Thursday, November 15, 2012

High School Non-Musical - Review 15.11.2012

As they didn't get Julia's Theme, and as this whole ordeal tonight was like a very bad amateur dramatic production, with every cliche'-ridden euphemism and stock scene in the book, this song is for Chryed and their fans - I used the Glee version as that's supposed to be set in a high school as well ...

Inspired by a line of dialogue spoken by Christian...

I am sorry. I have to apologise, since that's what almost everyone else in this episode was doing, because this episode tonight was a mishmash - a pastiche - of every stock, standard and stereotypical scene inserted in some sort of textbook about how to write a play or a television screenplay or whatever. I am sorry because it was written by Pete Lawson, who's usually one of the better writers on EastEnders' staff.

Maybe he was having an off-day or maybe he had better things to do with his time and just cobbled all the stereotypical scenes, complete with kitsch dialogue, into a 30-minute segment and hoped for the best. What the hell, the Executive Producer signed off on it, and she's living in a time-bubble where everyone's peachy-keen happy about the direction in which EastEnders is going at the moment (down the pan) ... everyone who happens to be between the ages of 12 and 22 or who's shallow in mind and short on wisdom.

I've watched the show from day one, and I was embarrassed.

From the very beginning, with Bag O'Bones Beale imitating some transplanted English person in Hollywood circa the 1930s, summoning her best Vivien Leigh voice to intone, "This isn't how it's supposed to end."

It isn't? Really? What the fuck does she know? Her father's relationship with Mandy, which she undermined, wasn't supposed to end with Ian frying the wedding ring and going batshit crazy, walking off in his bathrobe and bare feet. Her own stab at a relationship with Turdhopper wasn't supposed to end with him kissing one best mate and wanting to commit incest with another.

And she's surely forgetting her earlier incarnation where she blackmailed Syed, threatening to reveal his sexuality and how she graffiti'd the wall of the flat Syed had for himself and Amira with his tiny little secret.

She's a fucking kid, and had she been her stouter, more assertive self, the real Lucy Beale would have been shouting the odds about what Syed had done to cripple his relationship with Christian and getting into a cat fight with Zainab instead of conspiring with her to reunite the two.

That scene, itself, was totally bizarre, especially since we've never ever seen either Melissa Suffield as Lucy or Hetti Bywater share a scene with Nina Wadia. I keep thinking back to the surreal scene after the discovery of Ben as Heather's killer, where Syed and Billy were like old mates in the cafe dissing what had happened.

But let's talk about the Argee Bahjee scene, where Christian, basically, told the truth about Syed and where Syed tried to sidle and wheedle his way into Christian's affections again, with a new slant on victim-playing, and where Zainab accidentally on purpose witnessed them having a reconciliatory bumfest, followed by a staged scene almost straight from Ghost of the afterglow.

Syed and Christian deserve each other. Syed feeds Christian's massive ego. And, please, Christian, disabuse yourself of the notion right now that Yasmin is your daughter and that Syed should have consulted you before - your words - "you gave our daughter back to her mother".

As if Amira, Yasmin's mother, who had joint custody of the child, had no right to her. As if Christian had a right to be consulted about what was best for Yasmin. Once and for all, Christian is Yasmin's step-father. Ultimate decisions about what is best in Yasmin's interests will always ever be made by her parents - Amira and Syed. Syed was well within his rights as Yasmin's father to decide that Amira have full-time custody of her with him having access. That has nothing to do with Christian and that complaint was petty and unrealistic.

Syed, however, never learns from his mistake. Like so many characters on EastEnders (Ian Beale, in the past), he usually ends up going around in circles because of this, and although Syed acknowledged tonight that he usually manages to sabotage any chance he has of happiness because of his desire to prove himself as some sort of successful businessman or whatever, he offered no apology for it. Even his plaintive whine that he was trying to change, that he wanted Christian to be proud of him held an adolescent whiff.

Of course, he wants to be with Christian - and the re-recitation of those cheesy wedding vows were gagworthy - Christian is his "rock and his island," meaning, for the time being (until someone else comes along), Christian is there to clean up the mess Syed will inevitably leave behind, because Mas was getting fed up to the teeth with doing it. Again and again.

So the Chryeds have make-up sex, with Christian inviting Syed to go live with him in America. (Yasmin's quickly forgotten, you see). As you do. Christian the personal trainer and Syed the sometime masseur - professions America is seriously lacking, especially in Florida. If Syed were eminently unemployable here, he'll be doubly eminently unemployable there - especially with no Green Card and living in Florida with a surname like Masood. Still, Syed's always good for a swindle, so maybe it might have worked out. But the Ghost afterglow scene, with Christian playing the Patrick Swayze part and Syed doubling as Demi Moore, ended with them deciding that they really should end the relationship there and then.

Only they didn't. We had the requisite sausage surprise (not) happy ending, complete with all the Masoods, plus Roxy and Bag O'Bones, in the middle of the Square, with Syed being provided with a kitsch packed bag, with attached tin cans and a "Just Married" sign, to see them off. The Chryeds are off to see America, courtesy of Jane, who's paying for the tickets. (She must be flush - worked three months as a sous-chef, then off to play nursemaid to Granny Goodwitch Clarke - but, hey, this is EastEnders, where money grows on trees).

Let's hear it ...

Not only that, when they get back, they'll pluck some more magic money from that tree and get a flat in Birmingham near Yasmin. But before they trot off, Syed gets his ultimate happy ending: Masood tells him, on the quiet, that he's proud of his son and always has been. So Syed the cheat, the liar, the dishonest prodigal son, is fully redeemed.

Good riddance. I won't miss either one, and there was even a continuity credit here, having them leave to the strains of "Stand by Me," which not only sums up what their relationship is and was (and what Syed will expect Christian to do but won't necessarily do for him), but was also a song from Christian's favourite film - the one he watched with Ben the night Ben made a pass at him, which resulted in Phil going beserk with a baseball bat.

I hope Zainab packed Syed's passport in that flight bag.

Next, we have the interlude where we're reminded of the poor pitiful plight of poor pitiful Lola, who's not only been betrayed by her Evil Granny Goodwitch Godmother Cora (more on that old lag later), but she's also being bovvered once again by her daughter's namesake - the lollipop-headed stage school imitation of a hard case and her requisite gang of extras.

The woman playing Lexie (who looks about ten years older than she's supposed to look) delivers her lines as though she's phoning them in. But before she even came on the scene, there was an exchange of trumped-up dialogue between Jay and Lola about what they hoped would happen to each other in their lives, which shows the extent of their shallowness: Jay says Lola might meet a footballer and Lola says Abi might "put out." Finding a rich spouse to fund a chav lifestyle and sex is everything. No ambition, no forethought about what sort of future Lola would try to give Lexie, if she got her back.

And once again, this ends with Billy seeking Lexie out, hanging out along, sans girl gang, on the swings in Walford and being made to listen to Billy remind her that not only was she in care with Lola, Billy had been in care and so had Lola's father. Billy knew how bad care was, so how could Lexie want her namesake to endure that? And even though she left with a streetsuss warning to Billy that he was witness-tampering (he was), you know, that in the time-honoured tradition the morality tale (such as it is), Lexie is going to drop the charges. Still, those scenes allowed the more discerning viewer to realise that Danielle Harold really isn't the acting phenomenon everyone's been saying she is for the past few weeks. Her angry faces were sheer pantomime, and she and Hetti Bywater are absolute pants at crying.

The absolute highlight of the episode was the brief scene shared between Sharon and Billy. It's amazing how Letitia Dean is an absolute natural anytime she shares a scene with any character having the surname of Mitchell. The scene wasn't five minutes long, but it was chocked to the brim with foreshadowing, especially about Sharon's future with Phil. But, whenever did Billy start referring to Sharon as "Shal"? I'm sure Moaning Lisa probably will insist that he was calling her Shirl and that it meant that Shirley was on everyone's mind.

Here's a song Moaning Lisa probably thinks Phil would sing to Shirley in EastEnders: The Musical.

 Can't you just picture it?

Shirley in those boots, Phil's red face ... oh well ...

And now for the latest episode of ... "The Brannings." (Cue music).

In today's episode, we find that Tanya thinks she and Max have no secrets. You'd think she'd have learned a few things during the past eighteen years. Max Branning will always keep a secret from Tanya, who's really not the brightest lightbulb in the pack, although she likes to think she is.

Derek knows better. And Tanya is a bitch. Derek's not everyone's cup of tea, but her baiting of him in the Branning kitchen was cruel beyond belief, and it made Max shit his pants, when she bragged about the pair of them having no secrets. Whatever Max's secret is, he's been paying the culprits hush money. When Derek and Max returned to Walford a year ago this week - you know, before Cora remembered that she'd put a kid out for adoption and was just generally making a nuisance of herself as ASBO granny, when she wasn't expostulating on how Tanya's father (the one that Tanya killed) was the love of her life - Derek remarked that he and Max got run out of Lewisham by the "Lithuanian mafia." I still think Max's dilemma is that he's married, possibly to an Eastern European woman. Either that and/or he's got her up the duff, and he's paying her relatives, criminals, hush money to keep her away from his respectable life. Derek's downfall is going to have something to do with Max's secret and his counterfeit money he's been passing around.

(If I remember correctly, when Tanya was on her way to the church for her big wedding to gormless Greg, Cora was waxing lyrical about her own wedding day, when she was "five months gone" with Tanya. Seems Cora made a habit of getting up the duff by various men, just like Tanya. Nice to know behaviour is inherited).

Anyway, the references to "No Secrets" by Tanya is a nice bit of karma foreshadowing. About time Tanya's fat ass felt the teeth of good karma.

As for Cora ... please. Don't insult us with this matriarch nonsense. She's a self-pitying, drunken old woman. Look at Cora and you'll see Tanya in thirty years' time, reaching for a bottle. 

Yes, yes, yes, we know she's blubbing up because she's feeling guilty about giving up one daughter for adoption (although she didn't bat an eyelid about her this time last year), and this has caused her to have an epiphany when her sane daughter Rainie rejected her as a bad influence on Rainie's addictive personality; so now she wants to wallow in self-pity by telling the daughter most like her in every aspect that - boohoo - she'd be better off without her also.

Cop the scene in the Vic, with Cora being led past Lauren, drunk, by Tanya: three generations of alcoholics in one shot. Priceless.

And of course, we have the totally contrived scene at the end of BranningVille with Patrick demurring predictably into a West Indian-cum-EastEnd version of Francis Urquhart's "I couldn't possibly comment" moment, with his usual throaty rumble, his eyes darting about in a panic before muttering, "It hain't fer me ter say..." When you know he'll say it, but he doesn't say it. He lets Tanya remember that Monday would have been Ava's birthday, which explains why Cora's acting like a putz, even if she didn't act like a putz last year, only for Patrick to coyly say "not would have been but ..."

Penny droppeth. And a lot of viewers will droppeth EastEnders if it carries on this way.

Please. Stop insulting our intelligence.

Oh, and before I go, here's another incongruity. My husband is adopted, and he was born shortly before the time Ava was born. Cora told Patrick that a nurse had broken regulations and told Cora that Ava's new name was Ava Hartman, which implied that the baby had been taken right from her mother and handed to her adoptive parents.

Not so.

Adoption, believe it or not, was an even longer procedure in those days than it is now, even though a lot of parents weren't vetted properly. Ava was a mixed race child, and in the 1960s, they would be extremely difficult to place in adoption. She would have been in care for at least six months, and then no one would know, except the authorities - and in this instance, it wouldn't have been a nurse, but Social Services or whatever they were called then - who would know the identity of the people adopting Ava.

There is no way in hell Cora would have known that, nor would a nurse have known to tell her; and I know that for a fact.

This isn't just shoddy research. This is no research, and it's pushing a fallacy, just like pushing the misguided myth that Christian could just hop a plane on a whim and emigrate to America.

Pull the fucking other one. This sucks. Like David Witts's and Jacqueline Jossa's acting.

Oh and Parting Shot: What's £15k amongst family, when they don't have it? Just pay it back when you can. Syed falls into a vat of shit and emerges smelling of roses yet again.

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