Saturday, January 11, 2014

Mamma Tried - Review: - Friday 10.01.2014

The good continues to outweigh the bad in EastEnders' at the moment. I don't know whose storylines these are, but we had another good episode tonight, with a tiny bit of retconning within.

A Boy and His Mum.

Johnnie Carter is the new star, and in a way, I feel sorry for Jay Whateverhecallshimselfatthemoment. Why? Because DTC seems intent on focusing on three male ingenues this time around - Peter Beale, who's part of the oldest family dynamic on the Square and an important legacy character; Johnnie, the first gay male ingenue and one of the most likeable characters about at the moment; and the odiously foul Dexter, a remnant of the Newman era, whose only redeeming qualities saving him at the moment are the inexpense of employing him and the colour of his skin, in relation to his being a quota character.

The sad thing is that Jay seems to be lingering about with no particular family attachment, halfway in with the Mitchells and still seeing Abi Branning, with nothing particular to do but play the straight man to Dexter, the spoiled, foul-faced child.

Johnnie's journey continues. Lost amid the welter of his gay confession is that being gay hasn't really changed Johnnie at all. And so it shouldn't have. No one should be defined by their sexuality. Johnnie realises this, but no one - apart from his dad and probably his sister - does.

His Village Idiot aunt Tina keeps trying to re-mould him into her version of a stereotypical gay hunk - a Christian-in-Training complete with tight tank tops and a penchant for clubbing. Shirley shows him compassion, but that's a front and part of her battle plan for power within that family, essentially backburnering Linda to the point where she leaves, and that's evil.

Tonight, more than ever before, we got a definite idea of who Johnnie Carter really is - a nice, quiet, sensible boy with an incredible bond forged with his mother through his health problems as a premature baby. She's a part of his life he indelibly needs, and it hurts him that she is angry at the discovery of his lifestyle..

His scenes with Whitney were good - Shona McGarty's character is good when she's not pining after some bad boy, and I've noticed they've scraped off the tango-tan she's worn for most of the year. Although I question Whitney's advice for Johnnie to leave home if his mother refused to accept his sexuality, unless she were using this as a lever by which he could manoeuvre a serious conversation with his mother. This worked.

Nancy is still wondering why Linda is reacting the way she is and wonders if she's homophobic, especially since she seems all right with Tina's sexuality. Well, a broken clock is right twice a day, and Tina nailed it. Everybody's a bit homophobic, she reckoned, and that's probably true when you listen to all the banter between people these days about this or that behaviour being "gay." But her real message to Nancy was accurate ...

She didn't give birf to me thought, did she?

All along, I said this was Linda's problem - she's not really homophobic as such. Or racist. She can have black or Asian friends; she can banter with her gay hairdresser or offer a roof to her lesbian sister-in-law - but she wants these cultures/lifestyles outside her immediate, traditional family.

Now she's got a daughter with a penchant for black men and a son who's gay, and in this episode, we got a soupcon of information about the oldest son, Lee; and it sounds as if Mommie Dearest pushed him into the military, probably as a show of just how patriotic the Carters - or rather, Linda - really are, We also learned from this episode that things aren't always that perfect in CarterVille, from the words exchanged between Mick and Linda.

I find myself liking the character of Mick, but I find Danny Dyer a weak actor, sustained by the fact that he's playing a likeable character and that he's surrounded by stronger actors, mainly Kellie Bright and Linda Henry. He has an annoying habit of hanging his head and turning it from side to side as he talks, and this is very distracting. He's better when he's backburnered and Bright is put to the fore. But he acted well as the peacemaker in this episode, issuing an ultimatum for Linda and Johnnie to talk until they'd resolved the issue.

Linda's initial lament is the actual truth behind her dilemma - that Johnnie's being gay changes everything about her plans and ambitions for him. She later backtracks to admit she sees him as a soft, sensible lad, whom she hoped would have a dominant protective girlfriend, but she's also perceived that Danny the predator has his sights on Johnnie, and she's really worried about Johnnie having a boyfriend.

At the moment, Johnnie's not even sure he wants to be with anyone; he just wants to be himself, and he reassures his mother that nothing has changed about the way he feels about her. He misses her and wants her love back.

Linda's trying. God knows she's trying, and she does make a sincere effort for Johnnie's sake, but the final scene of her crying at the table over his booties, tells us that, as much as she has to accept Johnnie is gay or lose her son, she isn't happy about it.

Observation: When Whitney and Johnnie left the Butcher kitchen, it was a mess, with the table littered with bottles and glasses of booze. Yet when Carol returned, and passed the kids leaving, the kitchen was spotless. EastEnders wants to brush up on this shit.

A Free Man in Walford.

Max is drunk around his alcoholic daughter and the older married man she's seeing. Actually, that was a very good scene in the Vic, with Max sat with Lauren, Jake and Sadie, supposedly "celebrating" his freedom from Kirsty, yet at the same time ruminating on Ian's future with Denise.

Who knows? He reflects. After all, people always thought he and Tanya a happy couple,and he then begins to subtly interpose his own past position upon that of Jake, intimating to him via his tale of his and Tanya's marriage just how much alike the two men are and because of this, how Max is able to read Jake like a book ...

I mean, people thought me and Tan had a good marriage, but there I was - lyin' and cheatin' on her, gettin' involved with a woman half my age ...

For once, Lauren is the adult in the room and takes Max home. Max thinks Lauren has finished with Jake, but he doesn't realise his daughter is more like her parents than he thinks. And the pledge of celibacy and the single life from Max doesn't amount to a hill of beans, when we all know Saint Stacey Slater is looming on the horizon.

Mamma Died.

So AJ leaves, but not to go to her funeral, to go to his new job in Birmingham, and leaves in what appears to be a brand new Toyota. Did I miss something? When did Phil sack him? I know he was rarely seen at the Arches, but then most people are rarely seen at work in Albert Square. I want to know when he obtained the flash wheels, because he couldn't have scored a company car that quickly.

Also, I'm confused. Did Mas and AJ grow up in England and did their parents return to Pakistan? The tales of Mamma working in the factory and abusive Daddy sounded curiously English, and wasn't it the first year of the Masoods' sojourn that Masood returned home to visit his sick and kindly father? And there's been no mention of Imzamam going I know the actor who played him is dead, but Imzamam isn't and should get a mention.

And Masood mentions the difficulty of returning to Pakistan a divorced man with a gay son and seeing a white woman (read infidel), but what about Zainab, a woman - three times married, twice divorced and now seeing her cousin?

AJ was one of the most undeveloped characters ever to appear in the show, someone who was hired entirely to make up ethnic numbers, with no forethought of development or character arc at all, which was a shame because the actor is experienced and talented. AJ goes, and the horribly inept Tamwar stays on. Whoda thunk it?

The story is a lead-in to a big cheating one.

Oops, She's Done It Again ...

Ah, the incidental parents that are Carol and David.

David has no right to interfere in Bianca's lovelife at all, but if I were Patsy Palmer, I'd seriously complain to whoever does her make-up. The idea that David Wicks is even fourteen years or fifteen years older than his daughter is ludicrous. Of that family dynamic, he looks like the younger brother of Lindsey Coulson and Patsy Palmer. Bianca looked frightful with that pale make-up and the sooty mascara.

So she returned the remote. Terry should have thanked her politely and shown her the door. He's crazy to involve himself and his children with such a feckless, immature, lame brain like Bianca, who's still under the thumb of her mother when things go wrong.

As for Carol, who didn't see that coming? 

I hate the retcon that is the great, endless David-and-Carol true lovefest. Because it's not, I can tell you. Kudos to Lauren Klee, the writer, and to DTC for having Carol highlight her fears attending her cancer diagnosis - the loss of hair, the sickness attendent on chemo, the possible mastectomy, but Carol diva'd that up, and it enhanced the selfishness of her nature.

She's not thinking in the least about the people who will be the most affected by her disease - her children and grandchildren. Nope, Carol's worried about her, and about ability to attract the inevitable penis that will implant itself between her legs. She hasn't received her test results yet. Duuuuhhh ...

She had the biopsy on Christmas Eve. Since then, we've had Christmas Day and New Year's, which would seriously impede receiving results. The irony of this situation harkens back to Max whining to Lauren about Jake preying on her whilst she's vulnerable, and this is what David's doing with Carol. He's using her by employing the only method Carol understands - sex. Give her one, and she's anybody's.

Carol should know David doesn't do commitment, and if things get bad with Carol, he won't be able to sustain that. Still, we don't even know if Carol does have cancer, and if she does, what sort of treatment she will entail. It could be the sort of post-menopausal breast cancer which would need oral tamoxifen as chemo, which does little damage - bet that's what they go with, because I can't see DTC  or Lindsey Coulson doing the head shaving thing which actresses on Emmerdale do to denote reality.

One thing for certain is that David will prove the pratfall, and he's got Carol to fuck him - no mean feat - barely a fortnight after she berated him for blackmailing Janine. Still, I'll bet the Butcher-Beale-Jacksons live high off the hog of Janine's money, and I hope the revenge she wreaks is sweet.

Carol doesn't even give Masood a thought in this situation, a man who is sensitve and thoughtful and who would probably be a fortress of support if things got rough. She's what she is - a Branning, a selfish slut who's ruled by her sexual needs.

If I Fell in Love with You ...

... but he didn't and she didn't, and they're just going through the motions.

I knew from the spoilers that Denise's little liaision with Fatboy was going to be rumbled, and to her credit, Klee threw in a nice little red herring in the form of Nancy Carter going as far as the toilet door before being distracted. I had no idea that Cora the Bora would be the one to catch them in the act.

I'm not the biggest Cora fan in the world. I think she's an atrocious character - selfish, judgemental, lazy, dishonest and drunken. But she offered no judgement on Denise's behaviour in this episode, even though she could tell Denise was literally shitting herself at being discovered. 

When Denise attempted to excuse herself to Cora as describing what Cora saw as being a mad five minutes, Cora waved that excuse away. She knew exactly what she saw and threw the ball right back into Denise's court. This was Denise's problem. Denise had to sort it.

So yet another potential Mrs Beale cheats on Ian, but then Ian Beale is going through the motions with Denise. Even when Sharon asked him if he'd got over his earlier wobble, Ian could only reply ...

Well, I'm engaged to her, aren't I? I think when you get to our age, you recognise that nobody's perfect.

(What a dig at Sharon's latest entanglement with Phil Mitchell!)

So Ian's "settling" again, and both culprits make a grand display, both publically and privately, of declarind their love; however, it's obvious from Denise's reaction in the privacy of the Beale abode that she can't get Fatboy's kiss out of her mind, whilst Ian is focusing on Jane's left-behind scarf.

Ian must really dislike Denise, because he, himself, confessed to being only marginally fond of Jane.

Of course, it will all end in tears, but will it have anything to do with the big Beale lollapalooza we've been promised by DTC?

Good episode with the usual unpleasant characters - Carol, David, Max etc.

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