Sunday, July 27, 2014

Back in the Saddle Again - Review: 21.07-25.07.2014

Never let it be said that I don't give credit where credit is due. Dominic Treadwell-Collins, this one's for you ...

Yeee-HAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW! The best and most consistent week the programme's had in a very long time. Good story-telling, good acting - even the unlikeable was watchable for a reason.

Rudoloph Walker, at last, is given a story in which he can sink his teeth and play a blinder, Timothy West and Ann Mitchell give a masterclass in understated acting, and ... Ladies and Gentleman, Ms Watts has entered the building.

At long last, as promised, Sharon has returned. She's returned from the Barbie Doll Tanya Lite madness, the incongruency of loving a plank of wood and unbelieveable bitchery into the Sharon most long-term viewers knew, loved and admired. This is Sharon pre-Shannis and pre-John Yorke.

There were times I doubted DTC's sincerity in restoring Sharon, but I've a bit more faith in his endeavours now.

Yes, there are people who hate Sharon, and there are people who hate Shirley. I have to say something.

Sharon and Shirley are strong female characters, and they have the potential to be strong and worthy, independent women of their own accord. Add Linda Carter to that fold, and you have an unbeatable triumvirate determinating the moral compass of Walford. Give them back-up in Denise and Kat (a better-written version), and you've got a damned watchable show. Ally human women with flesh and blood and flaws.

What's hurt Sharon and Shirley the most are their shippers - two in particular, one who's lectured and hectored any and all on Sharon's amazing good points and another who's bullied, threatened and pestered people about Shirley and her complications. Take the fangirls out of the equation, let the three women confront the men who seek to play them for fools, and then front Shirley, Sharon and Linda at the Vic.

Unbeatable. Shame about the fans.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of This Week

The Good: Oldies but Goodies.

Elderly characters featured heavily in this week's clutch of episodes, and DTC has added to the diminishing number with some heavy-hitters who fit in just fine - newcomers Pam and Les Coker, the return of Mo Harris and Stan Carter, played by the brilliant Timothy West. One of the best things DTC has done is to turn Cora's character around. What had previously been a drunken, sodden ASBO Granny, unlikeable and a reprobate, is now a vulnerable, lonely, old woman who seeks solace behind a brittle exterior and a whiskey glass. 

Cora is all too cognizant of her mortality. She hasn't recovered from her husband's early and prolonged death from cancer, and she ran from the bad end of it, right into a whiskey bottle. IN that brilliant scene from one of the later episodes in the week, when Cora unbended enough to confess to Stan why she didn't want to visit Patrick in the hospital, I was curiously reminded of Peggy, who had a morbid fear of hospitals for the same reason, having sat with Eric through cancer.

Stan has revealed himself to be compassion incarnate. First on the scene at Patrick's stroke, visiting him in hospital with a bottle of rum and wafting it under his nose, speaking to him constantly and being understanding to the nth degree with Cora.

The new-found friendship of Big Mo and Pam Coker looks cosy and realistic. The only person missing from the equation this week was Dot, who's curiously absent.

Rudolph Walker, take a bow. This is what real research is and accomplishes in drama. Already, we'd witnessed Patrick suffer 2 TIA episodes, which often prelude a stroke. He ignored them. 

Patrick's been out of sorts for a long time, and in the moments immediately before his stroke, during the dominoes game, he relented enough in his new-found animosity towards Cora, to allow her to indulge in the lie Rainie had told her, whereas Patrick knew differently.

Walker has played a poignant and ironic blinder all week - the man who stumbled upon a dirty little secret of Ian's which could destroy Denise's illusions, only to be struck dumb at the eleventh hour.

Ian, the least sympathetic of any murder victim's survivors, continues to disgust. He's so worried that Patrick may regain his ability to speak, that he makes sure he's always with Denise at the hospital - not out of any concern for Patrick, but concern that the secret of his tryst with Rainie might be exposed. Already, he's threatened her.

It's ugly and disconcerting to think, to know that Ian would quite happily breathe a sigh of relief if Patrick were to die and take Ian's secret to the grave with him.

Like I've said, the Beales have come out of Lucy's death smelling pretty putrid.

The Good: She's a Lady.

The other star of the show this week, undoubtedly, was Sharon. This is the Sharon for whom her legion of fans have waited. Now all we need is for her shipper, who inadvertantly does more harm than good to STFU and let newer viewers get to know the old Sharon.

Sharon got her mojo back this week, with a little help from Linda Carter, and it's no coincidence that Linda channels Angie in her portrayal of the latest Vic landlady.

I'm glad that the bitchy-childish rivalry between the two has been put aside. Linda's staunch friendship and support this week was the catalyst in springing Sharon into action - from Linda's discovery of the gun and her confrontation with Sharon about it, to Sharon's discovery that Phil had been behind the attack on her, overheard by Sharon when Phil was discussing this with Shirley, Linda was right there, right on board with Sharon.

The great thing about this week's episodes were the tiny subtleties in which the characters engaged - Sharon wiping Phil's kiss from her mouth the morning after she discovered his betrayal, the look of sheer disgust that briefly crossed Linda's face when Sharon revealed that Shirley knew about the attacks, and then at the very end, when Sharon left Phil with a very seductive kiss and a promise which belay her true intent.

The absolute lines of the week were all Sharon:-

I'm not Sharon Rickman, I'm Sharon Watts.

This is my home and my manor, and I'm not going anywhere.

Angie's and Den's daughter has returned.

Watching the querulous, doubtful, wreck of a woman who'd flitted from man to man in the wake of her pretty husband's death emerge from that restrictive cocoon, remembering her upbringing and intent on getting revenge for being so horribly played and betrayed was excitiing, although some Shannistas were more than a bit put out when Sharon reverted, symbolically, to her maiden name - followed by an even more symbolic return to her signature black tailored style (yes, Millennials, Sharon invented that style, not Roswell Ronnie) and her upswept hair, the way strident, confident, Sharon, Den's Princess, would react and respond.

Reverting to Watts is something that has to be done. Watts existed on the Square before Mitchell, and Rickman, no matter what fey Dennis's roots were, was never a name established in Walford lore.

Dennis the Menace can keep Rickman. It aids in helping people forget that his mother and father were adopted siblings.

With Sharon's re-awakening came the second surprise of the week - the return of Marcus Christie, the only man, other than Dan Sullivan, to scam the Mitchells and bring them to their knees.

A lot of people have trouble understanding how Sharon found Marcus, last seen scurrying away from Samantha Mitchell with the Mitchell financial assets in a briefcase. It's not rocket science. Marcus is a bent solicitor, like Ritchie Scott and her cohort, the abysmal Jimmy. No one's complained about Marcus to the proper authority, and Marcus headed his own firm. In the aftermath of the Mitchell destruction ten years ago, he simply took a holiday, changed his name by deed poll and returned to work. His staff knew better than to question.

Sharon remembered his firm, having come across a photo of Grant, Sam and Phil (in which, I might add, Grant seemed particularly prominent), Googled Marcus's old firm, and there he was - same face, different name. So "Mrs Watson" scheduled an appointment, at the nearby park. As you do.

Actually, the fact that Marcus returned to his old practice and his old haunts, under an assumed name, undetected by Mitchell radar, indicates that Phil's not the brightest lightbulb in the pack.

Sit back and watch the fun.

The Bad: Babe the Pig and Tina the Retard.

Babe is not cute, nor is she nice; and Tina, if she isn't retarded, certainly isn't charming, fey or even honest.

Clever, how the saga of selling dope for fertility treatment is actually the start of Bianca's leaving line, and ironic that Bianca will be leaving Walford, the same way she returned - being pursued by Social Services for her dubious parenting skills.

Suffice it to say that Babe is a despicable old lag, who doesn't give a rat's arse about her family, for all she issues threats to anyone attempting to enter the hallowed Carter circle. She uses them to promote her own interests - it's been Babe who's pushed the meme of evil Stan. At the end of the day, she's a criminal, a bully and a drugs peddler.

Tina is stupid enough to work as her pusher, in the cafe, thinking this ends when she acquires the humongous sum of 200 quid to beef up Tosh's 400 for the fertility treatment. Tosh is a fireperson. As first line professionals, they get damned good wages. Two hundred quid is not a vast amount. Either Tosh or even Mick or Shirley should be able to stump Tina the loan of that amount with no problem. Linda can spend that much up West in an hour.

The entire catastrophe concerned Liam taking a container of hash brownies for Tiff's last day at school.Tiff was caught, she wouldn't tell where she'd got the pot, and Bianca turned up tipsy for a confrontation with the head teacher. You know the score.

Once the Jackson-Butchers had found out that the cannabis Tiffany had had come from the cafe, Carol was a whirling dervish, seeking out the insipid Tina, who'd called in sick to the cafe and who was hiding like the coward that she is at the pub.

Two things to consider here:-

  • The advice Lee gave to Tina about the purloined brownies - she could either come clean to the Jackson-Butchers and beg that they not go to the police, or she could steal, by stages, the profit from Ian's cafe to get the 200 pounds needed. Lee is just as dishonest as the majority of his family - Shirley, Dean, Babe and Tina. And Mick.
  • Had Carol not tacitly permitted Tina to push cannabis in the cafe, on the shaggy dog story of her saving for fertility treatment, this would never have happened. Had she prohibited Tina or contacted the police, then there would have been no hash brownies.
The most dismally surprising reaction to Tina's criminal activities was Mick's. He hugged her and said he loved her. Surprisingly, Linda was otherwise engaged, and Nancy was nowhere to be found. I'd love to have seen their reactions.

The Bad: Whitney and Lee - Not Another Bad Romance.

Lee's pursuit of Whitney has caused much comment. In some discussion threads, he's been deemed a stalker. He isn't.

The Lee-Whitney debacle is yet another poor attempt of EastEnders to promote romcom. It never works.  Whitney was always interested in Lee,and when Lucy binned Lee after sampling his delights just once, Lee was ready to move onto Whitney, until Lucy got jealous.

Whitney was playing hard-to-get - something new for Whitney. She usually fucks first and asks questions later; and it paid off. Until it was made clear to her that Lee knew about the cannabis situation.

Never fear, Litney or Wee is still on the horizon. This is what EastEnders hopes to achieve ...

This is not Whitney and Lee.

The Ugly: Ant Knee Trueman Returns.

DTC seems to specialise in keeping up continuity by bringing back old characters in order to bin them off.

Ant Knee Trueman returned to visit his stricken father. Bad enough, that Ant Knee was one of the drippiest, most wooden characters ever to appear on the show. Even worse, that he was romantically involved with Kat and her daughter Zoe, and the medical authority never thought to remove him from Walford - Al Jenkins got sent to Devon for having gotten involved with Roxy.

A GP of the ilk of Trueman wouldn't have touched the Slater women with a barge pole, but there the Luddites are, willing him to return full-time and snake Kat, three children in tow, from Alfie.

Please, God, no. Deliver us from this stick.

And the retconning! Although I have to say that I approve of thi retconning, because it got rid of an abysmal, up-tight,repressive character.

Ant Knee abandoned Patrick because a stroke-ridden old man mistook him for his brother Paul. That incurred a hissy fit of grand proportions, prissily accusing Denise of being more of a daughter to Patrick and Patrick being more of a father to her than to him. Suddenly, from Cambodia, he's acquired a practice in Scotland, a wife and two troublesome children (which account for the baby pictures in Patrick's front room, although he's  never mentioned his grandchildren.

The nadir of this horribly shallow man was his writing of a cheque for £2000 to Denise for Patrick's maintenance. Followed by Ant Knee's scurrying down the hall leaving a trail of yellow slime. Who wants this arsehole back?

Good week.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

That Was the Week That Was - Review: 14.07-18.07.2014

That was the week that was ... started way above par, finished - well, a little below, if one is honest.

That was the week that the murder investigation swung back into full force again. That was the week that we got a new detective, DI Keeble, assigned to the Lucy case, and she's a woman who would give Marsden a run for her money. Hmmm... the thought just occurred to me that Keeble said a new DCI had been assigned to the Lucy case. I wonder if that happens to be Marsden.

Most of this week featured a couple of new surprises around Lucy's death, Billy's new involvement, and a lot of annoying and irritating youth.

My Heart Belongs to Daddy.

That's a song as much for Lauren as for anyone on the Square, but Lauren was at her most annoying this week - from running through the Square "jogging" without breaking a sweat to laying down the law to her own father to making a scene in front of the innocent man whose marriage she destroyed and whom she landed in a jail cell, she stank the place up.

Notwithstanding, she's played by ...


Jossa sucks. Make no mistake, and the kindest thing DTC could do is cut this abysmal piece of no-talent excrement loose. Since she's not front and centre anymore, there's a desperation about her performance as soon as Jossa's given the merest soupcon of a storyline. Always one to be conscious of the camera previously, she's literally licking the lens now - the eyes get wider, the voice screechier, the arms go into windmill rotation. Even when she's expressing remorse, she looks like the naughty spoiled little girl who got caught with her hands in the cookie jar, and who's awfully sorry, but only that she got caught.

The most annoying thing about Lauren isn't her entitlement as much as her self-righteousness.She spent the majority of the week, passing judgement on Max, when - truth be known - in her own way, she's just as sleazy, grubby, dishonest and amoral as he. At least Max has never tried to kill anyone, much less his own kin.

Line of the week was from Monday's episode: Lauren to Max:-

You're the most selfish person I've ever known.

Pot, meet kettle. 

Lauren has no right to take the moral high ground with Max because she's done worse - she's broken up a marriage, slept with a cousin, caused criminal damage to two businesses, assaulted her so-called best friend, and attempted murder.

Max has slept around and committed adultery, but when he slept with Lucy, both were of age and single. It might be a very hard concept to grasp for Lauren that someone her age might be attracted to a man old enough to be her father, but shit happens. Max is still her father, and he isn't going to stop being her father until he snuffs it. Be angry with Lucy, because - as she admitted - Lucy lied to her, but what Lucy and Lauren had was nothing remotely like a friendship. They got together to talk at each other about themselves when neither one listened and in between all that, they shared men. Lucy was well into getting interested in Jake, but chose Max instead.

Gosh, I just wish Nancy Carter would nut Lauren and shove a rag in her mouth. I wish she'd go and live with Tanya.

Another thing that annoyed me this weej was Max. Second line of the week from Max, when asked by Lauren why he slept with Lucy:-

Because she was vulnerable and I was weak.

This said, ostensibly about Lucy, in the cafe whilst looking directly at flake DC Emma Summerhayes. The viewer caught the significance of those words in their entirety. Max knows the dippy policewoman is wet and vulnerable, and he's weak and needs a woman. She's not only a flake, she's neurotic and willing to throw her career away for a quick shag with a man she knows now is unscrupulous in stalking sexual favours.

Mark me, this woman is the next combination of Stella and Mad May, and Max will rue the day he shagged an officer of the law. Watch this space.

Boys and Girls Go Out to Play: Whitney Plays Lee's Dingle.

There have been heated discussions about a brief scene this week, and that scene concerned what can only be described as The Return of Whitney the Walford Mattress.

It must have been Tuesday's episode which saw the ridiculous scene of Lee Carter darting in and out of market stalls, chasing Whitney as she wiggled her way to work whilst stopping at the cafe, as you do. Once again, the writers are doing shit research for characters. Whitney shows up at her job as a teaching assistant, looking more as if she should be frequenting Rainie's streetcorner for the higher end of the market.

No one who works with six year-olds dresses in marital aid shoes and sports nails which could be classified as lethat weapons in and of themselves. Besides, Whitney still looks as though she could do with a good scrub and a hairwash, which made her scenes as a model in Dean's trendy-wendy salon even more of a joke.

A lot of people are uncomfortable with what appears to be Dean's obsession with Linda, which went as far as him surreptitiously cupping her arse in his hand during the photo-shoot. (Perhaps he mistook Linda for Roxy, as their resemblance was so striking with Linda's new hairstyle?). But equally as many took umbrage in Lee pursuing Whitney, possibly because Whitney laughingly identified him to Lauren as her "stalker."

Someone argued that when Whitney told Lee "no," his interaction should have stopped there.

Well, I'm sorry, but Whitney's "no," didn't mean "no." Instead, it meant "yes, eventually,when I'm certain you're not using me as a substitute for Dead Lucy."

Whitney's always fancied Lee, but last time he was here, Lee copped off with Lucy before she binned him. When she saw he was then interested in Whitney, she couldn't tell him of Whitney's prostitute past quick enough, and Whitney was binned.

Whitney never liked Lucy at the best of times, and now that Lee's back - armed with Nancy's information that Lee was and always had been more of a love'em-and-leave'em type, Whitney's going to whet his appetite to a frenzy. Otherwise, she wouldn't have brazenly fronted out the Vic, where she knew he'd be nor would she have laughingly referred to him as her stalker.

Lee's got enough of the bad boy aura about him to whet Whit's whistle amongst other things ... until an even badder boy rocks up.

It's a Family Affair: Silly Billy Becomes a Suspect.

This week put a whole new meaning on the above phrase, and - notwithstanding - Walford's newest flavour of the month family was at the fore.

Lee Carter's big revelation about the night Lucy died was that he'd seen her furiously arguing with Billy Mitchell about something, which incurred a grand debate chez Carter about what Lee should do. Adults Lee and Nancy were all for Lee reporting this information immediately to the police, whilst the child-like Linda whined against it, worried that it would look fishy (pun intended, because Billy's argument with Lucy was all about stolen fish) to the police if Lee changed his statement. Adolescent Mick, as usual, sat on the fence. His balls must be blistered and splintered by now.

Wha'evah you do, son, we're be'indyer.

Well, what Lee decided to do was form a pussy posse consisting of Tosh and Tina and head for the varmint's hideout.

Bringing Billy into the fray is a plus in my opinion, even though Billy, at the best of times, can be an annoying character. At the moment, as ever, he's skint. Billy, like Bianca, has never heard of benefits, so to supplement his income, he steals. The plus factor derives from the fact that Perry Fenwick is one of the hidden jewels in EastEnders' crown.

Faced with this predicament, Billy does what any self-respecting Mitchell would do - he turns to Phil for help. The suspicion of Billy's involvement is heightened by the fact that he also had a key to Aleks's flat upstairs, which he used to siphon electricity from for his basement squat. Phil ropes in the excellent Ritchie Scott, who's subsequently joined by DI Keeble.

These two legal ladies were the highlight of the week if only to show the shallowness of some of the Millennial viewers, who caught their familiarity with each other as evidence of an earlier lesbian affair. WTF? Shut up. Scott is a lawyer with a lot of dodgy clients whom Keeble sought to investigate but whom Scott got off with a caution. Go to the naughty step for such an interpretation. Jesus, that's almost as bad as saying James Forde is a decent actor.

Here's where things get complicated. Phil, who was married once to Kathy Beale, wants Billy to daub up Kathy's grandson, Peter, with whom Lola, Billy's granddaughter, is romantically involved. Get the picture of how incestuous EastEnders is?

He doesn't, but that doesn't explain the curious find of a series of pictures of Lucy Beale, found stashed behind Billy's fridge. Billy's explanation was that he'd hidden them because Peter kept looking at them and upsetting Lola. Once Billy has the pictures back,he bins them - behind Peter's stall.

Billy is obviously a red herring, but Peter is being pushed more into the fray as a possible suspect - his rudeness to Lola and everyone, his constant crying could be interpreted as guilt as much as grief. The fact that Peter was present in the episode where DI Keeble explained to the Beales that they were still looking for Lucy's purse and phone, was significant (or significant in setting up the next red herring).

Whoever has the phone and the purse is the killer, or the person who aided the killer. In the most surprising, shocking and evocative duff-duff of the year, we saw someone bury the missing phone and purse in the ground in the allotments. Peter Beale? He is my contingency suspect, but I'm still thinking Ronnie. 

Why? Ronnie always leaves a trail, and she leaves it with someone whom she's prepared to leave as a suspect. Carl's death meant she left his bloodied phone and the hold-all with Phil Mitchell's DNA all over the place, at Phil's house. She's left the gun at Phil's (of which he's still ignorant, not knowing that Sharon has it - and I'm sure Lucy was struck on the head with that gun), so she left the purse and the phone with her accomplice ... Charlie Cotton.

Male Chauvinist Pigs

Here's a song for Max and Jay:-

Max sees nothing amiss in shagging the woman who's investigating the murder of the woman he was shagging at the time of her death. In fact, when confronted (by Jay) with this discovery, Max is almost defiant.

Summerhayes is bad news. She's Stella with a badge.

Jay, on the other hand, sees nothing wrong with emotionally blackmailing and passive-aggressively bullying Abi into giving up her ambitions to go to university in Liverpool in exchange for attending the University of East London, never bothering to understand that Liverpool offers the proper courses Abi needs to do veterinary studies.

In fact, taking his cues from that expert in women's affairs, Phil Mitchell, Jay thinks the way to put an end to Abi's obsession with "this uni thing" is to buy her some cheap chocolates.

Do one.

How NOT to Handle a Woman.

Look ... up in the sky. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's SUPERSHIRLEY ...

Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound ...

Shirley was last seen bullying, taunting and tormenting Dennis Rickman Jnr when both lived in the B and B, not to mention stealing his breakfast; but this week, when a nerve-edged Sharon reacts frantically to Denny poking about too near her hidden gun, he runs directly into the arms of Auntie Shirley, who then proceeded to tell Phil a few home truths about why it's Phil's fault the way Sharon is at the moment.

So Phil encourages the attending doctor to prescribe medication to Sharon, a recovering prescription medicine addict ... as you do ... and speaking of addicts ...

The divine Rainie is back, demanding money, and now Patrick knows what Ian's been up to.

Good week of episodes.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Week about The Carters - Review:- 07.07-11.07.2014

I'm multi-tasking as I write this, watching the World Cup Final as an independent and wondering for whom I should devote my support as both teams - Germany and Argentina - are sworn enemies of England, which simply means these two teams beat England on a regular basis.

This was a very good week of episodes, as opposed to last week, which was a very bad week of episodes. Of course, as well, this week played out against a lot going on in the background. There were the leaks about embargoed items - the Carters' secret, the fact that Sharon is going to eke out revenge on Phil, and capped with the inadvertant announcement by the BBC that Marcus Christie is returning to the EastEnders fold.

For those of you who don't remember or who weren't watching at the time, Marcus Christie was the Mitchells' suitably bent solicitor, pre Ritchie Scott's suitably bent solicitor's time. However, Christie's loyalty was bought by Den Watts, and Christie was last seen scurrying away with a briefcase full of cash, the Mitchell assets, conned out of Sam and delivered unto Den.

The other event against which this week's stories played out was the Twitter war fomenting between Lord Alan Sugar and Danny Dyer. This came after Thursday's Carter-centric episode where the big Carter secret was revealed (more of that later). Lord Sugar criticised the show's characterisations and the characters for being absurd. He criticised the characters, not the actors, and in a way, Lord Sugar had a point; but up popped Danny Dyer, trying to prove a point and make it personal, instead getting handed his arse by Sugar.

Sugar's entitled to his own opinion, but Dyer isn't entitled to make it into a personal vendetta, and I say that as someone who actually likes the character of Mick Carter. Dyer was wrong in that instance, but neither should the professional Dyer haters on various fora who make it an ethos of their very existence on such fora to remind everyone how, in their eyes, Danny Dyer isn't a nice person. Who knows the man to say such things?

This was the week which proved just how many people on the Square haven't mentally or emotionally progressed beyond childhood. Maybe this explains why so many Millennials are watching the show now.

Alex and Roxy and Stan and Cora

Roxy and Aleks are happy. Well, Aleks is at any rate. He's got the best of both worlds - a wife and child miles away in another country, out of sight and out of mind and a girlfriend close at hand. He loves her, just not enough to leave the wife for her, so he uses his child as an excuse to get Roxy to shut her mouth. Is Roxy happy? Is she, bollocks! She isn't. She's the other woman, the bit on the side; but then Roxy has always been a big child and can be counted on to distract herself.

It appears to be the height of the afternoon, Amy is nowhere to be seen - she must be with Jack because Ronnie is long gone - and yet there she is, pushing Aleks into what is supposed to be a trendier wardrobe and trotting off to go clubbing with him. He has a job to do, because the market is still in full swing, but there they go, two people closer to forty than thirty, off to start the club scene early.

Roxy and Aleks are both the wrong side of thirty-five and they're going clubbing, into an atmosphere dominated by people who - were Aleks and Roxy the Carters - could conceivably (pun intended) be their children.

Not only do we have Roxy and Aleks behaving immaturely, meanwhile over at the cafe ...

There's Tina the Court Jester. I gave Carol credit for turning her back on pot peddling last week. I give her even less credit for "turning a blind eye" (her words) to Tina's pushing cannabis in Ian's business just because Tina is doing it for her "family." She's not. She's doing it to raise money to fund private fertility treatment for Tosh. This isn't Carol's decision to make, and the hypocisy level is high. She can run Stan and Cora out of the cafe and threaten to bar them for bringing alcohol into a premises that isn't licenced to serve it, but she tolerates Tina pushing cannabis?

When Tina is discovered and it will be when not if because this is EastEnders, it will be Ian who will ultimately suffer. When he sacks the pair of them, it won't matter a rat's arse to the feckless, amoral and selfish Tina, but it will mean Carol's livelihood and after Ian's been so kind to her lately as well. But then, that's the way Carol and Bianca think - biting the hand that feeds them and then playing the victim.

For the first time tonight, I didn't like Stan. Or Cora. I thought their behaviour was ridiculous and unnecessarily cruel. It was the action of callous, shallow children, jealous of the achievements of someone else and seeking to belittle them.

There's no doubt about it, the crux of the week was about the Carters, and they were out in full force for Linda's birthday. Linda is really like the Queen, because she has two birthdays - one last week and one official one for the pub, which welcomed Lee, the squaddie son, home.

So many things happened in Carter week - Johnny got laid (by a boy upstairs in the Vic), Lee made a major confession, Shirley offered Dean a major maternal divorce, and Mick and Linda revealed that they weren't what everyone (including their children) thought they were and Dean overheard.

Are you with me?

You're not? OK, let's start with Linda and Mick.

Bang Bang ... My Baby Shot Me Down.

The beginning of this saga is all played out against the backdrop of wondering where Shirley is, because she's vanished and the only way we, the audience, can be aware of the fact that, for DTC (and that means "for us"), Shirley is a very important character, is by having people wonder aloud where she is, when she isn't seen for more than two minutes.

Have you seen Shirley?

Where's Shirley?

Anyone know where Shirl is?

Shirley's gone missing.

This is because when Shirley's not around, no one misses her - well, no one but Mona the Loon, know known as LindaFan and sporting three different accounts on one EastEnders forum where she never posts but harasses by PM. No one misses Shirley when she goes AWOL. In fact, more people miss Charlie Cotton, and he's not even been in the show six months.

There's one child remaining in the Carter household, and that child is Linda. 

Tina affects childhood retardation in order to get away with what would otherwise be feckless and illegal acts. Shirley is the female and toxic version of Harry Enfield's Kevin, in foisting the blame for all her bad decisions onto someone or something else, but Linda - Linda is a bona fide child.

She's still the little girl who loves secrets, frilly dresses and birthday parties. She's the kid who's afraid of clowns and who cackles with laughter when something pleases her. She's the little girl who - at twelve - grabbed a sheet in order to play Royal Wedding with Mick in a shed, having a "reception" of Smarties and lemonade.

This would have been 1989. Tell me, what 12 year-old in 1989 was still playing wedding and who was able to coerce a 13 year-old boy to play the prince?

Well, Tiffany Butcher did, when Wills married Kate two years ago, but she was nine and Fatboy was drafted in to be the prince, as a favour to a very young girl.

Graduated from that, it seems that Linda has been actually "playing house" for the past 25 years. That's right. Mick and Linda aren't married. They're simply playing house. Linda got pregnant at 14 (or 15, depending on the writer) and they took it from there.

Before I delve into the psychology of this, let me make one thing abundantly clear - the pregnancy Stan referred to a couple of weeks ago at the deserted pub was not Nancy. To think that Linda and Mick consummated a make-believe marriage at 12 and 13 is too sick and trailer-trash common to comprehend. Besides, I have the distinct impression that Linda uses sex as a means of copulating. She's only been with Mick, she's only known Mick, and the occurrence of  a pregnancy meant a family had to be established. For Linda, it meant that they really could play house. For Mick, it meant he confronted his abandonment issues and did something many of his family didn't do and stood by the girl.

But make no mistake, the pregnancy Stan mentioned was Lee, and it was her first pregnancy. I say that, because there's one particularly obstreporous forum member who insists that Nancy was the pregnancy and that Lee was conceived and born earlier, indeed that he may not even be Mick's.

Not so.

Linda has turned 37, which would make her 14 at the time Lee was born. Either she's lying about her age - shaving a year off to delay the inevitable 40 - or the writers got it wrong. Either scenario is possible, considering the dearth of research done by the EastEnders' writing room.

And the wallpaper in Linda's front room has pictures of parrots, not flamingos. These are flamingos.

Linda is a child-woman, emotionally and psychologically stunted in early adolescence, who exists vicariously through her children, and she's bitterly disappointed when they don't live up to her fantasy expectations. She and Mick lived with her mother for 22 years. Considering Linda's reminiscences of babies (and the fact that she neither cooks nor does any heavy-lifting housework) tells me that Elaine and Mick bathed the babies, burped them, changed dirty nappies, sat up during sleepless nights of colic and teething and handed the fragrant, clean, well-fed and happy baby to Linda to cuddle and gurgle over.

The fact that her children are grown and potentially leaving pushes Linda to demand - yes, demand - another child. Not two weeks ago, we've had Mick advising his youngest son not to settle down too quickly the way he did, now we have him telling Linda how much he was looking forward being just with her, to holidaying, to having quiet times. Adult times.

But this isn't what Linda wants. She wants a child who will validate her existence. More importantly, in LindaLand, where marriage is a commitment made only by adults (and ended only by adults), a child would do what it's always done in her relationship with Mick - cleave him to her. Without a child, Mick would have no reason to stay.

The very fact that he keeps wanting to commit to her legally tells me he genuinely loves her, but the fact that she constantly refuses is a confusing issue. Marriage is an adult commitment. It's more than weddings and clean, sweet-smelling babies. For some convoluted reason, Linda fears Mick might cheat on her and divorce her, were they married. He could do the same and leave her with nothing right now.

I didn't like Linda this week, but that doesn't mean I don't like her in general. Sometimes, I didn't like Angie. Or Peggy. Sometimes I liked Cindy Beale. I just didn't like her because I could see what an emotionally and psychologically stunted person she is. She's got the emotional maturity of a twelve year-old, and her family enables her behaviour. She's playing house. She still dresses like a cross between a teenaged Prom Queen and little girl with an obsession about Disney princesses.

The Carter partnership, in a different way, is just as dysfunctional and co-dependent as the Brannings. My prediction is that Linda will get pregnant again ... by Dean; and that there's always "Stick" looming on the horizon.

The Mother and Child Reunion.

Are you just about getting the impression that Dean takes after his mother? That the reason the pair of them don't get along is because they are too much alike?

There are a couple of things on which I'd like to comment:- First, Dean can blame Shirley for many things - for her abandonment of him and his siblings, for her infidelity to the man who raised him and whom he considers his father, for her lies to Kevin and, by extension, her children about their parentage; but he cannot deny the fact that, when she returned to his life in late 2006-early 2007, Dean was the child who reached out to Shirley, he was the child who called her "mum" and who kept returning to her after every time she promised him something and broke that promise, either for a Polish builder or for Heather, and at the end of the day, when they led Dean from the dock to the prison van, he left that building calling for his mother.

Dean cannot blame her for his conviction or for his having to go to prison, nor can he blame Shirley for what happened to him in prison. Dean's crime was down to his own immaturity and his stupidity in following the shallow lead of Chelsea Fox.

Secondly, the obvious retconning concerning Shirley's and Dean's backstory is not only disconcerting, it's a bit insulting to the intelligence of the viewer. Kevin Wicks made it patently clear in 2007, that Shirley left him and the kids when James and Carly were small and Dean was a baby - shortly after the video they always show was made. When Shirley first rocked up in late 2006, neither Carly nor Dean even recognised her. As soon as she'd left, Kevin told her, he'd taken every picture he had of her in the house and destroyed it. Not remembering a person indicates that they were extremely young when she left. In the video shown, Carly was about three. 

Another thing: I'm not a fan of Shirley's at all. I don't like her, but - Jesus H Christ - some people commenting on fora need to cut this woman some slack. Someone is indignantly stamping their foot and proclaiming Dean would have been too young to ride the fairground ride Shirley referenced.

Does this person have small children, and if so, are they too far up their own arse to take them to a fairground? Even DisneyLand has the infamous teacup-and-saucer ride. It's designed for very young children, and - as Shirley referenced - it does go about one mile per hour. You see toddlers enjoying it on their own - it's designed for children under the age of five - and you also see mums and dads riding the saucer with infants in their arms - much the way Shirley would have ridden with Dean. 

Would Dean have remembered this? No, but it's very plausible that Shirley rode that with him as an infant.

Matt di Angelo is doing great this time around. Dean is damaged, angry and dark - a world away from what he was the last time. As I've said before, I understand why he might be angry with Shirley, but I would have understood it better seven years ago if he had reacted to her the way Carly initially did. Carly was angry and resentful and dished a lifetime of shit Shirley's way for having abandoned them as children, but Dean - Dean was a baby, and even though both he and Carly were too young to remember even what Shirley looked like, Dean still wanted to reach out to her. Dean wanted a mother, and Shirley was his mother.

He speaks now of an awful childhood, but the Wicks children were brought up well by Kevin, who loved them, and they loved him in return. He wasn't mistreated or abused. I don't understand this sudden angst. 

Then there's Shirley, castigating herself and wallowing in self-pity for being a bad mother, which she was, from what we know; and, yes, when she was on the Square before and Dean was there, she did let him down in what, in the general context of things, would be considered minor things - going off for an afternoon of bonking a Polish builder instead of meeting Dean as she'd arranged or spending time with Heather instead of Dean. I say minor, because in each instance, Dean appeared to forgive her and came back for more. 

Dean stayed with Shirley, rather than Kevin in the period between his arrest and sentencing, much to Heather's dismay, considering the large amount of time Shirley devoted to Dean preparing him for prison; and his mother was the last person Dean called for as he was led from the dock. Shirley visited him inside as well.

If all of this anger is a delayed reaction and a demand for answers as to why she abandoned him as an infant, then it is righteous anger, and Shirley needs to address this, instead of puckering up her face and playing the self-pity card by whining and giving Dean what she thinks he wants by giving him the maternal "divorce" she did. Patrick the patriarch could come in handy here because if anyone could bang their heads together and make them talk, make Shirley address her abandonment and make Dean listen, he could do so - simply by getting them around to his house, away from the Vic and all things Carter. Dean needs this, and Shirley needs this in the way and attempt of rapprochement.

But if he's angry with her for his prison sentence and for the unfortunate things that happened to him whilst he was inside, then that's down to Dean, and projecting his anger onto Shirley for this is wrong. Be angry with her for abandonment, and demand an explanation, but everything else happened to Dean when he was a young adult. IIRC, in order to get him to give a false statement against Sean Slater, the High Priestess of Shallowdom, Chelsea, actually slept with him, after spending the better part of two years looking down her nose as if he and his sister were a collective bad smell.

Speaking of Sean, there's more than a hint about him in Dean's character now.

An Innocent Man.

I like Lee Carter. He is neither pretty boy nor diva. He has a profession. He's honest, and he's honourable, which means he won't stay long and he'll probably leave in a box.

His secret-of-the-week was, perhaps, the biggest, in relation to the on-going saga of Lucy Beale's death. He left the party to look for Lucy and found her having a heated argument with someone.

Boy, the roles really are reversed there. Once Mick, Linda and Nancy had heard Lee's story about what happened the night Lucy was killed, there was never any question about what Lee should do from Nancy's point of view - the only adult, bar Lee, in the room. Even Lee knew what he had to do; he just wanted his parents' approbation.

Linda, expressing her highest maturity level of thirteen, is all for Lee keeping what he saw a secret; Mick is piggy in the middle and doesn't know which way to turn. He knows what Lee must do, but he's afraid of incurring the Wrath of Linda for openly opposing her. They're afraid of how Lee amending his statement might look, and they, like the Brannings and the Beales to a great degree, are satisfied that someone not really of their community, an isolated Northerner, will cop the blame for a crime he didn't commit. Instead, Mick compromises and saves himself from the Wrath of Linda by telling Lee they'll back him in whatever he decides to do.

Of course, the person Lee saw was Billy, who was pretty prevalent all this week, and now he's moved into the position of being a suspect in Lucy's death.

Billy is never a murderer. Billy, however, is more of a thief. All week, we've heard nothing but how expensive Janet, his daughter is. Yes, Billy works for Ian, probably, for minimum wage. We're not sure if he rents the flat where he lives or if it's still a squat. But he is entitled to a plethora of benefits for having a disabled child, including a carer's allowance. He shouldn't have to be stealing electricity from Aleks or fish to sell to Big Mo from Ian, which is what the argument with Lucy was probably about.

Still, I do think Billy's the route by which Lucy's blood traces got inside Alek's flat. Billy isn't the murderer, but he has a close association with the murderer - and my suspicions about Ronnie are now extended to Peter Beale.

The Scum Otherwise Known as Brannings.

Bravo for telling the insipid Lauren a few home truths. And this is one of them: Yes, Max Branning slept with a much younger woman, one whom he had known since she was a child and whom he'd watched grow up. Ian Beale, father of the deceased, has done the same thing - Janine, anyone?

Yes, Max Branning has slept with a much younger woman who happened to be the best friend of his daughter. Den Watts, iconic landlord of the Queen Vic, has also done the same thing - Michelle Fowler, anyone?

Those previous examples don't make what Max did acceptable, or even right, in some people's eyes. It was sleazy, and Lucy was just as sleazy for doing what she did - moreso than Max, because she did it on a promise of money. That's prostitution in any other person's eyes - Again, Ian and Janine, anyone? Or even, Ian and Rainie?

However, consider this: Both Max and Lucy were of legal age of consent and were single. They had a relationship. Deal with it.

On the other hand, po-faced Lauren, played by one of the laziest actresses on the programme, cannot take the moral high ground and talk to her father like a piece of shit, not when she's shared two men, one of whom was her first cousin, with her two so-called best mates in the Square, and certainly not since she, like her mother and her ex-sister-in-law, has already notched up the breaking up of a marriage with a young child. When Lauren slept with Jake, he wasn't free and he had the responsibility of a parent to his child, who discovered their relationship.

She also seems to be able to shrug off the fact that Jake is going to trial, when the last time, she was having doubts about precipitously daubing an innocent man up for murder. Now, it's just get the vulnerable and isolated bloke off to jail, and we'll forget about him.

What is it about that fecking portacabin office?

Yuck and double yuck. Instead of Deals on Wheels, that company should be named Knocking Shop Motors. How many women have been had across Max' Branning's desk - now graduated to the white faux leather couch. (Eeeeeeuuuuuuw, didn't Lauren sit on it?) Let's see ... Vanessa, Lauren (herself, with Darren), crazy Becca, Tanya also and now dippy Emma Summerhayes. Take Mad May as the base, blend in a pinch of Kate and a hefty dollop of Stella. Give the bag a shake and out pops Emma Summerhayes. She's one to watch, especially when Max dumps her and she starts gnashing her teeth and chasing him through the Square with a knife. 

A staple of DTC is the Middle-Class Madwoman, usually a well-spoken, educated professional in a position of trust. Well, here she is, folks.

As for poor Jake, just watching that scene and the scenes of Jay tonight, I couldn't help thinking how well Jamie Lomas might have worked, had he been introduced as the dodgy, bad-boy-with-a-heart brother of Jase Dyer and an uncle to Jay. Jay is a peripheral member of the Mitchell clan, one who's dropped the Mitchell name, but who begs for crumbs from Phil's high table. A Jake Dyer would have given him a family at least.

Good week. Good writer, Daran Little.