Sunday, September 11, 2016

Review: Tuesday 06.09.2016 - EastEnders Does a BAD Benny Hill.

(Sigh) ... Oh, God ... they brought Ross Kemp back for this? No wonder they're on a tight budget now. I'll bet he didn't come cheap. That was, putting it kindly, bloody awful. 

In fact, much of this action-packed debacle reminded me of this ...

Let's all give a hearty thanks to DTC, Alex Lamb and Sharon Batten. What Kirkwood accomplished with the Brannings, that triumvirate accomplished with the Mitchells - fucking them up and making them a joke fucking family. And no thanks to Sean O'Connor. It may be early days, but if that's the best he can do with a sow's ear of a storyline, don't be expecting any silk purses along the way.

The Stinking Rotten Putrid Shitfest Family Called the Mitchells: The Mitchell Code. Look, Linda was raped, and that is something, regrettably and tragically, that happens every day to women everywhere. That was an important and valuable story to tell, but in the end, it was shunted aside (much like Linda) in favour of Mick reuniting with his old ma, Shirley.

Paul was killed in a homophobic hate crime, something very relevant still in our society today, and something that needs to be highlighted. But rather than focus on Paul's death and its effect on the immediate community, this story becomes a tale of Mitchell madness - baseball bats, leather jackets, chase scenes, and pithy tough talk.

This was a farce. A badly written, badly enacted joke of a farce. From start to finish.

When Billy and co learned Grant and pretty boy Mark, who picked up the baseball bat and trooped off after secret Daddy, like a natural, he remarked:-

That Mark, he ain't small ... (implying that a fiftysomething, puffed up, puffed out gangster would frighten the likes out of anyone). Grant's days of frightening people are over. In fact, after this appearance, filmed in three weeks and spread over three months, I sincerely hope Ross Kemp never returns to EastEnders again, and I say that as someone who adored Grant during the 90s. Oh, there were times I thought him an abject bastard, but I enjoyed watching him all the same. 

This time, the writing for Grant, like the writing for everyone else in this shitshower of a show, was off, and Kemp's performance was more than off, it was non-existent. He hasn't acted since his last appearance on the show a decade ago, and it shows. In fact, he's not really an actor anymore. He's more of an investigative journalist now, and he should remain that.

I've said it endlessly - this return should have been all about drawing a line under Sharongate. There's plenty of mileage in that situation that needs to be resolved - Sharon's first words about anyone when she returned to Walford were about Grant. At intervals in her marriage to Phil, she'd taunt him about what Grant would have done in this or that situation. When he was lying drunk in the Arches, she mused that, had she known Phil would be like this, she never would have strayed from Grant. They shared a moment of significant sexual history before Peggy's death, and when Phil ran into Sharon on the Square, the night that Peggy died, it was obvious - and he knew - that she was looking for Grant.

Instead, it was all about Grant's secret son, as if the fucking show hadn't overdosed on secret sons during DTC's tenure. Shirley had a secret son, Kat had a secret son. DTC not only signed off with the original secret son of a Mitchell brother, he gigglingly planted a bomb intended to go off and render the other Mitchell brother a secret bi-racial son.

It's too much.

The involvement of the TIT in the search and rescue mission tonight was unbelievable, as was the dialogue throughout. I hate how the writers deliberately insert dialogue reminding the audience of what Mark Fowler is supposed to be, when he's not.

Tonight, we had Billy making the remark about him being a big lad. Duuuuuuuh ... no. He's a stringbean. The idea that this is a college quarterback, playing football on a gridiron scholarship - (psssssssssssssssst, Mark! The college season starts, like the day after tomorrow - shouldn't you be back at uni?) is laughable. He's not "big". He's skinny - he's certainly no bigger than the boy band who kidnapped Ben and Jay. In fact, he's smaller than three of them. 

We've already noticed the deliberate insertion of various American vocabulary, which is always worded incorrectly as well. Tonight, we had Grant pointedly refer to him as a "Yank," which was funny in the extreme, anything to remind us that Mark is supposed to be American. The joke about this exchange was that Mark responded to Grant by calling him "mate," a term you never hear in the US. (A real American would have referred to Grant as "buddy" or, as Mark's generation would say ... "dude"). In fact, with the baseball bats in tow, I'm surprised the clever writers didn't have Mark make some sort of statement about any other time this time of year, he'd be swinging a bat to hit a ball. Instead, we got a standard Alex Lamb Shits'n Giggles ironic line. When Grant remarked that he wasn't used to taking kids with him, TIT replied ...

Well, you got one.

(Tee-hee-hee-ha-ha ... wasn't that clever?) Not.

Then there was the totally expected line Grant had about moaning about Michelle with a semi-rude remark back from Mark, followed by his assertion that Michelle taught him to "take no prisoners" ... Really, Michelle? In the Deep South? Really? I mean, really? First of all, it's the land of hospitality - Southern hospitality and good manners are legend. On the other hand, nobody in the Deep South likes a smartass, and if you give lip, you can expect to get anything from a smacked face to a double-barreled shotgun shoved in your gob.

The only people who "take no prisoners" in Mark's part of the world are found in trailer parks, and they aren't gypsies.

Maybe this is really Michelle's lifestyle now ... 

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The whole kidnap-and-rescue sequence was a bad joke - from Ben and Jay hunched in the back of a trailer, to the ambush scene - which, I suppose, since Jay was so easily felled, was supposed to be a somewhat poignant reminder of Paul (since the Boy Band Thugs obviously thought Jay was Ben's boyfriend) - to the weird scene of Jay huffing and puffing and banging on the sides of the van, which (when the police arrived) just happened to be open. 

What amazed me about this middle class gang (keeping up the tradition of EastEnders denigrating anything remotely connected with the proper middle classes) was literally how lightweight they were - especially considering that Ben described them as being "massive" in size. One actually resembled Darren Miller. The deal was to frighten Ben into retracting his statement. They just tackled Ben and Jay and spent about 30 seconds rolling around on the ground, then threatening Ben until Grant and TIT showed up, waved about the baseball bats and they dispersed.

Proves, however, how little the Mitchells think of Jay, that Grant insisted that they leave Jay to be found by the police - Jay's on a licence as well - but Ben and his rescuers had to flee the scene or else the whole case against the Boy Band would have fallen flat.

That's the other old chestnut that was flogged to death tonight. The Mitchell Code and its disregard for the police. I wish I had a pound for every time tonight we had to hear the phrase ...

No police.

Don't call the police.

Don't involve the police.

How many times do we have to be reinforced about the Mitchells not trusting the police? As if we didn't get the idea, we had to have Big Ron the Psychopath reiterate:-

This is the way my family operate. This is the way we do things. We do it ourselves. Why use the police who are people we don't know, whom we don't trust and who would do nothing?

Even Kathy, who was seen wandering aimlessly around the market wondering why there was an ambulance outside the Mitchell house, only to be told by Louise, almost casually, about Ben's kidnap. Kathy is almost totally irrelevant to Ben's situation now - with no one in the Mitchell household even thinking to alert Kathy, although 20 year-old 14 year-old Louise was quick to want to call Ritchie. Still, even later, when Ian suggested ringing the police (and probably was the source of them finding the thugs, Kathy warned Ian ...

Phil said no police.

What the fuck?

Well, the police seemed to act pretty precipitously when Thelma alerted them to Jay's activity with the underaged Star/Linzi, and the Mitchells must have approved of the police being involved in that, because Phil shoved Jay out the door, and Ronnie wouldn't have him in her house. Oddly enough, the voices of reason in the entire programme tonight were Honey's and Jack's. Kudos to Honey for calling out the stupidity of "The Mitchell Code", within the hearing of Courtney the Butch, only for Ronnie to dismiss Honey as irrelevant to the grand Mitchell scheme of things. 

The scene between Ronnie and Courtney was putrid. Treadwell-Collins, Lamb and Batten have created a turgidly tense relationship between Courtney and Grant, something as unbelievable as fairy dust. I can buy Courtney being peeved with Grant being the over-protective father, but the way she professes not to care about him, the way she badmouthed him as inconsistent and irresponsible as a father was simply not true. To listen to rancid Ronnie giving her parental relationship advice about dealing with a parent, especially a father. That was rife. What was worse was Jack trying to talk sense around "the Mitchell Code" about the efficacy of involving the police in something like this, only for Ronnie to remind Jack succinctly that the two single most important people in all of this were Phil (of course) and (surprisingly) Billy - because of Ben (naturally) and Jay (who's now been assigned unofficially to the runt-of-the-litter branch of the Mitchell family.

That whole scene of Ronnie spouting Mitchell clichés and Jack riposting with sensible jargon about how the police actually do work on occasion, only to have that entire dialogue devolve into romcom shit.

Meantime, King Phil is flat out in hospital with his clapped out liver, which isn't functioning, causing him to bleed out and maybe even causing bleeding on the brain.

At the end of the piece, Phil's and Grant's heart-to-heart, turns into Phil giving Grant the gift that keeps on giving ... his secret son.

Yuck. I am so over the Mitchells now, especially with this parody of all the clichés that have ever appeared in the Mitchell story. Only one thing was missing ...

The Impending Secret Son. I'm also so over Denise. What killed her for me was her attitude tonight. She spends all this time wandering around the most public of places with a face like a smacked bum, debating her future with this child. You'd almost think she didn't want it. She's obviously thinking of the repercussions of having Phil Mitchell's child. If that be the case, it's not too late for abortion. She's dragging herself around in self-pity mode, but all anyone is worried about is who the baby's father is.

The moment that this character became redundant for me was when she told Kim how the baby's father would want to be too involved, overly-involved, never even considering the repercussions of the man being married and having a wife and how such knowledge would affect her. Like Carmel, another nosy body, rationaled - sooner, rather than later, people would find out the identity of the father, and the later that happened, the worse it was for everyone concerned. Does she not consider Sharon's situation? She's Phil'swife, and here's someone else swanning about with a child whose paternity is connected to Sharon indirectly and in a pejorative way. Has she no shame?

Kim was right tonight - she was 47 years old - didn't she think to act responsibly? Denise's whining reason that they both were drunk, was lame and self-pitying. That doesn't excuse what happened, and again, I do not see how she can have the child of a man she hates.

And what was that exchange with Louise all about? Does she seriously think Phil will have changed that much that she can tell him about this child?

This is such an unnecessary storyline, so superfluous and almost cruel. They've tried everything with Diane Parish - she worked with the domestic abuse storyline, but the actor who played Owen left. She worked with Phil Daniels, but he left; and she worked marvelously with the divine Don Gilet, but he's gone too. Since then, she's slept with Fatboy (given up), kissed Ray (nothing there), lived with Ian (epic fail), endured pithy unfinished storylines (abusing Patrick, incipient drinking problem, Jordan and JJ, and cosying up with Kush ... and apart from the latter, nothing worked. They had a brilliant premise to follow in her cougar relationship with Kush, but they choose to go with this, linking her indelibly with the Mitchell dynamic?

It's time for this character to go, and if she can't see the expediency in leaving a character who goes around and around the houses with storylines which lead to nothing, then O'Connor has to wield an axe.

This show is in a bad place at the moment. 

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