Friday, November 9, 2012

The Love Tour of Walford Review 09.11.2012

Christopher Reason made a stabbing attempt tonight to do what EastEnders used to do way back in the days of Matthew Robinson - i.e., link an episode together with an undelying theme concerning each storyline snippet. It was a subtle technique, and it made viewers think. 

But the problem these days is that most viewers don't think. Take, for example, the battle waging at the moment at Walford Web Kindergarten. All the spoiled brats - well, most of'em - are jumping up and down in excitement because ...

Dexter is coming, Dexter is coming!

No, not the serial killer, but Cora's long-lost daughter Ava's son. And he's 20. Which means he'll fit in with the demographic of most of the characters at the moment. And he's related to the Brannings, which means an extension of an extended part of that family - which the kindergartners just don't see at all. In fact, they're adamant that he isn't a part of the Branning dynamic, but he is ... and there's a method in this madness.

Cora may not be a Branning, but she's a Branning satellite. Her daughter is married to the Brannings - just like Christian is neither a Beale nor a Masood, but he's part and parcel of both families by extension. His sister married a Beale, and her adopted son is his nephew. He, himself, is married to a Masood and is, therefore, part of their family. 

Cora is related to a Branning. Her grandaughters are Brannings and her grandson will be their cousin. He is and will be, for all intents and purposes, part and parcel of that dynamic. Anyone who cannot see that is bloody stupid. There. I said it.

The other purpose this character serves is that his presence, and that of his mother, extends Cora's sphere of influence. What Bryan Kirkwood wanted, and what Lorraine Newman is propagating, is the instant creation of a ready-made matriarch. The Walford Matriarchs always had a long history with the Square and substantial amounts of people in it. Lou and Pat were, of course, the biggies - Lou was head of the Beale-Fowler family, but she also considered everyone else resident in the Square as extended relatives. Pat's links with all and sundry grew as her character grew older. She was linked with the Beales and Fowlers (through Pete and David), with the Butchers through Frank and his kids, with the Jacksons (and eventually the Brannings) through Bianca, with the Foxes through Kevin and with the Mitchells through her friendship with Peggy and Phil. Pauline, Peggy and Dot reigned over their immediate families with impunity.

Cora has none of that history. She knows nothing about the long-term residents of the Square. She bullied Janine when she was pregnant and she's regularly seen drunk. Her association with Dot was totally unbelieveable. So they're creating extensions about the Square for her. She relates with (and gives skewed advice to) Lola, who's new.She's related to Tanya and her daughters and now she'll have another daughter and gosh knows how many grandchildren with whom to interact.

Matriarchs grow. When Pat returned to the Square, both she and Pauline were roughly about the same age Sharon is now. Dot, during the Eighties, was portrayed as a silly and bigoted woman and a terrible mother. Peggy entered the Square, in her second coming, as a glamourous middle-aged woman.

Matriarchs are not instantaneously made. They grow into the role. And Cora is neither wise nor a matriarch. She's just a drunken Branning satellite.

The commentator Nebraska saw it and saw it clearly enough to call this putridity exactly what it was - the wanton extension of a family who is unpopular with the majority of long-term viewers and the addition of yet another older adolescent, something we don't need. However, proof of the sort of lowest common denominator to whom this show is now pandering came in the adamant push-back of one of the real Walford Web kindergartners - the functionally illiterate and insipid King Pin of Walford, whose singular ignorance is a blight on all Antipodeans. KPoW (Ka-POW) loves the Brannings. In fact, she wishes there were more. And she loves the fact that they're taking over Walford. And why shouldn't there be oodles and skoodles of young people. After all, isn't EastEnders totally for people between the ages of 16 to 24? And no one else.

Honestly, I'm not making that up. This totally pea-brained moron actually said that in rebuttal to Nebraska's opinion. And you know what? She's the sort of one-brain-celled wonder of whom TPTB take heed. If she had a second brain cell, she'd be dangerous.

So, bearing in mind, the audience to whom the show is playing at the moment, tonight's theme was a subtle as the smell coming from a brick shit house about to collapse.

It was all about L-U-R-V-E.

And it still didn't say much. So, with musical accompaniment, let's take the Love Tour of Walford.

Alfie and Kat

Song: Liar (Three Dog Night)


Because that's what Kat is. As well as a slut and a self-perpetuating victim, which accounts for most of the female (and one male) citizens of Walford.

Kat underestimates Alfie, and I think she's secretly afraid of him. Does she love him? No. She really doesn't love anyone but herself. She doesn't even love her son. That was made patently obvious by the poker face she pulled when Syed was talking about being with his daughter being the sort of prison from which he'd never want release. She looked as though she couldn't escape quick enough. And when she wasn't fobbing her son off on her husband, who took him on as his own, she was using the child as a shield against Alfie's romances.

When Kat returned to find Roxy living in the Vic, she thought for a brief moment that Alfie had surrendered the moral high ground and was sleeping with Roxy. Not only would that have made them amoral equals, but it would have made Alfie even more amoral than Kat; because I think Kat thought Alfie had been living with - as in sleeping with regularly - Roxy. Up until that time, Kat had only done one night stands. But she was scared when Roxy put her straight about how Roxy may have loved Alfie, but he was faithful to Kat and loved only her. Scared, because Kat knows that before Alfie falls in love with someone, he makes sure he makes a friend of them first. 

And Alfie and Roxy are friends.

We all know Kat lied to Alfie about Shaggerman, which is why she's doing the "love's young dream" act, hoping to distract Alfie and make him fall in love with her again; but she knows that Shaggerman is close at hand. She sees him every day and he baits her.

Of course, it's one of the Brannings, and TPTB had to make sure they were thrown into the mix tonight, just to re-awaken the Shaggerman shit.

Well, let's stop it right now. Because it's an insult to our intelligence, even if it might amuse the King Pins of Walford and the vald's

of this world. We know that Shaggerman is Derek. Jack's obsessing over Sharon and her obsession with All Things Mitchell. Besides, Jack's a man for classy blondes, unless he's mindlessly drunk and then he'll sleep with anything with a woo-woo and a pulse. In fact, in a pinch and in a clinch, Jack would sleep with Shirley before he'd sleep with Kat, and he will, mark you. Before his cock crows three Mitchell babies and before the end of the year.

Max has other worries. Max turned down Roxy, likening her to hamburger as compared to Tanya's steak (with a lot of fat to be trimmed from the ass and the ankles). So if Roxy's hamburger, Kat must be the skag end of mutton dressed as lamb. Besides, Max is married already I'm reckoning, and this is the secret Derek keeps threatening to tell.

Derek is Shaggerman. The way he pretends not to get anything romantic, the way he disdains all references to love. Derek would be just the sort of Shaggerman to stay in the background and mix and mess some things up. And remember: he owes Alfie some humiliation.

Having said that, the Branning Bruvs were bloody awful tonight. I couldn't believe that they just walked, unannounced, into the Moon home -which is what the flat above the pub is - and sashayed through shouting the odds as if they owned the place. Not only that, but the acting on the part of all three was rank. OK, I expect that from Scott Maslen ...

and Jamie Foreman, but Jake Wood is usually able to carry just about anything and that includes pisspoor dialogue.

Of course, the Alfie-Kat piece of kabuki theatre always comes with the ubiquitous "Why do yer love me, Owfie? Wouldn't yer be 'appier wiv someone 'oo din' moan all ve toime?"

Well, yes, he probably would, and let's not forget that Alfie admitted to Roxy that he was basically with Kat because of the business, Tommy and her appendages (Mo and Jean). Alfie's still having trouble trusting Kat, for all he might laugh and have a joke with her; but by the end of tonight, he was feeling comfortable enough to say out loud that he loved her. He loves her so much he's willing to put aside that broken heart and trust her this one last time.

But the end is nigh, and when the shit hits the fan this time, I hope there's no going  back for him. Or her. In fact, I want to see Newman show some good old-fashioned EastEnders' mettle and rid Walford of the Katshit, the way Sharon was shunned and driven out and the way Frank Butcher had to leave in shame.

This is the landlord of the Vic, after all.

Derek redeemed that pawnbroker. Max went home to his cuddly piece of white trash and Jack went home to obsess with the Branning version of B-List Sharon.

Perhaps this song is appropriate for Kat and what she really is ...

And, of course, Kat and Alfie are linked tonight with not only 

Ray and Kim

(Non-story about a mouse in the B and B with Denise thrown in to play the straight man again. Actually, the best thing about that was the mouse, who was cuter than any of the characters involved.)

but also ...

Michael and Roxy (again)

Song: What Is This Thing Called Love? (Billy Holiday)

Arguably, theirs were the most interesting scenes of the evening and not because of any chemistry between the two characters. There isn't any, sexually. In fact, Janine apart, the only other woman on the programme with whom Michael had any sexual chemistry was Ronnie, but let's not go there.

The scenes were interesting because the calibre of conversation between the two of them was totally honest. Roxy is lonely, and Michael is missing Janine, although he would never say, but he came as close as anything to admitting it tonight.

Because both were at loose ends - Michael, stuck in a house with two babies, and Roxy, living in a 24-hour Discothon with the insipid Fatboy, drift together naturally. The first truth of the night was Michael admitting that he knew Roxy was in love with Alfie - this remark made after Roxy went on a bit of a rant about how badly Kat talks to Alfie. 

Believe me ... the way you behave in public is noticed and commented upon. Michael tries to rationalise this with the usual shit about Kat's emotional baggage etc; but at the end of the day, Michael took advantage of that emotional baggage to his own ends. I'm glad Roxy didn't buy any of that. And then the subject subtly moved onto Janine and her absence - so subtle that Roxy actually thought for a moment Michael was alluding to Kat, when he made reference to the fact that the hard bitch routine Janine affected was all an act, and she was just an insecure child.

What was interesting about this was the fact that Michael recognised Janine's insecurities - he referenced how many times she told him she loved him (funny, I would have thought it was the other way around, but then this is a show which is becoming infamous for its retcons) - but he said nothing of the way, in the weeks after Scarlett's birth, when Janine was hormonal and, most probably, suffering from post-natal depression (as well as having received psychological batterings in the days immediately before the birth from Jean and Cora, amongst others), he baited and badgered Janine - lying to her, being secretive, sneaking about, and, ultimately, preying on her fragile self-esteem.

Funny, how that didn't get a mention. But then, I suppose that when Janine returns in the spring, we'll see a reprise of Evil Janine just to please the likes of King Pin of Walford in their little black-and-white worlds.

Somehow, in the midst of all this craving for adult conversation, Michael convinces Roxy to stay, to come live with him and Scarlett, with Amy; and I was glad that Roxy held out the axiom that this living under the same roof wouldn't mean sex on tap. As a couple, they've been there and done that, and if any female character should have anything to do with Scarlett's care, it should be Roxy instead of creepy Jean or Kat.

Kat should not be with Michael. Roxy should not be with Michael. Michael is for Janine and vice versa.

One brief and genuinely funny bit about this pastiche was Roxy refusing a meal for Amy from Michael, saying Amy had just been through her second bag of crisps in the evening. Funny, but when Michael went away, Amy flashed a beautiful smile at Roxy. I know the twins who play her say nothing, but they genuinely like and have bonded with Rita Simons, who's the mother of twins, herself.

And Roxy and Michael, of course, are linked with ...


Song: Crying (Roy Orbison and k d laing)

Tell me, why is Christian taking relationship advice from Lucy Beale? She's all of eighteen and the sum total of her l-u-r-v-e experience has been silly Olly the middle class dirtball destined for Oxford, a couple of sessions in the hay with Leon which resulted in an abortion and Turdhopper Branning. Besides, Hetti Bywater is such a godawful actress - not only is she someone who subscribes to the mouth-breathing-pout-is-sexy philosophy, but she's also got terrible diction as well.

Christian is forty years old. He's been around the block more years than Lucy's been on earth. And why does Syed even approach her as a go-between to inveigle Christian back to the flat for an honesty pow-wow?

Roxy's mixed up in this too and is seeking to protect Christian, but he relents and allows Syed to flirt and fix him dinner.

Once again, Christian tells Syed the same home truths he told him back in 2010 when Syed was in denial about his sexuality and bending to Zainab's will and marrying Amira. Christian calls Syed a liar and a cheat.

This is true, but the only home truth which sparks a reaction from Syed is the accusation that he's vain and immature, which Syed hotly denies. Spot on and kudos to Christian for noticing that Syed doesn't even flinch or protest being called dishonest and unfaithful - most people, even Kat, would start the "woe-is-me-it's-all-because-o'-me-past" routine, blaming his father, his mother, his religion - instead, Syed's offended by being called a big baby, who's self-centred and selfish.

Does Christian still love him? I think he does, and I think Syed was wheedling around him enough - even eventually telling him he loved him in a roundabout way - that Christian was warming to even giving him a second chance.

But here's the clincher: like Alfie, Christian's come to think of his relationship with Syed as important only for Yasmin's sake. He's got over Syed's deceit, but he genuinely misses Yasmin.

Peculiarity of the night: Lucy remarking that Syed and Christian breaking up would result in Yasmin having a broken home. Honey, Yasmin's already had a broken home. She was born into one. Her parents split before she was born. Please, Chryed-apologists, disabuse yourself of the notion that Christian is Yasmin's father. He is not. He cannot even adopt her, because in order to do so, he would need Amira's permission.

He is her step-father, like Amira's new husband will be also. The only rights either man will have in relation to Yasmin are the rights accorded to them by Yasmin's parents - Syed and Amira. Until recently, Amira demanded that Christian have nothing to do with Yasmin,and Syed had to accede to her demands. Conversely, Syed could have refused to allow Yasmin to live with Amira and her new husband, entailing the mother of all custody battles.

Of course, the honesty pow-wow tonight was, as well, all for Syed to tell Christian about what he had decided to do about Yasmin, which provoked the mother of all hissy fits in Christian, bursting into the Masood house to take umbrage with them for knowing about this and "allowing" Syed (who's immature, remember?) to give custody of Yasmin to Amira.

Consider this: Yasmin's father told Yasmin's mother that their daughter could go to Birmingham to live with her and her new husband. Simples. The parents made a decision about the child. Masood even made sure that Zainab didn't interfere, because this was a decision Syed had to make about his daughter's welfare.

Get that? Yasmin's father put her interests before his own. Of course, Syed will miss Yasmin, and it will mean him having to put a bit more effort into seeing her whenever he wants, but he realised that Yasmin was better off living with a loving, responsible mother who had the financial means to take care of her. But in the end, Christian, who has no rights to Yasmin whatsoever, has made this all about himself, and is also trying to guilt-trip the Masoods, who - incidentally, even though they are Yasmin's grandparents - have no rights over her as well.

Maybe the Chryeds need some reinforcement from Toby Keith and Sting ...

And, of course, the Chryeds were linked inevitably to 

Mas and Zainab

Song: I Can't Let Go (The Hollies)

All hail the arrival of the newest yo-yo couple, Mas and Zainab, who have inherited the title from Max and Tanya (the latter of whom is leaving). These two have broken up twice in the past year alone, and yet, each time, they've reunited. In fact, once tonight Masood found out that Zainab's friend had counseled her to submit to Mas's will, he sussed that Zainab really gets turned on by male dominance, and I swear they were about to get jiggery-pokery in the kitchen before Christian entered in full hissy fit mode.

Mas kicked Zainab out, remember? And she barrelled her way back in ... because she's a victim, you see; and nothing is ever her fault.

This wasn't the best of weeks for the show, and next week, being the beginning of the Branningapalooza, means things are going to get worse. This about sums up the show:-

Even Hicksville is more interesting.

Update: Kudos to priscilla on Digital Spy Soaps' forum for revealing how Alfie will twig that Derek is Shaggerman. Derek has loads of counterfeit money, and that's how he redeemed the engagement ring. A couple of weeks ago, Alfie had to return a note to Derek because it was dodgy. How soon before the pawnbroker makes a discovery about the dodgy money?

And, finally, *Betty* on Walford Web Kindergarten loved everything about the episode. Goes to show that TPTB are aiming for the absolute lowest common denominator.


  1. Does anyone apart from Chyredians give a shit about them anymore?
    And I could not give a toss about Ava and Dexter. Like you said more Branning satellite's like we need anymore. When will TPTB cut these trailer trash down to size and kick Kat Moon out?

  2. KaPoW comes from one of the lesser desirable suburbs in the lower North Island. You would probably refer to it as a "Kitchen Estate". Even I cringe at some of the posts!