Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Branning Show: Albert Square Communal Pity Party - Review 10.12.2012

This song could have been written for Cora the Bora ... or anyone in Monday's show:-

I was ill last night, and maybe I would have been worse for watching this episode. At least that's what I thought after reading some of the comments in various fora. However, all in all, a few things aside, it wasn't a bad episode ...

If you took out Tanya, Cora, Lauren, Abi,Lucy,Whitney and Tyler ...

I know it seems that the Battle of Lexie's Custody is going round and round in circles at the moment, but we have to remember that this is not only the story of Phil's fight to gain custody of his grandchild; it's also the beginning of his quest for Sharon's hand as well. The storyline surrounding this issue is watchable, but it wasn't at its best tonight.

The High Points: Phil and Lola's interaction. I have to admit, I have nothing invested in Lola. I don't like her, although I know TPTB are investing heavily in Danielle Harold becoming the next Lacey Turner (another actress I never rated, nor the character she played). In other words, Lola was and is another loud-mouthed, perma-tanned chav who thinks she can dictate the rules without ever accepting any responsibility for her own actions.

Lola is just another victim, who can use incidents from her past (the fact that she was in care) or the present (the fact that she was pregnant at fifteen and is now a teenaged mum) as an excuse for her bad behaviour. TPTB are pulling a cheap trick here. They devoted a live segment of an episode to Lola giving birth on the floor of McKlunkey's, then presented her as a poor, pitiful, put-upon and misunderstood single mum, the victim of persecution by an evil social worker. This was supposed to make us feel sorry for Lola and like her - thus, excusing and negating all the pejorative, anti-social and rude behaviour she had displayed previously.

It didn't work for me. Why not have her parade through the Square, singing the following song. After all, it was recorded by a band called Cheap Trick, which pretty much describes Lola:-

Although I know it wouldn't happen in a million years in real life, Lola lost custody of her child because of the way she behaved. She acted like what she really was - a spoiled, entitled child who didn't have a clue about caring for another child. She lives in a squalid basement flat, which may or may not be a squat, with her unemployed grandfather, and she now has a criminal record. Social Services would look long and hard about giving Lexie back to her, and they'd ride her back for the rest of her life, if they were competent.

At the moment, Phil is the best shot she has for regaining custody of her daughter. There's Phil and there's nothing. Yes, she's right to suspect Phil may have ulterior motives and want Lexie for his own child, another opportunity to atone for the failure of his upbringing of Ben.

Lola hurls an accusation at Phil, reminding him that Social Services would know and find out everything he's done, but the truth of the matter is this: Phil Mitchell has no criminal record. Seriously, he doesn't. Every time he's been incarcerated, he's been released with the charges dropped. If anything, Phil, to Social Services, will come across as someone who's been increasingly hassled by the police.

The new social worker assigned to the case is the absolute embodiment of milquetoast. With Trish Barnes gone, after having justifiably received a plethora of complaints from the industry, itself, it seems as though the programme has gone out of its way to cast someone as bland and as harmless as cream cheese. I get it that her brief was to smile benevolently and write, but she was almost pathetic. However, her question to Lola was specific: did she know what she had to do to regain custody of Lexie? And Lola's answer was suitably vague - she had to make sure she was "a proper mum." Well, what exactly is a proper mum? Lola should have been asked her interpretation. She should also have been asked to comment on her own behaviour with regards the child.

Also, Phil spoke at great length about his two children and even had Lola attest to how great a parent he was. The social worker may have been told Ben was serving a jail sentence, but she should have asked where Louise was and how long it had been since Phil had seen her. On two occasions, he's never spent more than a few months in Louise's life.

Surprisingly, the most enlightening scene of this storyline went to Shirley, when she and Lola were in the playground on the swings, beside the graffiti made by Lola, Ben and Abi in the episode which saw the cringeworthingly puketardish line, "We're the future of Walford."

Shirley's got inside Lola's head, and she's got her own battles to fight with Phil - chief of which being she still loves him and is as jealous as sin that Sharon's around. However, Shirley, when she's thinking straight, can be a pragmatist. She realises, in the cold light of day, that Phil's help is the best option Lola has, but in the end, encourages her to fight Phil every step of the way for her influence in Lexie's life. Two things of note:-

1. Shirley still operates under the misguided assumption that Phil Mitchell always wins. He simply doesn't. Phil's immediate family have gone - his mother and siblings are far away, his marriages have all failed. He has a son in prison. His daughter is in hiding with her mother someplace. The woman Phil's loved all his life is within arm's distance, and yet, she's still out of reach. Phil is a recovering alcoholic with other addiction problems. And Phil is a winner? A fighter, maybe, but he's lost some of the most important fights in his life.

2. The most important thing this scene revealed was a look into Shirley as a failed mother, reprimanding Lola for wanting to forget Lexie as the easiest way to cope with separation from her. Now we know that Shirley left motherhood willingly, because she was bored at the time, and when it was too late, realised how important the little things are in child-rearing - trips to the park, playing on the swings - and how nothing can ever bring those little things back. For once, Shirley was almost sympathetic.

The Low Points: Sharon. Sharon was off tonight, and I couldn't figure it out. In the scene with the social worker, when she was caught off-guard, I couldn't figure out if she were supposed to be looking at Phil and realising that she still loved him or if her mind were elsewhere. Just weird.

Another storyline is revving up, which looks to be a corker - the incipient romance between Ian and Denise. That was patently obvious. The banter between the two of them, from their first scene over the fruit, heavily laced with sexual double entendre, left the viewers in no doubt what is about to happen in the ensuing months.

Ian and Denise suit each other. They're both of a similar age, and Denise is probably the only really strong female on the Square, with the possible exception of Janine. She is a businesswoman, and so she would be an equal to Ian. There would be none of this "my furniture, my businesses, my house, my kids" that we had with Jane, and Denise would take none of the shit that Ian is more than capable of dishing. She's also a person of warm compassion, as well as bridging no nonsense. If this be the way TPTB want to take Ian, and Denise, who's been crying out for a major storyline and role for years, I approve.

They certainly had the lines of the night:-

Ian: I've called Europe.
Denise: Were they in?

The vignette also served as an introduction to Ayesha, as yet, sight unseen, the Masoods' houseguest. Zainab needs to remember that she's still Zainab Khan and not yet Zainab Masood. Again. At least Shabnam got a mention.

Low Point with a High Point: The Shaggerman Saga drones on and on. But with a difference. Alfie's onto Kat at last, and the very end of the vignette proves his tenacity - he's caught her in a lie. Good. Now the worm's turning, and maybe Kat will get her due; but throughout all of this, Alfie's goodness still manages to shine through.

Hearing of Bianca's financial troubles - what else is new? -

(Bianca's Theme)

Alfie purchases choirboy robes at the Pawn Shop and convinces Bianca that her boys would rake in the dough, singing on the street corner, dressed as choirboys. Coincidentally, the robes fit Liam, who's sixteen-going-on-about-to-be-fourteen (and whose voice has changed) as well as Morgan Le Fat, who's been tucking into too many chicken nuggets.

Another High Point of the Low Point: Bianca singing. That was funny.

Low Point of the Low Point: Bianca singing. It's now obvious that TPTB are turning this iconic female character into the feminine equivalent of Billy Mitchell. Billy is a loser only to the Mitchells. Bianca is a loser to both the Brannings and the Beales.

Low Point All Around: Cora the Bora, the Man in Drag. Sorry, but more than anything tonight she looked as though she'd stepped straight from La Cage aux Folles. I wait with baited breath for Dot to return, an avenging angel, and retake her house and her launderette.

Working in a launderette actually means washing other people's clothes - those who demand service washes. It was incongruous seeing Cora wearing what I presume to be Dot's pinny. It wasn't surprising seeing her sat in the back room of the launderette, feeling sorry for herself for goodness knows what, probably fighting off the DTs and ravenous for a drink. It shows what a lowlife she is, the way she hooked Jean into doing her job for her.

Someone on some forum suggested a pairing of Jean and Cora at the launderette. I'd as soon see both of them out of the Square, but if I had to see them anywhere, I'd like to see Jean at the pub and Cora at a meeting of AA, and such a bitter, mean old selfish bitch, not even interested in Tanya's imminent scan results - not that I am either, but then she's not my daughter. Oh, and someone should teach Cora how to do laundry - whites are washed separately and on a hot wash, etc. She was piling them all in one machine together.

Dumb, old, drunken twat.

Lowest of the Low: Lauren, Whitney, Lucy, Tyler and Lauren's upper lip. According to the spoilers, Lauren's due the mother of all smacks from the mother of all Yummy Mummies soon. It can't come soon enough. I wonder where she gets the money for endless teas in the cafe, but getting there, we had to be reminded of the yuck part of Whitney and hearing her go on and on about Tyler's treating her for her birthday and Christmas. I've just watched the Tony episodes from 2008, and I'm amazed that Whitney is played by the same actress. The only other actress on the show to have regressed to such a degree is Jacqueline Jossa, who stank up the place tonight, along with Hetti Bywater.

Elf'n Safety should shut the cafe down. Not only is Lucy working with food with her hair hanging down all over the place, but she's a walking advertisement for anorexia. Please. No sleeveless tops, no skinny jeans and NO miniskirts until this actress has gained at least two stone. She looks like a reject from Dachau. And there's only one other actress on the show with a paler complexion and that's Abi Branning, but that's down to bad make-up in the green room.

Is Lucy so damned thick that she can't ascertain Lauren's animosity toward her is based on jealousy? Jesus, Sharon's perspicacious enough to read Shirley's motives ... where's her feminine intuition?

Quite honestly, these two were just so bad and this whole shit over the walking Piece of Shit AKA Joey, was just too dire to believe.

I have said it before, and I'll say it again: there has never in the history of this show been such a singularly entitled, negative, lazy, unlikeable group of youngsters, and they all need clearing out.

Absolute Lowest of the Low: Kat's tits hanging out. Again. Oh, and she's not a thirtysomething. Kat is forty-one.

Two weeks until the Christmas episode? Good luck.


  1. Actually, with the Pakistani naming tradition, Zainab is technically Zainab Yusef. Just as Afia would have been Afia Tamwar and Amira Amira Syed. Just a wee pointer.

  2. I agree - these youngsters are the worst lot ever. I'd exclude Abi and Jay, just because they are slightly more believable. I have an absolute hatred for Hetti Bywater and this new Lucy. I can't even understand what she's saying most of the time.
    And how did Cora's fake eyelashes not fall off with the steam in the laundrette? :)