Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Branning Show: B.A.D. and Men In Drag - Review 22.11.2012

Sometimes B.A.D. doesn't mean "bad" as in good ...

Sometimes it doesn't mean "bad" as in "mad and dangerous to know ..."

Sometimes (sigh) a cigar is just a cigar, and B.A.D. means, well, "bad." As in awful. As in puke-inducing crap. As in bum-clinchingly embarrassing. As in "Does my licence fee pay for this shit?"

As in Bad Amateur Dramatics.

Because that's what the whole of this episode was, and this week has done nothing but prove what EastEnders would be when taken over en masse  by the Brannings.

How the script ever passed muster is beyond me - more to the point, how any director or any executive producer could be satisfied with the performances put in tonight is even more unbelieveable. That certain of the viewing public like the Brannings as a whole isn't surprising. Little things please little minds, and stupid people with low standards for entertainment quality will always be with us.

Tonight's episode, with all its obvioiusly contrived dialogue, it's even more obvious contrived settings and its obvious foreshadowing of events that stopped short of having characters walk around with yellow post-its on their foreheads, had to rival Lauren's drunken "Skins" week and Twitney Snog with Balloons for Valentine's Day.

I stopped in the middle of this to watch Michael Portillo's train journey through Germany and learned something. Then I caught a little bit of my gridiron football team, The Washington Redskins, losing to the Dallas Cowboys; and even that was more bearable. At least the proceedings were undertaken by professional - all with academic qualifications and all able to enunciate properly and string a sentence together, which is more than what I saw and heard tonight.

There was one poignant moment in the whole episode tonight, and that occurred when Tanya went over to Dot's house to see Cora. We are reminded that it was Dot's house - not by a sign saying DOT LIVES HERE (which some viewers would need since Cora's all but taken the place over), but by the very understated pictures on Dot's sideboard in the background.

In place of prominence was Ethel, and to the left, a picture of Sonia and Martin - insignificant bits of household history, lost on Cora in her permanent alcohol-induced buzz and on Tanya in her self-obsessed headuparseitis, but significant to the viewer because it reminded us that the house in question belongs to Dot and not the intruders who have taken it over in her absence. It also silently screamed the fact that, no matter what TPTB try to do, Cora will never be Dot - and I'm no fan of Dot's.

She'll never be Peggy or Pauline. And she certainly won't be Pat.

It also reminded me of how this whole story - the sudden creation of Ava is a plot device to make Cora more sympathetic and also to give her a focus after Jo Joyner's character leaves.

Here's something that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the writers of this garbage are very young and very ignorant. Derek is fifty-two. He's shown listening to Frank Sinatra in his spare moments. Nothing wrong with that. I like a bit of Old Blue Eyes, myself, from time to time. But Derek, whose character is actually contemporary to the late Kevin Wicks, shouldn't be and normally wouldn't be averse to a bit of The Rolling Stones (a London band celebrating their Fiftieth Anniversary) or even Led Zeppelin.

Here's another thing: Cora's supposed to be in her mid-sixties (OK, the actress who portrays her is actually in her mid-seventies). She's made mention to Dot many times of her antics during the Swinging London period of the Seventies. Yet she's shown getting dressed up to the nines whilst - yes - listening to Sinatra, someone whom the likes of Peggy or even Dot would find as music from their youth. 

The people who write for this show seem to lump all characters over the age of fifty into the cateogory of Sinatra-listeners.

I'm also surprised Cora thinks Tanya's a bad liar. Tanya's been lying to her all her life, and it was interesting to listen to them talk in the kitchen - their conversation reflecting just how abysmal parents they actually were. (This, all coming after Tanya's encounter with the freshly-fucked Lauren in the kitchen, remarking about their being a special "glow" about her - puke. Such shitty amateurish dialogue.)

These women are insults to women today. Because Tanya's only ever achieved everything by sleeping with a man, she's encouraging the same thing on Lauren. Lauren is lazy, rude and shiftless. She couldn't even complete a simple task her father asked her to do. Tanya should be encouraging her and trying to instil some self-discipline in her, making her lazy ass get out and find a job if she isn't going back to school. Oh, but since it seems now that Lauren's got a fella, everything will be sorted out and fall into place.

What could be worse than Tanya nabbing a married man? How about sleeping with your cousin?

I liked the bit of conversation in the kitchen when Tanya asked Cora what she thought of Max when Tanya first brought him around to meet her. Cora remarked that he was a married man with a child. Most mothers with any moral compass about them would have turned him away at the door, but Tanya blithely let that pass ... "Yes, well, but yer learned ter love'im, dint yer?"

Oh, well, ne'mind that he's got a wife and kid. He'll just bin them and come with me, after all he's put bread in my oven.

What a selfish, spiteful bitch.

Oh, yes, and the other positive thing the writer - Matt Evans, was it? Who he? - accomplished, even though he may not have thought to do so was emphasize, subtly, yet again, the undercurrent of racism that lies just below Tanya's surface - the way she looked uncomfortable when Denise and Kim were bantering with her in the shop and in the kitchen about their being "almost family" due to Patrick's perceived courting of Cora the old lag. Tanya's not comfortable with the Fox sisters harping on any pseudo-sibling association with the fragrant soon-to-be-Mrs-Branning-again, and there's only one reason why she isn't. Denise and Kim both manage and own their own businesses, so they are part of Walford's burgeoning middle class, something to which Tanya aspires; so why is she so uncomfortable now with Patrick's association with Cora and any potential for romance and closer ties with Denise and Kim?

Think about it.

And whilst we're touching on Kim and Cora, take a look at Cora:-

And Kim:-

Men. In. Drag. That's what Cora and Kim inadvertantly remind me of. The late Flip Wilson was a prototype of Kim Fox, and Cora, if she could wrest herself away from the fags, the booze and the inhaler, could do a turn as Monsieur Alban in La Cage Aux Folles. As a man in drag.

The whole bonding process between Tanya and Cora was just creepy and reminded people of what white trash's standards of "good parenting" were. Tanya's drug-addled youth, her drink issues from early on, her staying out all night, her lies and petty criminalities were, for Cora, all part of growing up. I've raised two girls and never had any of that to deal with, and my kids weren't and aren't angels.

Tanya and Cora are both drunks. Cora managed to keep a buzz on during the whole time they were baking a cake and expected Patrick to ply her up on the rum as soon as he arrived for their date. (But now we're going to be asked to believe that Cora drank to forget the pain of giving Ava away. As if. This time last year, she was kicking up her heels at Dot's.) Rainie confronted her alcoholism and removed herself from the sources of her problem - Cora and Tanya. When she found that out, instead of using it as an epiphany, Cora tore up an expensive bridesmaids' dress and binned it. Then got drunk. Tanya's reward today for spending an afternoon with an old coot was to rush out and get a bottle of wine.

And they wonder why Lauren is a lush.

Oh, and I decided tonight that, although we see her sparingly, I much prefer Big Mo to Cora. Laila Morse may have got the part she got based on her more famous brother having a word in the shell-like of John Yorke, but she's used to her capacity, and Big Mo never pretends to be anything other than what she is.

Of course, we all knew what the Cora-and-Tanya bonding session was leading to - the sudden appearance on the doorstep of Ava. Please. This is London. When a stranger turns up on your doorstep with a purse she found belonging to a resident of the house, you take it off her, thank her kindly and shut the door.

You never let a stranger inside your house, even if you ask their name first, for a cup of tea. Ava could be anyone. Remember back in 2003, when Dot trusted the kid on the doorstep who mugged her. Of course, we know Ava is normal (at least for the time being). We know that she's a well-spoken, well-educated professional in a position of trust. Just like ...



So how long before we can expect this?

At least, Tanya walking in on Ava and Cora cosily talking gave Jo Joyner the opportunity for her to do her stock party piece and her signature identifying point as an actress - the "ahuhahuhahuhahuh" hyperventilation sequence she does so well. Haven't seen that since she made Pat's death all about her in the street going home.

The Lauren-Joey shit is just that. Shit. It really is true what the Walford Web commentator observed about Jacqueline Jossa. I've never ever seen an actor more aware that the camera is on them in my life. We're not watching someone we can believe is real, we're watching an actor perform a role. Every line delivered, every gesture, every facial expression is rendered with the actor totally aware of the camera angle. It's as though the actress is saying "It's me-e-e-e-e-e. Here I am. Over here! I'm acting. Watch me. Watch me. It's what they taught me at drama club."

Gurn, gurn, gurn. Add to that the fact that the character, herself, is not likeable in the least. Her acting is poor. She had a moment, then chose to believe the hype the PR department invested in her. She has no chemistry with David Witts, who's arguably the worst actor on the show. His diction is so bad, I even understood Tony Discipline tonight over him. And neither of the pair are remotely attractive. She's invested in trying to portray herself as "feisty Lauren Branning" by trying to look like Katniss from The Hunger Games. He is just porn ugly in every way.

And I'll tell you something more: Joey is fucking Lauren because it's the closest he can get to Alice. Word up. And even more: he banged his face against the locker door to blame Derek so MahAliceMahAngel would come around and go 'ome ter live wiv ma. Well, Ma must think herself pretty damned lucky to be rid of that shower. Well, I'm sur Ma Branning will be making some sort of appearance sometime in 2013 if what Lorraine Newman says is true - a Branning widow now to set up shop on the Square and possibly shag Max or Jack, since they have no qualms or feel no uneasiness about playing best man for a brother who's re-marrying his wife who played happy families with Jack for a year, sought to replace Jack as a father figure for her children, used him for a lujo Caribbean holiday and wanted to move to France with him.

Jesus, these people are the worst kind of white trash.

And the bruvs were just rank tonight. The one thing Jake Wood cannot do is those awful testosterone-injected banter scenes with Scott Maslen and/or Jamie Foreman. And what was the purpose of the crate of beer tonight anyway? Jack knew this afternoon was Ray's pitch to the council to fund his boxing programme, and the last thing council people want to see is a bunch of boozy men hanging about a boxing club around street kids of an afternoon. Kim too - another woman with drink issues.

All of this centering around the non-issue of MahAliceMahAngel taking self-defence lessons. It was too boring, too awful, too amateurly written and too filled with Brannings. Total losers. Every  one. Max's accountants want him to do his accounts? Maybe they'll find the money he should be making enough to pay his debt masters. I don't understand why Max isn't making money. He's selling late model cars, pays rent to Roxy on the car lot and has no overheads - he pays Joey on commission, which can't be much because he's never there. Come to think of it, neither is Max. Tanya doesn't run the salon she runs and Alice doesn't work here anymore.

Speaking of the Salon, there were actual clients there today, yet there were Whitney and Lucy "pretending" to be staff at PlaySalon. Tanya will be lucky to have a business, especially with Bianca coming to work there. The other day Poppy was acting out advice for Fatboy to pull girls and today they were pretending to work for Poppy, both times in full view of clientele. The fucking punters will think they've come into Romper Room ...

Can't you just imagine Poppy saying that?

That entire vignette, leading up to stating the bleeding obvious (that Poppy and Fatboy become a couple) wasn't even worthy of being called theatre of the absurd. It was just Theater of the Flaming Awful. And worst was Poppy's sister, Tansy. I don't get how old Poppy is - 21 or 22, and the sister is three years younger? 

I also thought that Poppy, like Jodie, was Jewish. Jodie and Darren went to Poppy's brother's bar mitzvah shortly after the babyswap in 2011. Once again, the show is promoting the fact that the single most motivating thing a woman can do in the 21st Century is bag a man. Poppy bagged hers, Tansy didn't. So be afraid. Be very afraid. Tansy is unattached and has a relative in Walford. She's also another late adolescent. You know what that means.

By the way, Lucy Beale deserves a smack for her description of Poppy as being mental.

Oh, and as a bit of contrast, here's who the decidedly D-List Ms Jossa aspires to be - well, to look like. Ms Lawrence is the same age as Jossa, but with an Academy Award nomination under her belt. Looking like the real thing isn't the real thing.


  1. Matt Evans has written over 60 episodes of EastEnders.

    1. And I'm supposed to be impressed? There's such a thing as quality over quantity, and this tripe was shit. It wasn't even researched and so cliche-ridden.

  2. Lauren's "glow" was probably the early signs of cirrhosis of the liver.

  3. If Biannca has already studied fashion, why didnt they do something with that again?

    You you imagine going to the salon for a hair cut? Theres Biannca standing there, in one of her strops, and scissors in hand......

    Professor Plum

  4. Is that a turd of your face?