Monday, July 17, 2017

Even Natalie Mitchell Couldn't Save This Dross - Review:- Monday 17.07.2017

EastEnders has easily become the show where everyone is unlikable. Or stupid. Or both. Dot acting like the diva, signing herself out of the hospital AMA; Sonia and Robbie acting like self-righteous prats, with Robbie being branded the unfunny fool along the way; the He-Man Emasculated Club of three holding a convention in the market, totally about nothing; the bullies actually getting what promises to be their last storyline away from both of the objects of their bullying and still coming across as totally awful; Sharon getting played by the Taylors; Sharon getting played by Michelle; Sharon showing more care, concern and interest in Michelle's lovelife than she does the well-being of her own stepdaughter, even to the point of showing spiteful jealousy about the way Phil dotes on Louise; Jay and Ben continuing down the Dumb and Dumber route; Steven playing both Lauren and Abi. The actual high point of the episode was the penny dropping for Jane about the identity of the buyer of the chippy, which - surprise surprise - happens to be Weyland & Co.

This show is a mess. John Yorke has his work cut out.

Let's Play Lauren. How many times has this storyline played out? Angie Watts? Pauline Fowler? In either case, it didn't end well, and neither will this one.

The biggest problem with this storyline is that, utlimately, Steven is supposed to be the baddie, Abi his useful idiot, whom he'll discard at the appropriate moment, and Lauren the victim.

Except this is the first time we've had a story of this magnitude where absolutely everyone was unsympathetic. The original time this storyline played out, with Angie and Den, the two main characters were so nuanced and so complex, you actually felt sympathy for Angie in doing what she did, in a desperate measure to keep her marriage intact. Yet, you felt for Den, who remained in the marriage for the sake of their child, whilst the marriage, itself, morphed into a toxic cancer of dysfunctionality. However, you felt for him in that he deserved a stab at happiness.

There are no such complicated attitudes toward this trio of entitled, but Steven is undoubtedly the most complex of the three. He has mental health issues, and he's had breakdowns in the past. When he first arrived in Walford ten years ago, when Ian had him sectioned after his kidnapping and his shooting of Jane, he confessed to Ian that he had been receiving counselling and had had a breakdown as a teenager in New Zealand. He certainly was a troubled kid when he left Walford at the age of thirteen. He'd been responsible for a spate of anonymous hate mail sent to various residents of the Square, including Mark Fowler.

He was a mess a decade ago; he couldn't decide whether he wanted revenge on Ian or wanted total acceptance. In fact, he strove to achieve the latter, even resorting to helping Lucy run away in the end, but all of that came at the end of a sustained campaign to convince the twins that their mother was still alive and to torment Ian in that same degree.

Also, he admitted to Ian this time around, that he'd had further counselling in New Zealand in this interim period, but he assured Ian that he was now fine. And then there's the little matter of his sexuality. A decade ago, Steven came out as gay. Most definitely and absolutely gay. 

This time around, apart from a fleetingly momentary glance in Johnny Carter's direction, Steven has been absolutely het. Sure, Ben Mitchell slept with Lola and Abi, but he slept with a lot of men in between bouts. Steven isn't even bi-sexual; he's het. He must have prayed away the gay in New Zealand - or else, he's suppressing it, along with all his other anxieties.

Almost from his very arrival, we've seen what drives Steven. Steven feels himself a loner, that he belongs to no real dynamic. He is biologically a Wicks, but he and Simon never gelled. He was raised as and considers himself a Beale, but there's a lingering doubt about him in Ian's mind, so much so that he's actually articulated that he considers Steven a poor second to any of his other three natural children, including the murderer Bobby. 

This time around, Steven has done everything right. He's dotted every "i" and crossed every "t". He's presented himself as the indispensible good son to Ian, hoping against all hope that Ian would rate him an improvement on what appears to be a feckless Peter. (Again, that Ian has shown absolutely no curiosity to get to the bottom of what happened in New Zealand between Steven, Lauren and Peter, is absolutely mind-boggling). Like Ian many years ago, he's taken on another man's child - his brother's - and wants to raise the boy as his own. He's also developed a relationship with his brother's girlfriend, and this is where his anxieties start.

All Steven ever wanted was to be accepted as part of the Beale family dynamic. He wanted Lauren to love and accept him and he wanted to establish a family dynamic of his own with her. Lauren refused to even consider him as Louis's father, even though Steven has bonded with the child, and the child probably recognises and considers Steven his father figure. As long as she did that, yet continued to remain with him, his hackles of insecurity were raised - hence, what - for Steven - became his quest to really have a family with Lauren. Reluctant to have another child and wanting to go to work full-time, she refused to consider a sibling for Louis, and this led to Steven's sabotaging condoms, in an effort to make Lauren pregnant.

Everything leading from this has contributed to his downfall, including Lauren's abortion (her right) and her growing closeness to Josh,another person who comes across as not being very nice.

His growing perception of Lauren's developing relationship with Josh has been fed as well by a very jealous Abi, who has lived her life thinking Lauren usually gets what she wants. Abi feeds Steven's insecurities, basically be telling him what really are home truths about Lauren's character - that she's selfish and self-obsessed (true), that she has no consideration for others (often true) and that she will do anything to get what she wants, tiring of people and throwing them by the wayside.

His relationship with Abi is almost a sick psychological co-dependency. Abi feeds his growing frustrations about Lauren. He's angered by Lauren's behaviour, and vents his frustration by aggressive angry sex with Abi, which she welcomes. Abi, herself, increasingly isolated by her immediate family, is a festering vat of jealousy. She's unwanted and regularly taunted by her housemates, two of whom are ex-boyfriends, and the only time she seems genuinely happy is when she's with Dot. She's still naive enough to think that Steven's angry sex is actually love and/or affection, when it's actually consensual rape. Steven keeps resorting to having sex with Abi as a vent for his frustrations but also to keep her onside and to stop her from telling Lauren about them. It's control,and whilst he doesn't have control over Lauren, he feels as if he does control Abi - hence, his tissue of lies about leaving Lauren when she's at her lowest point and taking up with Abi. As bloody if.

Until that point, Abi thought his brain tumour plot was a load of old codswallop, reminding him that there would be no way he could sustain such a deception; but Steven convinces her, on a promise, that -working together - they could play Lauren and stitch her like the proverbial kipper. This results in Abi foraging an inoperable brain scan tumour from a dog, no less, and we're faced with the climactic scene of Lauren in tears over Steven's "condition" when she's really crying over a dog's brain. It actually reminded me of the scene from Brookside where Jackie Corkhill poured her heart out in grief beside her son's coffin, not knowing that it was actually filled with dirt. The parallels between these two shows at the moment are astounding, and not in a good way.

Steven's love for Lauren is an obsession. Even after he hears her speak of a near-sexual encounter with Josh, which she declined, even after hearing that she's only with Steven because he's good with Louis, Steven clings to hope. He's actually clinging to that hope after his initial talk with Abi tonight, when she told him that he needed to come clean with Lauren about this deception and face whatever will happen, that she didn't deserve this. But after watching her on his spy camera and watching her confess to Josh that she really did have feelings for Josh and wanted to be with him, but owed this devotion to Steve, the obsession turned to an obsession of a different sort, and Steven is out for revenge.

The gist of this storyline is that all the characters are unlikable. From the get go, Lauren has treated Steven like her personal assistant-cum-nanny for Louis. She's known she hasn't loved him for the longest time and could have called time on the relationship at any moment. In fact, it was she who was initially looking to play away from home, because she went seeking Josh after their initial encounter. She openly let him know that she was interested, and he responded.

He, himself, is also a creep. I don't believe he's broken with his fiancée any more than Steven has a brain tumour. One of the first remarks he made to Lauren was that he always got what he wanted. I think he's a player, yet a more sophisticated player than Steven will ever be, and I think this is the reason Max is pushing Lauren to remain with Steven.

So do I feel this is a jumbled storyline, cack-handedly written with an unsympathetic victim? Yes, but all the characters are equally as revolting - except that Steven has a reason for his behaviour.

The rest of the episode was bits and bobs, and here they are as observations:-

1. Dot Returning Home. The inference was that this was, indeed, the first time Dot had gotten dressed and actually got out of her bed into a chair. Is Dot a superhuman? She has a broken wrist and a pin in her hip. She most definitely will need physiotherapy and at this point, she wouldn't even be able to walk with a Zimmer frame, much less a hastily acquired cane which she brought home. I find it hard to believe that any hospital would have sanctioned even allowing her to sign herself out against medical advice, but even worse than that was the way Sonia treated her in the hospital.

Sonia is supposed to be a trained professiona - indeed, a geriatric nurse - and the last thing she should know from her training is that you never discuss the patient (or indeed, anyone) in the third person whilst they are present. It's highly unprofessional. and it's rude - but then "rudeness" seems to be one of Sonia's two defining characteristics, the other being extreme self-righteousness.

I'm increasingly wondering what prompted Sonia's return to Walford. I don't think she quit her job, I think she was sacked. As Carol often said, Sonia only wanted to organise and control other people's lives whenever she lost control of her own.

I'm glad Dot asserted herself and threw a hissy fit about the way Sonia and Robbie had consigned her to the smallest room in her house, even taking it upon themselves to sell her dining room table because there was no room for it. How insolent! The table wasn't theirs to sell, and Sonia's silly remark about Dot never liking the table or even using it. She did, indeed,use it on special occasions, the last one to mind was the Christmas Jack and Amy spent with her when he teturned from France.

It was good that she put Sonia and Robbie in their respective places, taking over the larger front room as her bed-sitting room and consigning them to the reduced parameters of the old dining room.

I don't like Sonia, and I find Robbie pathetic.

2. The Emasculated Men's Club. Martin and Kush are the new Bianca and Kat, the way they behave on the market. They're like a couple of schoolboys - a trio, no less, the way they bait Robbie. Donna is Vincent's sister. Why couldn't he pay her pitch fees? She wasn't above asking him to father a baby for her, but she can't hit him for three weeks' pitch fees?

This incidence just served to show how Oedipal and ball-less Kush is, depending on Denise to take the lead in telling Carmel that she isn't welcome on their  holiday. Carmel is Kush's mother. At the moment, Kush is torn between two mothers - one who gave him birth and the other with whom he sleeps. That entire trio of men lined up along the market stall - Martin, Kush and Vincent - are all portrayed as three hapless men in thrall to women the show want to project as stronger and more sensible than the men they supposedly love.

3. The Bullies' Last Hurrah. These women do a naff job pretending to be girls, and it's positively sick that the pair of them want to ruin the prom because they're basically jealous of the two girls they targeted in bullying. Of course, they enlist the aid of Keegan to help them in their endeavour. They've been excluded from school, yet you wonder why their parents haven't ensured that they were kept at home and away from each other.

I hope that at the end of Prom Week, this is the last time we see these two.

4. Deplorable Sharon. SOC must really hate Sharon and the Mitchells. In this episode, Sharon actually allowed herself to get played by Karen Taylor. When Sharon accosted her about Keegan barging his way into her house - or rather, being tricked by Dennis into entering - Karen countered by accusing Sharon's son of assaulting her daughter. 

Really, he didn't. He tossed an egg down, intending to hit Keegan, and instead, hit Bernadette. It was an accident, but the Taylors know how to play the system and how to present themselves as victims, and Sharon bought into that.

Later, we see her sniping at Michelle about the incident and also griping about Louise, in general - how willful she is, how she's got Phil wrapped around her finger. I was kinda glad that Michelle reminded her tactfully that Sharon's relationship with Den was similar. But what was dismaying even further was watching Sharon literally toss aside concern for both her children and concentrate exclusively on Michelle's love life.

5. The Penny Dropped for Jane. Jane seemed overly concerned that Ian had sold the chippy to Weyland & Co, especially when she realised that this was the firm for which Max and Lauren worked, and Ted suspects that Dot's pussy might belong to him. Oo-er, missus!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Bad Role Play - Review:- Thursday 13.07.2017 & Friday 14.07.2017

Thursday's and Friday's episodes were all about bad role play - the wrong storylines for the wrong actors. Someone put it succinctly: here's a show where we don't give a rat's arse about anyone anymore.

You think Thursday's episode heralded the end of the bullying storyline? Think again. Next week is Bully Week, and it sets the scene for the return of King Phil.

Adults Playing Children.That seems to be par for the course on EastEnders these days. Thursday's episode was almost all about a group of adult actors badly pretending to be adolescents in the faux climax to the seemingly endless bullying storyline.

It's almost a joke that every adolescent in this show now looks like a fully-fledged adult, from mature jawline (Travis) to sounding like a heavier smoker than Shirly (Sniggle) to needing a swift injection of botox (Snaggle) to actually looking like a middle-aged housewife (Bernadette).

This was all about the kids, when it wasn't about poor Steven Beale being sent on a wild goose chase.

It was also about Michelle being left in charge of Sharon's children again, failing miserably and then redeeming herself.

Look, everyone knows that next week - Prom Week or Bully Week - sees the bullies' ultimate revenge where something very very bad happens to someone at the prom. So, this week's revelation of what the bullies were really up to, courtesy of Shakil's open mic was a red herring.

The segment also produced some of the worst acting the show has ever seen, and please, please,EastEnders, stop giving Jasmine Byfield an opportunity to sing. She's passable,but she's no mean talent. She's a bad enough actress, with her extreme gestures, her habit of delivering her lines with her head thrown back and her chin jutting upwards and her perennially red nose, we don't need the singing as well.

The awful climax to this plot, Louise being offered the last-minute stand-in as Juliet to manboy Travis's Romeo because Snaggle couldn't be found (as she was too busy in the drama room terrorising Rebecca) was obviously the spark which ignites the bullies' revenge.

This is so tawdry. In fact, it was so bad it was laughable. This is, indeed, the worst gaggle of adolescents the show has ever produced, probably because most of them are actually adults who've forgotten how to act like teenagers or are so far removed from their era of teenagedom that either they can't remember or the writers are so daft that they haven't got a clue, themselves.

It was embarrassing. Equally embarrassing was Sonia making goo-goo eyes and coyly waving at Mr Pryce the all-purpose drama teacher.

The Wild Goose Chase and Children Portraying Adults. The Abi-Stephen-Lauren-Josh affair is a bad stab at some sort of "Fatal Attraction" scenario, badly-written and enacted by children.

Ronnie and Roxy, in a tangle over an overpossessive Jack, would have done this storyline proud, and it would have been watchable. Thursday's episode, where we saw an increasingly rattled Steven forced to play a wierd version of "Where's Waldo", chasing after a cowardly, fleeing and frightened Lauren was just too stupid to comprehend. 

Obviously, I felt as if I'd missed something because the scene of Lauren, Max and Abi in the café where Kathy saw Abi "storm out" was cut or happened, as everything else does, off-screen, so I was confused from the beginning. Abi left to get Lauren's phone unlocked for New Zealand and ended up hiding it in the pub to confuse Steven.

Abi's motives were the clearest of everyone else's. She wanted Steven for herself, and she wanted Lauren out of the way. It just adds to Lauren's incipient stupidity, however, that she was so gullible that she actually believed Abi's psychology of "transferral" to convince Lauren to return to New Zealand to reconcile with Peter. 

Lauren is simply a flake, in the same way Max was and is a sexual flake. She's never satisfied with the person with whom she's in a relationship. She probably tired of Steven in New Zealand and drove him to drink, then cosied up to Steven. She was beginning to get bored with Steven when she allowed herself to be attracted to a stranger whom she helpd in her father's firm. It was Lauren who bagged Whitney and went on the prowl to find Josh.

Lauren was actively seeking sexual thrills, but didn't have the moral terpitude to follow through with her actions. The fact that she would even follow Abi's advice about simply sneaking out of Walford when she was too cowardly to confront Steven just shows the lack of depth in her moral character. That Jack would even support her decision to do this just shows how rank Jack's core morality would be as well.

I cannot fathom Max's reluctance. Since he's returned, even though his daughters think him to be otherwise, he's been curiously detached from them both. It's as if he's playing the part of the doting dad, but he can't forget, really, how much they both betrayed him in their own ways. It's difficult to know Max's motives, he's been such a cypher since he's returned. I get the feeling, however, that he doesn't want Lauren involved with Josh. Max was the one, after all, who disclosed the fact that Josh was engaged.

Aaron Sidwell and Bleu Landau carried both these episodes. Steven's unravelling was one of the most intense scenes in recent history on this show. His unconditional love of Lauren is tied to his desire for acceptance and inclusion in the Beale dynamic. His return, his devotion to her and his bonding with Peter's son was all a calculated effort to show Ian that he, the non-son, is really the good son. It was done as a plea for redemption for his behaviour from a decade before. Steven, more than anything, wants to belong, He's a biological Wicks who isn't a Wicks and a non-Beale with the Beale surname who wants to be loved and accepted as Ian's son. Yet Ian cannot bring himself to do this. He'll harbour his own for over a year, a boy who committed murder and who crippled his stepmother, but he's reluctant to accept Steven, a boy whom he raised, as his own.

Faced with losing Lauren, his world is falling apart,which brings me to this weird angry-sex relationship he has with Abi. For a start, Lorna Fitzgerald is way too immature an actress to play this part. Abi, presenting herself as "not a nice person" (a line delivered in a cringeworthy attempt to sound sexy and failing)? Abi has never been a nice person. She's always been jealous and resentful of Lauren, thinking that she had an exclusive place in Max's affections, without realising that her father owed extra time to his other daughter as well, even though she tried to kill him. Lorna was great as a child actress, basically doing what she knew how to do; but Abi is never the new Janine, never a smidgeon of Janine,and Abi and Steven are no more Janine and Michael Moon as they are Kate and Wills or Posh and Becks.

Fitzgerald still looks and sounds like a 12 year-old, and tarted up with false eyelashes and a sophisticated hairstyle or reclining, wrapped in a bedsheet on a sofa, post-coital, she looks like any paedophile's dream.

What Abi and Steven have is consensual rape. He vents his anger with Lauren on Abi sexually. Abi reminds him what a "bad boy" he really is (when Steven is trying to sublimate that part of him which he actually hates and which he sees as denying him access to his family dynamic), and he releases his frustration sexually on her. She thinks this is love, and she's confused each time he gets up, puts his trousers on and scurries back to Lauren. When she attempts to cajole affection for him, comparing her ministering to his needs with Lauren's ineptitude, that doesn't work. The goading arouses him sexually, but nothing more than that.

Abi is Steven's dirty little secret, and it will eventually explode. She did, however, give him food for thought in testing Lauren's resolve.

In the meantime, all it took to convince Lauren of the riight thing to do was the ubiquitous chat with Stacey, who basically told her to do whatever made her happy. Lauren thinks she's in love with Josh, who subsequently tells her that he's broken with his fiancée, and that he loved her so much, he'd rushed to Walford to talk her out of resigning. So, does that mean he's going to take Lauren and Louis in, himself? Because the Beales will send her packing. But I guess that reassurance gives her hope until ... we unpack the old "I've got an incurable brain tumour and I'm dying" storyline. This time from Steven. 

Who remembers Pauline's little white lie and how that ended for her?

More Bullying. The Keegan-Bernadette-Dennis-Wills storyline was a sucky contrivance with two purposes. The first and foremost was the redemption of Michelle.

It's not above Keegan bullying and frightening children like Dennis and William. I can readily believe he'd do that. Keegan preys on women, girls and children because they are no threat to him. However, Dennis's misplaced revenge showed the chutzpah of his father and grandfather. To her credit, Bernadette was trying to stop Keegan from reacting to the kids, and simply got in the way of their revenge. She wasn't bullied, per se, although she thought she was.

Her reason, given to Norwegian Ronnie, for destroying Jane's flowers was so contrived it made me sit up and blink my eyes - she wanted to destroy something beautiful. You what? But Norwegian Ronnie made everything good with Jane and a judgemental Kathy and now she's part of the Walford in Bloom movement. Next thing, she'll be knitting booties,and Norwegian Ronnie's bagged a room of her own at Jack's (before she moves into his bed).

I actually thought that it would be Tom who would walk into the Mitchells' with Michelle and chase Keegan off. Keegan runs from any encounter with any sort of male - be it Kush or Derek, and we know that Tom has a temper, which made it all the more unreal that he turned tail and scarpered when Michelle told him to get out.

EastEnders is hitting rock bottom.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Sheer Level of Awfulness and Stupidity - Review:- Tuesday 11.07.2017

It's difficult even to want to watch the show at this time, and for someone who's been a viewer since Day One of the show, that's saying a lot about the quality and the calibre of the thing at the moment. It's been through bad patches before - in fact, although many laud the arrival of John Yorke as yet another Messiah moment, the show started to go downhill, in some ways, from the beginning of his tenure.

Sure, he gave us "Who Shot Phil" and "You're Not My Muvvah", but he created a lot of problems from which the show still suffers to this day. Things went downhill after that, and during his time as Head of Continuing Drama at the BBC, Yorke foisted us with Kathleen Hutchison, Kate Harwood, Santer and his merry man DTC and, ultimately, Bryan Kirkwood. Grabbing his coat as he left the Beeb for another job, he appointed Lorraine Newman full-time as EP, whilst looking over his shoulder.

The thing has been in freefall since Kirkwood, and now it's spiralling out of control.

When the most interesting thing at the moment is the creepy love situation, involving Lauren, Steven, Abi and Josh, as badly written and acted as it is, then the show is certainly in trouble.

Because, Of Course, New Zealand Has Open-Door Immigration (Not). Here's my opinion, and it's by no means a fact. The show is not a charity. I know Jacqueline Jossa is the breadwinner in her family at the moment. I know she's lumbered with a prat of a husband, who got thrown off a scummy, scripted reality show for bad behaviour. I know he threatened to cut his ex-girfriend and the mother of one of his children to ribbons if she took up with anyone else, all the while he was loved up with the fragrant Jacqueline.

But that doesn't mean she's entitled to a job on this programme, especially since the boat sailed on her character ages ago.

She was the worst actress on the show when we got the gurning, the funny voices and the windmill arms, and she's the worst now that she's supposed to be eliciting our sympathy as the victim in all the decidedly weird love scenario. As an actress, she's incapable of presenting Lauren as a multi-leveled character, someone who is flawed in her own way, yet sympathetic. The problem lies with her inability as an actress, but also with the fact that absolutely everything Abi has said about Lauren in the scope of this storyline is true, and people remember this.

She was as unlikable as the go-to girl under Kirkwood and Newman, as she is as the reluctant victim under Sean O'Connor. DTC didn't know what to do with the character, and I can't fathom why he even brought her back, or where she will go when this brouhaha eventually ends.

Abi's eventual suggestion to Lauren, who has now decided, after an afternoon spent in the park with Josh, that she doesn't love Steven and doesn't want to be with him, is to run away to New Zealand again. I'm still wanting to know what the hell happened between Peter and Lauren in New Zealand. It's never been addressed at all, and Ian's shown a curious lack of curiosity, himself, in finding out the plight of his oldest son. In this episode, we got a hint of Lauren using Steven as a shoulder to cry on,and then suddenly realising that they were a couple. In fact, when Steven spun his yarn about Peter being a drunk ages ago, Lauren seemed shocked. How could you not know someone was a drunk or even suspected of having a drinking problem if, not only that you lived with them, but that you were a recovering alcoholic, yourself?

At least we know that Peter Beale hasn't been re-cast yet, as they still have a picture of Ben Hardy in the Beale living room.

The gist is this: Lauren, having now decided that she doesn't love Steven, wants to end the relationship, yet she cannot find an appropriate opportunity to tell him (standard soap trope). It's pretty obvious that she envisions a life with Josh, believing that he'll walk away from the financially advantageous arranged marriage with which he'll soon be encumbered. Otherwise, she'd never think of ditching Steven. That would mean, as Max sorta kinda callously pointed out, losing a roof over her head and free child care in the form of Ian and Jane.

Steven, on the other hand, has convinced himself that Lauren has spurned Josh's advances because she loves him. He knows about her abortion, but she doesn't know that he knows, and he's forgiven her for that. He's even forgiven her for her dalliance with Josh, because Steven had convinced himself that he loves her unconditionally.

Then, there's Abi. 

Stop saying this is "dark Abi" or even that she's a poor man's cut-price Janine. She's not.

This is who Abi has always been. There has always been an undercurrent of simmering resentment of Lauren on Abi's part. As a child, it was always Lauren who discovered Max's foibles and infidelities and made him suffer in Abi's eyes. It was Lauren who sided with Tanya. Remember Tanya attempting to throw Max's pictures and clothes out when she exiled him to Hastings? It was Abi who fought his corner. 

Things took a turn for the worse in Abi's life when Lauren was drinking and Max and Tanya had to devote all their time and attention to her, right in the middle of Abi's A-Levels and her attempt to go to uni. Since then, her jealousy and animosity towards Lauren has run amok.It can be said that Abi casually hates her sister, because just as she views Stacey as one of the elements who destroyed her childhood, she views Lauren, with her selfishness and self-absorption, as the same.

Abi loves Steven. For Abi to snake Lauren's boyfriend from her would be the ultimate triumph, especially for him to realise what a selfish, self-centred little bitch Lauren was. If anything, Abi has brought out the devious, psychotic side of Steven. He coldly tells Abi that his devotion to Lauren is long-term, yet he'll keep her on the side for a bit of fun. In other words, whenever Lauren's behaviour frustrates him, he'll use Abi as a walking, talking rubber doll as a means of expiating some angry sex.

He's happy to use her, and that's pretty much of an insult to Abi, which is why she manipulates Lauren into absconding to New Zealand, rather than facing Steven down with the truth. Max, on the other hand, is telling her coldly to shut up and put up with Steven - but I think that's because Max knows more about Josh than he'd care to let on...

And, of course, there's Josh, who can't get to Walford quick enough when he finds out Lauren has rung in sick. Again. She's off work sick more than she's there, and since she hasn't been there very long, she should have been sacked.

In many ways, the short scene in the café between Abi and Josh was just about the best in the show, and that's saying a lot because the rest was pretty mediocre.

Josh was obviously hanging around Walford, intent upon texting Lauren from the café for a meet-up, especially after what she'd confessed to him previously. Abi is suitably and coyly bitchy, especially after Josh is silly enough to admit that he'd come all the way to Walford after learing that Lauren was ill, to see if she were OK - translation: to see how the confession to Steven went.

It's Abi who puts the existence of his fiancée back into play before warning him off Lauren. She obviously believes Steven's version of the two of them patching things up at that point, but again, rather stupidly, Josh lets slip a remark to the contrary of what Lauren told him. This leads to Abi's manipulation of a very cowardly Lauren.

I have to ask: these girls, although much younger, were around the Square when Steven was wreaking havoc as a mentally ill teenager a decade ago. Abi was very young, but Lauren and Lucy were thick as thieves. It certainly was during this time that Lucy made that celebrated remark to Lauren about Jane and Tanya being two girls who found two ugly men with spare change in their pockets and married them. So Lauren would certainly have known all about what Steven had been up to and how Ian dealt with him. Lucy would have told her, yet both of them seem oblivious to that. In fact, Abi thinks Steven is just about the nicest guy in the world.

Go figure.

Speaking of Stupidity, Jay and Ben Are Dumb and Dumber. Ben and Jay are officially more stupid that Minty and Garry. Ben comes from a family of dodgy types who know just what crimes they can and can't get away with.

Credit card fraud is an easy crime to prosecute. So not only do they go on a spending spree and leave their new purchases scattered around the front room of their house for all to see, they shoot off, leaving the dodgy credit card on the coffee table to be found by Donna. Donna was right - credit card fraud is, indeed, a criminal offence, and both boys have previous convictions. Found out, they are looking at serious prison time - which, actually, wouldn't be a bad thing as they've both become pretty superfluous anyway.

In the meantime, Donna, who owes 3 weeks' pitch fees, is reduced to hanging about the market like a bad smell, joining Martin and Kush in leveling banter at Felix, the new guy on the market, who's trying to sell antique French wine crates for 28 quid a piece. I found it pretty insulting and caricaturish that O'Connor even had a character like Karen Taylor even contemplate buying one of those crates because "it'll do for the newborn." You'd think someone with as many kids as she has, and with an older daughter with two children, there'd be someone who'd find a crib for Bernadette's baby. This is the 21st Century; people don't double up dresser-drawers as beds for babies.

Also Donna's remark about "one time this market meant everyone looking out for one another" was incongruous. Donna has been on the market for a grand total of 4 years, and since that time, she was in direct competition with Kat and Bianca and made their lives hell. Coming from a character like Martin or even Kathy or Ian, that line would have resonated. And in real life, no one would have given a monkeys' that Donna couldn't pay her pitch fees. That's business, and that's their lives. She should have taken Kush's loan and shut up.

Teenaged Angst. Spare us from this shit, please. Adults playing children. Cartoon bullies. A bad actress trying to deliver Shakespeare's lines even worse than someone of her ilk would deliver them. Jasmine Armfield over-acting. Again. The MAN who plays Travis trying his best to look like a 16 year-old, when his face is so fully defined that there is no way he could be mistaken for one. Just look at the kid who played Bernadette's babydaddy. THAT is an adolescent.

This is not some C-Beebies' tripe about bitchy teenaged girls or a lesson in bullying again. This has now gone on far too long, and it's beyond boring.Also, Sharon has seriously swanned off to Italy (obviously to pave the way for King Phil's return) and left Louise and Dennis under the care of Michelle again? Seriously? Really? After everything that happened the last time?

The Mandatory Denise Storyline. Denise continues to offend me, and she should offend any self-respecting person viewing this tripe as well. Only a few weeks ago, we were asked to sympathise with a woman so inherently stupid that she walked out of a job she should have been sacked from, only to realise she needed a job when she was down to her last ten quid. She gave her Food Bank allotment away. She was reduced to living on scraps from rubbish bins.

Now we see her literally smack her lips at receiving a thick envelope filled with twenty-pound notes, totalling hundreds, as a bonus for spending the days gossiping with her tactless, tasteless, nouveau riche sister as they plan a holiday for themselves and Denise's Oedipally-obsessed toyboy.

The aim of the storyline is to dissuade Carmel, who thinks she's back in Denise's good books again,from accompanying them on holiday. With the Fox Non-sisters, we see just how far male role models on the show have sunk. Vincent, who was allowed to order the drinks in Spanish tonight, and Kush are so emasculated, it's a wonder there's still a bulge left between their legs. Kush is utterly dependent on Denise telling Carmel not to come on the holiday. Not only would it upset him, he can't bring him to tell her, himself. He doesn't want to upset Mummy I, while he doesn't want to miss out on sleeping with Mummy II.

She's starting on the council reception job - even with a criminal record and a less than salubrious resumé from The Minute Mart, as well as compounded atrocious grammar - and she promises the hoi-polloi that she'll get to the bottom of what the council are plotting.

And we know the next big storyline for her will be her GCSE grade. 

I hope she fails, and I hope John Yorke ditches Diane Parish.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Perfecting the Art of Writing about Nothing - Review:- Monday 10.07.2017

I'm behind in watching this show, and it isn't bothering me at all. In fact, it seems a chore to bother with catching up, and - after watching Monday's episode - I'm beginning to think I was right not to bother.

It was a Daran Little episode, and usually he's at the top of his game, but how do you write about a show where nothing significant happens? Maybe I'm too harsh. Significant things did happen in this episode.

Lauren finally admitted that she didn't love Steven ...but the viewing public knew that a along.

We found out that the father of Bernadette's baby was a kid named Callum in her year at school - someone who really does look his age and (just for social commentary purposes) appears to be the victim of his abusive father ... but we barely know Bernadette enough even to care who the father of her child is, without there being a hint of possible incest, and we don't know her babydaddy at all. In fact, this episode was his first appearance.

We were properly introduced, after Friday's fleeting appearance, to the new character played by George Maguire. Felix Moore, a tip to the hipsters invading the area. He's a trendy-wendy, tattooed, bearded and man-bunned, a nice enough bloke who deals in vintage items - in other words, a fancy name for selling old tat.His introduction was the background for Robbie flexing his muscles and ending up in the rubbish bin.

And of course, after an absence of about three episodes, we have the return of Denise, front and centre, strutting about the Market, gurning like the cat who's got the canary, arrogant, condescending, overrated, over-exposed and overbearing. One of O'Connor's two muses, the other being NuMichelle. Denise gets the Council job she wanted, although that would never happen in a million years in real time.

So all of the above did, indeed, happen, but who the fuck cares? The show was all about unlikable characters (Denise, Lauren), in predictable storylines or characters too knew for the public even to give a rat's arse about.

It's Over. This storyline about Lauren and Steven should have been well over ages ago. There are so many plotholes in this situation I don't know where to begin. 

Ben Hardy left the show. Peter and Lauren left, ostensibly, for a new life in New Zealand, a living joke in and of itself. New Zealand is very particular about whom it lets immigrate to its shores, and neither Peter nor Lauren had any sort of educational or professional skills wanted by that country. Allegedly, Peter is still there, spaced out or drunk, face down in some gutter, living hand-to-mouth, which doesn't sound like Peter Beale at all.

The truth of the matter is that DTC couldn't be arsed to re-cast the role and brought Aaron Sidwell back as Steven instead, inventing what appeared to be a mysterious attraction between Steven and Lauren and a weird abandonment of Peter by her. None of it made sense, and nothing was ever followed through about where Peter was, why Lauren left him and why she took up with Steven ... who, ten years ago, was gay.

Apart from a curious five-second look exchanged between Steven and Johnny Carter when Steven first arrived, Steven doesn't even identify either as bi-sexual nor does he even make reference to the gay interlude in his life. He's had a sexual relationship with Lauren and has had two instances of angry sex with Abi. Yet another character on the show who doles it out in portions between siblings.

Friday's episode saw Steven break down completely over Lauren's confession that things weren't "good" between them, and that she was really only with him because he was so good with Louis. Of course, she confessed this to Josh, who alleges that he has feelings for her, himself.

Steven's way of dealing with this knowledge is to detach himself from the reality of the situation. He doesn't even notice that Lauren flinches from his touch, and even she is using her son's teething as a means of avoiding Steven whenever she can, and to date, she's been an indifferent mother. So, with his detachment from the reality of this - as per his insistence to Abi, after again offering herself to him on a plate, that he's totally invested in Lauren, I wonder if he's entering into a psychotic phase? He's been psychotic before, remember?

He's actually convinced himself that Lauren refused Josh's advances because of her feelings for him. He's totally blocked out the babysitter bit ... until he realises, by spying on her, that she actually isn't at work that afternoon and tracks her to the local park, where, indeed, she is with Josh.

Lauren's convinced herself of the nobility of her feelings, when actually, what she's probably done all weekend is gee herself up into moving away from Steven because Josh and everything he has, has convinced her that she deserves better - as not only in a job for which she has no qualifications, but a rich partner, who can shower her with money and show her some excitement. If Josh has promised any of that - and he hasn't, all he's said is that he has feelings for her, which just means he's horny for her - then it's debatable that he'd want a ready-made family that would include Louis. She even asserts that Steven deserves better too -and she's right about that, except that "better" isn't Abi.

The BabyDaddy Is Actually a Baby. The Taylors continue to ooze social commentary, so much that it confuses me. Friday we were led to believe that this family of cartoon chavs actually just might include another take on the Whitney-Tony affair, with an older family member (Keanu) sexually abusing his younger, but older-looking, sister. Tonight it moved into the realm of Demi Miller.

On the one hand, we had Karen confronting Keanu with the accusation that he got his sister pregnant, and he's righteously repelled. Which is good, because we're supposed to see Keanu, funny name and all, as the square peg in a round hole full of chavs. Were the Taylors American, they'd be Southern rednecks, spaced out on methamphetamines and oxycontin, but Keanu would have been the smartest kid in the class who wins a scholarship to Harvard, leaves home and never returns, until he's elected Senator or something. I mean, Keanu is the one the viewers want to stay ... until he starts to bonk Whitney whenever she returns.

Turns out that Bernadette's babydaddy is a scrawny little kid - who really does look fifteen - named Callum, who's in her year at school and who has an abusive father. When she tells him that she's pregnant, he cries, offers her his life savings of sixteen quid and suggests that they get married. In the end, she's horsing around with her big brother, whilst Karen smiles benevolently.

Except ... except ... all of this amounts to nothing. We don't know these people; they're blank slates, they're new - and horribly already with the potential to spread across the Walford canvas like a cancer - the twins' father, Keegan's father, Bernadette's father ... the possibilities are endess. In fact, their sole purpose is to carry on ticking stereotypical boxes until they morph into the noble spokesmen of working-class Britain. In this episode, we got the inevitable soliloquy about how the rest of the neighbourhood viewing them as scum. Has Walford really become so gentrified?

The Inevitable Purpose of the Bins. George Maguire properly joined the cast tonight as Felix Moore, the trendy, man-bunned (yes, another one) hipster fronting the latest second-hand tat stall on the market - at the expense of Donna, a situation rife with all sorts of unsaid accusations.

First, Robbie, who's turned into the typically unfunny inept martinet boss, suggested a team-building action day to build bonding amongst the traders. Donna, rightly, enquired if there were facilities for the disabled at the site Robbie wanted to use, which put him on the spot, After that incident, he was all over the place with Donna and always doing wrong for attempting to do right.

When he re-organised the function, making certain that there were facilities for the disabled, Donna bridled and remarked that she wanted to be treated like anyone else, which is also reasonable. Today, after several warnings, Robbie called time on her stall, because she owed three weeks' of pitch fees.

Them's the rules, but remember all the other kerfuffle with pitch fees, especially the way Kat and Bianca treated Mr Lister and abused Tamwar? This time, all Donna can do is whine about the fact that she was unable to pay her fees (for three weeks running) because she "bought bad stock" and play the martyr when Kush offers to pay her fees that she owes.

Yes, Robbie was obnoxious. Yes, he's probably on a roll because he left Walford as the market sweeper and returned to control the actual market, itself. Yes, he's a dipshit; but he was actually only doing his job. Instead, he got intimidated and humiliated before the new trader he was signing up. However charming Felix might have been and still might be, he now knows that the Market Inspector has actually no real power in the united face of the market traders, themselves. In one of Daran Little's appallingly weak moments, the line about Robbie berating Martin for rubbish around his stall (Rubbish belongs in the bins), with a wry tip to O'Connor's most consistent theme since he took over, inspired what we knew was coming - Kush and Martin dumping Robbie in the bins.

I am no fan of Robbie's by a long shot, but in this instance, he was only trying to do his job, even though he was being obnoxious about it. Donna couldn't pay, so she lost the pitch to someone who'd paid his fees up front. And he's punished and humiliated for doing that. How is that right? It wasn't even funny. It was, like everything else, predictable.

Denise. It was unavoidable that we couldn't go one week without seeing her smug face. Denise spent the majority of this episode whining about Kim. Kim is hard going. She's self-absorbed, selfish and stupid. Tonight, at the end of their segment, when Denise decided to take Kim's free holiday offer up, she confessed that she hadn't yet TOLD Kush they were going - it never crossed her mind to ask him if he'd like to go. She and Kim TELL, they never ASK; and Kim reinforced that, even commenting on how much of an emasculated man the increasingly unseen Vincent has become.

Ne'mind, because, unbelievably, Denise got a job on the Council. Seriously. Denise, with her criminal record and a less-than-salubrious reference from the Minute Mart,not to mention her appalling spoken grammar.

But she does have ond GCSE.

Even more unbelievable, she starts in 2 weeks, and is planning a holiday for shorty afterward. As you do. Well, as Denise does. And she quits working for Kim, which is another example of her stupidity. She'll probably get paid one month in arears, which means she'd have to work two months before she sees one month's wages.

I suppose she's not to proud to live off Patrick, Kim and Kush for the next couple of months.

The more I see of Kim and Denise, the more I miss Ronnie and Roxy, and I didn't like Ronnie at all.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Vice Is Nice But Incest ... - Review:- Friday 07.07.2017

Remember Brookside? That's the dead show that EastEnders smells like at the moment. Right before its illness became terminal, before it descended into balloon-like tits, lots of arse and a vehicle for the bad acting of Claire Sweeney (with a few gangsters thrown in for good luck), it's last extended storyline was one of incest.

Remember the very proper middle-class Simpson family - dad Ollie, mum Bel and kids Nat, Georgia and Danny? On the surface, they were all prim and proper, but Bel had lost her job because she took up with a much-younger male trainee and ended up getting charged with sexual harassment. She later went on to sleep with Mike Dixon and caught a dose of the clap from him and passed it on to Ollie ...

... but that's not all the Simpsons were hiding. Nat and Georgia were sleeping together. That was the ueber-big sensationalist storyline. Brookside tackled incest. It wasn't just shame and incest. At the end of the day, incest won. They left the close to live together as a couple in a place where no one knew them, disowned by Ollie, who had -by then - finished with Bel.

After that, the show sorta kinda descended into a bad farce, which seems to be EastEnders' direction now anyway.

It's now obvious that EastEnders are doing their very own incest storyline, and of course, it has to involve the Taylors, the closest thing to trailer trash the show has at the moment.

I come from the South. The very rural, often mountainous hill country of the Deep South is often parodied by the North and other areas as being incestuous, and there's some truth to that. The classic duelling banjos scene from "Deliverance" shows what inbreeding can achieve. Hell, the Royal Family shows what inbreeding can achieve, but somehow that sort of inbreeding is different from the likes in which trailer trash, hillbilles or - in the eyes of Sean O'Connor, a middle-class man from leafy suburbia - chavs participate.

I don't know what the attraction, emotional or psychological, was that bonded Keanu in what appears to be a physical relationship with his sister. He seems a responsible, sensitive and sensible young man, and she's more of the sort who's not the brightest lightbulb in the pack, someone who's at one time street suss but also naive. Like a lot of people these days, she has no cognizance of or respect for public property, especially that sort of property intended as a memorial. It was one thing to be carving into the wood of Arthur's bench, but she was carving childish love initials. Are we to believe that she's actually in love with her brother?

More importantly - and Social Services will love this - she's underage. This really is sexual abuse the likes of which Jay's accidental foray into that realm pales in insignificance before that. Bernadette has, legally, been sexually abused by her older brother. Consent doesn't come into it. She's underaged.

Another irony surroundes Lorraine Stanley - once again, she portrays the parent of an underaged daughter mixed up in inadvertant sexual assault, this time by her brother.

Some may argue that this isn't the first time the show tackled incest, considering Sharon's son has a total of three grandparents, and his father and mother had the same father; but no one even promoted that as incest, and people were quick to point out that (a) Sharon was adopted, so there was no blood relationship, and (b) she and Dennis weren't raised together and didn't relate to each other as siblings.

But this is something different, and unless there's a twist in the tale regarding the actual familial relationship between the two, then I'm not sure where they could go with this story. For the moment, however, it's not only an immoral relationship, it's an illegal one.

This was the twist in the tale whose backdrop was the family's revenge against NuMichelle's snotty telling-off of Bernadette for defacing Arthur's memorial bench. The scene lacked any sort of depth or meaning because the character of NuMichelle lacks such death and meaning. Viewers simply don't identify with Jenna Russell as Michelle Fowler. Imagine the impact the scene would have had, had this occurred with either Martin or even Stacey objecting to Bernadette's behaviour. Instead of the ubiquitous "me mum" phrase, which has become a parody for this actress, we had "me dad" in this episode, in her protests about the bench.

The Taylors' revenge had a double purpose - removing Arthur's memorial bench was a stiff middle finger in Michelle's direction, as well as providing additional seating and a place for Keanu to sleep in the flat, rather than sleeping on the floor. Symbolically, I suppose this was O'Connor's stiff middle finger at Old Walford. The Mitchells are depleted, the Beales an unfunny sitcom joke and the Fowlers little more than background characters. The removal of Arthur's bench, its triumphant taking as a trophy by the newcomers was almost a symbolic gesture of O'Connor figuratively thumbing his nose at Old Walford, whilst giving the show a new family replete with everything stereotypical about a chavvy family as assumed by someone deeply entrenched in the middle classes who might even be a reader of The Daily Mail. And now this includes incest!

The Parable of the Cat with Nine Lives. I don't know what was worse in this instance - Sonia's insufferable self-righteous attitude or June Brown's head-bobbing from the bed.

Listen ... Dot's been in hospital before. And hospitals have had no-smoking policies for donkey's years. Why was so much fuss made about Dot wanting a cigarette, literally dying for a cigarette, even wanting an electronic cigarette, when she knows damned well that smoking simply isn't allowed in hospitals. Ambulatory patients actually go outside for a fag, but Dot not only isn't ambulatory, she's refusing physiotherapy.

Suddenly, she's become a head-bobbing, gurning, difficult old biddy - rude to the nurses, not heeding the doctors. The only issue with which I agreed was her ticking Sonia off about barging into her house and literally taking over. She needs to speak to Carol. Carol would soon suss that something just isn't right in Sonia's life at the moment, or else she wouldn't be trying to control everyone else's life. She's got an interview for nursing again. Let's see what comes up about the job at Kidderminster or Kettering or wherever the hell she was.

And, of course, we knew that Dave the cat wasn't dead, but following the trail of Dot to the hospital was too Disney-esque for reality or appreciation. This, I surmise, is Dave's third life - the first, as Lucky, living with the Murrays, his original owners; the second as a stray, and now the third with Dot. I guess he's entering his fourth existence now, as I imagine there's about to be an almighty custody battle between Dot and Joyce Murray, whose husband is about to succeed the ranks of Jim and Patrick as potman at the pub. Now that's an ambition!

OOOoooh, Psychokiller ... oooh Qu'est-ce que C'est. Watching Steven finally lose it is interesting, but Abi is all over the place. She likes him, but she goads him and feeds his insecurities about Lauren. She baits him to the point that she actually taunts his weaknesses, the prime one being his obsession with Lauren. She makes no secret of the fact that she thinks it's pathetic that he's spying on Lauren, yet at the same time, she feeds his insecurities, harping on about Lauren's shallowness, her self-absorption, her general insatisfaction.

It's obvious that she likes Steven, and she thought something would come of the two times they had sex, but that was angry sex on Steven's part. There was no love there, no tenderness. It was a sex that was akin to rape, because it was brutal, violent and unlasting. A short, sharp, shock. The only difference between what passed between Steven and Abi was the fact that Abi consented to the act, on both occasions. It was the sort of sex Jack Branning had the first time with Roxy Mitchell, when he discovered her trashing his office. We know what the result of that encounter was.

On both occasions, Steven and Jack used the sisters of their love objects as someone on whom to vent their sexual anger. Take that! He gave her one! The difference in victim is that Roxy moved on from the situation, and Abi, initially, thought that just maybe there would be some sort of romance there for her with Steven - then she could really have one over on Lauren. Even as late as this episode, Abi is offering it to Steven on a plate, and in the Beale household; but Steven refuses.

It's then that Abi gauges the full extent of Steven's obsession with Lauren and realises that they could never have anything together. In short, she's been used, and after that moment of realisation, she treats him with contempt.

The irony of that situation is, that by watching her at work, he suddenly understands the awful truth, before she even utters the actual words, of her total deception. Whilst watching her, he rings her at work, she admits that she's having lunch, and he asks if she's eating the salad he made for her -seeing her chomping on something else and the salad sitting, untouched, on the desk beside her. Lauren lies and says she's eating it. At that moment, with that trivial lie, Steven sees her for the liar she is and he knows he's being deceived.

Later, he watches serious chat between her and Josh, realising that the previous evening, when she worked late, yet returned home, wanting to cuddle with him on the couch, had been the result of a close, nearly intimate encounter with Josh. She almost slept with him, but didn't -not, she explained, because she didn't want to do so, but because she didn't want to cheat on an established relationship the way her father regularly did. Maybe Lauren recognises the trait of serial dissatisfaction that she inherited from Max, the propensity for infidelity - after all, she's already been the significant other in a marriage she broke up.

Steven watches this in utter horror, interrupted by a taunting Abi, whom he frightens away with a serious warning, but the breaking point comes when Lauren literally admits to Josh that what she has with Steven isn't good, and that she only stays with him, basically, because he's good with Steven - in short, as Josh surmises, a babysitter.

Watching psycho Steven emerge made this mediocre episode worth the watch, not that I'm overly enthusiastic about the programme at all at the moment.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Blasé - Review:- Thursday 06.07.2017

Once again, this episode gets a resounding 4 out of 10.

It was just another case of nothing happening. Bits and bobs of this and that. Seriously.

1. Stacey starts her job behind the bar of the Vic, which is silliness in and of itself. What pub or licenced restaurant would hire a pregnant woman? Bar work is hard, and it's going to get harder when her pregnancy progresses and she's standing during the entirety of her shift on painful swollen ankles. And there's the fatigue to think of as well. Of course, it's all a set-up for her to go into labour at the Vic and to have the baby there, wherein the kid will probably be named Vicki (again) or Victor if it's a boy. EastEnders, these days, you can read it like a book, just like you know that Shirley's going to take Stacey's promotional idea and claim it for her own.

2. Jack's grieving Ronnie. The next day is her birthday and instead of Ronnie being across the Square, playing Yummy Mummy to Matthew and Amy (and everyone forgetting what a cold-blooded psychopathic killer she was), instead we have blonde Norwegian nanny Ronnie fingerpainting with the kids and making lasagna. I would have thought Amy, who's almost nine is a bit too old for fingerpainting, but they make Amy speak and act as though she's five - I guess they're making up for all the times she stared mutely at the camera and only shook her head once or twice, not speaking before she was six. Still, Martin Fowler didn't speak until he was twelve.

3. I am convinced that Honey is EastEnders' version of Bernice. You could almost see Bernice tonight, notebook in hand, reading assiduously from social and psychological management coursework, literally applying sales techniques learned on this course, the likes of which would apply to a big retail chain of supermarkets and not a corner shop.Then, ultimately, quoting from the most important rule in the handbook about the company not tolerating staff being physically or verbally abused in an effort to fend off Keegan's homophobic rant earlier at Derek.

I thought Derek was given his notice. OK, he explained the situation to Yolande, and the decision is out on appeal, but I didn't think they would allow him to work until Johnny had managed to work rookie magic and get his conviction scrapped.

4. The Taylors continue to be featured in an effort to flesh them out, beginning with Karen's first and last day cleaning Beales'. She rabbits on because she's nervous of a new situation, but she strikes a bad chord with Ian when she notices Bobby's picture in the Beale photo and starts innocently asking question, even suggesting that perhaps her Chatham, who has learning disabilities, and Bobby could be friends. Of course, it grates with Ian that Bobby is doing time in a Young Offenders' institute - the tipping point, being Karen's innocent remark (Bet'e gets away wiv murder), because, of course, that's just what Bobby did, up to a point; and it galls Ian that a family of people he rightly regards as low-lifes and chavs have all their kids under one roof, with the odd ASBO here and there, whilst Bobby, the ubiquitous nice, middle-class boy, sits in a cell.

Of course, we continue to be subtly exposed to the Taylors' family dynamics, especially the announcement to the rest of the clan that Bernadette is pregnant. The more I see this lot, the more I'm convinced that Keegan isn't a biological part of the group, but more or less,a by-blow of his father, who left the kid when he schlepped through. There are loads of tell-tale factors:-

a. The obvious is that he's black, or mixed-race, smack dab in the middle of an all-white family, when Karen originally said that her kids were the result of two relationships.

b. Then there's the fact that Keegan and Bernadette are the same age, fifteen.

c. Keegan goes by his father's surname, Baker; the rest share Karen's surname, Taylor. For Keegan to have his father's surname, it means that his dad was wither married to Karen, or whoever his mother is, or that he gave permission to Karen to allow the boy to have his name,were he not married to her.

d. Then, there's the way that Karen treats him, in apposition to the way she reacts to Bernadette or Riley and Chatham. She's loving, affectionate and caring. Even the way she speaks with Keanu has a different timbre to her behaviour around Keegan. Oh, she defends him, but there's a spark of difference there, even the animosity that exists between Keanu and Keegan. Even before Karen blurted out that Bernadette was pregnant, the two were almost at dagger points about Keegan's overt animosity towards Bernadette begging another day off school. Also, at the end of the episode, when Karen was reassuring Chatham that they wouldn't have to get rid of the dog when Bernadette's baby came, Keegan noticed the way she treated the boy. He clocked her obvious affection for him as opposed to her offhand treatment of him.

Keanu seems a quiet, determined, decent boy with convictions and ambitions, but there's something that he has against Keegan, and then, there's Keegan's overt misogyny to deal with. His reaction to Bernadette's pregnancy was one of disgust. However, that doesn't stop me from wondering if Keegan isn't the father of Bernadette's baby?

5. The ludicrous Jackson settle in. It's obvious that Sonia isn't in lezza mode anymore, judging by her reaction to Mr Pryce, who seems to be the drama and music teacher at Walford High. It was laughable that Sonia, with memories of her off-key trumpet-playing, barely beyond beginner level, taking credit for Rebecca's musical talent (which really isn't much in the general scheme of things), whilst leaving the deplorable Robbie searching the market for the missing Dave, in the middle of planning team-building exercises in which no one takes an interest. He's the laughing stock of the market and a poor choice for a return character.

Dean Gaffney isn't funny at all, and I would imagine that the dead cat found in the wheelie bin isn't Dave at all, because there's got to be a twist in this tale.

Also, it didn't take Sonia long to start trash-mouthing Dot's intransigent behaviour at the hospital - annoying the nurses and insulting the doctors, amongst other things. This whole farce doesn't interest me at all, including Sonia's snide dig at Martin's interests in front of the teacher (which was low), apart from wanting to know why exactly Sonia had to leave Kidderminster or Kettering or wherever the hell she was.

6. The Beale-Branning Love Triangle. Jay and Ben have obviously bought a voice-recognition music system, similar to Amazon's Alexa service, and they're playing up their new roles as the natural successors to Minty and Garry in Idiotville by playing music and horsing around with issuing commands. Of course, this was bought with the stolen credit card, and I can't wait for the law to catch up with these two.

Not only have they become idiots, they've also become blatantly cruel to Abi, making snide remarks about the dress she was wearing resembling a curtain and then wondering if she'll ever get another boyfriend. They should talk. Neither of them have had any recent semblance of a social life. Jay's last sustained relationship resulted in him getting put on a sex offenders' list, and the only action Ben's seen since Paul's death has been a one-night stand with a plank, otherwise known as Johnny Carter.

What's worst about this entire sequence of slut-shaming Abi is that both boys, at one time, had lengthy sexual relationships with her. Jay actually wanted to marry her, and Ben gave her chlamydia. That was a very uneasy scene to watch.

Abi, on the other hand, has her sights set on Steven, and the best scene in an otherwise mediocre episode was the scene at the Beale house, where Abi alternatively encourages Steven, alleviating his self-doubts (Ian's regard for him, how important he is to the business) whilst at the same time, feeding his doubts about his relationship with Lauren. Mind you, everything she says about Lauren is true - that she's superficial, shallow, never satisfied with what she has and doesn't think half as much of Steven as he does for her. She's actually quite good with the sinister manipulation, actually asking would he really be losing anything if he lost Lauren.

Of course, the irony in this situation is that Lauren had the opportunity to cheat on Steven the night of Abi's party. She didn't, yet Steven cheated on her with Abi, and now, finally synced into her mobile charger at work, and spying on her at her desk at work, he's infuriated to see her accept the invitation of an after-work drink with Josh, enough to make a beeline for Abi in which to indulge in some angry sex, which - ultimately - will result in Abi getting pregnant and Steven's duplicity exposed.

7. Carmel, Max's useful idiot, has a drink with him after a planning meeting. He's plying her with a Tanya-Branning-sized glass of wine. Loose lips sink ships.

Mediocre episode.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Show Where Absolutely Nothing Happens - Review:- Tuesday 04.07.2017

What can you say about a show where absolutely nothing ever happens? Not much. I don't know what was worse about Tuesday's episode - Katie Douglas's sub-par writing or Sonia, whom, since her return, I've decided I hate with a passion second only to the hatred I feel for Donald Trump.

And that's a heavy hate.

Nothing happened on Lorraine Newman's watch, except love and warmth and a lot of unnecessary fluff. Nothing happened with Sean O'Connor, except a naff pretence at depicting reality which came across as preachy, moralising public service announcements about the state of Britain as seen through the eyes of a middle-aged luvvie.

Tuesday's episode was obviously a stab at fleshing out the Taylors, whilst totally ignoring the one member of their tribe most viewers find the most interesting, if not the one with the most depth: Keanu. His role has been limited to the odd couple of lines here and there, eventually leading to him storming off under duress. He's the only member of a family of chavs who's serious. He's in an apprenticeship, he's bringing home a wage (something of which he never ceases to remind his mother); he's serious about his prospects and is cognizant about the fecklessness of his family. You feel there's a depth of character to be explored, and we're wasting everything in favour of Lorraine Stanley blatantly over-acting and a storyline, once again, about an underaged girl, who's pregnant and who won't reveal the identity of the father, which means that this unknown quantity is someone the viewers know, which has to mean that the dad is a member of her own family.

So now, we have Sean O'Connor's very own version of Michelle's teenaged pregnancy - except we have no established nebulous father figure to ponder, which has led many people to wonder if this is a crime of incest, or pseudo-incest.

A lot of people reckon that Keanu isn't Karen's son, that he's someone whom she's taken in, based on her remark about having "taken him in" and based also on the fact that Keanu, in one of his many brief scenes, was noticed to have tenderly kissed Bernadette, but here's another possibility, considering that Sean O'Connor likes to toss out red herrings as much as DTC ever did ... what if Keegan is the baby's father?

Think about it.

Bernadette is supposedly fifteen years old, even though the actress who plays her looks thirty-seven. Keegan is fifteen. That was established a couple of weeks ago,which totally confused me because at one time, I thought he was the same age as Shakil (who looks brilliant, by the way, since he's shed the man bun), but a few weeks back, it was said that Keegan was fifteen.

He's definitely not Bernadette's twin. He also has a different surname from the rest of the family - he's a Baker in a gaggle of Taylors. Karen's weird explanation to Bernadette as to why Keegan retained his father's surname was so vague and incomprehensible that I don't even remember what it was. Also, Karen remarked that her brood was the product of two relationships - when talking about her having never been married, she quipped, Neither of them could be bovvered.

Keegan, smack dab in the middle of all Karen's children, is the only bi-racial child she has and the only one with a different surname. He's also the only one whom Karen treats slightly rougher than the rest. I'm beginning to wonder if Keegan arrived on the relationship scene as part of his father's baggage as a very small child or an infant, and was left with Karen when his father absconded as a kind of emotional souvenir of whatever it was she had with his father. We know Sean O'Connor is fond of the odd "mother-not-mother" moments (cf: the omnipresent Denise and Ada-Emerald) ...

So I wouldn't put that trick past him.

I can't believe Karen was as shocked as she was to learn of Bernadette's pregnancy. After all, Karen, herself, was a teenaged mum, has never been married to any of the fathers of her children, and Bernadette's older sister, herself, has two children and isn't married to their father. She's had multiple role models to emulate. Karen's behaviour in the doctor's surgery was overbearing, but afterward, Bernadette's reasons for wanting to keep the baby ("because it would be hers and she'd love it") was the absolute set-up for Karen's typical remark about the child not actually being a doll.

Then we had that ludicrous scene of Bernadette proving to Karen that she would, indeed, be a responsible mum by making cheese toasties for her two younger brothers, ultimately followed by the duff-duff scene where Karen, after seemingly cheerfully accepting Bernadette's decision to become a teenaged mum, breaks down in tears on her own - the inference being that, just like any other mum, Karen wanted better than what she had for her children, at the very least, for her daughter. She, herself, was a single teenaged mother; her oldest daughter followed suit, allegedly in order to get a home of her own paid for by the Council, and now Bernadette has thrown away any sort of future she could have had - aside from dreaming of making money off a reality television show - by binning off school (with no qualifications) and settling for the life of a single, teenaged mum.

Now begins the countdown to the revelation of "who's the daddy". Again.

They're BACK. Sean O'Connor certainly likes old-looking and sounding actors playing adolescents. The bullies are back. O'Connor hasn't finished with them yet. I gather they're going to be taking on both Rebecca and Louise at the same time, although Louise doesn't realise that yet.

Once again, the show made Sharon look like a shallow div, and the set-up in the Mitchell household is a mockery. It's also obvious now that a lot of Michelle's role has been enhanced with what would have been Phil's dialogue - the present of a computer game for Dennis, who - American citizen by birth that he is - was born on the 4th of July.

Louise is still smarting from the gossip propagated around the school about what didn't happen at the party, and she's in need of someone to listen to her concerns; but Sharon was so blasé about all of this and was intent upon concentrating only on Dennis's 11th birthday. That totally wasn't Sharon. The real Sharon would have been down at the school, reading the riot act to the head about what was being passed around about Louise and making sure something was done about it. Instead, this imposter shrugs it off, even laughing it off when Louise demands that she change schools for the next term.

And where the hell does Dennis get off sharing a laugh and a fist bump with Michelle because of her present? He's a little sheister, but he has more integrity about him than to accept any gift, much less the friendship of a woman who smacked him when he told her a few, grown-up home truths. Sharon also wants to remember that it was Dennis who gave Keegan the vital piece of information about Louise which had her believing that she'd been raped at this party.

The Green-Eyed Monster. Dot will want to be back in full-time care once she's had a dose of Sonia,who's already lying to her about having lost the cat once again. Sonia is a self-serving bitch. She wasn't concerned in the least about making Robbie homeless when she blithely told him that Dot wasn't entitled to take any more than one lodger in her home. 

Although Dot correctly spelled out what had happened during the time she sublet the house to Cora, the court specifically told Dot that she could have no more than one lodger living with her at one time. Sonia comes back with the news that every bedroom in the house can be filled. Whether or not that has anything to do with the bedroom tax is beyond my ken, but the real truth of the matter is that after Jim's death, the Council would have re-located Dot to a smaller property - a flat or a maisonette.That house would have been reserved for a family.

I'm keen to know what secret Sonia's hiding, because she's so critically micro-managing everything,right down to where Dot would sleep.

The gist of her situation with Rebecca is simple: She's jealous of the relationship she has with Martin and Stacey. She's jealous of the fact that she's happy in that family. She's so jealous that she uses the cheap accusation to Martin that the only reason he's happy to have Rebecca is for the free babysitting of the younger children. It was patently obvious that Sonia was jealous when she spied Rebecca,across the Square, having a shared moment and a laugh with Stacey. She's also deeply jealous, I think, that Stacey and Martin are having another child.

Sonia, who ultimately rejects Tina in this episode, sees Martin, Stacey and their children and realises what she gave up. Good. Even tonight as she tried to search for Dave, she was already moaning about having to care for an elderly relative. She didn't even want to go on her own, and she tried to enlist Jack's support.

Dot's cat is the best judge of character in that show. He runs a mile from Sonia and Robbie.

Keeping Track. Steven's tale of woe with an indifferent Lauren, another one who is never satisfied with what she's got, continues at a snail's pace. Jacqueline Jossa should be high on John Yorke's P45 list, because she contributes nothing to the show. At one time, this storyline seemed to have a purpose and was a teensy bit provocative. Now, it's lost in another mire of ineptitude.

Widdle Mick. Come on ... Would high-flying Fi really hire a pregnant woman as a barmaid? Can any heavily pregnant woman, who's been on her feet running after kids all day, seriously entertain propping up a bar and serving drinks on an evening shift?

At least we know something now. Stacey's baby will be due around Christmas,and it will probably be born in the Vic. 

Surprise, surprise.

Mick and Fi ... Jack and Norwegian Ronnie ... how long, O Lord?