Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Branning Show: Branticipation - Review 13.12.2012

There's something about this song ...

I've seen better work from Christopher Reason in the past, and it was good that he kept the central focus on the fight for Lexie's custody, the Brannings pervaded every part of every storyline and vignette tonight.

I wonder when Newman will change the name of the show, officially, from EastEnders to BranningVille?

Anticipation Major: Mother's Little Helper

The Rolling Stones, celebrating fifty years of making music, said it best:-

The meaning behind this is twofold. For those of you too young to remember, "mother's little helper" was the euphemistic phrase used to describe the middle class woman's best friend - her prescription traquliser, much the forebear of Sharon's happy pills.

Surprise, surprise! Toad of Toad Hall makes yet another enemy - or rather, he reminds the other enemy that he'd still his enemy's enemy. Does Derek know about Phil's crack addiction or that he's a recovering alcoholic? I would say that he does, but I wonder? There would surely have been some snide remark about Phil and Sharon finding common ground.

Therefore, Phil's reaction to Sharon's secret is, at once, understandable and surprising. To wit, he's extremely supportive and understanding. Her quip that his remarks are rich coming from a crack addict doesn't set him off. Derek's been spilling the beans to Phil, Shirley's been blabbing to Sharon. Suddenly, they're on even ground. The more they talk, the more Phil realises how vulnerable Sharon is.

Sure, he wants Lexie, and he doesn't want any of either his or Sharon's history clouding that prospect, but he wants to help Sharon at the same time - recognising her using the same old excuses to mask that her addiction is surfacing as he used - the problem is sorted, she's getting help, etc. Now it's Phil's turn, yet again, to be the knight in shining armour. These two will bond over their fight against their addictions.

Best part of that whole kerfuffle was Sharon briefly confronting Jack to tell him, effectively, that she couldn't trust him. Well, that's put paid to that, added to the fact that his controlling nature and his suspicions are getting on her nerves.

I like Jimmy Broome, and I'd like to see more of him - the likeable bent solicitor, who decided to use honesty, for once, in his presentation, Sorry, but I'm still not warming to Lola at all, especially to the fact that she distrusts the honest element in its entirety. She's been brought up to lie before she can even utter the truth, and she tells the wrong sort of truth at the wrong moment.

It doesn't help that Danielle Harold is such an iffy actress as well, and, please, EastEnders, downplay the fact that you really, really, really, really, really, really, really want the public to like her - like please, pretty please with a cherry on top?

I mean, she's so cute, with that perfectly bleached blonde hair, the perma-tan and that cute little up-turned nose. Who couldn't like that?

Yes, but that all belies the fact that Harold's chief party piece as an actress is the ability to turn her face to pure granite in a moment's notice, and when she does so, she looks amazingly like Shirley probably looked at that age. Make no mistake, Shirley, Lola and Kat possess three of the hardest faces in EastEnders. In fact, thanks to the Tory government (of which I am not a supporter before anyone who doesn't understand the difference in party politics accuses me), you could probably frack successfully on any one of those three faces, and lower the energy bills of everyone in Walford. In fact, that's probably how Alfie paid that enormous bill for the Christmas lights - Kat got her face fracked, and that cloud of pollution you see hanging over the Square is the residue from her botox. (Oh, dear ... here come the thought police).

Still, Lola has the uncanny ability to look, say and act entirely inappropriately at the wrong time. She's always shown attitude to Trish Barnes, dug up again for the court appearance. Today, her nervousness seemed to convey to the judge indifference to whether or not it was good Lexie would come home to Walford. Especially, her repeated use of the word "suppose."

Of course, we know how this will turn out and what Phil's motives are; but what subtly stood out in this was Phil's quiet reassurance to Sharon that, at the end of the day, he was just as concerned for her welfare re the pills, as he was getting Lexie home.

Two other things of note: just how much, in that brief interaction between Shirley and Derek in the pub, when she was laughing and admitting what a crap parent she was (and we know that Derek was equally as crap as a dad), how well-suited they were and are together. This so much points to Derek being Shaggerman. Why? Derek appears to like rough women. Remember when he took a drunken Shirley home? He would have slept with her if she hadn't passed out on him. Prior to that, he'd had a thing with Rainie, who makes Kat look respectable. He wouldn't think twice about shagging Kat. She's the sort of blowsy, tarty, hard woman he'd appreciate.

If they'd taken Derek's character down a different route, and not made Shirley into such a Mitchell doormat, there could have been something in that association.

And, secondly, Lola getting the duff-duffs. Boy, was that long-shot of her ever the spit of Shirley as a teenager. Lola was prescient the other day, when she envisaged her becoming Shirley in 30 years. She's halfway there now.

Anticipation II: Me Myself I - Tanya, Lauren and a Little Bit of Max

Arguably, the two most selfish, self-centred women in Walford. In fact, I would say Tanya and Lauren have cornered the market in self-obsession. Walford's very own answer to the Kardashians.

And still Derek antagonises. That was a nifty, little scene - Delboy manipulating a place for MahAliceMahAngel as a bridesmaid at Tanya's latest white wedding. Is this her themesong?

Do you think this will be the wedding music? I think it would suit Tanya's middle-class-as-chav style. (Dig those purple gloves? Eh? All that's missing is the matching hat, bag and shoes, and she's all "jolly-dee-LIGHT-ful.")

Abi was obviously some orphan left on the Branning doorstep. She's far more mature than her spoiled, lazy, self-pitying, entitled and thoroughly unpleasant older sister, who couldn't even be arsed to turn the washing machine on. Abi's right. Lauren manipulates the situation to make everything about her, whilst Abi's brushed aside in the ensuing melee. Glad that she had that moment with Max, however; who's also being squeezed by Derek, by the way.

(Pssst! Their "friends" aren't getting the money Derek's demanding. Derek's scamming Max.)

Again, this proves that Max isn't Shaggerman. He's a backstreet used car salesman, who can't scrape a thousand quid together in a moment's notice. He sells cars. His overheads include a salary he pays himself, commission he pays Joey whenever Joey sells a car (which isn't often, it seems) and rent on the carlot, which he should still pay to Roxy. He pays rent to Jack on his house, and he's not flush? Or nearly so?

And I keep meaning to wonder ... when Tanya wanted to kill Max, he had over £100k in financial assets at the time she wanted him to die. Those were in stocks and shares. Yet two years later, they were gone. I suppose there was the market downturn, or maybe he had to pay legal fees to fight to see his kids. Who knows? All I know is those assets have been forgotten.

Pukeworthy scene of the night was Tanya and Lauren talking about being nice. They are only ever nice when it suits them and then only to further their own aims. They are not genuinely nice people. In fact the nicest thing anyone can call either of them is a self-centred bitch. I am counting the days until Tanya goes. I just wish she'd take Lauren with her.

Anticipation III: Kat's Cheating Heart & Roxy-in-Waiting

Alfie just knows the skank is on the prowl again, but why is he continuously hounding Michael?

Michael, it should be obvious from tonight, thinks only of Michael. He is simply incapable of thinking of anyone other than himself. Didn't Steve John Shepherd say the character was a sociopath or a psychopath? I don't remember. However, it's good to see that SJS has gained some weight. It suits him.

Highlight of the show was the beautiful scene between Alfie and Roxy. The chemistry exudes itself, and it tugged at the heartstrings in more ways than one to see Roxy sincerely concerned for Alfie and assuring him that she's there for him.

Don't get too excited. The current EP is a big shipper for Kalfie, and she's going to invest everything, from February 2013 onwards, into making Alfie and Roxy a kabuki theatre interlude in the voyage of reuniting Alfie with Kat. Yes, folks, another love triangle brewing, with Roxy playing Vanessa to Alfie's Max.

Could we have another bubbly's-in-the-fridge moment? Just to recall ...

Hardly. Roxy would torch the Vic with the Moons in it. Common soap opera sense says Kat should go after the reveal. Investing too much in the repair of one character will hurt the rest of the cast and the show in general.

Vignette: Bianca Is Still Poor, But She's Got a Friend and Money for Mouthy Tiff's Present

(Cue Bianca's Theme:)

Poppy aside, this wasn't a bad little vignette. We got to learn something more about the backstory of Mr Lister, and Bianca was honest about having to make small talk as a hairdresser, which - surprisingly - he appreciated. We could have just left the thing as an epiphany, with Lister paying on his credit card and giving Bianca the twenty pound note, telling her he'd work to rescind her court order.

But once again, EastEnders take it too far. You knew the moment Poppy wittered in and placed her bag on top of the note exactly what Lister would assume. When he returned, levelling his accusations, he was made to be shamed - and he should have been to a degree, making a judgement like that. But Poppy should have apologised as well, realising that she'd been so up her own arse about her sister that she didn't realise she'd set her handbag on money. And, really, who runs off from a business, where she was meant to supervise Bianca, a trainee, just to help her spoiled sister choose a Christmas gift?

Bianca's triumphant action at the end left a lot to be desired as well.

Still not December standard, with Christmas less than a fortnight away. But Christopher Reason is a good writer.


  1. Found the blog by accident after clicking on a thread on digital spy and decided to see what the fuss was about.

    Fantastic reading, great humour. I'm glad I'm not the only one who see's through Dereks blackmailing scam on Max - although its quite clear as 9x out of 10 derek only mentions the 'other people want a grand' AFTER Max has 'dissed' him or pissed him off.

    I too, hate the Brannings - mostly Max/Tania - and I mean hate them. Tania's patronising "ooh Lauuureeeeen" voice and her double standards of Tania knows best so may be permitted to meddle, not to mention her middle class image of herself.

    Max ? I just want to punch him especially when he starts shouting the odds, eg at Joey for endangering Lauren his precious daughter.

    Just one other thing - I say 'thing' quite literally, Tyler Moon - what a dumb-ass. What is his role ? Not that Anthony was much better but at least he could have had better story-lines - Tyler is just a spare part - almost playing the part of an extra.

    He also seems to have forgotten that Derek made the brothers redundant from the family 'business' as he seems to have buddied up with Derek not just on the stall but drinking and laughing together like two old pals in the Queen Vic ????

  2. I genuinely enjoyed the interplay between Bianca and Mr Lister last night. Until they decided to bollocks it all up at the end, that is.

  3. Must admit, I havent got to the Ava stuff yet, but I have had a guts full of Cora. For the last couple of weeks, we have Cora in "street wise" mode. The voice becomes a little harder, she suddenly becomes the self appointed god mother of the square, doling advice to all and sundry like she has known and cared for the person all their life. (and yet, they never invite her into their home!) SHE decides that Lola can have a stuffed toy to give to Lexi for free from the Op Shop. She becomes all matey, telling all and sundry "thanks, I owe you one" in a serious, tough sounding voice.

    for gods sake, pack up your spawn, their spawn, your whiskey and fags and bugger off. You can even take anyone with the surname Moon (except Janine and Scarlet, they will become Butchers again!)

    Professor Plum