Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Here's Another Fine Mess - Review:- Tuesday 14.02.2017

Sure, Natalie Mitchell's scripts are good, but there's a lot of stink going on in EastEnders these days. What is it about this show that makes a lot of the characters so unlikable? Since Sean O'Connor's taken over, there's been a decisive bent towards misogyny and niggling cruelty in general.

There's such a thing as nuance, but I thought this man had a respect for the show's history. Dominic Treadwell-Collins killed of arguably the most important legacy character in the programme, and squandered an God-given opportunity to tie up the Sharongate quandry when two of the show's characters who exuded the most amazing sexual chemistry in the show's history gave way to a totally unrealistic storyline about a long-forgotten secret son, badly played by an actor whom the EP obviously fancied. I thought it was bad enough when he dicked about with the established back stories of no less than Sharon Watts, but also Kat Moon and the Mitchells.

Sean O'Connor did worse. He recast an original character. Not just an original character, but probably the most nuanced, seminal character amongst the original cast, with a woman who portrays the character in a way so vastly unfamiliar with anything like the original as to make her a veritable stranger. And on top of that, he's made her a sex offender. Worse, a rapist.

One Yank and They're Off. Well, at least this one attempts an American accent, but you know what he sounds like? Like Russians who have learned fluently English. He has that clipped, gutteral accent they use, which is better than the wide-mouthed frog variety employed by Vicki Fowler (fer sher fer sher), but it still ain't kosher. 

Oh and all 17 year-olds just able to get their grubby little mitts on enough money to skip off school - no half-term there, folks; they started school on the day after New Year's Day and they're in session right up until Good Friday - and fly to England to be with the much older woman he lurrrves. Not only is he truanting, which could get his parents in trouble, those people could still take out a warrant against Michelle because he may be over the age of consent here, but he isn't there. At 17, he'd either be in his penultimate year of high school or possibly his last year, depending on when his birthday was.

Whoever came up with this storyline for Michelle ought to be taken out and shot. It has totally blown away any credibility or integrity the character - and she was a supremely important character in the general scheme of things - ever had. The actress is good, but she isn't Michelle. She is in no way, shape or form Michelle, and I'm so glad that people too young to remember this character are delving into YouTube simply to see what Sue Tully's seminal interpretation of the character was supposed to be and noting the atrocious differences. 

Michelle, even now, even in middle age, would never think to consort with an underaged boy, much less someone to whom she had a professional duty of care. She's thirty years this kid's senior. In twenty years' time, she'd be approaching 70 and he wouldn't have hit 40 yet. This is more than a midlife crisis, this is sick.

Even sicker is the absolutely arrogant, bordering on ignorant thought that she can even hope to go back into the classroom here. And the operative word is "arrogant," because there has been an air of arrogance that's clung to this character this time around that risks turning into a major stench. It's the 21st Century. Educational transcripts and professional references are easy enough to come by in the digital age in a matter of hours. Does Michelle seriously think an English school wouldn't want to have references from an educational institution where she worked in the US? Don't they count schools as schools there? Does she even think she will get some sort of non-committal reference? The US isn't the UK. You talk the talk, and you walk the walk; meaning, they won't stint to say she was summarily dismissed and they'll go into great detail why. This is a woman who cannot be trusted around young, impressionable boys, they'll say. After all, they have a professional duty of care to other educational institutions in which she'll try to infiltrate.

Secondly, why is she surprised that all of Walford know she got drunk and tried to come onto a young man of about twenty years of age? Surely, she must remember how gossip-ridden the Square has always been, or dies she think herself above all of that now? In fact, she did a good job of looking down her nose at Donna and Tina when they invited her to join them at their table -why is she annoyed that they got a kick out of her making a fool of herself?

And thirdly, there's a meanness about this Michelle. Tully's Michelle, even now, would never think to make a scarecrow interpretation of her lifelong best friend. Michelle was always a strong support for Sharon. The last thing she would ever do is make fun of her appearance, even now. And why did she even think the Valentine card she received was from her husband? It was clear that it was hand-delivered, so unless it came by carrier pigeon, instead of post, it was always going to be local.

You know the one thing American that enters my mind about this abysmal character, and that's something we say in the US ...

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Tully turned down repeated requests to return as Michelle, and Michelle was so ingrained in the viewing public's mind as Susan Tully, it was unthinkable even to attempt a re-cast. O'Connor did, and this is a failure. 

Michelle should never have been re-cast. Ever.

Jack Prat. It's only right he should be Mick's new BFF ... Jack Prat and Mick Prick. The two go hand-in-hand.

Yes, yes, yes ... Jack's grieving. Yes, yes, yes, as before, he goes running to Dot, not telling her his problems but yet relying on her intuition to get to the core of what's bothering him - and what's bothering him is basically the fact that he's going to have to go through Ronnie's clothes and belongings. That's a symbolic and powerful act any survivor has to undertake, and having done that, myself, it's hard. It is the ultimate gesture of a survivor moving on,

Dot knows that, but Jack doesn't want to face this. Instead, he effects the pettiest of acts and an example of hateful meanness to a woman who is dead and cannot defend herself. Ronnie and Roxy are buried in the same grave; however, Jack has omitted Roxy's details from the headstone marking this grave. It's his ultimate revenge because he blames Roxy for Ronnie's death.

It was Ronnie who chose to put her sister before her new husband that night. Had she stayed and helped him put the kids to bed, she may have been alive today. Instead, she and Roxy put away two bottles of champagne before they tried the swimming pool caper. It's a singular act of cruelty to consign the mother of his child to the cold ground in a nameless grave. This is Amy's mother, someone whom she loves and remembers; and Jack seeks to wipe that memory from her just because of his own innate moral deficiency.

Oh, and it wouldn't crack his arse if he were to make an effort to get in touch with Ricky;s mother from time to time. He may have the boy, but Ricky also needs to know that he has another parent out there. So who will go through Roxy's belongings? Sharon? Honey? Donna, who seems to be the only person, besides Jay, who's grieving for her? Will Glenda come back for a day of grieving by boxing her daughter away?

Jack needs a smack. Seriously.

Mick the Prick and HIs Mugly Sother Interfere. Patrick Is a Hero. The penny dropped for me tonight. 

Mick wants Whitney. He wants her, and he's jealous of Lee. I was thinking today of when Mick found the Samaritans' card in Lee's phone case. Discovering that amongst your child's possession would give a parent cause for concern and worry. You'd speak to your child and hope that he would open up to you about what's bothering him. As a parent, you'd probably show him enormous compassion. 

Did Mick do any of that? Did he, bollocks! We got the usual stern talking-to, with the usual subjects broached about Lee owning up to his responsibilities, manning up, and reminding him of what he owed his wonderful, loving wife. There would also be consternation that Lee found it easy to open up to the stranger, the woman in the carpark. Of course, he wouldn't understand that this is really and truly the basis for cathartic counselling; instead, Mick becomes the full-on bully.

I understand why Mick couldn't help but interfere in Lee's marriage. For the past few weeks, whilst Linda's been away, Whitney has preyed upon his vulnerabilities, recognising that Mick was emotionally floundering in Linda's absence, she placed herself in his emotional void, doing the things Linda would have done (doing extra shifts in the bar, attending Ollie's out-patients appointment, going to the Cash and Carry with Mick) and some of the things Linda wouldn't have done, like cook Christmas dinner. Additionally, she made sure Mick knew her dissatisfaction with Lee - Lee wasn't paying enough attention to her sexually (she made sure Mick knew that), amongst other things. 

When the truth about the raid came out, everything that niggled her about Lee, afterward, she made sure Mick knew as soon as it happened. That the couple were having marital difficulties was a given. Their basic problem was that, like Mick, Whitney refused to acknowledge that Lee's depression was a medical condition that could impede upon his judgement and behaviour. To Whitney, Lee was weak. She refused to listen to the fact that he hated work, that the conditions of his workplace had a lot to do with Lee's frame of mind, and that was the least of his worries. Yet day after day, she forced him to go to work. She refused to admit that her incessant greed and materialism, her pushing for Lee to provide her with the dream wedding, the dream flat, expensive jewelry, her constant comparisons of Lee to some unreal idealistic portrayal of him, as well as his own poor self-esteem in the face of what he perceived to be a perfect father, made his depression deeper.

Instead of stepping back, instead of recognising that Lee and Whitney had to work these problems out themselves, Mick barged into that relationship like a raging bull. Fine, he had to get involved with Lee's financial situation; that was one thing, and yes, the fact that he was naturally angry upon finding out about Lee's part in the raid; but still, Lee is his child. Surely, he must wonder why Lee did what he did? Yet, it never occurred to him to ask. Instead, he simply railed and raged, excluding Lee with his cold silences, all the time bigging up Whitney's importance and responding to her subtle sexual insinuations. If he wasn't telling Lee that he didn't deserve Whitney, he was telling her that she was too good for him.

Instead of refusing to take sides, he barred Lee from the pub one night, when the pair quarrelled and gave Whitney refuge, putting her in Linda's bed wearing Linday's pyjamas.

Now they'v exchanged a surreptitious kiss, and not only do Whitney's protestations that she loves Lee ring hollow, Mick's pinings for Linda have taken on a phoney edge as well. This is the longest he's been away from a woman with whom he's been sexually involved since he was a child. He's never known another woman, and whenever some female would come onto him, he'd deflect them because Linda was there, nearby, and he loved her proximity. Now she's away, she'd putting her priorities into place - she's nursing her sick mother and leaving Mick to hold the fort, yet Mick has done anything but. The roof's leaking, he blames his son for his own financial troubles in bailing him out; but Lee's few thousands paled before the major payday loan Mick effected in order to ger Linda and Elaine back from Spain and into rehab. It's that interest which is killing him - and the untoward interest in Whitney.

At first, I thought Shirley urging him to talk to Lee meant she'd had a re-think.Instead, Mick's idea was to berate Lee, to tell him yet again, that he didn't deserve Whitney, that she was too good for him and deserved better. The pair had actually taken a step toward repairing what had gone wrong. Lee admitted he was wrong to have overreacted and hit her. It's not in his nature to be overtly violent. He was living in fear of not living up to her expectations, either as a man or as a person. When they exchanged cards and he returned to her the wedding and engagement ring he'd redeemed at the pawnshop, they seemed sincerely attempting to make an effort. Their declarations of love sounded sincere - at least Lee's did.

When Lee walked into that pub, his marriage was on the mend. Who the fuck was Mick to tell him to walk away from the marriage, leave his wife simply because he wasn't good enough for her. That's right. Lee wasn't good enough for a slapper who made a living from enticing nice lads into a relationship only to dump them at the first hurdle the moment a bad boy came along, and upon being called out, to whine about her history of sexual abuse and use that as an exoneration of her bad behaviour.

Mick's behaviour was abominable - he literally told his son, not only to walk away from his marriage, but effectively to get out of town, leave the area - because he certainly couldn't expect Lee to hang out in Walford with Whitney around. He refused to let him stay for more than one night in the pub. And Shirley actively reinforced this idea, encouraging Mick and telling him he did the right thing. Mick's actual message to Lee was that he was rotten inside, that he needed to go away and get help. He spat that out as if it were a piece of rotten food.

Look, Lee does need help. He needs proper counselling where he can talk with someone about the trigger points which initiate his depressive episodes. He needs medication, but he needs all of this in a positive light. Instead, Mick made what Lee needed sound pejorative and bad. Lee was worse than a loser, Lee's mental state meant that he was dangerous, bad, almost evil. Mick and Shirley now reached the stage where they are comparing him actively to Dean, and, let's face it, the great majority of Dean's psychological problems with women came from his non-relationship with dear old Mummy; and Lee's low self-esteem comes from his rose-coloured vision fed to him by Mick and Linda throughout his life about his father as some positive forceful pillar of strength, who's never put a foot wrong.

Bullshit. Mick was trying to get Lee out of the way in order for him to have a pop at Whitney, and as soon as he;s gone, Mick will have her back in the Vic. The first scene we had of Mick today was in the kitchen of the Vic, when Shirley came in with a Valentine's card and told him to ring Linda. Instead of ringing her straight  away, he decided to share his Valentine from her with Sylvie. That's how much Mick is not missing Linda now.

On the other hand, when Lee decided to bunk work and headed for the allotments, he ran into Patrick, who gave him a symbolically significant pep talk about the roots of plants going bad and needing replacing from time to time, indicating that Lee needed renewal in and of himself, not that he was bad to the core and needed replacing. I thought Lee's question to Patrick, asking him if anyone had ever told him to give up was poignant, and Patrick's answer was just the ticket. Never give up. 

And I was glad to see Patrick hand Mick his arse about his treatment of Lee, that Lee was a troubled young man who needed the support of his father, admonishing Mick to hold Lee close. At the end of the day, Lee is Mick's child. Whitney is just a conniving little slut.

As for the couple themselves, instead of using Valentine's Day as an opportunity to spend the evening talking their problems out, Whitney decided to make the big gesture and cadge a free meal at Beales as a Valentine's romantic gesture. Lee was reluctant to go. And that was when Lee reached an epiphany about his marital situation. 

First, there was Lauren, not only taking their order, but taking advantage of the situation to make a snarky comment. She even lied to her resident child carrier and all-round fixture and fitting, Stephen, (another emasculated male), who told her to mind her business; but the final straw for Lee was listening to Whitney begin to go on about how wonderful he was and how they would get through this and everything would be solved as soon as Lee got a well-paying job. Then, she dropped the clanger - Lee would end up being just like Mick; in fact, they'd be like Linda and Mick, a strong and solid couple. What a dumb bitch - Mick is neither strong, and his relationship with Linda has inherently weakened because of her. Or maybe Lee just heard for the first time how much Whitney was trying to convince herself with her umpteenth speech about how proud she was of him and how much she loved  him, when she was saying just the opposite two nights before. Maybe things just began to ring hollow at last.

So Lee cleared up and left, leaving Whitney to pick up the bill. Good. And he'd cleared out and gone. I was glad he left her with food for thought and that he actually said if first - that he didn't love her anymore. I'm glad, because he realised that night that she clearly didn't love him, and he wanted to say it first. And I do hope that the penny dropped with him about Mick's overt defence of Whitney - that Mick's interest in her is neither paternal nor innocent.

I wonder what Shirley will think when Mick and Whitney eventually do the inevitable against Linda?

Mean Girls. Rat's Nest, Sniggle, Louise and Rebecca bore men. The one thing I noticed tonight was that Rat's Nest clearly is someone who looks, close up, to be in her mid-twenties. Adults playing children. Please, EastEnders.

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