Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Denise Show - Review:- Thursday 23.02.2017

Well, that was truly awful. Half an hour of my life I'll never get back. This has to be the absolute worst episode under Sean O'Connor's watch. It was literally everything Newmanesque rolled into 30 minutes and served up, without even a dollop of ketchup with which to flavour it.

We had the absurd (Ben and Jay, the non-couple couple whose relationship veers someplace in the netherlands between friends, lovers and brothers, whooping it up in what looks like a glorified squat, living like the former tenants - students whom they disparaged - taking order of an expensive flat-screened television and scavenging in wheelie bins for teaspoons) to the predictable (Whitney getting ready to move from one husband to someone else's) to the creepy (Petronovich bedding Rebecca RedNose to make the odious NuMichelle jealous) to the boringly repetitive (Denise is the new Carters is the new Brannings, featured in every episode and juggling about ten different storylines simultaneously) to the ridiculous (the near-blind Dot, marvelling over the "woman in the heavens" who guides the satellite to the garden centre).

The dialogue was awful, the acting was amateurish and the theme of the broken community is pretty trite. It's fucking life, that's what it is. Get the fuck over it.

This programme is tanking. Maybe the BBC should sell the rights to Tony Jordan's production company and see what he can do with it.

Because it's sinking. Fast.

Men Behaving Badly. On the one hand, against the backdrop of incessant whining about a community being broken, Ben summed up life amongst the lowly perfectly for the 21st Century in one line ...

Tonight, this house becomes a home.

And why? Because of the delivery of a huge, flat-screened television.

And doesn't that encapsulate the lack of community Saint Holy Mother Queen and Empress Denise was bemoaning? Because what everyone wants at the end of the day is a little peace, to close the doors of he world, have a bite to eat and settle down in front of the telly.

Ne'mind the fact that Ben and Jay are sleeping in sleeping bags, in their clothes on top of bare mattresses and living out of one room, surrounded by the rotting detritus and assorted rubbish left behind by the previous student tenants, it doesn't matter that they're living the same way - the only difference being that, unlike the students, who were, ostensibly studying at some point in the day or week, Ben and Jay actually have jobs.

Not well-paying jobs by any sense of the word and certainly not paying enough money to afford them the luxury of renting what appears to be a three-bedroomed terraced house in London.

These two were like strangers tonight, and I think it was because within that scope of thirty minutes, where their section encompassed about five minutes altogether, it seems that no one in the writing room could really decide who or what Ben and Jay, together, were meant to be.

To begin with, all the hoopla they exhibited in the run up to renting the house, seemed oddly false and forced. All this "We're-getting-our-own-place-it's-party-time" bluster and bonhomie rang curiously hollow. It's natural that they want to do the place up their way - it's a statement of their independence, after all - but turning down Kathy's offer to clean the place for free to pay professional cleaners to do the job is simply stupid - as stupid as scavenging in a wheelie bin for a couple of teaspoons spotted at the bottom of the bin and getting stuck in head first.

Since moving into this house, Jay and Ben have become a garrulous sitcom, everything badly cute and awfully stereotypical about two young blokes living together; but the situation appears to have confused the writing room about who Ben and Jay are and what they mean to one another. At the beginning of the episode, they were hunkered down on two mattresses in the front room, head-to-toe, and discussing plans for a house-warming party to end all parties. There was more than a little rampant sexism in Jay's remark about missing Sharon ..

All you had to do was put a cup down, and it was washed, dried and put away in an instant.

Yes, Jay, because that's all that women do is clean up after men. You put something down, you expect someone to trail along behind you and pick it up, but now you have to do something yourself.

In another instance when Jay phones Ben at the Arches (after Ben tells Kathy he's got the day off work so he can unpack, he shows up at the Arches), whilst they talk on the phone, Ben's attitude and manner of speaking is almost as cosy and intimate as a man speaking to his girlfriend, or even his boyfriend. I know that the love of Ben's life is Jay, but Jay is heterosexual, and he'll never have a romantic interest in Ben; so maybe sometimes, in unguarded moment, Ben's tenderness to Jay seeps out, in telephone conversations and in talking to other people.

And yet in the next scene, where Jay's found, feet up and stuck in a wheelie bin, because he'd been scavenging around Whitney's cast-off detritus and spotted a couple of teaspoons at the bottom of the bin, they're supposed to be a comedy duo - Jay getting stuck in a bin was supposed to make us laugh, even if it didn't.

The entire exchange between Ben and Jay in the past few episodes has come across as too-loud, too-forced, and too-unfunny.

Their final scene, a trifecta involving themselves and Whitney, a character with whom neither of them have ever had any connection or even dialogue, was totally surreal and borderline bizarre. Released from the bin by Whitney and Ben and seeing them laughing, Jay immediately starts over-acting and shouting at them, telling them not to laugh at him, but in a way that acknowledges that they are, indeed, laughing at him and that he thinks it's funny - before flouncing away to have a shower. 

That's when Whitney, ever the victim and mourning the loss of a man she disparaged, alludes to Paul and asks Ben how he coped after Paul's death - except that this false equivalency was frivolous and grossly disrespectful to Paul's memory - because at the end of the day, Paul is dead and is never returning to Ben; and Lee can return to Whitney anytime he chooses to do so.

Obviously, Ben and Jay expect to get other people to move into the house and share the costs of the rent - how, exactly, does this make them landlords? They rent the house; they don't own it. It simply means they get a couple of other souls to move into a spare bedroom or two and pay their respective quarters of the rent. Ben and Jay can't "rent out" rooms, per se.

Honestly, this is the first episode in a long time where I found myself looking at the clock. Never a good sign.

American Squirm. I was surprised to hear Preston Prestonovich Prestonovsky say he'd only been here a week. It seems like longer.

I'm sorta kinda glad that neither Louise nor Dennis seem all that keen on Michelle hanging around like a bad smell, because she's getting on my nerves as well. 

This was an atrocious segment for various reasons. Really, if Michelle sticks around, maybe she could forge a friendship with Denise. They could sit around, using four-syllabled words in sentences which contain their own incorrect grammar and syntax, whilst looking down their disdainful noses to everyone else.

Martin has never heard of the word "impetuous"? When Michelle warns Martin to keep an eye on Rebecca's growing friendship with Preston, deeming Preston "impetuous", Martin makes the standard Luddite remark ...

You're using big words again, Michelle.

You fucking what? I get it that Martin is supposed to be some sort of common-and-garden Everyman, in the way Ricky Butcher, and before him, Martin's father, Arthur, was; but neither of those predecessors were dolts capable of using words of only one syllable. Once again, the distance between someone like Michelle, with a university degree and everyone else who'd barely finished secondary school, is presented as a vast void. 

To begin with, Michelle has a poxy polytechnic degree. One assumes she got teaching qualifications in the US, where she taught English - but, trust me, even Trumpster Americans in the Deep South aren't so stupid to think that someone speaking with an English accent is qualified to teach high school English. She would have had to have taken a certain number of Education courses and she would have had to have completed a semester of practice teaching even to get licenced by the state - you have to be professionally licenced to teach in state schools.

Secondly - and I was listening to a programme about linguistics today on Radio 4, which made me think of this. You adapt your language to your audience. It stands to reason that Michelle would employ one type of English vernacular in her professional guise and a more familiar speaking tone and vernacular when talking with your friends and family. An example? I sound more Southern when I'm speaking with friends and family from Virginia. 

There is no way Michelle would have come onto Martin sounding like the educational professional and well-spoken woman she's become; conversely, there's no way Martin wouldn't have understood the meaning of the word "impetuous."

But then again, something else struck me about the Michelle segment: Michelle is now a well-educated professional, even though she'll never front a classroom full of children again; she's a self-fulfilling prophecy in EastEnders' terms - the well-spoken, well-educated professional in a position of trust who's done a truly awful thing. Like Stella (who secretly abused Ben); Mad May (who wanted to cut Dawn's baby from her uterus and leave Dawn to bleed to death); and Yusef (who was a wife-beater who tried to burn his wife to death as a young man) - a solicitor, two doctors and a teacher, all of whom are scumbags.

Michelle is no fool, however. She knows exactly what Preston is about, and she knows he's using Michelle. This doesn't, however, exonerate Michelle, the fact that the boy in question in her downfall happens to be a pushy, manipulative, spoiled little shit. She was still the adult in the equation of teacher and student. Whether she made the first move in the establishment of the ensuing relationship or whether Preston did is moot. At the end of the day, if she started the thing, she was the groomer and should have known better; if she didn't, being the adult, she should have put the brakes on the thing and taken responsibility as the adult in the room.

The show should stop trying to make her sympathetic. Some pimply-faced little unpaid intern simply assumed that the age of consent in the United States was the same as that in Great Britain, and that an affair between a teacher of forty-seven would be taken as slightly more serious than an illicit slap and tickle. It wasn't. Somewhere along the line, someone discovered the unintentional faux pas, hence the reason why Michelle was forced to acknowledge that she'd committed a crime in dialogue last week. Her subsequent line about being lucky not to have been prosecuted was a joke - because in the real world, she would have been prosecuted ... because she is technically a rapist.

Only in the narcissistic world of Milo Yiannopolous would she be given any sort of credibility, and we've seen how far he's fallen.

On the other side of this beefcake sandwich is Rebecca, a girl who's a walking example of someone who has a lot of book sense but precious little common sense. And with friends like Louise, who needs enemies? What exactly did Louise mean by telling Preston that Louise had "had" every boy in school? I know she's trying to get Preston interested in Rebecca to help Rebecca move on from Shakil, but did she think that presenting her friend as someone who's cut a sexual swathe through every male student in their high school would make her attractive to Preston, or was that a cack-handed way of saying that she was popular? Except that it gave this horndog the idea that Rebecca would be an easy lay - which is just what she proved to be in the end.

And here, as well, we have the utterly naive Martin, writing off Rebecca's escapade with Shakil, and preferring her involvement with Preston, someone about whom he knows nothing, and why? Because he believes him to be a mate of his nephew's? Because he speaks with an accent he might think exotic and comes from a country where his middle-class lifestyle is miles above anything to which Martin could aspire? Because his cleancut appearance is more preferable than the streetsuss knobhead that is Shakil?

Martin simply thinks Preston is a nice guy, and Shakil isn't because he took Rebecca's virginity - well, it took Rebecca less than a week to crawl into bed with Prestonovich. That either makes him manipulative or it makes her stupid. Or both.

Another anomaly with this badly portrayed character comes when he grabs Rebecca's phone and calls the school, imitating Martin in a cockney accent (probably the way he really talks), presenting Martin as a blokey-bloke ignoramus who would address whatever school official was speaking on the other end of the phone as "mate." Surely the school knows Martin, and surely Martin, in a million years, would never address school officials like that. 

Finally, there was no end to the irony of Kathy rushing to show Michelle a vacant teaching position at the local community college, and Michelle knowing exactly that she could never apply for that position at all. Her professional career is finished, and if the show pretends it isn't, it's dead wrong.

The National Health. Talk about cracking a walnut with a sledgehammer ... we get the message that Ian is worried about his health, specifically about his weight. His constant questioning of everyone from a distracted Michelle to a visibly uncomfortable Mick - I mean, asking Mick if he'd literally fancy what he saw were he to see Ian naked was a bit nonsensical - if he'd put on weight was a walking advertisement for a public service announcement, as well as the fact that two hours after he had breakfast at his home, his mother is calling him out for having a second breakfast in the cafĂ©.

I realise the show has dumbed-down in its messaging, but this is ridiculous.

What distracted me, however, was the scene shared by Woodyatt and Dyer. I kept thinking about the way Dyer allegedly has supposedly impugned Woodyatt as an actor, yet they carried off that weird scene to perfection.

Dotty Dot. Just what was that supposed to achieve? At first I thought this was all about Dot believing her eyesight was improving to such a degree that, rather than wait for Jack to be able to take her to the garden centre, she felt she could do so, herself. I was afraid for Matthew being with her; but then the whole thing was all about Dot getting bamboozled by the latest technology.

Dot, as I recall, almost twenty years ago, was one of the first people on the Square to crack computers and to understand the Internet; yet here we had her wittering on about Bradley teaching her about "the Google", searching "bushes" and obviously coming up with images of naked women, and inadvertantly starting some sort of music.

And surely she's been in enough cars or at least heard talk of sat nav? Instead, Dot has to play stupid and act as if the mechanical woman talking in the sat nav device is a New Wave spiritual embodiment of an omniscient being, someone away with the fairies on a star in a galaxy far, far away, offering Dot guidance along the roads.

That's enough for her to take Matthew, clamber in the Smart Car and toddle to the garden centre to buy a bitch load of plants, and to get into what can only be described as a dingbat conversation with an elderly couple she'd literally run into. Honestly, talking about the woman in the satellite guiding her, they must have thought she had dementia.

In the end, high on singing to hymns and getting confused by the sat nav device, she manages to turn the wrong way down a one-way carriageway. 

I don't think Dot will be driving anymore, but what the hell was that all about?

Another Notch in Her Lipstick Case. Whitney doesn't want to throw a pity party, but that's exactly what she does. 

The supreme piece of unintentional irony tonight came from Johnny, who told Whitney not to worry, that perhaps "Mr Right" was just around the corner. In Whitney's ambitious mind, he is. It's Mick. 

And remember that most things in EastEnders are not said without reason or purpose. The last thing Lee told Johnny to fo was to "keep an eye on Whitney." Now it's just Johnny, Whitney and Mick living under the same roof, and we know that Whitney and Mick have already come precariously close to a bit of 'ow's yer favver.

They'll do the dirty, and who will discover their sordid little secret?

There's a room waiting for you in Ben's new house, Johnny.

If Whitney had any integrity, she'd spend a long time on her own, thinking about her marriage and her own behaviour towards Lee, but since, like Lauren, she's all about herself, she won't.

And she always looks as though she needs a bath.

Round and Round the Garden. John Yorke started the over-emphasis of particular characters/families (the Slaters), and no one in succession has learned the lesson of overkill. The Slaters were pitched as a better family than either the Beales, Fowlers or Mitchells. They were spread throughout the Square without ever integrating into friendships or associations with depth. They featured in every episode aired for one entire year. They were everywhere. And within five years, they were completely spent.

Oh, they soldiered on in another form with Stacey the resident ingenue at the helm for another five years, but they overkilled Stacey (and Ronnie) during 2009-2010.

The Brannings were meant to replace the de facto Mitchells after Peggy's departure. They grew apace until at times, week after week of episode featured scenes only peopled by the Brannings and their satellites. They came in all shapes, sizes and colours. They slept with each other. They traded wives and girlfriends. When Bryan Kirkwood killed off Pat, he presented us with a ready-made matriarch, Cora Cross, who happened to be an inlaw of the Brannings.

Then, after Derek was terminated, the clan began to crack and break up. The next galaxy of ascending stars were the Carters, DTC's pet project based on his own family and featuring his own favourite "icon", Shirley.

Familiarity breeds contempt, and Denise is now rapidly approaching that.

Several points - just when did the beautification of the Square become so important? We had one episode in the dead of winter where Stacey and Jane mentioned doing some therapeutic gardening, and nothing more. Denise didn't even bother to help with the chore. In fact, when asked, she turned her nose up at it. Now, all of a sudden, the Square's gardens are becoming the symbol of a broken community. 

Oh, please. The Square's been introverted for years. As people keep reiterating. This is the 21st Century, not 1985. People are more well-off. When the show started, the Fowlers didn't even have a telephone in the house and still used a coal fire.

It now seems that SOC seems intent on making Denise the star of the show. She's featured in almost every episode, even if it's only one scene in the Minute Mart. I've lost track of the number of storylines she has, but she acquired a few more tonight. The magistrates' scene was ridiculous. She went from acknowledging that she'd done wrong - the kid provoked her, and he's vile; but she did assault him - to mouthing off at her sentence in the magistrates' court. 

She pleaded guilty. Did she expect they were going to let her off without a fine? As one of the magistrates said, she simply couldn't take the law into her own hands. Keegan played the system, but that's what people like him do; and even though he did deserve a smack, it did leave a mark, a bruise and noticeable breaking of the skin, even though he did milk his "head injury" for all it was worth.

Even worse, was the ludicrous performance of Kim in the courtroom. Is she just stupid or are they seriously trying to emulate idiotic sitcoms and make her a comedy character, pretending to be an "attorney" based on having watched L A Law. 

That had to be the most embarrassingly butt-clinchingly bad segment of the show. It showed Kim and Denise at their worst. Even more unbelievable was the fact that Denise could just ring up the Walford Gazette, and immediately they'd be interested in hearing her tale of woe and broken community, simply based on what she did and why she was punished. She's effectively been put on probation conditional of good behaviour for 12 months. Mouthing off to the papers will only wave a red flag in Keegan's direction as the little scrote is so de-sensitised, narcissistic and simply mean enough to pursue a vendetta against her, and - again, here we have an adult and a child - Denise is the adult in the room.

Kim even beginning to compare Denise to Nelson Mandela was an insult to the great man, himself. She's an odious creature and simply ignorant. As for Denise, the so-called brainy intellect, for once I was Team Carmel. Carmel is a soft touch. Denise can't retaliate against Keegan, so she targets Carmel with undue criticism aimed at Shakil, who really hasn't done anything but stand around with a basketball, looking gormless. It's corporate responsibility or guilt by association, but she isn't doing herself any favours. 

All this plethora of storylines heaped on the latest version of the Blisters has done is make me wish they were off the screen. Soon. Please.

Awful episode.

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