Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hit the Road, Jack - Review: 15.10.2013

Well, what other song would you have to signify the end of an era? Jack has gone. In the space of a minute, he decided he was leaving Walford. No time to put the flat on the market, sort his furniture or say good-bye to any of his numerous family still left in Walford. There was no leaving line, no hint beforehand; and had there been no spoilers, his tear-stained departure would have left everyone gobsmacked.

Yet this non-departure is the signature of Newman's tenure. Three major characters, significant to the development of the far inferior EastEnders 2.0, have left this year, each deserving of a memorable leaving line, and yet each departure was insulting to the character concerned and the actors who portrayed them.

Zainab was the first to go, having been created by Santer/DTC. She was a real battleaxe/matriarch in the making, yet we didn't hear that she was leaving until she had filmed her final scenes right before Christmas, only to find that she had given her notice, not to Newman, but to Bryan Kirkwood before he departed. What we got was a convoluted, sudden departure line concerning a temporary character in the form of a very young woman who'd tempted Masood and a destroyed water feature.

Tanya (created by Kate Harwood) left next, although we'd known that Jo Joyner was leaving a year ahead of time. Still, when her departure time came, her storyline was more about Lauren than it ever was about her. Tanya left to be near Lauren's drying-out facility. Lauren appeared back on the Square after a month - tanned, with blonde highlights (do rehab facilities do that?) leaving Tanya and Oscar to fester down in Devon. They're barely mentioned now. In fact, Tanya doesn't even know that Max is in jail.

And now we come to Jack. 

Time was, EastEnders announced big departures twice annually - once at the beginning of the year, for characters departing mid-year; and once around June to accommodate Christmas/New Year Departures.

Scott Maslen's departure was announced early in the year, giving the writers plenty of time to figure out an intriguing departure line. 

But whom am I kidding? That lot in the writers' room wouldn't know a storyline if it hit them in the gob with a wet fish, apart from anything designed to appeal to bullying fanbois or retarded teenagers. Jack was a wasted character. True, Scott Maslen wasn't the best of actors, but he wasn't the worst. He certainly wasn't a romantic lead.

Jack was supposedly a bent cop, with a dodgy past. According to Derek in January 2012, Jack knew how to dispose of a body. He was thick as hair on a dog's back with a drugs cartel during his time on the force, and they had him pegged as a grass. But none of this was explored. Instead, he inadvertantly became one of the biggest and most promiscuous male sluts in the history of the show, culminating in impregnating not only his wife, but her sister and cousin.

And now he's gone, but his departure really wasn't about him at all, was it? It was about the person who caused him to go.

God knows what Zainab's departure accomplished, except to give Masood a chance to couple with a middle-aged woman who's seen more men between her legs than the Blackwall Tunnel's seen traffic. Tanya's departure was all about Go-To Girl of the Moment, Lauren; and Jack's non-farewell was all about Queen Ronnie.

Ronnie Ruins Another Life.

Here it is October. The nights are drawing in, and the weather is cold; but not, it seems, in Walford, where it's warm enough, not only for Ronnie to swan around without tights, but to sit on the ground barefoot. EastEnders doesn't even try to pretend anymore. Jeez, I remember back in the 1980s when Lofty proposed to Michelle. The scene was filmed in January, and the production crew meticulously "planted" plastic daffs about to indicate that the scene was supposed to be taking place in early spring.

Not anymore.

Not that any of the Ronnie-Shippers would ever admit it, but Ronnie is toxic, and everything she touches, she ruins. It withers and dies.

After everything that's happened between her and Jack since she returned to Walford, she dismisses him abruptly by saying that the past is too raw between them to ever substantiate a reconciliation.

What a bitch.

This is the woman who made a beeline for Jack's front door when she returned to Walford. This is also the same woman who kept another woman's child in order to keep the man about whom she obsessed. Jack actually stood by the bitch when a lot of men wouldn't have done so. Yet she refused to see him when she went to prison and divorced him immediately. She didn't want to know him until she discovered he was about to marry another woman, so she scotched that.

If she couldn't have Jack, then no one could. She wasn't back a week before she was sleeping with Jack and moved back in with him. If that isn't sending out the wrong signals, I don't know what is.

Jack had every reason to believe the bitch was serious.

Yet when he presented her with an engagement ring, the ice wall went down. And once again, this is all to do with the fact that she doesn't want to risk another child (or more likely, because she's now pushing forty and knows that babies will be few, if any), whilst it gnaws at her because Jack has other children - two with close relatives of hers.

Ronnie is the ultimate dick tease, and all the palliative words of love she spewed at Jack meant nothing. They were uttered, not to make Jack feel better, but to salve her ego.

Even her offer to move back with Phil because he "needed" her - he needs her like he needs a hole in the head,and the fact that she thought he'd deign to speak to her, after announcing that Jack was her "family" the day before not only revealed her extreme entitlement issue, it also was extremely cruel to Jack. No wonder he left in tears. Hers were the crocodile variety, meant for show and not for emotion.

You know, Jack was right. Ronnie ultimately only returned for Roxy, and I wonder how much her obsession with her sister is psycho-sexual. A lot, I would say. She's as warped in that department as her old man.

And how nice of Ronnie to admit to Jack her anguish at having hurt Kat and Alfie, but never to admit as much to either of them directly. Instead, she treats Alfie like the cause of her major problems. And how ignorant of Jack to think that Alfie would "come around". This is the total incongruity of this storyline. Too many people have "come around" for Ronnie when she committed a heinous crime.But then, I suppose the same people will "come around" for Stacey Slater, MURDERER, when she returns to Albert Square.

So Jack's off to visit Penny, to atone for his having walked away from her. What about Jack's son, Richard? The one Ronnie enforced a lie about, not giving a fuck that the lie would break up Jack's niece's marriage.

And so Jack's departure is settled in less than five minutes. No good-byes to his nieces and nephews, his sister or brother, nothing.

Jack leaves. How many more lives can Ronnie ruin?

As Ray Charles would say:-

Oh woman oh woman don't treat me so mean
You're the meanest old woman that I've ever seen
I guess if you say so
I'll have to pack my bags and go

And he did. Just like that. It must be nice to hold such power over people.

All By Herself.

I'm not the biggest fan of Whitney, and I was dismayed that DTC has chosen to keep her around. I find her, most times, to be a self-righteous slut.

I thought she was well out of order with David in this episode. She has no right to talk to him like that, no matter what his relationship with Bianca and Carol is. That's their business, not his. As for breaking people's hearts, Whitney's certainly done that enough - Todd, Peter, Fatboy, Tyler ...

Yet I do like Whitney when she's interacting with Janine, and tonight we saw Janine at her most vulnerable. We learned - if you listened closely to the dialogue - that the Butcher/Jacksons are behind in their rent, which is now unusual since Janine charges them the proverbial peppercorn and since both Carol and Bianca are now working full-time. Yet they demand that Janine provide them with all the said landlord's privileges - calling out and paying for a plumber, for example.

I thought the scene in the launderette between Michael and Whitney was creepy to say the least, the way he kept staring at her arse. He was arousing himself in the event that he had to sleep with Whitney in order to get her onside against Janine. His modus operandi in this instance was to convince Whitney that Janine wasn't coping, that she'd sacked Alice for no reason. 

Janine's trust issues were all too prevalent in her scenes with Whitney. I was begging for her to tell Whitney why she'd sacked Alice, instead of the cryptic phrase about Alice making her bed.

The final scene with Whitney was poignant, when Janine realised that Michael had tried to manipulate Whitney, and you could see she had given up trying to explain to Whitney what Michael was trying to do, figuring no one would believe her. Her assertion that the only person anyone could ultimately trust was oneself was sad, especially since Whitney hit a raw nerve in guessing that Janine was lonely. She is. She's still grieving Pat, her sister lives abroad, and her brother has been banished from Walford. The Butcher/Jackson tribe has been less-than-forthcoming about including her and Scarlett; and for anyone grousing about Janine changing Scarlett's surname, people forget that Janine had named her child Patricia, after Pat; yet without consulting her, MIchael registered the child as Scarlett.

For one brief moment, Janine had thought Whitney had connected with her in pinpointing her loneliness, but in the next moment, Whitney showed her shallowness, thinking that Janine was pining for Michael and urging her to talk to the psychopath. Still, it provided us with the line of the night:-

Whitney: I know when me an' Tyler broke up, I was all over the place.
Janine: I think my situation is slightly different from you and amoeba boy.

Brilliant line about Tyler.

The fact that Michael is now using third parties to try to crack Janine shows how much he fears her. Had Whitney succeeded in getting Janine to talk to Michael, Alice would have been dumped as useless.

And how fucking stupid and arrogant was Alice to even imagine that Janine would allow her to enquire about Scarlett, much less look after her for a couple of hours. Janine's comeback was brilliant:-

You should have thought about that before you slept with your employer's husband.

I couldn't understand why Alice was playing Tamwar along tonight. Presumably, this all has to do with Michael's "Our Little Secret" game, which harkens back to paedophilic grooming. I hope Tamwar ultimately finds out what a deceiving and cruel little bitch Alice really is.

Pretty Vacant.

That as much sums up the Queen Vic under Fatboy's management as much as it sums up the Miss Teen Vic contest, complete with the Queen Vic bust done up as Lady Gaga. (Phil Mitchell's expression when he saw that was utterly priceless).

The whole non-storyline was a vehicle for the promoted highlight of the week - falling opposite the return of Liz McDonald, the Emmerdale siege and England qualifying for the World Cup.

Fatboy and Poopy-La-Dim are back on track.

If anything, this charade proved how (as the song says) pretty vacant and hypocritical the participants were in this shambolic venture.

Poopy is anything but a feminist, but she's spouting feminist phrases only because she's split with Fatboy because he wouldn't succumb to her passive-aggressive bullying. So she pouts and pulls the sexist line when she's only jealous that Fatboy might pull from this venture. Poopy doesn't believe in an independent female anymore than she believes in God. A domineering female, yes, but a woman will always need a man ...

That's what EastEnders in the 21st Century thinks anyway.

Another incongruity and something deeply disturbing was the boy in drag Cindy the Greek, all of fourteen and slinking around in a clingy dress. Fourteen is still a child, and since EastEnders is subtly advocating child abuse (Dennis) and trivialising crimes against children (Ronnie), they can now be accused of sexualising children, with Cindy the Greek's form-fitting dress and ten year-old Tiffany wearing make-up.

Women as sexual objects and ageism was thrown by the wayside as the more shallow aspects of femininity took part in the contest - sniggle-snort Abi and LipGirl, Lucy, who's being pushed in the romantic direction of thirtysomething Danny Pennant, Poopy, Kim (go figure) and Cindy theh Greek.

The fact that this unnecessary character is still holding onto ten grand of Phil Mitchell's money, as well as hustling Patrick to throw the contest in her favour is ripe. It's not even amusing, and why would Ian even smile with pride at that little imp? She's the walking embodiment of the person who tried to kill him and who succeeded in taking two of his children away from him for a year. This kid is nothing to Ian. For all she's the half-sister to the twins, she's nothing to him.

I hope she goes.

David Crock ...

Something's not quite right about David Beale Wicks this time around. To begin with, when he left the Square in 1996, he sincerely tried to make his peace with Ian. He was contrite, remorseful and genuinely sincere in apologising to his brother, as you can see at the 7:20 mark in this clip:-

When David returned in 2012, he could barely meet Ian's gaze, but this time, it's nothing but bait and twinge. Tonight in the pub, he was baiting Ian about meeting Denise. However, I'm glad to see he remembered Michael and his part in stitching him up with Derek the last time.

One glaring incongruity was the fact that David was stood right by Phil Mitchell in the Vic and neither one acknowledged the other. Considering the fact that David had a substantial relationship with Sam Mitchell and went on a trip to Spain with Phil and Grant, I found that lack of continuity pretty much par for the course in a substandard EastEnders.

DTC has his work cut out.

1 comment:

  1. I must admit I wondered if Scott Maslen had pissed TPTB off with such a ham-fisted exit.

    My only dread is that this is an 'open door' exit because Maslen has expressed an interest in a future return.

    Please, please let us not have another on-off Max/Tanya style relationship with Jack and Ronnie. I can't bear the thought of more Ronnie vinegar-fish lips tragedy queen expressions when it all goes wrong again.