Sunday, October 19, 2014

One Bad Apple (Dexter) - Review:- 17.10.2014

I've never been one to mince words about EastEnders. It's my favourite soap, and it always has been, which is why, when it's rotten, I take no quarter in calling out the stink, even though many people don't like to hear it; but when it's good, it makes me happy to watch it. It doesn't become a chore of loyalty, and this autumn, I've actually looked forward to watching the show.

However, it still needs to cut some deadwood, and it's on a serious hiding to itself in potentially ruining characters of great promise.

And the Friday episode is still the weakest of the week, even when it's written by Daran Little.

The Carters: Secrets and Lies. I bloody love Elaine, and I'm wondering if the character hasn't been given the name "Elaine" in homage to Elaine Page. Linda's a big fan of musicals, and the actress who plays her has extensive background in West End musicals, so I'm wondering if her character might be a take-off of Page, but that's beside the point. 

Elaine fits right in. She's a natural to that set-up and I hope that isn't the last we've seen of her; but - oh, my Lord! - poor Linda! To say I was shocked that Elaine had conjectured that Linda had been having an affair with Dean would be an understatement. This was Linda's mother, who, in her own words, was more like a friend than a mum. But maybe that was it, as was later disclosed - Elaine was projecting her own experience onto that of her daughter. 

Elaine had an affair, and Linda's behaviour mirrored hers at the time of her affair. Elaine recognised the guilt, and, yes, Linda is feeling a great modicum of guilt. She's feeling guilty because she didn't cry out at the time of the attack. She's feeling guilty because she's afraid of Mick's reaction or if he would even believe her tale. She's feeling guilty because Dean's twisted her mind so much that Linda now sees how he could easily present this as a consensual act. She's frightened and she's feeling guilty, but not for the reason Elaine thinks.

Her advice to Linda nearly had me falling off my chair. She tells Linda not to tell Mick. Consider this conundrum: on the one end, you have Sharon advising Linda to tell Mick; then you have Elaine advising Linda not to tell Mick; but Sharon thinks Linda has been accosted by a punter who was out of line, and Elaine thought she was having an affair with Dean. Worse, Elaine wasn't blaming her. Instead, she was understanding her, or so she thought - 24/7 working in the pub, with Mick all the time. And even worse, when Linda was vehemently denying she was having an affair, Elaine refused to budge and reinforced her commitment that Mick should not be told.

At least, she knows that Mick and Linda aren't married, but even so, she's advocating Linda keeping secrets, when, as Linda stated, she had always told Mick everything. Elaine is right - about an affair in a marriage or relationship. Something does change. Trust is lost. Elaine takes the advice one step further, making an analogy between working in a pub and a marriage - leave your troubles at the door, and paint a smile on your face. 

Sorry, but that's her advice for her daughter who's reached a traumatic point in her relationship? Stiff upper lip - make sure you paint it red - pip pip, cheerio and get on with it and all that. Make a cup of tea, as Danny Dyer said in a previous episode because that's what the Brits do in a crisis. But never never never talk about what's bothering you - not to your partner, at any rate.

I'm wondering if Elaine really believed Linda, after Linda's meltdown in the lounge, even though Elaine assured her that she did, and even went as far as warning Dean off Linda's family. 

The gist is that no one still knows that Linda was raped, and Linda is left with the assurance that Mick loves the bones of her, so she should just live off that, and forget the Dean's bothering her. Except that Linda can't. She simply cannot let Mick touch her, and now he knows something is seriously wrong.

On the other hand, Elaine is very perceptive. Until she made that last comment to Linda about Babe, I thought the two of them were on good terms. If anyone can, Elaine has Babe fooled, and that piece of advice was brilliant. Linda really shouldn't trust Babe at all.

Elaine likes the Vic. Why is it I can see her as its landlady one day?

Children Should Be Seen and Not Heard. Line up for slapping, Abi and Lauren Branning and Nancy Carter. Along with the obvious, these three were the downside of the show.

What happened to not showing parents through the eyes of their children? Not only do we have to put up with Abi Branning's spoiled and sullen looks, her overtly rude remarks to Max and Emma Summerhayes, we also have to put up with Nancy Carter, usually one of the most likeable youths in the show, referring to her mother as a "cow" and calling her out on racism. The latter may be debatable, considering various questionable remarks made by both Linda and Mick at the time of Nancy's lamentable association with Wayne the Chav; but the way she spoke to Linda in front of Elaine was despicable, further compounded by the fact that she's actually going to have sex with Dexter :X in one of the cars at the Arches. Pardon me while I puke, because Dexter's lecherous look on his face at Nancy's suggestion was just as despicable as the character, himself. Also, is DTC seriously suggesting a love triangle between Dexter, Nancy and Tamwar? Tamwar?

Are they seriously trying to get the public to hate Nancy? Or is she really that much of a jerk?

It's nice to know that Max's next serious relationship begins with a lie, except this time, the lie is being told by the woman in question. Abi, as much as I hate her, was right tonight - Max and Summerhayes deserve each other. They're both cheaters, and they're both adept liars. Now Max's big lie and secret is that he shopped her to her boss about their relationship, and she's lying about the man who's stalking Lauren and Peter - Cameron Bryant.

Why is he stalking them? Is Peter finally going to be exposed as a suspect in this murder investigation, or is this a way of intimidating Summerhayes or Max's family? I may be the only one, but I found it funny that Bryant had cheated on Summerhayes with a stripper or pole dancer or whatever, and Summerhayes cheats on Bryant with ... Max Branning? Just as sleazy. If Summerhayes thinks Max Branning, serial adulterer and crippler of vulnerable women bringing them down to his amoral level, is a step up from DS Bryant, she's got another think coming.

The Branning girls never cease to amaze me, however. What do they want from Max? A life of celibacy where he works his fingers to the bone, whilst drinking whiskey laced with saltpetre, and hands over money into their grubby little hands to keep them from working themselves? What is Abi doing now that she's written off university, besides sitting around the house with a face like thunder, being rude to Summerhayes for no reason. At least Lauren showed a bit more maturity. 

Abi seriously wants a smack.

Run, Aleks, Run. Once again, the highpoint of the episode was the romcom that features Ronnie, Charlie, Roxy and Aleks. It's good to see Ronnie smile genuinely, and I'm liking the Mitchell sisters again, now that they've reverted to their original personae of light and fun-loving girls, but there's not avoiding it - Ronnie's killed a man, and as amazing as Charlie thinks she is, what will he think when he finds out what she's done? Or has he done the same or worse?

The highlight of the episode was when Aleks returned with the alcohol, taking longer than expected because, as we know, he'd been with his wife and child. He's on a hiding to nothing, because we know that the ticking timebomb that is his family will surface in Walford sooner, rather than later. Ronnie clocked his immediate text message, written in Latvian, and followed him into the corridor, for the chilling scene of the night.

Aleks: You still don't trust me, do you, Ronnie?
Ronnie: I don't want anyone to hurt my sister.

Aleks promises to prove to Ronnie that he won't hurt Roxy. He gets one chance. We know he'll fail, and Roxy's about to suffer a major let-down again. Ronnie won't forget, however. Be afraid, Aleks. Be very afraid.

Another good episode, even if it was the weakest of the week. 

Forget Shirley, We Want Elaine - Review:- 16.10.2014

I want Elaine in the bar. I want her name above the door and her shouting the odds at the punters. "The arsonist" can bugger off. The Vic is crying out for Elaine. I hope we see more of her.

This was a great episode, written by my favourite EastEnders writer, Daran Little. He writes so well for women characters. I only gave it 8 out of 10, however, for the obvious reasons - Dexter, Pricky Peter and Lauren's endless snogfest, mainly. Ironic that the episode featured two "overly-featured" family groups, past and present; but in the right hands, both were watchable.

There were, however, some niggles and some cryptic lines. And the big overriding theme of tonight's episode was all about adults being nothing more than overgrown children.

The Carter Conundrum.My guess is that Elaine could give Peggy a run for her money. She has the demeanor of early Pat and the feistiness of Peggy. It was also a good way of subtly introducing a backstory for Linda, having Elaine make any and all sorts of references to the past. In the true Peggy-and-Pat tradition, she's more than a bit of mutton dressed as lamb, but she's a positive character and very watchable - played by a good actress also.

It's obvious that Elaine is Mama Bear, and everyone else is her cub. Here's another reason behind Linda's childish demeanor - and Mick's air of puerility also. I've always said that Mick reinforces Linda's childishness, but it can also be said that Elaine's treated both Mick and Linda as her children for all the years they've lived with her. Getting the Vic really was their first big adult venture out into the world - ne'mind that, unbeknownst to them, they've sat themselves up with a paterfamilias (Stan) and a sister-mother in Shirley. So just like the set-up at Carol's, with Bianca being a part of the kids as a whole, Mick, Linda and their three children were all the babies to Elaine's Big Mama.

So Elaine treats Linda like a little girl, she treats Mick like a cheeky schoolboy, Mick has learned that the best way to get around Linda (besides sex), is to humour her in a child-like way, and the kids re-inforce that. Linda, in turn, encourages her adult children to reinforce their own childlike and innocent ways, which is why they act younger than they are.

Like kids, they have to entertain and be entertain - hence, the constant progression of "dos" in the pub. It's Bingo here, karaoke there, anything to entertain Linda and make her smile. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" ... Here we are now, entertain us. Even the dialogue between Elaine and Linda evoked childhood:-

Elaine: You're my little girl, and sometimes little girls need their mothers.

Yes, I know that a parent always views their child as their particular baby, but the difference here, with Linda, is that her entire family humours her as a child to the extent that her outlook on life, until the rape, has been that of a child - the frilly fancy prettiness of the wedding, her reminiscences of babies being almost like a little girl playing with dolls, her satisfaction with her own playschool wedding as a child. Her fear of actually getting married could be interpreted as being her fear of growing up and facing a bleak, adult world. It's as if she thought that a real marriage, an adult act, would put paid to her childish outlook on life and force her to grow up. It was more than a fear of Mick cheating on her, it was more a fear of leaving childhood behind - far safer to play house.

Exceot Linda has now been forcibly brought into the adult world by Dean, who raped her. Instead of Dean forsaking her for someone else, someone else forced himself upon her, and now he's playing with her mind, by covertly suggesting that their sex had been consensual.

There were a couple of things that intrigued me about Elaine. First, she said she was "coming that way" anyway (meaning, to Walford) to go to the Cash and Carry. Pardon? Elaine lives in Watford and has done for twenty-one years, meaning she moved to Watford about the time that Linda was sixteen, possibly right after Nancy was born. And she comes all the way to Walford from Watford for a Cash and Carry? 

Another thing that was mildly bizarre ... when she and Linda were talking in the kitchen, Elaine remarked that there wasn't a day that went by when she didn't think about "her little girl." I thought she was talking about Linda, but her next line was "she'd be so proud of you." What did that mean?

Even though it was another Carter do, I enjoyed seeing the older contingent having a good time, especially Les and Pam, and Les connecting through jokes with the odious Aunt Babe. And it was good to see Stan bantering with Elaine. 

I liked her, but I wonder what her intuition's picked up with Dean. Does she reckon he's pestering Linda, or does she reckon Linda might be attracted to him? It's quite frustrating to watch Linda's worry and unease. I can understand why she's reticent to tell anyone what happened to her, especially now that Dean is toying with her mind, making subtle, subconsicous suggestions that she tacitly consented to having sex with him. Perhaps she wonders that, herself; but the longer she lets this ride, and she had the absolute perfect opportunity to tell her mother, the more difficult it will be to prove, and that's the tragedy of this storyline.

The downside of this storyline tonight was the overt presence of Dexter. I think most viewers who watch the programme are counting the hours and the days before this offensive and totally worthless character leaves. His and Fatboy's stereotypical representations tonight fell flat, and I don't blame Linda for reacting the way she did, even on the best of days, because Nancy should have better taste than to snuggle up with a doofus like that.

Just now, with BBC News 24 on the telly, reports of rape are at an all-time high at the moment, so take heart from this storyline.

Brannings Revisited. Max met his match tonight. Really, he and Summerhayes deserve each other, but I'm of the opinion that her detective boyfriend is a bit of a psychocop, himself. I found it quite funny that he got bopped on the nose tonight, and it made the measure of the man who did it - and he's the guy who's also been stalking Pricky Peter and Lauren. Why? He was stalking them before the news about Summerhayes's involvement with Max was outed, and it seemed that he learned of her involvement from the disciplinary procedure she underwent and station gossip, as evidenced by his waiting for her as she left Max's house.

Do you have something you want to tell me?

I liked Stacey's home truths to Max, outside of the Vic, which veered from encouraging him, first, to fight for Summerhayes, and eventually reckoning that he deserved the punch he got. One of the two lines of the night goes to Stacey:-

You were seeing a copper?

Peter and Lauren have got to be the most boring, self-centred and entitled couple ever in the tradition of EastEnders' young romance. I know the actor who plays Peter is well-spoken, but tonight he was using that slow, dull, pedantic delivery that always reminds me of Tim Nice-but-Dim:-

His dozy dialogue and their poor attempts at joking, in between all the snogging and the pathetic scene where they sat, silently side-by-side, in the children's swings did absolutely nothing for me. Various EPs have paired Jacqueline Jossa with the resident male hunk (David Witts), the older married man (Jamie Lomas) and now the latest floppy-haired Brit boy with a posh accent (Ben Hardy), and she's flopped with all three. No chemistry. The only chemistry exuding there is the actress and how much she loves the camera upon her. A break - a long break where she has some drama lessons - might do her good, because she, effectively, stopped acting at the end of the infamous Branning week back in November 2011, and that's now coming up to three years. Any normal person on a contract in an ordinary job would have been dropped by now.

The question is: Why is this policeman keeping an eye on this pair? Peter ranks high on my list of suspects in Lucy's death, but so do Lee, Ronnie and Charlie.

It's Complicated. Isn't it amazing how Amy's gone from inarticulate mute to a spoiled, loud, little madam, whose every whim is catered to? Just what we need - another spoiled, entitled child.

Here's the scene (and you tell me if it doesn't have ROMCOM stamped all over it. Ronnie likes Charlie, but she's afraid to say so, so her latest story is that he tried to kiss her, but she "swerved" and wouldn't let him do it. Roxy likes Aleks, who's moved in and who's told her a bigger, more bare-faced lie than Alfie ever did - he's divorcing Marta and choosing Roxy. 

My arse. As we saw, he's installed Marta and Tiffany-Ineta in a nearby flat, which appears to be above a deli-cafe, with the excuse that he has to l live on the Square closer to his work. And he told them all of this on an excuse to Roxy that he was popping out to the offy. The Mitchell sisters are at it again - texting each other's boyfriends and pretending to be the love interest. Common enough behaviour in characters like Lola and Abi who are eighteen, but Roxy and Ronnie are - what? - 36 and 40

Charming, and it's good to see the sisters as they were originally - hell, I'm even liking Ronnie - but you have to remember that Roxy's being played (again), and that Ronnie's still killed a man, and that this will all end in tears and Phil going on a rampage ... and someone in a box.

Good episode.

Absolute line of the night:-

Aleks: That's the pot calling ... the saucepan black.
Ronnie (deadpan): It's kettle.

Four Rude Children, Two Horny Men and Dexter - Review:- Tuesday 14.10.2014

In the wake of Phil's shooting, Shirley's disappearance and Linda's rape, the show has returned to as close an approximation of nomality as possible. The episode was watchable, but it also featured the worst aspects of spoiled and entitled youth in Peter Posh, Lauren, Abi and - surprisingly - Nancy Carter, who's usually better written than this, but who came across as a whining, spoiled brat with the best of them.

And then, just as Tiffany leaves the Square, the European Union gives us her Latvian version.

The New Max.

Meet the New Max, same as the Old Max.

 This is really the Old Max, but with gumption and purpose. I love Jake Wood. He's one of the strongest actors on the show, and Max Branning is certainly one of the most interesting characters. In fact, Max was the last nuanced and layered character to appear on the show before the introduction of Linda Carter. Max has a totally despicable side to him, yet he's one of the most compassionate people on the Square, a man who genuinely loves his children, but who cannot help himself in putting his own physical needs and desires before their emotional longings. He is a weak man, the product of an emotionally abusive childhood, who preys on vulnerable women for his sexual needs. He is probably the most dysfunctional character in the programme, and, arguably, the most watchable.

Until recently, however, whenever he's done something of which either of his two daughters didn't approve, they've always taken umbrage, dictating the odds, even to the point of exiling him from the Square, but not far away enough that they can't come with their hands out begging money when they needed it.

Max certainly isn't some King Lear personage, more sinned against than sinning. He's a bad'un, a serial adulterer who's bedded women young enough to be his daughters, and for that, he should be roundly condemned; however, he was a single man, in exile from Walford, for aiding and abetting Tanya's adultery, when he met and married Kirstie. He was single when he began his liaison with Lucy, something which Lauren may have found distatesful, but something which wasn't wrong; and he was single when he began his affair with the bimbo Summerhayes, who really should have known better than to get involved with a suspect in a murder investigation.

Now, whenever Max does something which doesn't meet Lauren's high moral standards (this is Lauren the attempted murderer, the girl who, this time last year, was coming off an affair with her first cousin and breaking up a marriage), it's Lauren who goes running to someone, someplace away from Max - this time, to Peter. Ne'mind, that Peter's dad is as big a louche pervert as Max. Ian Beale has cheated on various wives and partners, he's frequented prostitutes (amongs them, Lauren's aunt), and he's even paid to have sex with women whom he'd known as children ... just like Max. Nope, Lauren goes running to sleep with the brother of the so-called BFF whom she criminally assaulted and who was her competition for possession of the penis belonging to Lauren's cousin.

Dexter apart, Peter the Posh Beale is, arguably the most unlikeable and distasteful young person on the show at the moment. He is naturally rude, snobbish, mean, selfish, self-centred and condescending. I can buy his annoyance with Max, but he should direct some of that annoyance in the direction of the unprofessional conduct of the police officer involved; but that gave him no right to speak to Max the way he did, taking offence that Max should deign to speak to his own daughter and demanding an explanation for Max's conduct.

Just who the fuck does he think he is? 

The New Max, however, stood up to his snotty, little jibes. Max was right. He owes Peter no explanation of his own behaviour or anything, and even got a good shout of "grow up" to Peter. Peter's acting like exactly what he is - an entitled, white privileged, snotty, spoiled brat - and Lauren was quite right about reminding him that Max was her father, and he had no right to speak to him that way. I wanted Max to smack him, make the little shit cry.

But that wasn't the only gauntlet Max had to run. Once again, he had to defend his behaviour to those arbiters of moral rectitude, his daughters - Lauren, the alcoholic, promiscuous homewrecker and Abi the spoiled brat dog-killer. Abi had such a slappable face during that encounter. Wait ... I'm going to say it, as a parent who's never smacked a child: Lauren and Abi are walking examples of children who need to be smacked.

I really don't know what they expect of Max. Do they want him to live the life of a celibate monk, hashing out used car after used car, just to hand money over to these two twits so they won't have to lift a lazy finger to find a job? Is he there to be dictated to by them? He's not allowed the company of any woman? Abi's snide assertion that Max was just chasing skirt, like Lauren, never took in the possibility that, sometime down the line, Max just might meet someone with whom he wants to share his life. They bought that much from Tanya, even when she lied and told them that Max forced her into an affair behind Greg's back.

The New Max, however, handed Abi and Lauren their arses, even reminding them that Emma's job meant too much to her and now she'd chosen that over him. And, no, Lauren (the acting never gets better) telling Max to "man up" was neither wise, charming nor cute.

As it is, the dimwitted Summerhayes keeps digging a deeper hole for herself. Instead of phoning Max with the results of her DPS interview and his subsequent statement, she has to make a personal trip, herself, dictating the odds; and all of a sudden, Summerhayes remembers she's still got a fiancé hanging around - literally, because I think it's he who's taking the pictures of Peter Posh and Lauren as they snog in various places. And he's a detective, himself.

The (Other) New Max. 

That would be Aleks, newly returned and tanned from wherever with Roxy and obnoxious Amy. Amy's gone from being 100% taciturn to being 100% spoiled rotten, demanding and loud. Her entire vocabulary in the episode was shouted demands:-


Ronnie: Amy, can we read something now?
Amy: NO! Bo-ring!

Roxy's preening about their holiday, prancing about, tanned and in cut-off jeans in the middle of October, and begging Aleks to move in. Aleks, however, has other concerns, in the shape of his Latvian wife, Marta, and their daughter Ineta. Ineta is the new Tiffany with a Latvian accent - precocious to the point of being totally obnoxious, and - since she's called "Princess" by Aleks - yet another one of the spoiled brat variety. Can you imagine a friendship between her and Tiffany, had Tiff not left? It's unthinkable.


Tiffany Ineta to Tamwar: You're not having another coffee? Think of the anxiety.
Tamwar: What would you know about anxiety?
Tiffany Ineta: I live with a woman who misses her husband

So Marta has been worried about what Aleks might be up to in her absence, so she makes certain that he knows how much she missed him, in the Market Inspector's office, with the shades drawn and Roxy knocking on the door. (Shades of Jack bonking his ex-wife over his desk at the R and R, and Roxy peeping through the window)! So Aleks, the dog, is just like Max, ducking and diving between Marta/Tanya and Roxy/Stacey. He satisfies the wife, packs her and the kid off to a B and B off-Square with promises of joining them later, and then promptly moves in with Roxy. As you do.

And all this from the man who unceremoniously and illegally sacked Alfie for not doing his job.

The writing's on the wall. Aleks is going to jump back and forth between Marta and Roxy until, at some point, in the near future, they are going to be aware that the other one exists, and then, I'm sure Roxy will make it abundantly probable that Aleks will be appropriately and publically humiliated. If she doesn't. Ronnie will.

Speaking of Ronnie, she and Charlie seem to be lost at sea in their own romcom adventure. It suits them, but that usually has alarm bells ringing in my head, and with the knowledge that Nick-Baby is on his way back, I'm sure this is going to turn into a corker. Loved the way Ronnie lied openly to Roxy about not knowing who shot Phil. Roxy and Billy really are the runts of the Mitchell litter.

Nancy Fancy Pantsy.

 She's the other slappable one tonight, which is surprising, because I had Nancy Carter pegged as the most mature of the three Carter kids. Now, I'm thinking that's Johnny. All Nancy did in this episode was whine and moan, in that foghorn voice, about how Linda ruined her "pargh'y". She even did so to Dean, regaling him with relish about how he missed the worst "pargh'y" of the year, complete with her mum kicking off. 

She moaned at the breakfast table. She moaned in the market. And she moaned to dirty Dexter in the cafe, who did nothing but leer at her as she made double-edged remarks.

Cringeworthy remark of the night:-

Nancy to Dexter: You won't hold it against me?

Dexter likes her. Yuck. Well, it's enough for Linda to pick up on that and masquerade her fears, yet again, to Mick that she was worried about Nancy's association with Dexter. How well does she know him, she wonders. And she's touched by Dean's kitsch birthday gift.

At least, finally, Mick's worried enough about Linda's behaviour to admit defeat in dealing with this and call in the cavalry. Enter Grannie Elaine. Looks promising.

Nancy deserves better than any association with Dexter. The show deserves better than this remnant of bad taste clinging on.

Psychopath City Does Not Include Dean as an Inhabitant. Dean is not a psychopath, and no, he isn't staying. Dean is a rapist, and it will be revealed that he raped Linda. Furthermore, after this episode, I'm convinced Dean is well aware that he raped Linda, but he's playing a mind game with her, constantly inferring that the sex was consensual, that Linda shouldn't feel guilty, that Dean won't tell anyone etc. He's taking advantage of Linda's vulnerability as a quirky way of covering his tracks in the event that this does (and will) come out.

But Dean is not a psychopath. He's a very angry young man with strong misogynist tendancies based on his rejection issues. He is capable of love and empathy. That was shown in his final scenes with Shirley, when he told her he loved her and his reaction upon her deserting him, yet again.

And, yes, eventually, Dean will go. In fact, however he goes, this will draw a line under his character, and I doubt we'll see him again. Murderers can come and go, but soap is a genre geared toward women, and rapists, whose crime is one of power and control exercised though forced sex, are irredeemable quantities. In the week when women are given a slap in the face by association football, with Sheffield United welcoming convicted rapist Ched Evans back amongst their ranks, I don't think EastEnders will follow the same route and redeem Dean. Dean raped Linda. He may have retreated temporarily into the safe haven that was Dean(o) with banter with Stacey, but he's a rapist with rejection issues and a problem relating to women. And he doesn't know that Stacey, herself, is a victim of rape, who subsequently killed her predator. 

Aftermath Week:- Review Monday 13.10.2014

One of the things this past week reminded me of is the fact that Santer never did an aftermath justice. Once something big had happened or had been revealed, in the space of one episode, everything had been done, dusted, and the show had moved on, even though there was still detritus about from the last big happening (cf: Archie's demise and the aftermath).

Just watching the Beales in Monday's episode made me realise how greatful I was and how much I'm looking forward to the return of Martin Fowler. I know the Beales are original, but they've not exactly come out of Lucy's murder smelling of roses, and what we saw in this episode, in relation to Lucy's murder, is a gaggle of unlikeable, morally repellant characters lifting a toast to a cold-hearted, judgemental, snobby little madam who had the misfortune to be brained by someone on Good Friday.

Sorry to be so blunt (pun intended), but it's true.

The episode had its moments, and for me, they were surprising, but on the whole, it whiffed far more than it emitted a pleasant smell. That's life. No one and no programme can be perfect. It wasn't a Newman or Kirkwood episode by a long shot, but it still wasn't very good, and the dialogue was dodgy more than a number of times; but I was more than impressed by Keeble (no surprise there) and (big surprise) Ronnie and Charlie.

Let's dig in with something good first.

Two Psychopaths Walk into a Bar ... I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could actually like Stacey Slater, and I'm even more pleasantly surprised that I find myself liking Ronnie Mitchell. It's been ages since we've seen her genuinely smile - not the weird, coldly obsessive smile she usually gives her sister, but a warm, embracing smile that shows she's genuinely relating to and not obsessing over a person. You know, we never got that from her in relation to Jack, but it was nice to see her and Charlie interacting and bantering over films and such in what was - well, a normal sort of way.

I know that whatever happiness will come Ronnie's and Charlie's way will be transient, and the game plan will be changed when Nick turns up. I know that they're probably psychopath - they're certainly the children of psychopaths. I know that Ronnie (and Phil) doesn't know that Charlie's a bog cleaner, which might changer her perception of him, and the pair are certainly still high on my list as suspects in Lucy's death; but I'm going to enjoy the rare pleasure of liking Ronnie whilst I can. 

Because I'll probably be hating her soon enough.

Bim-bo. That would be DC Emma Summerhayes. This woman is seriously dumb - as in bimbo. That's bim-bo. I mean, not only is she dumb, she's naive and stupid. It's a wonder how anyone of her calibre could have progressed as far as she had in the police force, and her comedown was a joy to watch.

How she could stand on Ian's doorstep and assert that her relationship with Max, in no way, affected the investigation! Of course, it did. Max Branning was and still should be a suspect in Lucy's murder. Her becoming personally and physically involved with him tainted the investigation and influenced her perspective regarding Max. As DI Keeble, herself, said, what if Max had been using her to garner information? As things stand (and it's something she doesn't know), Max shopped her to the police, himself.

And how many times is Summerhayes going to tell Max "it's over?" Tonight made around the fifth time, but absolutely everything she did tonight was wrong, wrong, wrong.

One of the best scenes of the episode was the scene in the park between Keeble and the bimbo. Arguably, the novice writer responsible for the episode got that scene right and Keeble's dialogue about what a woman had to endure in the police force was accurate and true. It's true today for any woman who has to work in a male-dominated environment. Whilst it's gross misconduct when a male police officer gets involved with a female suspect, it's doubly bad when a woman does it. Not just. Not right, but that's white male privilege for you.

The line of the episode goes to Keeble:-

Summerhayes: I've wanted to be a police officer since I was a little girl.
Keeble: That must have been difficult when all the other little girls were playing with Barbies.

I don't want Keeble to be a permanent character, but I'm finding myself preferring her to Marsden, who seemed fixated on charging Phil Mitchell with something. Her assessment of silly Summerhayes and her treatment of the pathetic woman was professional and realistic. Summerhayes's mental simplicity was evident in the shock she exhibited that "not everyone" (but most people) knew about her affair with Max. Prior to that, when Ian informed her that he knew of her association, it was interesting to hear her describe their affair to Max as a "fling," when it was obviously more to her than that. But then, she'd do anything to protect her job, as her job was "everything" to her.

Her total inadequacy for the job was proven decisively when she storms into Max's house, determined to tell Ian, herself, that she'd been removed from the cast. Why? She knew she wasn't supposed to do that, and she knew why she was being removed and knew that Ian knew why as well. That was something totally superfluous and - well, stupid. A typical Summerhayes thing to do, especially since Max and the Branning-Beale crewe, all closely associated with Lucy, were there. Did she think everyone knew? Does she not understand tact?

Awful character, just pathetic.

Bad Brannings, Worse Beales. Is it possible that some characters can be so unlikeable, yet so watchable? Not all of them, but Ian and Max in particular. Peter and Lauren standing on Peter's market pitch, sucking each other's face is a sure fire way to garner business, but then, I'm hard put to understand how these two can kiss, considering their heads are so far up their respective arses.

I thought Peter knew Ian was with Rainie on the night of Lucy's death. Cindy certainly knew. She's a character who offends me almost as much as Dexter, because she's so pointless and because she sounds and is treated more like an adult than a child, and that's before she had the baby. But, she has the much-vaunted Cindy gene, so Ian, no blood relation at all, will be keen to keep her close. Is she in school, I wonder?

Peter Posh was on his moral high horse tonight - another hypocrite, who goggled after Lauren and treated Lola like shit. Lauren's his middle class dream, yet he thinks nothing of referring to Rainie, her aunt, as a slag. Kudos (rare ones) to Lauren for pointing out to Peter that not only was Rainie a person - and a person with an addiction problem so severe that she has to sell herself to strangers on the street to feed her addiction - she was also Lauren's aunt. Someone needs to remind Peter that his sainted sister slept with Max Branning, initially, for a cool grand with which to start her short-lived business, and she also embezzled from her employer, Janine. She wasn't so clean, and neither is he. Prick.

The most interesting part of this storyline was, as usual, Max - the old nuanced Max of whom we don't see enough. When Peter kicks off about Ian's sins, it's Max who steps in and puts things in perspective. Max knows. He's lost a child, and he's also let his family down in a myriad of ways, often being at the mercy of being exiled from Walford by his putrid daughters. He knows full well that Ian's hurting more than Peter's shallow sensibilities or his innate selfishness will allow him to consider, so Max sends him away with food for thought ... and all of this is undone by the silly, simpering omigod unneccesary scene of Summerhayes inadvertantly confessing to having slept with Max. This, ladies and gents, was a sublime piece of bad soap opera dialogue:-

Peter Posh: What? Dad? Why are you defending her? Wait ... you didn't sleep with her as well?

(Moment of silence wherein Max squirms uneasily).

Peter Posh: OMIGOD! Don't tell me it was Max!

All this was played out against a backdrop of Abi sitting there, enforced in her toasting of Dead Lucy, with a face like thunder. Now the lightning strikes with Max's reluctant confession, which offends the hypocritical morality of his two drippy daughters. I guess he's packing his bags for Strictly.

The Carter Family. Finally, the penny is beginning to drop for Mick re Linda. Something's wrong, but he can't figure out what it is. Of course, he's apologised for "vis Shirley fing". Well, he should. He's entirely too focused on his undeserving sister/mother to notice something's not quite kosher about his wife, and Kellie Bright plays another blinder tonight. I loved her brief scene with Pam, a new character I like very much. Pam sussed something was wrong immediately and wanted to help, but was interrupted by Mick in full bully mode and kitted out in Linda's dressing gown - a quirky habit that's got old fast - shouting for Linda to "get inside."

No, Mick, you get inside. And get dressed.

Last week, Linda admitted to Ronnie that she "kept her kids young", and that's true. For the most part, her children act considerably younger than they are. Even though Nancy objected to the sandwiches and arctic roll, a lot of her mannerisms are very childlike - charming, but childlike, and it's hard to believe that this is the girl who, at the beginning of this year, was about to get married. The downer to all of that was the presence of Dexter and his impending association (again) with Nancy. Something that grates with me regarding Linda and her family is the way her requests and views are blatantly disregarded by others. OK, this was Nancy's birthday, and Mick had gone out of his way to ask Nancy to "have a quiet one" today, and do what she wanted tomorrow. Linda only wanted family at the child's party do she thought would benefit Nancy's twenty-first, and Nancy comes traipsing in with Whitney, Tamwar and Dexter.

I was glad Lee told Dexter off for ogling Linda's Page Three pic. He should have thrown him out the window.

Not the best of episodes, unfortunately.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Petty Pity Party - Review:- 10.10.2014

The Petty Pity Party. Weakest episode of the week. Linda Carter's dilemma deserved better company.

I know the show can't fire on all cylinders all of the time, but this was such a drop (and a drip) from the previous quality of the past fortnight and before that, that it really doesn't merit much comment.

The saviours of that episode were Linda and Ronnie, and even both of those situations were far from perfect.

The Brannings and the Beales. Oh gosh, the most boring love story featuring the most beautiful, yet the most boring, selfish, self-centered, entitled young couple on the Square. Who gives a flying feck about Lauren and Peter? She's been around the block more times than anyone cares to remember, and with nameless, faceless men; and if he thinks she's a step-up from Lola, he needs to scratch the surface. The Brannings, all of them, are just jumped-up trailer trash who scrub up well. Lauren's attempted murder, she's destroyed property whilst driving drunk, she's assaulted Peter's sister and criminally damaged her business. She's slept with her cousin, shagged and shared the ubiquitously brain-dead Tyler Moon and broken up a marriage, and she's better than Lola?

First of all, neither she nor Peter exhibit any common sense - well, the Brannings never do when they're thinking about themselves, and let's face it, "selfish" was a word invented for the Brannings, exclusively.

Take Abi and Lauren, for example - both spent forces as characters on this show. Abi's head is way up the inside of her arse, and Lauren's is even further up hers. It never once occurs to Lauren, whose escapades and peccadilloes have determined the course of the Branning family for the past three years, that Abi's been dumped - something quite traumatic for Abi - she's killed the family pet, as a result, and she's in a quandry about her university career. In storms Lauren, who plans a family lunch, not to make her father and sister feel any better, but for the purpose of announcing that she and Peter Posh are once again an item.

For one brief instant, I couldn't understand why Max might feel uneasy about this when I suddenly remembered that Max and Lucy had been something of an item in the weeks leading up to her death. So, to reiterate, Lauren is now dating the brother of her best friend, who was sleeping with Lauren's father.

Of course, Abi is all about Abi, but she had a peevish, childish point when she pointed out to Max that Lauren had done nothing but drink about on her lazy arse and cause problems for the past few years, where Abi had been working toward a goal. Now Lauren was getting what she wanted, when Abi's been working so hard and her dream is crushed - well, it was pretty much crushed by Abi, herself.

It was hard going watching some of the most unlikeable characters on the programme make themselves even more unlikeable. Ian's disdain of Max is laughable in the extreme, considering the fact that Ian's cherished daughter initially slept with Max in order to secure an investment of a grand for her silly business, whilst Ian slept with Max's ex-sister-in-law for money as well. OK, let's go through this again: Lauren and Peter are together. Peter is the brother of Lauren's best friend, who slept with Lauren's dad, whilst Peter's dad propositioned Lauren's aunt, who is a crackhead prostitute.

And Lola wasn't good enough for Peter.

A curious juxtaposition of Cotton advice sealed Ian's fate re Max - Dot preached the doctrine of forgiveness, which enabled Ian to sit down and down a pint or two with Max and the motley crew, whilst Cotton, Charlie advised Ian that even though Grandma Cotton preached the Gospel, Charlie dealt in facts, and facts were that Max had moved on from canoodling Lucy to canoodling the police officer investigating her murder.

One of the highlights of the episode was seeing DI Keeble arrive with DC Emma One-Cell and informing her professionally of her role in the current investigation:-

You're going to keep your mouth shut and say nothing.

Throughout this vignette, we have Lauren screeching about sneaking around and lying, even to the point of telling her father off about his behaviour again - what was that about parents not being seen through the eyes of their children, Mr Treadwell-Collins? - and yet, here's Summerhayes sneaking about liaising with Max, only to tell him that they-had-to-cool-it-again-until-the-investigation-was-over-now-if-you'll-excuse-me-Max-I've-just-shat-my-knickers-and-have-to-go-change. Of course, after Ian confronts Max about, possibly, contaminating Lucy's investigation, what does Max do? Why, make an anonymous phonecall, revealing that Summerhayes was sleeping with Max.

A couple of things to remember here - 

1. Remember when Lauren was asking Max why he'd slept with Lucy, and Summerhayes had just entered the cafe? Max replied, looking at DC One-Cell, that he sometimes got too involved with vulnerable young girls and destroyed them? Big foreshadowing.

And ...

2. Remember Summerhayes said she had a fiancé, with whom she wasn't getting along? Now look who it is following Lauren and Peter. I wonder if he is the cuckholded fiancé and we are setting up (sigh) yet again another love triangle?

More's the pity, that we're stuck with Abi, who isn't going to Bolton. Good enough reason - she didn't want to go there and the course wasn't for her. So what's she going to do? Re-take the A-Levels and hope for better results or just whine around and moan?

Really, the only interesting Branning left is Max. The others are toast and should go.

Days of Future Past (Again). Gosh! Kudos to Nancy. Someone's recognised that this is more than a hangover for Linda. Even when Mick asserting that she's sick - and he's her partner, who should read her like a book - it's her child, and in particular, her daughter - who susses that Linda doesn't do sickness, and this is something else. Still, she humours Linda, and those scenes are priceless, with Maddie Hill coming into her own, coaxing back Linda's confidence with tomato soup and sausage rolls and a dvd of Patrick Swayze. Linda is quick to remember what else is in the bottom of her wardrobe and warns Nancy off looking for a book in there. She even offers to come down and help tidy the pub, which is when the penny drops for Johnny that Linda hasn't done her hair in days. And when she encounters Dean.

Dean is now so messed up, it's almost as if he has a dichotomy of personality. The foreshadowing is there for a Dean-Stacey relationship, where he seems perfectly normal and supportive of Stacey's efforts, accepting the fact that she put Lily first before going out for a drink. That would impress Dean, as Stacey is a mum whose child is her priority. But his final scene with Linda was bizarre, thanking her sincerely for helping him in ways she'll never know, assuring her that Mick won't find out. I can't figure out if he genuinely believes he did nothing wrong and that her frozen fear was quiet acquiesence or if he's toying with her in a way that indicates that he is still in control of the situation?

Oh, Linda ... don't get rid of the dress and panties. Now it really is your word against his.

Another Generation of Psychopath. Baby Boy Mitchell-Cotton. Son of Ronnie and Charlie, grandson of Archie and Nick. He'll probably come out with "666" stamped on his forehead. Bet she calls him Damien.

Sharon Mitchell's name above the door. Enough said. Again, as Jay pointed out.

Weakest episode of the week.