Hmmm .. why do I keep thinking of the title of this song when I'm thinking of EastEnders recently?
Because the show's in freefall status at the moment.
It wasn't enough to watch tonight's episode - a Katie Douglas special to herald the opening of a week that's supposed to be the beginning of the end of a quirky psychopathic character, but in reality someone who looks like a pantomime villain compared with Dominic Power's mesmerisingly frightening Cameron Murray - and wonder how bad an incipient episode to a dramatic week could get; it was also the fact that I was totally gobsmacked at the number of characters featuring prominently in tonight's episode who will be gone by the end of this year ... or sometime within the next.
Steve John Shepherd will be gone by the end of the week. So will Jasmyn Banks, who wasn't seen but whose character was often mentioned. Rachel Bright is leaving this year. David Witts will go at Christmas. Phaldut Sharma is leaving too.
Did I miss anyone?
Oh, yes ... Charlie Brooks announced today that she would be leaving in 2014, and whilst the actress was at pains to reiterate that this was yet another "so long" instead of a good-bye, we have to wonder how long a "so long" is. Will she return for the 30th anniversary episode? I think not. It's easy to fathom that NuNuBen Mitchell will be released from prison right about that time and will return to Walford to claim his daughter. Or maybe that episode will see the return of the porcine-featured one-trick-pony known as Stacey Slater. (All the millenials who care nothing about the history of the show beyond Lacey Turner's party piece of wreaking havoc seem to want her back, and her sporadic spree of acting work seems to be drying up after producers found there's only so many ways of playing Stacey Slater with another name).
Maybe Brooks will return in 2016 ... or 2020, if the show is still around, but I think this might be the final bow for one of the finest actresses and one of the most nuanced characters the show has ever seen.
Farewell, Janine Butcher, a multi-leveled character with issues a-plenty. Yes, she was and is a bitch, but unlike the gaggle of entitled, self-pitying bitches who use their personal histories as an excuse to deflect responsibility for bad behaviour, Janine owns her bad behaviour. The local yokels go out of their way to disdain her, citing past bad behaviour when a lot of Janine's behaviour was a reaction to people's frustration at her father's consequences. Janine has trust issues, and it's no wonder. But Janine does look after her own, and we've seen, from tonight, how far her family and so-called friends have their heads stuck firmly up their own arses.
The show will miss her. Viewers will miss her. The blonde psychopathic ice queen with the Michael Jackson facelift and nose job won't compensate for Janine, a real legacy character. RoNostril is a retcon. Saint Kat is no comparison, nor are the chav remnants who will be more Branning than Butcher, including the flame-haired village idiot, who's about to return.
Janine is leaving, possibly not to return. I'm predicting similar announcements from Letitia Dean, whose character has been totally eviscerated, and Diane Parish, who's the latest bedmate of Ian Beale, a surefire kiss of death. She'll sleep with his brother and leave in a taxi.
Ne'mind. We've still got Skanky McGarty and Danny Dire.
Listen sharply, and you'll hear the sound of remotes turning ... off.
Yer So Bad.
At the risk of having a thousand trolls descend on me, I'm going to say it.
I hate the Jackson-Butchers, every chav one of them, and that includes Carol, and that includes David, who's undergone the requisite character transplant to accommodate and pander to the lowest common denominator of viewer (xTonix) and irrelevant old toad (vald).
Yes, Carol, Janine does have the right to enter her house whenever she chooses to do so. She owns the roof over your head - you know, the roof under which you've spread your legs for Bianca's probation officer, Eddie Moon, Masood and your current non-paying guest and for which you pay a nominal rent. You and your lot have, consequently, treated Janine like a piece of shit since she's done that. She bought the house for your benefit. Had she not, the place would have had to have been sold over your heads to pay off Pat's debts, and you would be left with nothing but a dingy council flat on a sink estate, which is no more than you deserve for your ingratitude.
You're too far up your own self worth to ever notice that Janine is alone and isolated,and that your badly behaved grandchildren are her closest relatives; but then, as your obnoxious granddaughter Tiffany points out, Auntie Janine always comes up with the goods when you smarm her for money.
And David would do well to remember that Janine not only loaned him five hundred quid, she provided the fifteen hundred quid last week which enabled him to buy Max's car stock to sell for his own profit. And there he stood today, wantonly telling her a lie and then chuckling about having learned from Frank that the only way to deal with Janine was to tell her what she wanted to hear - and this, after Janine was so grateful to him for seeming to want to celebrate her birthday. What a cruel bastard, but of course, we're meant to cheer him on because he's now associated with that ascendant family of ChavEnders, the Jackson-Butchers.
And as for the Walford Mattress, Whitney ... yes, Dennis lied, but Whitney didn't come off smelling of roses, and I actually felt sorry for Sharon. Is she a good parent? No, but then, neither are Bianca and Carol. Yes, she is overprotective, but if Carol had an ounce of compassion for anyone outside her own poor white sphere of existence, she'd know that Sharon is utterly alone in this world. David would also know of her history. Throw up Whitney's sexual abuse. Let's throw back the fact that Sharon was rejected by her birth mother twice, that she was used as a buffer between her adoptive parents, who were engaged in an abusive marriage, that she lost her father twice, going fourteen years believing him dead, that she nursed her mother through alcoholism and that she lost her husband to a violent murder.
Throughout this storyline, Whitney's neglected to tell how she openly referred to Dennis within his hearing and to his mother, as "poison," that she cornered him outside the school environment and threatened and bullied him, that she spoke to him abusively within his mother's hearing in a manner that frightened him. Her final behaviour tonight was pukeworthy, smugly telling Sharon to her face that her son was a "lying brat." That's rich, coming from the girl who shook Bobby Beale physically in the street some three years ago for allegedly bullying Tiffany. Tonight, Whitney's smug message conveyed this ...
The school thinks your son's a lying brat.
If that's the case, what a piss poor school. When a child that young has behavioural problems that are sudden in onset - because there were no such problems the previous year with Dennis - then the school makes an effort to find out what's behind this behaviour. They work with the parent, even if the parent is difficult, educators are trained to do this. The child lives in a bed-and-breakfast accommodation. His mother has no relatives, which means he has none. She works nights. She loves him unconditionally, but she's had no friend or relative to aid and advise her on the parameters of parenting. If the school is ready, as its smug spokesperson Whitney is so quick to impart, to write Dennis off as a "lying brat," then what hope is there for such people in society.
Way to go, EastEnders. Write a kid off at seven as a loser.
And who the fuck is David Beale Wicks to order Sharon to get her coffee elsewhere when his estranged brother owns the cafe and determines who's served there?
The Jackson-Butchers are not the pillars of society. If anyone would care to remember, Alan Jackson, whilst helping on the Beale's veg stall, found the pension money that David's Auntie Nellie had dropped. Alan wanted to return it, but Carol took the pension money and bought enough food for a slap-up Sunday lunch, reckoning that they were "entitled" to it. Alan paid the sum back to Nellie out of his own wages.
So that's the type of person Carol is, and I'm disappointed in David's head being stuck up his arse.
So the babyswap has been made totally irrelevant now. Ronnie's the victim again. Poor her. Boo-hoo.
Before I comment, just an observation: Amy turns five next month. Presumably, she's in the entry class at the local school. Yet she looks about the size of a three year-old and Roxy's constantly carrying her about in her arms. Lest you forget, Amy was born in November 2008, making her five next month.
It seems Roxy's and Alfie's agreement is to stay away from the people causing stress in their relationship. First of all, Alfie's reaction to Ronnie is totally normal. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Alfie never denied Roxy could see her sister. He just told her he didn't want to see Ronnie in his home, after her having done what she did. The very first thing he encountered was Ronnie, upstairs in his flat, with Tommy, having a laugh with Roxy. That's what drove him to deny her access to her sister, and that's what led her to continue to lie to him.
It seems that Roxy's demands are that Alfie have nothing to do with Kat, which is an entirely different thing altogether - Alfie and Kat have a child. They have as big a bond as Roxy and her psychopathic sister. But Alfie has never lied to Roxy about seeing Kat.
The dynamic between Roxy and Ronnie is as creepy as that of Michael and Alice, and - at least on Ronnie's part - I think it's definitely psycho-sexual. Ronnie has interfered in every sort of adult relationship Roxy's had - accusing Damien of sexually assaulting her and goading Sean into hitting her. If Roxy's in a relationship and Ronnie's not, then Ronnie acts out and makes trouble because Roxy, fully integrated into a real relationship, is less susceptible to Ronnie's control mechanism.
Let's refresh our memories with Ronnie's abysmally self-obsessed bad behaviour at Amy's christening. Becausse it's all about Ronnie.
This whole glossing over of what was a torturous story, which was difficult to watch and which, inadvertantly, made the male characters more sympathetic than the female participants, is pathetic. Yes, a lot of people turned off during the babyswap, who haven't turned back on again. But showing people that, unrealistically, a woman whose baby was stolen for four months and who was left a dead child in its place, can sit down, have a laugh and a drink with the woman who not only made her life hell, but also who told authorities that the victims of this crime meant nothing to her and thereby negate the awful trash television storyline is totally an insult to the viewers' intelligence and blatant pandering to the fangirls who worship at the altar of Ronnie.
I want someone to tell me that they would forgive someone who took their child for months and left a dead baby in its place. Because that wouldn't happen. Not ever. And certainly not from someone like Kat Moon. That she lectured Alfie on his actions being wrong is just shit,pure shit, and it's yet another example of the blatant pushing of the pejorative male image abundant in EastEnders.
Think about this: Can you imagine Phil Mitchell or Max Branning forgiving the woman who'd put them through hell by snatching their child?
So Ronnie's now fully redeemed, with Alfie inviting her to the wedding. Everyone's happy. The babyswap didn't happen because Tommy didn't remember it. That makes everything OK, then, doesn't it? Because even if Tommy doesn't remember it, his parents will. After all, it was Kat who stood up in court and told everyone how she had to take Tommy even with her to use the toilet, because she couldn't stand him out of her sight after what happened.
Understand that this has to be done because, after all, this is The Ronnie Show. And what's EastEnders without the resident psychopath?
Oh, and poor Ronnie's in bits about Jack leaving, when she was the bitch who drove him away.
Michael's a nice guy ... not.
But as his end nears, he becomes more and more camp, especially seated on his leather throne in the old Slater household like a Hammer House of Horror vampire, complet with Nosferatu pointed ears ...
Not just on the leather chair either. Seated on the couch, doing nothing. I mean, doesn't he have a boxing club to run? Danny doesn't seem to be doing it - he's too busy organising another epic fail of a football story; so who's minding the shop?
I doubt Michael cares, because he's out of control of a situation and that's about to panic him. His "acolyte" is missing, after realising that he wanted her to do his dirty work and pay for it, whilst he absconded. The irony of this storyline tonight saw David Witts, oddly, give his best performance. Like Scott Maslen, David Witts was never a romantic lead, nor did he have the least iota of chemistry with any of the dippy girls with whom he was paired; but he gave a decent performance this evening of a brother concerned with the whereabouts of his sister, siphoning through Michael's obvious lies.
Where is Alice? That's the question he has to answer, and he has to try to use his failing charm on people whom he'd openly disdained, like Poopy-La-Dim, who has seen through his personality since the beginning. Line of the night goes to her:-
Because how long has it been, Michael since you've thought to ask about me or walk me to work? Like never?
I liked how she called him out for being a creep. That struck home, as did Tamwar's reaction.
Tamwar. My name is Tamwar. My friends call me Tam, and you're not a friend.
I'm glad he's succinct in telling Michael that he was no longer involved with Alice and why.
Michael is worried about Alice in the only context that she will be the one, he hopes, who'll commit his crime for him.
He thinks he's got Janine on the ropes, remembering that this was her birthday. The scene where he was filling out her card was the best of the episode - so much anger emanating from Michael and the way he was addressing her card, speaking aloud through clenched teeth:-
To my wife on her birthday, Love Michael.
Equally amusing was Janine's facial expression when Michael turned his back after she invited him to dinner for the next day.
As for Janine, once again, her ungrateful relatives who sponge off her good will in the Butcher household and Billy, another idiot whom she's financed and who repaid her good will by robbing her blind a couple of years ago, think far too much of themselves than to even remember Janine's birthday.
Funny, three years ago, Billy, who was unemployed, remembered Janine's birthday with a card he could ill afford. Now, football is more important. Janine could have had his arse hauled to jail for credit card fraud a couple of years back.
Unlikeable character. Unlikeable soap. Unlikeable writer.
Where's the hope?