Saturday, March 4, 2017

In the Eye of the Shitstorm - Review:-Friday 03.03.2017

Just listen to this song for a moment:-

That song just about sums up EastEnders at the moment - it wanders, it meanders through situations which can't rightly be called storylines. A storyline has a beginning, a clear plot and a definitive end. On this show, we get the same shit on a different day - one scene over and over and over again, the same thing re-hashed in a different room, on a different date, at a different time of day.

Then there are the twists. DTC and his little helper, Alex Lamb, made elaborate plot twists. O'Connor's twists are smaller, more subtle, usually the result of something happening off-screen; but they still reinforce the circular aspect of most of the so-called storylines going on at the moment ... and the promise to be long-running.

Denise (and the Foxes seem to be everywhere at the moment, overriding other storylines and imposing themselves on everything in the time-honoured tradition of the Brannings at their worst or the Carters at their best) cannot resolve her storyline unless and until she actually states, finally and unequivocally, that she doesn't want her child back; but it won't end even there. It won't end when the adoption is final, because Kim will either force Phil's hand or Phil will be sucked into the morass of this storyline. He'll find out the names of the adoptive parents and force them to give up the child, somehow, someway. This is the new secret son storyline which will simmer away in the background forever. The Mitchell marriage will implode, and no one will care - certainly, not the Foxes, who care nothing about anything but themselves.

Ian's health storyline inches along, painstakingly, along the same lines as we've seen before with anyone who's ever had a health issue on the show. It was linked, however briefly with The Denise Fox Show tonight as a provision of a bad attempt at comedy, and resulted in just another storyline which the Fox sisters have infiltrated.

The ritual humiliation of Rebecca continued, nay, progressed, tied into Ian's sodden birthday celebrations, juxtaposed to creepy Prestonovich imposing himself on what Michelle reckoned would be a safe place for her during the evening, and proceeded to touch her up and squeeze her arse surreptitiously and uninvited. It was a rape of her personal space as much as she raped him. So this was turn-about being unfair play, and Michelle is being played until someone unwittingly finds her out. 

All this is played out against Mick's financial woes worsening, whilst the penny dropped further about Shirley's suspicions regarding Mick's feelings for Whitney. The twist at the end was only that Mick didn't fall onto the bosom of dirty Whitney, which was heaving in heartfelt love and compassion. 

But that probably happened off-screen.

Spreading Joy and Laughter Like Wildfire: The Foxes. Again. I went back and watched this episode unfold again the day after it aired. One good and clever thing it had was the way O'Connor and the writer, Colin Wyatt centred Ian's birthday celebrations and had other storylines emanate out from that, like spokes from a wheel cog, except the storylines touched and overlapped somewhat, and actually, action moved ahead somewhat.

At least, now Kim knows who the father of Denise's baby is; at least, now Martin and Stacey know about the revenge porn aimed at Rebecca. At least now, Mick knows another avenue of instant revenue is cut off to him. At least, now Shirley is beginning to suss more, the slippery amorous slope down which Mick is descending.

So something did actually happen.

 I know I'll get pilloried for saying this, just as I know that there are people who think that Denise can do no wrong whatsoever and who object to my opinion that she's really a pretty awful character with no redeeming qualities, a sourpuss, an ingrate. That she's played by a competent actress means the actress is doing her job. She's one of the most unpleasant characters in the Square, with the possible exception of her awful sister.

Kim annoys me. Carmel annoys me. Denise annoys me. All three together send me running to the nearest cliff. Kim is lazy, arrogant, entitled, and, actually, she's really an offensive racial stereotype. Seriously. EastEnders can't do ethnic characters without at least one of the group, descending into stereotype, and long before Dex-TAAAAHHH, Kim was a racial stereotype. She actually reminds me of a character from the 1970s, a character created by the late American comedian, Flip Wilson ... Geraldine Jones. Watch this, and see if it doesn't remind you of Kim:-

Kim thinks she's entitled - that word again - to know the identity of the father of Denise's baby. Carmel just wants the gossip. Quite frankly, as much as I dislike Denise for the ingrate that she is, this is her business. Sister, non-sister or no sister, it's her call. So the two take it between them to try to guess the identity of the baby's father. It wasn't rocket science to surmise that the father is someone local to the Square, so she and Carmel, who has a job to do but doesn't do it very much, loll around the market analysing the possibilities.

The first suspect is Mick Carter, whom they see speaking briefly to Denise as he exits The Minute Mart, which she's about to enter, even though she's been suspended from the premises. This was actually good continuity. It seemed for a long while that the show had actually forgotten that, the night of the bus crash, Denise had inadvertantly witnessed Mick and Whitney exchange a passionate snog at the hospital, and Mick confronted her about this. Now, after all this time, when they run into each other, in an unguarded moment when they both think they are out of earshot of everyone else, Denise, in a roundabout way, asks how Whitney is "coping" now that Lee's gone.

I suppose Denise, who's as capable as anyone else of putting one and one together and coming up with three, is asking Mick if the moment she witnessed was simply a "moment" and that's all. Mick, self-conscious, replies that Whitney's thrown herself into the running of the pub, geeing him up and even helping him out on a meeting with a bank manager coming later.

But someone has heard the conversation.

Carmel and Kim wonder if Mick were the father, but reckon that he would never be unfaithful to Linda. (Guess again). Someone suggests Billy Mitchell. Kim suggests Jack Branning, but Carmel reminds her that he was devoted to Ronnie, while Kim informs Carmel that Jack has had babies with both Ronnie's sister and her cousin.

Later, there's a make-up drink in the pub, which overspills somewhat and then a big lot into Ian's birthday celebrations. A drunken Ian accosts Denise with a rambling tale about writing his will and saying he wants to leave Denise something - a silly mug that she liked. Denise quips to Kim, in another piece of good continuity, that at least he's not willing her the vaguely racist oven gloves he gave her as a Christmas present.

All of this sparks Kim's curiosity, and when Carmel arrives, Kim is convinced that Ian is the father of Denise's baby, and quite frankly, she's disgusted. Kim is no prize, but to listen to the way she dissed Ian Beale's appearance, as if he weren't good enough for Denise. Well, Denise isn't choosy when it comes to partners, lately. The end result of that evening was Kim making a total and abject fool of herself by brazenly accusing Ian of "cheating on his disabled wife" and fathering Denise's baby, making the entire Beale table gobsmacked in disbelief. When Ian informed her that he couldn't have fathered a child and Jane informs them of his vasectomy, the Foxes are in retreat.

It's then, outside, that Denise tells Kim the truth, and Kim finds it difficult to believe that Denise shagged "drunk, bald, crazy" Phil Mitchell. And I then wonder if this isn't the result of Denise's shame all along about this - that the father isn't a Mick Carter or a Jack Branning or a Vincent Hubbard or a Ray Dixon, handsome men, the sort to whom she's normally attracted; but instead, she got sloshed and ended up copping one with "drunk, crazy, bald" Phil Mitchell. Not Grant, but Phil. That's what's really making her feel ashamed.

And once again, there's no mention of the fact that Phil has a wife. Kim talks of involving Phil in the child's future. How the hell does she think Phil's wife would react to that? IIRC, when Vincent wanted to play sperm bank in order to provide Donna with a child, she certainly wasn't too keen on that. I seem to recall that she told Vincent to buck his ideas up and think of his own wife and daughter, although for awhile, Vincent was determined and shoved Kim's opinion aside. But this isn't Kim, this is Sharon, and in the world of the Foxes, anyone who isn't them or who isn't associated with them doesn't matter.

Denise reads the letter the adoptive parents have sent. It's a beautiful letter, thanking her for their beautiful son, and expressing their total and unconditional love for him. These are the irrelevant people whom Denise thought would provide a horrible life for her son's. She says she now made the right decision, and Kim agrees; but I know that both these women have mouths like the Blackwall Tunnel, and I can't see TPTB, who provide for the basic viewer with a short attention span, allowing yet another Mitchell secret son to fester, probably the next block over, for as long as they did the contingency plan that was Mark Wotsit.

Someone somewhere before too long will start a plaintive wail about Phil's secret son and demand a new mixed race family rock up in the Square with a daughter and a son, who could or couldn't be Phil's son.

Watch this space, because I don't trust these people.

Mind Games: Michelle, Prestonovich and Rebecca. Martin's and Stacey's discovery of the revenge porn link about Rebecca making the rounds was another storyline making the rounds against the backdrop of Ian's birthday celebrations.

I need to say something about the Beales, first, as they provided background to a lot of which was happening in this episode. I know a lot of people think justice hasn't been rendered to Ian and Jane, in light of their appalling behaviour since Lucy's death - Jane's callous removal and dumping of Lucy's body, their cover-up of Bobby's involvement in Lucy's death, Ian's willingness to frame Ben for the murder and later their involvement in framing Max. There's still a lot that doesn't sit well with me - like the way both Lauren and Stacey are cosily fitting into the Beale fabric, with Lauren becoming a Beale in all but name and Stacey becoming, effectively, Jane's best friend. Especially where Max is concerned.

A lot of people say the Beales should be rotting in prison someplace, and in real time, they would be; but consider what's happened since then. Jane is in a wheelchair. Ian's about to suffer a health scare. These are two people who are comfortable with each other more than being hopelessly in love with each other. If Cindy walked back into Walford tomorrow, Jane would be yesterday's news. Jane tolerates Ian because no one else will. As opposed to Kathy, who is Ian's mother and still at that uncertain stage, after her disappearance act of almost a decade, where she feels she can't level any justifiable criticism his way, Jane can and does.

She is still his mother figure as well as his wife. 

The Beales are trapped in that house of hell. They sleep on the spot where Bobby brained Lucy. She is the unseen, unspoken about ghost, who's the elephant in the room. In this episode, Ian started to mentionn his children who weren't there - one is dead, one is languishing someplace half-way around the world (or until such a time as viewers forget the actor who played Moose enough that he can be re-cast as Peter Beale), and Bobby, imprisoned, is the timebomb waiting to explode as soon as he's sixteen, a certifiable little psychopath-in-training.

That's enough to frighten anyone. The only child left to Ian is his non-son, Steven, and here's a character who deserves to be more than a background piece, Ian's yes-man stepson, desperate for recognition, approval and love, or Lauren's babysitter. It was quite funny in this episode to hear Steven speak up and volunteer Lauren to forego the birthday drinks and stay at home with Louis, her son, after all; we've seen enough evenings where Lauren's out and about with Whitney and such, and Steven or the Beales babysit Louis. Lauren was quite put out about that. Good.

Steven used to have such promise and such edge. He was formerly the unstable boy, who managed to kidnap Ian and cause havoc with Lucy in her wild child days. He was also gay. The new, improved, hetero Steven, who began by embezzling from Ian, with Lauren's collusion, until Jane discovered this, and then he came up with some cock-and-bull story about Peter Beale, the desperate alcoholic, in debt and languishing in New Zealand. I still don't believe that. Then there was that electric look he exchanged with Johnny Carter when he first arrived. People haven't forgotten that.

It's just that Steven had so much promise, and now he's morphed into a bland, background, staid character, even though there have been some uneven attempts to inject some sort of storyline into the fray - his jealousy that Lauren wanted to send pictures of Louis to Peter and Lauren's upbraiding him for not wanting to do anything to aid the victims of the bus crash. However, Lauren is mooching around for a storyline also - and how the mighty have fallen!

It wasn't that long ago, that she was the premier ingenue on the show, the go-to girl, the star. Then DTC lands her with his favourite subject, a baby, and she's nobody's news.

All in all, however, I liked the birthday drinks scene and the family banter and silly jokes.

Steven's round!
That's a bit of an insult.

And Kathy was sweet with her reminiscences of Ian's birth and her waters breaking in the back of Pete's van. She is so much better this way than her imitation of Catherine Tate's garrulous, drunken Nan. 

The set-up in the Vic offered a situation of differeing proportions for Michelle and for Rebecca. Rebecca, upset and suffering from cyber-humiliation, has doffed off school on the pretence of being sick from period pains. Yet Stacey encourages her to attend Ian's do in order to spend time with Martin. She thinks this is a safe space for her, and for awhile, her emotions are allayed.

Michelle, on the other hand, has her space invaded by the mistake who just won't go away. Once Preston arrives, unbidden, and is invited to join the party by Martin, she's subjected to an evening of unwanted touching and inappropriate squeezing, all under the table and unbenownst or detected by anyone. It wasn't without irony that Martin bade him sit between Michelle and Rebecca, both of whom he'd slept with - using one as bait to inflame the jealousy of the other. 

So Michelle had to sit in silence and suffer the hand on her thigh, the inappropriate touching, the bum being fondled. To say anything would have brought her sordid little secret out into the open, and she'd be forever even more disgraced than she was before. She had made the mistake of telling this boy that discovery of their illicit and illegal affair in the US would lose her the last remnants of anyone who feels anything for her - her British relatives. Silly admission to make, even though it's true. It's given Prestonovich all the ammunition he needs to stick around like a bad smell and make her live living hell, knowing she can do nothing about it. He's employed, illegally, by Martin on the fruit and vegetable stall, an ambition I suppose his parents never foresaw for him. He has no visa and no work permit. Not only could Martin and Ian lose the stall, they'd be seriously in deep doo-doo. You'd think Ian, who's pretty suss as a businessman, would have warned Martin about hiring this kid.

I'm still not warming to NuMichelle, no matter how many faux memories she might relate concerning her childhood and adolescence with Ian on the Square. She has no kind of familial chemistry with Martin. Her juvenile boyfriend was upset that she'd neglected to mention Ian's birthday drinks. She was succinct. He wasn't invited,and he was to stop trying to ingratiate himself into her family. Martin thinks he's a far nicer bloke for Rebecca's romantic interests than Shakil, and he couldn't be more far wrong.

I found it extremely ironic that Michelle was now subjected to an evening filled with unwanted sexual attention, acts which she couldn't rebuff for obvious reasons - in short, sexual harassment - when her having sex with the underaged Prestonovich is, in his country, deemed to be rape. I have no sympathy for this woman.

In a scene between Michelle and Martin in the cafĂ©, there were a couple of niggles there, one big. Sharon called about Dennis's secondary school place. She was aiming for King Edward; he got Walford High instead. It wasn't that long ago that Ricky and Bianca were bemoaning the fact that Liam had been allocated King Edward's. It was a rough school, three bus rides away, and it resulted in Liam's brief flirtation with the West Side Story drama school gangland fiasco. Now, it's a much-desired school, but that isn't all.

Martin's worried about Rebecca's friendship with "that" Louise, and Michelle remarks:-

This is Louise who was a Fowler and brought up by Mark!

OK, let's make some clarifications here. Martin spoke about Louise as if he didn't know who the hell she was, other than Phil Mitchell's daughter. He would know very well that Louise was born when Lisa was married to Mark, and that her birth was registered as "Louise FOWLER". As Lisa's husband, Mark was the legal father of the child. They were living with Martin and Pauline when Louise was born. Martin was an adolescent, with a one year-old daughter living with her adopted parents. He would have remembered everything about Lisa's eventual return to Phil, about her leaving Walford and refusing to get the child's surname changed to Mitchell by deed poll. Indeed, when Louise showed up in Walford in 2010, an 8 year-old, she was Louise "FOWLER." There is no way Lisa would allow her daughter to call herself Mitchell, and in 2010, when she was briefly put in care, Phil Mitchell had to go to court, because Social Services were about to contact her next-of-kin, in the absence of her mother, who would, by law, have been Martin Fowler, her uncle.

That's one thing. The other is that Louise was never "brought up" by Mark Fowler. She was born in November. By late January, Lisa had removed herself and the baby to the Vic, where she went to live with Phil. Once Phil knew that Louise was his daughter, he was like a bull in a china shop, demanding custody, but Marcus Christie, then his solicitor, gave him one solid piece of legal advice. 

Phil had no rights to Louise, only the rights accorded to him by Lisa and Mark. Mark's name was on her birth certificate. He was, under law, her father. Phil could not apply for custody. The only thing he could hope to achieve was access, controlled access with Lisa present, and only if Mark gave his permission. But Lisa left Mark, so Mark's "bringing up" of Louise lasted about three months.

Martin would have been aware of all of that. In fact, when Sharon told Sonia, early last year, that Louise had shown up in Walford, Sonia asked if she'd come to see Martin, who - on paper - is her uncle.

The ultimate aim of the Beale get-together was to expose Martin to the revenge porn link about Rebecca that's making the rounds. I don't know how Steven Beale got in the loop and got sent the link, but that's how Martin found out. I thought the show left that segment on a damp squib, allowing the final shot to be all about Mick, but I thought for a moment that Martin would see Shakil, wandering aimlessly and conveniently about the Square and kick off at him.

I suppose that case of mistaken identity has yet to surface.

All About Mick (and Shirley's onto It). Shirley got the line of the episode early on about Whitney's drippy devotion to Mick:-

I swear she wags her tail every time he calls.

Shirley senses something isn't kosher between Mick and Whitney. She suspects something, especially now that Mick isn't returning Linda's calls and isn't telling her anything about the roof situation at the Vic. Mick might think that he doesn't want to worry her, but I still think Mick is resentful of the attention that Linda is giving her mother, when everything is cascading, literally, down around his ears.

Even though she advised Mick to telle Lee to walk away from his marriage, I don't think for one instant that she imagined Lee to be exiled away from Walford whilst Mick brings Whitney back to the Vic and installs her in an almost executive capacity on the flimsy excuse that she's "family." 

Shirley is right. Whitney is no longer family. She has no child by Lee who ties her to Mick and Linda. She's simply the soon-to-be ex-wife of their son. It's not as if she has no place to go. She has claim to stay with the Fowlers because Lily is her niece. She could return to live with Bianca in Milton Keynes or she could go to Yorkshire to live with her worthless plug of a brother.

At the moment, Shirley thinks Whitney has a dangerous crush on Mick, but then she overheard Denise and Mick discussing Whitney post-Lee and if her mind were in the right place. She notes Mick's unease at talking about the situation with Denise. Shirley knows her son, and she knows something is rotten.

And it is.

Awhile back we had the awful symbolic scene of Sharon wearing dead Peggy's perfume as an act which signified her replacing Peggy as the Mitchell matriarch. Tonight, in a contrived scene where, waiting for the bank manager to show up, Whitney whined that she's spilled soup on the sleeve of her top and how she'd look like a scruff in the interview with the bank manager beside Mick in his suit. (Sorry, but surely she has other tops, and by the end of the eventual scene, she was wearing a different, sparkly top).

Johnny comes up with an even more heavily-endowed piece of symbolism: he grabs a jacket of Linda's for her to wear. So now she's living in Linda's pub, acting Linda's part and wearing Linda's clothes. The heated look of approval Mick gave her was telling to any eye.

Later, when the bank manager arrived, he mistook Whitney to be Mick's wife. That's the second time this has been assumed.

Of course, Mick didn't get the loan. The business was good, but Mick was a bad credit risk. I couldn't understand why there was no personal loan given Mick at the time he applied for one regarding Elaine and Linda and transporting them home. I cannot believe that the Carters are that skint from their business, which seems to be thriving.

I don't know how much of a salary they allow themselves, but most of their staff are family, bar Tracey. Mick maxed his credit cards out to pay off Lee's debt, and I know he's been trying to pay that debt, which is now his, plus the payday loan he got for 14k to cover Linda's and Elaine's plight. He is swimming.

Now he owes Konrad.

And this doesn't include the fine he will have to, at least, begin paying regarding breaking licencing laws.

Mick's breakdown at the end reminds me of a spoiled, little child who suddenly realises that he isn't going to get his way. The soliloquy was telling - how he'd always managed to get by and to get what he wanted before, how he'd always come out on top. That, I suppose, was due to the fact that he usually had Linda or Elaine around to mop up his messes or to avert his potential messes. Linda would have met that bank manager head on. She wouldn't have begged and then got shirty with him. She'd have negotiated, arranged a meeting on the premises, not in the upstairs comfort zone of their house. She'd have achieved something, other than Whitney, whose initial response was she'd have to put on her "best smile."

Again, Shirley was right. This wasn't a beauty contest, it was business. And Whitney went into that, thinking that if things went south, all she'd have to do was bat her eyelids at the bank manager and hed do Mick's bidding. Instead, when the bank manager turned him down, in the nicest of ways, Mick got shirty, petulant and rude.

Even Shirley would have achieved some sort of result.

The twist at the end, with Mick realising that he might have to spend time in prison, was that he didn't fall back into the waiting arms of Whitney. He will, however. Since she's assumed the clothing and nomenclature of "Mrs Carter," it's only a matter of time before he sleeps with her.

And Denise's mouth is so big, she won't be able to help herself in telling Shirley about that kiss.

How to Get a Message Across. Lost in all this welter of confusion is a beautiful tale, a brilliant masquerading of a public service announcement, regarding Tina's and Shirley's dealing with their mother, whose Alzheimer's is getting worse.

Once again, when did Tina get to be so nice? She's devoted to the mother who deserted her when she was a small child. She wants to celebrate her mum's 75th birthday - nothing elaborate, just a small tea party and some music she likes and maybe remembers.

Shirley's brutally realistic. Sylvie can't even remember that she's only just eaten, you could tell her her birthday was today or tomorrow, and it would not register.

Tina isn't about memories, she's about moments, and that's what it comes down to when someone has dementia - it's affording them a good moment, which gets them through the day or jogs a bit of near-forgotten memory. Even if her mind is totally blank, and there's no knowing what sort of jumbled thoughts rush through it, this is their mother, and Tina wants to honour her on her special day.

It's actually quite a beautiful and informative storyline, which packs a punch. It's just a pity it's lost in a muddle of teen angst, baby-daddies and circular scenes.

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