Sunday, September 11, 2016

Review - Monday 06.09.2016 - The Beginning of Mitchell Week

It's MITCHELL WEEK, everybody! 

That whole endeavour, the first episode that's supposedly entirely within the remit of Sean O'Connor .... really wasn't very good. In fact, it bordered on the absurd and everything that's ever been a cliché about the Mitchells. In many respects, it was a predictable comedy, including Grant coming in like the Cavalry.

The Mitchell Adventure. Okay, the kidnappers looked like four boys on break from their university studies - or as Mark Fowler, the English-accented Floridian who insults the South where he was born and brought up would say, they looked like four fraternity boys.

If they were American, they'd probably look like this ...

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But since they're English, they really weren't far off looking like this ...

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Either way, they were the type of lad that normally the Mitchells would chew up and spit out without a thought. Wimps, wussies, chinless wonders. Okay, they were homophobes, but homophobes come in all shapes, sizes and genders. Linda Carter and Masood used to be homophobic. What was amazing about this is that, they rang the doorbell, like nice boys from the leafy suburbs are trained to do, and then set upon the oikers - they even smashed and grabbed Ben and Jay - that's street-suss Jay, and left Phil locked in the understairs cupboard.

I really don't know where the show is taking Phil this time around. Until he gets a new liver, he's dying; and he never appeared older and more frail than he did tonight. You know Phil will get a new liver. He has to - he's Phil Mitchell; but a liver transplant is a serious operation. So is a kidney transplant, yet they had Dex-TAAH and Sam drinking rounds at the Vic a week after leaving hospital and when Dex-TAAH stripped to the waist for Nancy in the Vic cellar, there was nary a scar to be seen. Phil's going to be recovering for about a year, but EastEnders is dealing with SuperPhil here.

The fratboys ran riot through the house, looking for someone they knew was there, and this is where Courtney finally found Grant. It's as I suspected. There is no Portugal anymore, although Lord knows how Sam's fending in the black hole of forgetfulness along with Big Mo and Carly Wicks. Instead, he's hunkering down with Auntie Sal - so that begs the question, with no money and no home, will Grant just slope off back to live with Sal once this Boys'Own adventure ends? If he's just across town, what's to stop Sharon slinking over for a little slap and tickle?

I have the feeling that someone's going to die in this palaver, and there are three candidates:-

- Grant
- Jay
- The TIT

Everyone has a feeling, based on Ross Kemp's last Tweet as he left the show, that this end is final. It should have been him leaving with Sharon, or rather, leaving Sharon pregnant, but someone's ego was bigger than the show, and we're been suffering for that.

The Mitchells were so all over the place, it was preposterous. When Louise wanted to call the police - and why not? Their home had just been broken into - Courtney the Butch nixed that idea and instead called dear old Dad. Then, later, downstairs, in front of Phil, she wanted to call them. We got the usual Mitchell blather about how useless the police were - well, Louise was right. She got the registration of the van. The police would have traced that in no time - thus speaketh Boy Wonder from America. Jack not only traced the van, his contacts in the police traced it on CCTV going into an industrial estate, so the police, being called, may have tracked and traced the van, with a bloody Ben inside and a not-so-bloody Jay, whom the fratboys think is Ben's new boyfriend (and I'll bet Ben wishes the same as well).

We had the usual same old same old of Sharon rushing in with the TIT from the street, instead of Ronnie, whom Phil called for. Why? What the hell good would that ice-faced alien do? Phil with a baseball bat and IceFace trying to stare them down. She might have bagged one to send to the breaker's yard to be crushed, but I don't think she'd have handled four. We then had the ubiquitous scene of Sharon trying to talk sense into Phil about his health etc when suddenly, we get ...

The Big Ba-Zoom-Bah entering, and grappling with his secret son, whom he thought was touching Courtney up. (He was).

I want to know when EastEnders stopped doing subtle? Because it employed all the tired old clichés surrounding Grant and Monsieur Pompadour tonight. Sharon stressing that Mark was Michelle's son (not that Grant knew she was pregnant when she left), and Grant remarking how much he hated Michelle, only to have his secret son blurt out that Michelle had often spoken to Mark about how much she hated Grant.

Michelle must surely be a drunk, which is understandable, because Sharon seems to attract drunks the way a magnet attracts metal - Angie, Phil, Michelle getting drunk on the phone, hearing about Peggy's illness and writing a confessional letter, then apologising profusely to Sharon, probably over a couple of six margheritas. She had to be drunk to sit down and blaspheme Grant Mitchell - funny, that the TIT had heard of Grant, but not Phil. She probably rambled on and on, gin after gin, about how Grant abused Sharon, and probably told him bedtime stories of Sharongate, stopping short about what she did to Grant, herself.

But wasn't that clever repartée between Grant and his secret son? Won't that make it all the more ironic when he finds out who Grant is? Rob Gittins was always the ploddiest or writers, but he has been with the show long enough to have known how to tackle this tat.

And what the fuck was that scene about Pretty Boy comforting Whitney, who'd come over nervous, and not all of a sudden? The one where he told a story about a friend of Michelle's - a man, no less, because I doubt Michelle has many girlfriends in Florida as she tends to betray most of them - who, cool as a cucumber, rescued his family and the dog from a burning car, only to break down in a grocery store (hint, hint: Because Mark is supposed to be American) because he was one cent short (hint, hint: Because Mark is supposed to be American) from the delayed stress. What was the point?

A niggle. In American one cent is a also called a penny. In fact, instead of saying "one cent short", we'd say "one penny short." In the plural, yes, we'd say "He was ten cents short", but for one cent? We say "penny." Epic fail.

I say that was pointless, because Courtney the Butch admitted that she was OK upstairs, but "lost it" when she was in the Mitchell kitchen. Sorry, love, you were shitting yourself in that cupboard with Louise. And so was she. And I'll bet it stank too. So, again, what the hell was that all about?

Involving all the Mitchells, they had to call on the psychopath, and we even had Honey sitting in Ronnie's house, siding with the Mitchells she hated and thinking that it was best not to involve the police.

Just what do the Mitchells think they are going to do to these people if they catch them? Kill them? It's only so many times and so many cars you can sacrifice at a breaker's yard. The Mitchells, and that includes Ronnie, aren't intelligent enough to hide four bodies - even though it's been said that Jack Branning knows what to do with a dead body. Maybe one, but not four. These lads, also, probably have family.

The rest of that sequence consisted of Phil staggering around outside his house with a baseball bat - ever notice how empty Walford looked in the middle of the day? And where the hell is Dennis? - and Grant coming face to face with him, with Phil grunting about how he has to get his son - no word about Jay, mind, just Ben. Phil collapses, and we have the poignant wordless forgiveness of Phil towards Grant when he takes his hand and implores him to "Bring my boy home."

We're supposed to be touched, but it was corny. Seriously corny. The one thing I noticed in this entire sequence was not only how old Steve McFadden looks - and Phil's supposed to be ill - but also how old Ross Kemp looks. I guess that's why the show had to depict Paul's killers as four wimpish-looking lads, because if we got four brick shithouses a la Kush, Grant would have been crushed, himself.

Said it before and I'll say it again, Grant should have returned for Sharon, not this secret son shit.

The Secret Rainbow Mitchell. Arguably, the most insipid storyline in years, and totally unnecessary. Can we please have scenes of Denise going to Mass and saying a Novena to Our Lady? Because for someone who professes to hold no religion or faith, she's a walking advertisement for the Catholic Church's and the Republican Party's war against abortion.

She's in her second trimester, but she's not 24 weeks. She could still have an abortion. But noooooooooooooooo ... she's going to have that baby. Credit where credit is due for telling Kush the baby wasn't his - which is more than Stacey did with Martin. 

Hang on ... the scene in the café between Kush and Stacey read a lot into that situation - Kush went from remarking about how he's the father of a child who shouldn't be his, and he thought he was the father of a child who wasn't his. He went from remarking upon this irony to subtly handing Stacey her arse by remarking about Denise keeping the child a secret from the father, and then stating that at least Denise told him the truth, rather than let him think the baby was his - nudge nudge wink wink, Stacey, who let the remark sail right over his head.

It doesn't surprise me, however, that Kush backed away from Denise's situation the moment he found out the baby wasn't his - unlike Martin, who came back to Stacey. I don't particularly like Kush, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate what a wonderfully nuanced character he is. The panda eyes of pity were back today, as he stood waiting for Denise outside the doctor's office, just waiting to step up to the plate the way he couldn't for the child he fathered with Stacey. The only thing he ultimately felt when he spoke to Stacey, spreading the news about Denise's mystery pregnancy, was curiosity at whom the father might be.

Had he seen Denise afterward, standing dreamily in the middle of the Square staring at the Mitchell household, he may have got a clue. Vincent certainly has his suspicions, because Vincent was behind the bar that night at The Albert where Denise and Phil were falling all over each other, stinking drunk. Denise admitting that she was in her second trimester heightened his suspicions. At first, with his reaction, I thought maybe Donna thought Vincent was the baby's father, but the more I contemplated that, I remembered that Vincent was on hand the night Denise got drunk.

So Denise is going to have this child and keep the father's identity a secret? Here's a Michelle situation in reverse. Now Phil has a woman who hates him having his baby, and she's about to keep it a secret right under his nose. How long will this story play out? And what will the consequences be? Indeed, what is the point of this storyline at all? I realise people have been crying out for Diane Parish to get a major storyline since God was a boy, and the storyline of a secret love affair with Kush would have been brilliant to pursue. Instead, we have to have another character indelibly linked to the Mitchells, with Phil increasingly becoming like a cross between a mediaeval Middle Eastern potentate and a patriarch of Biblical times, living in an environment surrounded by his devoted and long-suffering wife, his ex-wife and the mother of his child, his ex-girlfriend, who still obsesses over him, and now a one night stand who hates him but who's having his child nonetheless. Really, who wants to have a baby with a man you hate? Who wants to risk Phil Mitchell finding out? Why does she feel that a child validates her being (as much as a man validates some other female characters' beings?)

Denise has had children and raised them well. But children do grow up and live their own lives, and it was Denise who told her girls to get away from Walford and not to return. She should be turning a corner; instead, she grasps this situation to give her something she thinks will ease her loneliness. Honestly, if this is the best thing the show and the writing room can offer Diane Parish, maybe she should think about leaving. 

Think about it.

A Word about Claudette. Claudette and Patrick, simpering, snuggling and snogging. I can't invest in this woman, not after they introduced her as a gangsta mamma who killed her husband and was responsible for Fatboy's death. That Vincent and Donna exchange dubious glances and speak without thinking about how Patrick could involve himself with Claudette knowing what he knows about her, only to puzzle Kim, shows that they have their doubts about her character.

Had Claudette been like this all along, she would have been a strong and likable character. Instead, she's just another bad egg TPTB are hoping we'll forget about the bad things she's done.

The Best (Tiny) Bit. Pam and Les, returning from the salsa competition, reminscing about their dancing days. An outing so simple, yet so effective was just what Pam needed, and Les takes the opportunity to ask her to help prepare Paul for his burial the next day. It would be a quiet moment and an opportunity to say a private farewell to him, but she can't. She runs away.

The most effecting scene in the entire show tonight was the wordless scene where Les prepares to dress the body of his grandson for his funeral.

O'Connor simply must do better. 

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