Saturday, January 4, 2014

Code Pink - Review: 03.01.2013

The above song was written and performed by Tom Robinson, whose brother, Matthew, was executive producer of EastEnders from 1997 until 1999, introducing such characters as Billy and Jamie Mitchell, Melanie Healy and Steve Owen. For anyone stating categorically that John Yorke's tenure was the "golden age" of the programme, you seriously need to watch what Robinson produced. 

Friday's episode was another Daran Little endeavour, and this was easily the best episode, to date, of DTC's era. Some years ago, Little supervised and wrote the coming-out story of Todd Grimshaw on Coronation Street, a young boy of roughly Johnnie Carter's age.

You can watch the clip where he comes out to his girlfriend here.

And the subsequent reaction of some of the locals here.

Yet Little's pulled it out of the hat again, and got some superbe performances from people I'd never have imagined capable of such acting.

Daran Little is easily the best of the bunch in the current EastEnders' writing room. Please, someone get him writing for Sharon.

What I Didn't Like However ...

... were the Sugly Blisters.

As I've reiterated, Shirley's ethos is mooching off and sharing in the status of the latest mug who sets her up on a support cushion. When she lived with Phil, not only did she bask in the reflection of his status in the community, she encouraged him to commit crimes - handling stolen goods as a fence, stealing from his relatives, pushing drugs at the R and R. Shirley "Do-You-Know-Who-I-Am" Carter was behind that.

Now, she's basking in the reflection of her brother's status as Vic landlord, and as we know from Thursday's episode, Shirley and the insipid Tina, take a wage from Mick, but do sweet fanny adams. This is the man who has sunk every red copper penny into this venture at the Vic.
So now, both Shirley's and Tina's entitlement grows apace. They get money for nothing, and continue to cause havoc in the Square.

(Cue Tina's theme song again ...)

Yes, you can act like an imbecile, Tina. Still, the theme is intrisically and traditionally English, so that should appeal to Linda Carter, at least.

I'm actually beginning to wonder if Tina really is a lesbian, and - I daresay - I think her brother Mick is as well, citing her giving birth to Zsa Zsa, whilst all the time protesting that she was a lesbian. But, seriously, a more insipid character never existed before on the show. She's feckless, lazy, rude, socially inept and careless. She may have a heart of gold for her family, but the initial charm displayed is wearing thin.

I don't think the sisters should live in the pub.

The entire episode dealt with Johnnie getting up enough courage to admit his sexuality to his parents, and her total contribution was to suggest giving him a coming-out party, where she would, no doubt, get drunk and sleep with Billy Mitchell.

I understood that Shirley had had no contact with her brother's family since she burned down their pub at Christmas fifteen years previously. That was reason enough to be sent to Coventry by your family, but the other reason was that Shirley hated Mick's wife Linda and forced him to choose between siding with Shirl or his wife.

No contest, really.

This means that Johnnie would have been around four years old when Shirley walked out of his life, and he should barely remember her. However, Shirley muscles in before either Mick or Linda have spoken with Johnnie properly about what Nancy alleged, and has her own heart-to-heart with him.

Nice thought, but out of order. The conversation made an unnamed reference to Ben, a boy with whom Shirley was close - closer, in fact, than she'd ever been to the children she abandoned. She told Johnnie how Ben's father thought being gay meant being weak and what Ben did to prove to Phil that he was a real Mitchell.

'E did a bad fing.

Yes, he did, Shirley, and it would behoove you to remember that "bad fing" every time you get the hots and start sniffing around Phil. Because, you see, Shirley is the weak one, here. She could have stiffed Phil in August 2012, when she found out about Ben's murdering Heather, by revealing the efforts Phil made to cover up the crime, but she didn't, because at the end of the day, her love for Phil far outweighed any friendship she had with Heather.

These remarks she made worried me a bit, because the way she spoke about Ben, elliptically, leads one to believe that she understood why he did what he did and accepts it, forgiving him. Ben killed Heather in the heat of a misguided moment. He thought she'd grassed him up to the police when it was Ian, and he was after money he thought she had, in order to run away. When he made a move to go search her son's room, Heather stood in the way, and Ben brained her with a picture frame.

Ben was shit-scared he was going to get done for wasting police time and returned to his borstal. That's nothing to forgive. Shirley needs to move on, preferably from the Vic and from Walford. She is not and never will be matriarch material.

Pretty in Pink.

It seems that pink is Linda Carter's signature colour - pink dressing gown, pink tracksuit, pink nail varnish. She's a girl's girl, and in her world, men marry women. She's the sort who'll tolerate other cultures and races - hey, some of her best mates are black - and she'll eat a chicken tikka masala, but she won't tolerate her daughter marrying a black man, and she certainly isn't tolerant of her son possibly being gay.

That's a DISGUSTING fing ter say! was her initial reaction to Nancy's revelation. Is it any wonder why Johnnie wanted to keep his sexuality a secret. As he said in Thursday's episode, he gets on with his parents, he likes living with them; and if that's the price he had to pay, so be it.

It's obvious as well that Johnnie is Linda's favourite child - her "uncomplicated" one. With the oldest boy in the forces, it makes you wonder what his "complication" is, as his mother is obviously as pleased as punch he's waving the British flag and fighting the infidels in lands afar.

Kellie Bright is doing an amazing job as Linda, when she's not trying to be Angie Watts one moment and Peggy Mitchell the next. I don't think we're meant to like Linda. As more and more of her personality foibles come to the fore, I don't think she will. She's had a traditional upbringing, obviously believes only in heterosexual marriage, thinks the races shouldn't mingle, adores all things British (she probably abhors the French, doesn't trust the Germans and still refers to the United States as "the colonies") and worships at the altar of the Royal Family. Her politics, at best, are probably UKIP, at wost, BNP.

She'll tolerate other races, cultures and lifestyles, as long as her children stay within the white privileged, British, stiff-upper-lipped know-your-place circle.

After receiving Nancy's word that she lied about Johnnie being gay, she's happy. Her perfectly ordered world within a Britain whose demographic is changing every day is safe, for about thirty minutes. Her final scene, overhearing Johnnie's confession about his sexuality to Mick was wordless, silent and epic. This is a picture of a woman in denial, and, more importantly, this isn't a woman of Dot's or Carol's generation, but someone who would have grown up with the emerging LGBT civil rights' campaigns and whose demographic is supportive of them.

Goes to show.

Even a Broken Clock Is Right Twice a Day.

Take a bow, Mr Malcolm John Smith Danny Dyer. I am not a Dyer fan, and I never will be, and I abhor the advice he gave to a lame-brained youth to cut the face of the girlfriend who dumped him; but, credit where credit is due, he owned the last scene of the piece.

Instead of an understanding mother being sympathetic to her son's sexual orientation plight, we have a dad - and not just a dad, but a geezer dad. A West Ham supporter, someone who prances about in his black briefs and is openly sexual with his wife on whom he's never cheated.

Dyer proved that he can ratchet it up a level in scenes thus, and he was pitch perfect. I noticed in all the close-ups that ensued, something exceptional about Dyer. He has a cast in his left eye. He's cross-eyed, which would explain why, when the camera zooms in, he squints his eyes and often hangs his head, looking upward through his eyes on delivering lines. 

It's annoying, especially since he's playing a whispery-voiced character, not looking into the camera etc can make it difficult to understand his dialogue.

During this scene, he squinted his eyes, and continuously moved his head from right to left and dropped his chin to his chest ... and know what? It worked. Here was a father, possibly having the most difficult discussion he will ever have with his son in his entire life. The constant moving of the head denoted discomfort, worry, agonising - wanting to hear the right answer but knowing that the real answer would not be something with which his wife would cope. The squinting eyes were an effort to hold back tears - how an actor maximises his imperfections to use them to perfection in a difficult scene.

You know, if you was gay, that would be all right ... I mean, wiv' yer mum and me.

When Johnnie broke down and admitted the truth - in a blind-sided performance by young Sam Strike (easily the most successful and sympathetic male ingenue since Jack Ryder or Charlie Clements), when the boy exclaimed that being gay was unnatural (obviously a remark he'd heard from his mother), Mick replied, gently:-

Believe me, boy, there ain't nuffink unnatural about you ... It took a lot of courage to do what you did.

Brilliant, beautiful, emotive and powerful last scene. Bravo.

Two Moonbeams.

The Moons are having twins. Whoda thunk it? It's wonderful to see Kat and Alfie happy, and to see Terry there being a mate for Alfie in the latest bromance. I loved Terry's reference to having had to deliver two babies in the back of his cab.

There's two kids runnin' round London now named Terry because of what I did.

It was nice hearing Kat peer into a future, reckoning that the twins would both be boys (Slaters have girls, Moons have boys), imagining Alfie with three lads, kicking a football, her tripping over toy trucks and tin soldiers, shouting the odds about Alfie and the boys traipsing mud through the house.

It's lovely seeing them happy, and it will be nice to have a new set of twins on the Square.

Good episode. Kudos to Mr Little.


  1. Havent met the Carters yet, but sounds like they are going to make Bianca look posh! How do they rate against a family such as the Millers?

    I think it is an insult to Princess Di to name the dog after her, or is it a cheap shot a Camilla?


  2. They don't really compare to the Millers as they aren't trotters - chavvy yes but Mick is a grafter unlike Keith.

    The 2 sisters, Shirley & Tina just don't fit for me into the dynamic. Shirley is the female version of Keith & Tina is overgrown Spice.

    Dyer's performance so far reminds me of his character in Severance.

  3. thanks. Tina just made onto my screen last night.