Friday, March 28, 2014

False Equvalency - Thursday 27.03.2014

Such as there is a ying, so there must be a yang. When it's the best of times, so it can also be the worst of times. Thus it was in last night's double bill. It wasn't enough for TPTB to give us a brilliant episode, they had to follow it up with a stinker as well ...

Mary, Queen of Scots's motto was In my end is my beginning, and thus it was for last night's EastEnders. It seemed to be the end of a lot of things, or the beginning of the end to some. It was the end of Nick ... or was it? Or was it the end of Nick as we knew him? It certainly was the beginning of the end for Lucy Beale, and it may be the end of poor Cora.

There certainly were and are some things about the show I wish were ending - I wish Shirley would keel over in the gutter and choke to death on her own vomit. I wish Stacey would rot in prison, and I wish Charlie Cotton were a real copper who finds out Ronnie is a murderer and turns her in. But who am I kidding? I live in the real world.

Old Walford/New Walford

So what was good about last night's double bill? Well, plenty, but most of it was found in the first episode, because the second stank quite a bit.

I'm loathe to say it, because I still don't trust that self-serving, arrogant little twerp of a manchild as far as I could throw a stick when it comes to Sharon, but he seems to have settled her down as a character, At least, he understands that Sharon works best with characters with whom she is familiar - Dot, Phil, Ian.

But what I don't understand is why DTC has Phil still buzzing around that stinking old scrag-end of meat, Shirley. Well, I do understand. WonderBoy can't leave well enough alone. He promises to bring Sharon back to her old-time glory by giving her a bar (called "The Albert" and situated at the opposite end of the Square from "The Vic" - geddit?), yet he seems to be symbolically positioning her yuppie facility in direct opposition to The Vic, her original home and now the domain of wannabe Queen Shirley, with Phil as the sought-after prize pig in the middle.

Symbolically speaking, I get it that Sharon, the Square's original Princess, is supposed to represent "New Walford" (chocked full of yuppies and middle class professionals - which means psychopaths and lunatics), whilst Shirley, the face of East End bullyboi misery, fronts the working class (meaning "good") Vic, Old Walford. And between the two, they fight for Phil Mitchell, the symbolic soul of Walford.

I'm a long-term viewer, who's always appreciated Sharon's interaction with the Mitchell family, especially Phil Mitchell, but I think Egoboy is on a hiding to nothing with this one. He's let his massive ego get in the way of putting Sharon and Phil together at last, because his personal favourite Shirley will get short shrift. And so we have the Great Treadwell-Collins retcon of a backstory that, surprisingly, Bryan Kirkwood got right.

Kirkwood kowtowed to the fanboi element and coupled Phil with Shirley, after Santer understood that the only way Phil could ever bring himself to sleep with Shirley was to get drunk. Once Kirkwood got them together, Shirley brought out the worst in Phil. She encouraged his worst behaviour, urged him to engage in criminal activity and was behind Phil's pushing drugs at the R and R. 

However, it was during this liaison that Phil categorically established two factual truths:-

  • That had Sharon been with him, he'd have never have had an addiction problem.
  • That whilst he couldn't promise fidelity to Shirley, he wouldn't think of being unfaithful to Sharon.
Yet here we have Phil cosying up to Shirley at Nick's funeral, holding her hand and reminiscing about Heather. For Shirley, this is the final insult to Heather's memory. Once again, Shirley drops Heather for a man, this time the man who helped conceal Heather's murderer, but then Shirley never was about anyone but Shirley.

And here we have Phil smiling and lying to Sharon about the circumstances around his "comforting" of Shirley. Even worse, was Shirley appropriating Dot's grief as her own, appointing herself as the rottweiler guardian of Dot's honour, refusing Sharon entrance to the home to offer comfort to a woman Sharon had known all her life, a woman who was a close personal friend of her parents. And who is Shirley to shout the odds against Ian Beale's cribbed speech at Nick's funeral? Shirley never knew Nick Cotton, and apart from Heather's close relationship with Dot, Shirley never gave Dot the time of day.

So I'm sick of seeing this producer's pet pig pushed to the forefront of the programme and turned into its heroine. She isn't. She simply isn't. She's just a bitter and twisted old with of a lush who's abandoned her kids, who has no morals and who is the worst type of stinking alcoholic - a self-pitying one.

Mick Carter, a brilliant new character, doesn't deserve such a skank of a sister, whose sole purpose in that family dynamic is to undermine the position held by his wife.


I'm not certain if there's a scam going on in this escapade with Nick, but I'm certain he's not dead. Someone suggested to me that maybe Nick actually wasn't in on this scheme, that maybe he was under police protection, perhaps in Witness Protection, and for that reason, his death had to be faked. This begs the question: Who is "Charlie Cotton?" Well, I don't think he's Charlie or Dot's grandson, but he may be a policeman.

The wad of money "Charlie" handed over to an increasingly nervous Les Coker, followed by the two-worded "It's done" message to someone on the other end of a cellphone made it obvious that Nick was to be thought dead for some reason, but even more intriguing was the incipient connection between "Charlie" and Walford's own resident lady killer, Ronnie Mitchell, who's another one of many who has latched onto Dot's grief as a substitute for her own. Ronnie's grief is all about Danielle, who's about to regain life in a creepy way. 

But wait! There's more ... Stacey managed to pervade that episode, without even being there. The mere mention of her name and of Ronnie's visit to her by Roxy and Max's cack-handed questioning of Ronnie, are just two of a myriad of ways of shoe-horning her into a storyline with which she isn't even connected. I suppose we'll have weekly mentions of visits by Kat and Mo until she's back on the Square properly. Just so we won't forget, you know.

Still, if "Charlie" sticks around and starts hanging about with Roxy, things are going to be interesting, in terms of the sort of secret she's hiding.

Why  Buy the Cow When You Can Get the Milk for Free?...

Please, spare us any more of Saint Jane, the sacred cow ...

Since this sanctimonious bitch has interloped back to Walford, she's one step short of being Mother FuckingTheresa. She rights the wrongs of the Beale family - a family she'd disowned a few weeks prior to this return; she appears to have earned a million quid cooking pie and mash in a provincial Welsh restaurant and now wants to open a high-sodium fast food junk joint as Ian's partner, whilst treating Ian as if he were an incompetent, recalcitrant schoolboy to whom she metes unrequested and very negative criticism.

Now she steps right into the uncomfortable breach at a funeral, asks for a Bible and gives an appropriate reading, then takes it upon herself to march over to Dot's and apologise on behalf of her inadequate ex-husband, who clearly didn't think enough of the task at hand to say something original about Dot's son. Even Dot, herself, acknowledged that Ian and Sharon were small children when Nick was a much older young boy and didn't really know him until he'd gone bad.

She's already dick-teasing Masood, and I gather she'll be having Ian and Max lusting after her cowhide before long. I wish she would sink into some shitty cowpire somewhere.

Team Killer.

As tonight probably began the end of Lucy Beale in earnest, I found myself on Team Killer. Really, apart from Shirley, who isn't going to die, has there ever been a more unlikeable, spoiled, entitled and arrogant little bitch in the entire programme? Melissa Suffield played the cold, hard-faced cow, but she was watchable. This girl is not only one of the weakest actresses on the show, like Louisa Lytton, she's younger than the character she plays, and she not only looks it, she acts it.

"Rude" isn't the word to describe her - who would stand by and let someone remark to your father, "What do you know?" Yet Lauren the dim, who can't seem to co-ordinate washing cars, stood by and allowed that insult to stand. She was rude to Billy, who - surprisingly - was offering her practical help and advice. She worked for Janine a total of about five months, and usually was sent out to fetch coffee, yet she knows all the inside-outs of property letting. I also hated the way she and Lauren sniggled and laughed at Billy and his job at the chipshop. It wasn't so long ago that Lucy wasn't above working there, herself. She's as much a cheat as her father is, and therein was the third piece of rudeness, both to and about Ian.

This abysmal character can't die quick enough. I only hope whoever kills her smacks her silly.

The Good Bits?

I liked the subtleties involved in both episodes, especially centering on the number of people who've actually lost loved ones in that episode. I could easily and early recognise Max's and Patrick's reluctance to attend the funeral. I was surprised at Sonia's shallowness regarding Max's decision not to go. Carol was sick in bed, but Carol has also buried a child, and so has Max, but Sonia the Self-Righteous was too high-minded to see that, and it I actually loved the moment Patrick shared with Dexter (Dexter!) about what a liar, a thief and a cause for concern to him Paul was, but how he loved Paul more than life itself,and during the pseudo wake, Patrick instantly said that the first thing he wanted after hearing of Paul's death was to hear Paul's voice.

The other class act in that wake scene - which really bordered on the cheesy - was Sharon. Shirley can bleat until the cows come home about Heather, whom she only remembers when it suits her, but Sharon chooses not to talk about the people in Walford whom she's lost - her parents, and her last husband. Even now, she finds it difficult to speak of Dennis, except to say he was a good man. Well, there are those of us who know that Dennis was a murderer, who was redeemed by Sharon's love and who paid for his murder with his life.

Is this really the end of Cora? Once again, I thought Patrick was initially abrupt with her when she wanted to accompany him to pay her respects to Dot. I do understand that she was feeling a connection, which she was trying to get across to Charlie on the doorstep and failing. Rainie was her Nick. She'd go for months never hearing from her and suddenly she'd turn up. OK, Cora certainly has drink issues of her own, but the tale of Nick and his woes hit home with her, and her inability to articulate this grieving for Rainie, who isn't dead, but who's made it abundantly clear that she cannot trust herself not to drink around her mother, resulted only in her seeking solace in her usual comfort - the bottle. I can understand Patrick's frustration with her state, but Patrick likes a tipple, himself, and if Rainie were Cora's Nick, she was also her Paul. I know Donald Duck will throw a duck fit, but I feel very sorry for Cora.

And I was surprised how much I missed the Carters - that's "Carters" as in Mick, Linda and Johnny. Once again, Linda is extremely interesting in her conflicting prejudices, eyeing Johnny bantering with a man whom she took to be gay.I loved Mick's intervention with Johnny in the pub kitchen and their subtle recognition that Linda's not the most mature person when it comes to certain things. I never thought Danny Dyer's character would be close to my favourite male character, but his understated presence is a welcome change. I do hope there's not an affair with Stacey looming on the horizon.

My verdict: The first episode was better than the second, and I'm not sure what DTC is up to with Sharon and Phil, but these two episodes were reasonably enjoyable, with a good blend of old and new characters.


  1. If these rumours/suggestions surrounding Phil and Shirley, I really have to worry about DTC's intentions with Sharon. Not only would an affair between Phil and Shirley be blatantly disrespectful of the history between Phil and Sharon, a relationship that has spanned twenty years, but I genuinely worry about where it would leave Sharon.
    Although she isn't back to her best, I have seen some improvement in Sharon in the last month or so and I think a big part of that is down to Sharon being part of the Mitchell dynamic. Under Newman, she was quite isolated as a character and that was when the writing was at it's worst for her. If Phil slept with Shirley (and Sharon would find out), she simply would not stay with him. At least I strongly hope not.
    However, looking at Twitter, there is a lot of support for Phil and Shirley as a couple (although goodness knows why) with All About Soap even writing an article in support for the couple. For the sake of the show and the characters involved, I hope DTC's ego does not decide to reunite Phil and his Chosen One. It would be a disaster and completely disregard the history of the three characters.
    Excellent entry as always. Your knowledge of the show shines through and it's refreshing to see a fan with a bit of perspective.