Friday, January 10, 2014

High Society - Review: 09.02.2014

Before I say anything about Thursday's programme, I'd like to address my stalker. That's right, my stalker. She knows exactly who she is, and she's sick. Very sick. Sick enough to make threats to me, sick enough to go onto other websites and publish my personal details. She's done this for years, going back to the days of the old BBC boards, when she reported the names of my children and the schools they attended then.

She may not realise what she's doing, but she's actually committing a crime. She's already been responsible for shutting down one EastEnders' forum and she's inundated various people who participate in that forum with foul-mouthed posts, pretending to be me. She also has an accomplice now, who pretends that butter wouldn't melt in his mouth and then plays along with her for laughs.

I didn't want to start the year out this way and on this note, but the blog will continue. She's now already bringing other contributors' names into the equation and this isn't fair.

I would strongly suggest she go milk a Highland cow or tend to the dog and rabbit she owns who deserve a better owner than she.

Oh, and don't forget to take your insulin. Maybe you have been underdosing. As your your new BFF, less said about him, the better for his insignificance.

Johnnie Angel.

How can anyone not love Johnnie Carter? Sam Strike is easily the best male ingenue to appear on the show since Jack Ryder and Charlie Clements. He's got the sweet look of Ryder, which made teenaged girls swoon and older women want to mother him; and he's got the geeky insecurity and endearing blushes of Clements. Plus, he has the most expressive face of any young character on the show.

Of all the changes heretofore made by DTC, if he's remembered for nothing else, he'll be remembered for the character of Johnnie, easily his coup de grace.

Another factor in the success of Johnnie as a character is the same thing which ensured the success of the only other gay character in the programme's history, Colin, way back when the show began. Like Colin, Johnnie is just a bloke who happens to be gay. In today's society, that's no big deal. He's not a character like Christian or the woefully underdeveloped Syed, whose very existence was determined and measured by their sexuality, thus ensuring every storyline they had obsessed about this.

I've heard people on Digital Spy whine about Johnnie's coming-out storyline already being too long, but his mother's reaction to one of her children being gay is not only realistic but all too common.

The most evocative scene in this episode was the brief scene shared between Johnnie and Linda in the upstairs kitchen. The quiet way Johnnie just unobtrusively entered the room as she was looking at his booties and quietly remarked:-

I'm still me, Mum.

How could anyone not be affected by such a simple line, and the truth, like that?

It's also interesting, and beautifully done, the way subtle lines are inserted in order that we learn a bit more about the Carters - that Johnnie was a premature baby, that Linda carries a grudge and went for weeks not speaking to Nancy when she got motor oil on the family carpet. Most telling and something which verifies my own suspicions, was the remark Nancy made about being surprised at Linda's reaction to Johnnie's coming out:-

I mean she got on all right with her hairdresser. She was always on at him for details of his lovelife. They used to have a right laugh.

Which is just what I said about Linda: She's not a homophobe, or at least she doesn't think she is. She's not a racist, or at least she doesn't think she is. She tolerates other cultures, as long as they are one side of the bar and she's on the other. She'll have a natter with her gay hairdresser and serve him a drink, but these people - the punters, the neighbours, the hairdressers - are all outside her family dynamic, and this is the status quo she wants to keep.

Blacks and Asians are all right, but not in Linda's lilywhite family. Gays are a laugh, but her children are straight. That she is still in denial about Johnnie being gay is obvious, when she asked him again, pleading to know if her were absolutely sure, before urging him to give "that Whitney" another chance.

When Johnnie walked out on that conversation, the die was cast. Linda drove home to him, in the worst way, her disapproval of his lifestyle at a moment when Johnnie was acting like a son of which any parent would be proud. When he caught Fatboy and the odious Dexter ogling an old picture of Linda as a teenaged Page 3 girl - and it seems that Linda was actually married when she was seventeen, as per the photograph - he confronted him for being disrespectful to his mother, and a fight ensued, which prompted Linda to intervene and shrug the matter off as it being "something boys do ... something normal."


I don't think we're supposed to like Linda, but I don't think we're supposed to dislike her either. Her road to acceptance of her son's lifestyle is going to be long and winding, but realistic, unlike the "faghag" that Zainab suddenly became.

Linda and Johnnie, for me, are the two best Carters and welcome nuanced characters, but I found tonight that I didn't really mind Mick as well, as long as he's doing what he did tonight, which was hang out in the background and add to the Carter character development, whilst over-egging the Mockney banter.

The dynamic could still do without the Sugly Blisters, though. And I'm glad that Johnnie was even remotely interested in the gay goodie bag which court jester aunt brought him from the gay club which he refused to attend.

That Smell.

Dexter is still there, and according to reports, he's going to be around even more, because he's going to be heavily involved with the Carter clan, as well as playing Black Bradley with Max and the Brannings.

If creating Johnnie is DTC's greatest triumph, then keeping Dexter on, even for another year, is his greatest failure.

I know ethnic characters are thin on the ground at the moment, and were Kim still hanging about, he may have gone with his parents. Instead, he's hanging about like a bad smell. And he's one of the most unpleasant, entitled and spoiled brats ever to descend on Albert Square, as well as being an offensive racial stereotype.

Tonight, he not only nicks a paper belonging to the Carter family in order to ogle an old photo of Linda Carter nude, but he also is genuinely affronted when Johnnie confronts him and takes the paper back. Of course, all this occurs when his doting grandmother is propping up the bar lapping up the free champers on tap - she, who once deemed that this awful little scrote needed a smack more than anything.

I hope this turd is gone sooner, rather than later. He does nothing for the show, and his diction is awful.

Mother Superior Jumps the Gun.

As Newman subjected us to the obvious redemption of Kat's character by turning her into the Mother Theresa of the Square, so DTC pushes his favourite, Shirley, as the new Pat-figure, and it sucks.

On face value, her unsolicited advice to Kirsty - which was basically "don't get mad get even" - but delivered with a shipshape and Bristol fashion imitation of the sort of advice Pat would give.

When Kirsty wailed that Max had thrown her out and Carl wouldn't take her calls, Shirley tried to become Pat:-

Is it any wonder, wiv you wandering the streets like a stray cat and whinin'? Where's your self-respect?

It's later that we twig why The Creature from the Black Lagoon swooped to show some so-called compassion to the unfortunate (and wasted character) Kirsty - that Kirsty remarked to Phil that Carl's mother had revealed that she hadn't heard from Carl since New Year's Eve, and Phil fears his knowledge is about to get rumbled. He enlisted his resident doormat, Shirley, who'd still hump Phil if given the smallest chance, to ensure that Kirsty leaves Walford, which she did.

Counselling Johnnie and offering him moral support (but only to score points against Johnnie's mother and effect a powerplay within the family) and giving counsel and advise to a woman turned out of her home by her husband (but only because the object of her desire, Phil, asked her to do so, not out of any interest in Kirsty's welfare or any sort of moral identification with her) ... that's not Pat.

Shirley is a very divisive character. She's selfish, she's judgemental, she's bitter and she's self-pitying. She's never Pat, and she shouldn't be associated with Pat in any way.

This Little Piggy ...

Max is nothing less than a pig. From beginning to end in this episode, he was totally despicable. His first remark, to his daughter, no less, proved what a total and utter male pig he was, when he remarked that the red Audi on the forecourt could do more for that business than any woman could.

Then, when Kirsty appeared, the morning after the night where Max had literally kicked her out onto the street, informing Max that she had no money (something a husband owes a dependent wife), Max shoved 20 quid into her hand, informing her that was all she was going to get.

Kirsty: But we're married.
Max: No we ain't, Not once you sign them papers, and we'll put an end to this year.

His treatment of her was callous and didn't go unnoticed by Lauren, who - without uttering a single word - actually managed to come up with a totally appropriate expression of horror at Max's treatment of this woman.

Max has daughters, and yet he's seen to treat women like shit - Vanessa, Kirsty, even the hapless, amoral Tanya, who was no better than he, was subjected to his serial adultery. This is a deeply unpleasant man, and to think this was the man who was promoted for years as a central male character!

Still, Kirsty had the last laugh and the best line of the night, when she affected to come onto Max in the pub, only to lift the keys to the portacabin and drive off in the flashy red Audi, which was all she asked for a year of living with Max Branning:-

Line of the night:-

You see, Max, when you were lying there seeing Tanya, I was lying there seeing someone with a bit more hair, a bit more muscles and a bit more down below.

And now the whole of Walford knows that Max has a tiny penis. Size matters.

Good-bye Kirsty, played by a BAFTA-nominated actress with a great future, but totally underwhelmed and artistically betrayed by TPTB at EastEnders, and that includes DTC. He deemed Kirsty boring. She was boring because she wasn't created by him.

The Odd Couple.

Ian is never prattier than when he's being a prat, and ever since he became "engaged" to Denise, he's been a Class A prat. He doesn't want to marry her, she doesn't want to marry him. But instead of acknowledging this, they plough ahead with the charade of an engagement party.

I liked Ian's introduction to the Carters - including the acknowledgement by the newcomers that Ian reminds them of a weasel, which is the defining characteristic of him in general by the communty.

The scenes of a reluctant Ian trying to educate the Carters in the niceties of catering were hilarious, as well as Mick's barely concealed contemptuous reaction to him.

Once again, however, the specter of Jane fell over the feast ...

... in the form of a scarf she'd left behind, discovered just as Ian, Denise and Lucy were leaving for the party and unsettling Ian's self-pity even more.

Throughout the entire episode, Ian was haunted by the fact that Peter had moved out to live with Lola. The way he and Peter were carrying on in their initial scene, you'd have thought Peter was moving to Uzbekistan, instead of around the corner on the Square.

Another notable line of the night came when Billy bought Peter a drink, just as Peter and Lola were enjoying the free champagne.

Champagne's a girl's drink ... you're living with a Mitchell now.

Really, Billy? I thought Peter was living with Lola, not you. Lola doesn't consider herself a Mitchell, and you're barely considered one by your kin.

The other amusing incident came when Sharon and Phil arrived and gave Ian and Denise an engagement present.

Sharon: It's from both of us.
Phil: I didn't sign the card.
Denise: Yes, you did. Look, you put a kiss by your name.

It's nice to see unaffected and subtle humour in this show again, reminiscent of the one-liners Rita Simons used to throw out before she became Roswell's tool.

But the entire ethos of the engagement part was to show how totally unsuited Ian and Denise are to each other, how they realise it, but won't confront it and how they're going through the motions. Denise was stunning in her dress, but Ian's only remark was that she might want to put a cardy on, which led to the toilet incident with no less than Fatboy, who was deemed a pig (and rightly so) by Poppy earlier in the evening for ogling Linda's purloined photograph.

And Finally ...

Who's anymore childish than Bianca? I'm glad she got the brush-off from Kat that she deserved for the petty act of stealing Terry's remote, when Bianca orchestrated that situation, herself. Still, I'm glad Nikki's there to annoy her, and that Bianca has such a caring father - who couldn't have really cared less about her since he didn't know she existed until she was sixteen years old. For all his concern, David has no right to offer any sort of advice to Bianca.

She's genuinely scared of getting involved with Terry, and David puts the mockers on that with her and with Terry, by telling her not to get involved with him. But Bianca decided to go to the Vic party anyway, and my question is - Carol's there, Whitney's there, David's there. Who's minding the kids?

Good, watchable episode. More like this, please.

1 comment:

  1. Black Bradley -- bad smell ? Rotting meat springs to mind. His annoying factor gets doubled every episode. Immature doesn't begin to describe him. He actually brings out the inner racist in me.

    Max is another character I don't understand the appeal of ? Smug, arrogant sexist, dog & contradictory.