hoping Abi would leave the Square to study far, far away (snort, giggle). What I want to know is why she lied to everyone? Because, unlike the lies of Mick, Max and her father, which are capable of being twisted and elongated, Abi's lie has a distinctive shelf-life.

This episode was 75% Brat Pack, with nothing happening. The impromptu get-together at the Brannings to celebrate a lie, ends with Jay storming off in a strop because the party had turned into a panel discussion about Lucy Beale - well, he stormed off in a strop because he was bricking it, thinking Fatboy or one of the others might recognise Jay on the bus.

Obviously, the reason the police want to speak to Jay is because the beanie-hatted man was the only passenger on the bus to follow in Lucy's direction. Well, we can surmise why Jay was on that bus and where he was going. This is the first step in the return of Ben.

But at times during these superfluous filler scenes of lather, rinse and repeat (Abi staring hopelessly at grades, hugging Jay; Abi staring hopelessly at grades, hugging Max; Carter brothers bringing party gear to the house; small talk), reminded me of the long Newman summer.

There were all the same old same olds simmering in the background - Jay surreptitiously leering staring at Lola; Peter showing up, ranting about a press report of Lucy's drug habits, and generally being the prick he's become; Whitney hanging onto her latest victim boyfriend. In the midst of Abi's phoney success, comes Lauren, Queen of the Entitled Millennials, whining about Abi having the opportunity to leave Walford. Well, you could as well, Lauren. All you have to do is go. Please. Maybe she will go trekking across the world with Peter, subsidised jointly by Max and Ian, and make a living teaching the underpriviled populations of the world how to gurn and speak in funny voices.

Dean deemed the get-together a children's party, and he wasn't far off wrong. Why would a 27 year-old business owner want to pal around with schoolgirls? For the same reason he wants to pal around with Lauren, who isn't far off being a schoolgirl and who suddenly acts as if she's a fourteen year-old with crush, hovering about him. Dean isn't the least bit interested in her, except using her as a sexual release and substitute for Linda.

Speaking of Linda, she's misreading Mick's signals entirely. It says quite a bit that she automatically assumes the bouquet of 12 pink roses was sent by Dean. She's lived with Mick for most of her life, and she never once thought that her partner might just be sending her her favourite flowers as a peace offering and means of saying he's sorry? Crow, meet Linda. Equally, her uncertainty when Sharon dropped by the pub to offer her support and to reiterate that she didn't believe the gossip and to encourage Linda to front it out. Linda needs to remember what Sharon told her about Phil and what Sharon's position regarding Phi actually is.

However, this situation is all about Linda and how she's perceived by the public. The public could care less. That was obvious at the exercise class. Buoyed by support from Sharon and Pam, Linda was fronting it out, until Cora appeared, at the end of the exercise session, and that was like waving a red flag to a bull.

Ian is another one, who's making a murder investigation less about finding Lucy's murderer, than about his own whiffy reputation. In the midst of all this, Ian's worried about Rainie telling the police he was with a prostitute the night Lucy was killed. Shameful, yes, but it gives him an alibi, even if it did mean he lied to the police. So Phil pays her off. He didn't kill her or frighten her, he gave her a wad of money to feed her habit. She'll be back as soon as she runs out of money, but I have a horrible suspicion that Rainie will end up brown bread. 

Patrick won't. He's getting better. As Denise says, he'll soon be back to the old Patrick, and that frightens Ian more than anything. Once again, Ian's treating Denise like "the help."

Amusing interval of the night: Max and the flakey Emma Summerhayes, who now knows better than to bonk on duty, and Max sitting alone in the portacabin, drinking whiskey, with the icky white sofa where he bonked Summerhayes prominently in the foreground.

Line of the night is Lee to Max ~ Going out on the pull.

What is the point of Fatboy?

Meh week.