(Phil, Max and Terry Spraggan)
Ever since Grant Mitchell left the show, TPTB have been trying to replicate the Mitchell Brothers - even before he left the show, because we had the infamous Di Marco bruvs. They were followed by the even more infamous Moon brothers.
Now, it seems, from the episodes this week, that TPTB are going with the bald brigade, trying to make Max Branning into NuGrant.
Please don't make me puke.
I am worried about Walford's proximity to some leaking nuclear reactor, considering the number of shiny bald pates seen around Walford lately. There's Phil, there's Max and the nameless bald postman seen lurking here and there when Masood isn't about. There's Winston. And now there's Walford's very own Baldrick (emphasis on the bald), Terry Spraggan.
I wonder if he has a cunning plan?
Phil's and Maxie's Excellent Adventure.
Into the great wide open of wasteland somewhere around the corner from Walford, we have Max, Phil and a shit-scared Ian.
First of all, let me say that Thursday's episode illustrated one of the biggest problems the show faces - inconsistency of a wide degree. When episodes are good - as they've been for almost a fortnight - they've been very, very good; but when they aren't good, they are butt-clinchingly and embarrassingly awful.
Tonight was one of those awful ones, and, as per usual, this was a big episode touted heavily by the press. The PR machine went into overdrive with publicity stills of a red-faced Phil and Max trying to look hard with a grave and a tied and bound Carl. The blurbs implied that there would be a murder here, with the new Bald Bruvs doing Carl in - which was a joke, because we knew damned well that neither Phil nor Max were capable of killing a man.
The PR pics were made even more ineffectual because they were juxtaposed in various articles with pictures of Steve McFadden, Jake Wood, Adam Woodyatt and Daniel Coonan breaking for lunch with plates full of salad nicoise, complete with designer arugula and pret-a-porter sandwiches, washed down with Perrier.
So much for the hard men - salad and Perrier water.
I don't know how many more times they can make Ian so craven and cowardly? Phil even refererenced the iconic couple of moments in the past where he'd had the occasion to flush Ian's head down the toilet. Here's a link to every encounter Phil has had with Ian since that infamous head-flush scene from 1994, to his turning Ian into jelly in 2000 when he found out Ian had caused Lisa to lose her job, right up to Phil "owning" Ian during his heart attack in 2012.
There's even a second head-flush for good measure. Go on, watch it. You'll see how far back the Phil-Ian feud goes. The scenes were better in those days, because the writers were better (and the actors), but you'll also see that now the writers have made Ian more stereotypically cowardly, more craven, more cartoonish in his fear.
It was also just a bit uneasy to watch, because for some reason, Ian's incessant squealing reminded me of this scene from Deliverance:-
It's plausible that the Bald Brigade's Luddite American counterparts are the Toothless Brigade.
Even Peggy could deck Ian Beale ... but Max couldn't.
And a big har-dee-har-har-har to Phil saying he'd drive that iron bar into Ian's skull, if he had his way ... why, Phil couldn't even kill Archie Mitchell, when Peggy ordered him to do it. Phil, simply, isn't a killer, and Max is no hard man.
Max is actually an empty suit, and that expression describes the Branning men entirely - booted and suited and good for nothing. Jack scarpers, weeping, from the Square, because he's dumped by the woman who cruelly deceived him for four months and forgets all about the recent commitments he made to his family, not to mention his child; Max thinks with his loins and loves the one with whom he co-habits, but only because he can't get his mitts on the porcine-faced Stacey Slater, his daughter-in-law.
Max can talk the talk, but he can't walk the walk.
It seems that David, Ian's brother, apprised Phil of Ian's dilemma. I guess Phil must have made up with Max, huh? Because they weren't particularly close before (who's forgetting Max's insurance scam of 2009?) and until recently, Phil blamed Max for his injuries. Phil was there to put the mockers on Ian, and to convince Ian to be the bait in their quest to teach Carl a lesson.
The scene of a portly Ian Beale running through the Square with stocky Carl "in hot pursuit" (to quote the Dowager Duchess of Grantham) was unintentional comedy. But I take issue with a number of various forum participants who reckon that Carl could easily be quelled by the likes of Phil or Max ... and certainly Peter.
Peter Beale may be younger than Carl and physically fit, but people making that assumption aren't thinking critically. Carl's been in prison for five years. Before that, he had strong association with the drugs underworld. He can look after himself, and someone like that would easily overcome a pretty, well brought-up surferboy like Peter, who isn't a fighter. Carl could probably quell Joey or even Tyler Moon, and the prison connection is probably why Derek so easily felled Tyler, a younger man. David's punch of Derek was a one-off on Derek, incorporating an element of surprise, and it was instinctive.
As for Phil, I don't know how many have noticed, but Phil doesn't use his fists and hasn't done for quite sometime. When Ben accused Christian of diddling him, Phil's weapon of choice was a baseball bat. This time, it was an iron rod and a shovel, neither of which he could bring himself to use. He's also a good fifteen years older than Carl and has a heart condition.
Carl, himself, contrary to the PR, didn't beg for his life. He sussed early on that Max was too sensitive to kill a man in cold blood - Jake Wood's shaking was not his best moment - and Max left, ostensibly to walk home to Walford. Like, how far was this enormous quarry?
I seriously doubt Phil meant to kill Carl. At the end of the day, Phil Mitchell is many things, but he isn't a killer, but Carl's forte is that he knows the weak point of each of his nemeses. At the end, he holds the trump card, by implying that he's done "something" with Shirley. (Eeeeuuuwwww!)
You know, I don't actually think Phil gave a second thought to Shirley's absence. As far as he was concerned, she was in Greece. Out of sight and out of mind. But now the duff-duff leads everyone to believe that Shirley's in some sort of danger, when she's only been scared off into visiting her weird sister, whom we are about to meet.
Pardon me whilst I yawn.
Meanwhile Back at the Branning Ranch ...
Cora's still hanging about like a bad smell, and Abi is fat, and Lauren is played by ...
THE. WORST. ACTRESS. EVER. TO. APPEAR. IN. EASTENDERS.
Newman is being subtle as a brick here, with Lauren getting text after text and being suitably coy with Kirsty about their origins. She has a "lot on" at the moment. We all know this is leading us down the Primrose Path to Jacqueliine Jossa's first "adult" role as the other woman opposite that noted thespian, Jamie Lomas, AKA Jake the Peg. I wonder if the climax of the story (pun intended) will be Lauren getting a hefty case of crab lice between her legs because Jake looks as if he hasn't seen a bathtub or a bar of soap (more of that later) in years.
And, yes, Abi, you are a bad person. Not just because you thought your father had committed a crime (he has, actually), but because you are a shallow, greedy, entitled, selfish, self-centred, opinionated and fat-arsed little bitch. I hope DTC sees fit to send Abi to uni - preferably in Aberdeen.
And I wondered why no one - not Kirsty, not Abi or Lauren or eagle-eyed Cora noticed the dirt on Max's face, but I guess that blended in with his ginger stubble.
Kirsty's safe, and the girls love her, although no one's telling how Abi tried to evict her or how she got so fucking fed up with their carping that she walked out to sleep with Carl ... but Carl will be sure to tell Max.
In the Ghetto.
Yes, folks, the Newman Negroes are still with us, more's the pity. Pardon me, but was Dexter on helium in this episode? Because from beginning to end, we got a running commentary, a mile a minute, with no one intervening, about (1) holidaying in Ibiza, (2) soap as opposed to body wash, and (3) Hungry Hank's new fastfood place (obviously replacing McKlunkey's) with double chips and chicken, making this the best day o Dexter's life.
Errr, this is supposed to be someone turning 21 next week and he's acting and talking like a 12 year-old with ADHD. He seriously wanted a slap to shut his motormouth up. On and on and on and on and on ... No wonder Sam the Sham got pissed off and seriously thought about leaving this shower - and on the pretext of going out for a pint of milk, as before. If we were supposed to feel Ava the Rava's poignancy in her moment of anticipation ...
How long does it take to get a pint of milk? The shop is just up the road.
it didn't work. No one is invested in any of these characters foisted and forced upon us by Newman, and we're counting the days until they go. Alas, Dexter's staying, which means he will probably move into Max's house and join the hastily assembled mottley crew of faux Brannings, after the departures of Kirsty, Joey and Alice, to become Black Bradley, I suppose.
In actuality, with David Witts's departure, Khali Best officially becomes the worst actor resident on the show.
The Blackwall Tunnel Comes Home.
Lionel Richie (no relation to Shane) wrote a song about Carol:-
Because that's what Carol is - easy. An easy lay, and it doesn't take much, even now, post-menopausal, to get her to put out. With Bianca the Village Idiot, who's now regressing in mentality because she's wearing pigtails like Tiffany (do you think she and Tel-Le-Taxi roleplay upstairs ... oooh, spank me, Daddy) and the Fagan brigade in residence, when Masood asked Carol to move in, she jumped at the chance and jumped him.
Now David spins her some yarn about how he convinced Phil to get involved and get Ian not to testify in order to "protect Carol and her family", and she jumps at the chance to return to Butcher Manor. David was right - mention "family" to Carol and she goes all gooey, and if there's a man around, she'll spread her legs.
This is the woman who went more than a decade in actively disowning three of her four children, two of whom didn't do things Carol's way. This is the woman who, when she's feeling lonely and bitter, wantonly forces her idiot daughter to break up her own marriage and deprive her kids of their father.
David didn't do diddly squat for Carol or those kids. He got Phil to intervene with Ian because Ian told him some home truths - that Carl would hurt his children if he didn't do as Carl said, and David would have done the same. Max mentioned to Kirsty tonight that he did what Carl wanted and dumped her because Carl was threatening Lauren. This hit a chord of guilt when Ian said as much doing what he did to protect his children.
Carol would have been in no danger, had Max gone to prison. David just knows what buttons to push to make Carol put out.
David wants some comfort sex until next year's glamour girl comes along.
Morgan spilling drinks ... that kid's a walking advert for Juvenile Type 2 Diabetes.
Not a good episode. Quite embarrassing, actually.