Saturday, September 22, 2012

Just Who Exactly Is in Charge of This Mess?

Jay Lee, one of the best commentators on any EastEnders' fora and a self-described seasoned viewer of the programme, says it best:-

I may be biased because I'm a seasoned EastEnders viewer but I know that EastEnders can do so much better. A non-event of an episode on a late September night is not a good sign, especially given that we were promised an "exciting" autumn.

There were toe-curlingly bad moments last night. I hated the way Joey hovered into view like a Dalek each time Derek and Tyler were chatting, for instance. Jean and Fatboy were portrayed as idiots around Phil. Time was that all characters had depth and conviction in the way that they were written; now EastEnders is content with comedy cliches of the "village idiot" variety.

Enough has been said about it above but Lola's line about her, Jay and Abi being the "future of Albert Square" sounded like a soundbite from an interview on EastEnders Revealed. How these awful self-referential lines made it past the script editors is beyond me - and a tell-tale sign that the writing team is not up-to-scratch at the moment.

Too right, a "meh" episode like Friday's, occurring late in September is never good. We should be getting the inklings now of the lead-in to the Christmas storylines. Things should be hotting up. Storylines left over to simmer from the summer should be coming to a head. Instead, what do we have?

Chryed leaving after Syed's exposed as a weak-willed fraud. (Didn't we already know that?)

Toad Jr and Lauren the Upper Lip-Licker indulging in a little incest and joyriding, with no harm done, really. (Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz)

And nothing much else.

I do agree with Jay Lee's character assessment as well, especially concerning Fatboy and Jean. The "village idiot" has been a stock character on EastEnders since Louise Berridge paired Billy with Little Mo and, subsequently, when Honey became Billy's second wife.

I'll never forget that butt-clinchingly embarrassing episode during Berridge's tenure when Billy and Little Mo entered the Vic doing a bad impersonation of reverse Frank Spencer married to an even bigger retard. Hyuck-hyuck ... not.

Fatboy's poor man's Ali G was irrelevant five years ago. It's hardly going to matter now. And Jean is not funny at all. They were totally embarrassing with Phil. The real Phil Mitchell would have turfed them out on their arses, and can someone please keep Jean away from make-up and mini-skirts.

I want to know who the hell is signing off on these scripts, because if it's Lorraine Newman, then  she's totally in over her head. The obvious example is the totally and completely embarrassing line of dialogue given to Jay, Abi and 21 year-old Danielle Harold attempting to portray a sixteen year-old about this trio being "the future of the Square." If that's the truth, then the show should end now, rather than later. This next generation of "yoof" is in danger of becoming just as entitled and just as believing of their own publicity as the talentless lot gone before them. Apart from Abi, the other two lack enough intellectual depth to make an observation like that, and Abi's interest appears to be only whether or not Jay likes her sufficiently. She certainly doesn't seem to be overly concerned with her new coursework or further education. But then, EastEnders doesn't promote that sort of thing.

EastEnders always used to be a consistently good programme, with the odd bad episode here and there and the occasional bad patch; but it always managed to recoup and recover. However, the programme's been on a downward trend now for the past decade, and beginning to go into serious freefall for the past year at most. As the Digital Spy forum commentator Filiman observed recently, the show's been badly written since 2006 and poorly written since 2002 - that would mean the downward spiral began under Louise Berridge's watch; but we really have to blame John Yorke.

Yorke, with his introduction of the Slaters as "the next big family" on the Square, devoted an entire episode to their introduction only. Then he planted a Slater family member in every functioning part of Square life - Big Mo was Pat's sister-in-law and nemesis; Lynne worked in the launderette and caff; Little Mo cleaned the Vic; Kat was a barmaid there; Zoe helped Mark Fowler on the veg stall; Garry worked at the Arches. If that wasn't enough, they were immediately plopped right in the middle of the most important storylines - Big Mo delivered Sonia's surprise baby; Little Mo found Frank's "good-bye" letter to Peggy which opened the floodgate that was Patgate. Then, they had storylines of their own - Trevor and "You're not mah muvvah!"

Yet within five years of their introduction, the Slaters were a spent force. And Yorke was responsible for all subsequent EP appointments:- Berridge and the Ferreira kidneygate and Zombie Den rising from the grave; Hutchison and the death of Den; Harwood and the introduction of the cancer that became the Brannings as well as marrying off and killing off Pauline Fowler; Santer and his sensationalism and his turning the programme into The Stacey and Ronnie Show. Kirkwood with his obsession for teenaged tits and arse, his wanton destruction of Kat and Bianca and his turning the show into The Branning Half-Hour.

Now Newman seems to be doing much of the same - all very well and good to axe such legends as Anthony Moon, Andrew Cotton and the iconic Shenice, but why hasn't she tackled the deadwood prevalent amongst the A-List of characters?

This show is in crisis, and anyone who says it isn't is in serious danger of expiring from terminal headuparseitis - and that applies to both production people and plebs.

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