Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Stench of Brookside - Review:- Thursday 30.03.2017

Bette Davis said it, and I have to reiterate her quote: What a dump! No, wait ... What a dump!

We waited two days for that? I feel vindicated that my sarky prediction about the extent of Kush's and Kathy's injuries was almost exact. Kathy's injuries were so superficial, after having the chippy literally fall on top of her, that she required no sort of attention at the hospital - no clean up of the superficial cuts on her face, no assessment of shock, no muscular or internal injury assessment. This is a 67 year-old woman, FFS - she'd be the first of the walking wounded to be assessed and evaluated.

At least Kush was knocked out, and Denise, the star of the show, again showed why she's Sean O'Connor's own personal Supergirl, or WonderWoman. Kush was prone on the floor, unconscious, probably concussed (which means a potential head injury). Not only did he have the chippy collapse on him as well, he took the brunt of the SUV crashing through the window. Now, what's the first rule of thumb in an accident situation where someone's knocked out cold?

You don't move them. You have that drilled into you from day one on any First Aid course. Above all, you don't move them from the shoulder up, because there may also be a potential neck - and that means spinal cord - injury. But, not Saint Denise ... she plowed through the wreckage and demanded that Kathy, who knew better, help her lift Kush out of harm's way - as if he ever were in harm's way at all. He got off with a dislocated shoulder, and was healthy enough to allow Denise to give him an oral tonsillectomy, getting up close and personal in an ER bed bay. 

My most lasting impression of that scene was Diane Parish's exquisitely and expensively manicured acryllic nails, honed in a designer colour. Of course, we're supposed to believe that unemployed Cockney sparrow Denise, who doesn't know from whence her next regular income will come, with a mortgage on a terraced house in what is now supposed to be a trendy part of London, and who's never made more than minimum wage in her unskilled life, can afford that sort of manicure which probably costs upwards of fifty quid in real time,

Of course, in real time, Kush and Kathy would be dead. Toast. Brown bread. Instead, Michelle, protected by the fortress of steel and precision engineering of a Bayerische MotorWerk SUV, enhanced by airbags on all four sides, comes out with a damaged spleen and broken ribs. And bleeding. Lots of bleeding, so much bleeding that she'll have to lose that spleen. 

EastEnders should now officially start a Lost Spleen Club. Think of its members - Phil (lost his as a result of fighting Grant in the wake of Sharongate); Max (lost his as a result of being run over by Lauren); Sharon (lost hers as a result of being attacked by the thugs Phil arranged to raid The Albert), And these characters are remarkably healthy with the loss of an organ which controls white blood cell counts which fight infection. We hear nothing of either Phil, Sharon or Max having to have regular vaccinaions against pneumococcal infections and having to have annual flu jabs. Phil, especially, with his history of alcohol abuse would be particularly at risk. But, no, the spleen is such an inconsequential organ, we can just throw it into any sort of serious injury ailment suffered in some sort of accident. Why not lose a kidney? Dot did, through cancer, and curiously, never had any subsequent remedial treatment like chemotherapy or radiation. Why not have a lung collapse? You can live without one kidney or a lung ... but no, it's always the spleen in EastEnders.

And no one died as a result of this accident, yet another EastEnders' stunt that failed. Oh, Sylvie died - shades of El Dorado, she was electrocuted when her CD player fell into her bathwater. She could have been saved, if the pathetic drama queen Whitney, in one of the most amateurish performances I've ever seen in that programme, hadn't demanded that Tina, a character with whom she's had precious little interaction, remain downstairs in the bar, drinking with her to quell her nerves because the chip shop crash made her think of her getting run over by a bus, and subsequently sucking on Mick's tongue.

And I haven't even started on Preston Prestonovich Prestonofsky.

Not one of Daran Little's best ...

Stop Trying to Curry Sympathy for Michelle! If anyone should have walked away from that shower intact, it should have been Michelle. She was girded by the protection of a German-made SUV, complete with multiple airbags and a ring of reinforced steel. She should have unlocked the door, stepped out and trilled ...

Anybody hurt?

Instead, we've got an elderly woman and a horny thirtysomething gadding about, and Michelle is unconscious. I'd be willing to bet she's unconscious from the effects of a combination of barbiturates and alcohol. I hope they take a blood test at the hospital, because she's done criminal damage there, and she's committed another crime.

But it's obvious that this is supposed to be a ploy to stoke up sympathy for Michelle - to show Martin, rightfully, disgusted by her actions, especially the way in which she willfully used and manipulated his child, emotionally. Martin has every right to be upset; and then the object was to conflict him, by presenting him with his last living sibling, his last link to Pauline and Arthur, badly hurt.

I found the reactive scenes involving the Fowlers the most watchable of a bad lot. James Bye has come into his own, and it's been a great revelation to see Stacey emerge from stroppy gobshite to a calm, mature wife and maternal figure in the NuFowler household. Pairing Stacey and Martin as a married couple was an inspiration on Dominic Treadwell-Collins's part. It joined pre-Millennium Walford with Millennial Walford. It married the first baby born on the show, the last-surviving scion of an original family, with probably the most iconic post-Millennial character on the programme.

Martin is both appalled and disgusted by Michelle's actions, but sometimes, the simplistic stupidity the writers apply to Martin is uncomfortable to watch. His lack of curiosity over the past four months that Michelle has been in Walford has been difficult to fathom. Didn't he ever ask her why she'd left her husband and son or why she'd, seemingly, walked out on her job? Wasn't he the slightest bit curious as to why she had shown up, out of the blue, at Christmas,for no reason, when she hadn't even bothered to return to Walford for any reason in the past twenty years?

After all and after the reveal on Tuesday, Michelle had admitted as much that Walford wasn't her home anymore, and Martin is repelled, not only by Michelle's actions, but moreso by the fact that she'd used his daughter as a pawn in her coy little games with Preston. But the stupid line of the night has to go to Martin ...

I mean, he was her student! Isn't that illegal or somefink ...

Duuhhhhh, yes, Martin, it is, especially in Florida where the age of consent is 18, and this mess had been going on since Prestonovich was 16.

And we have another scene of utter humiliation for the hapless Rebecca. I think it would be clever if TPTB had her walk through episode after episode with a yellow Post-It on her forehead, saying ... Humiliate me ... because that's everything that seems to happen to Rebecca, the requisite teen to humiliate. 

With Rebecca's weeping and Martin's beetle-browed, but justifiable, belligerance, Stacey's comforting calm was welcome. She knew exactly what to do to comfort and offer support to Rebecca, just letting her vent until she'd calmed down, not raising her voice, just letting both Martin and Rebecca react in their own ways and just being there for them.

The rest of this segment dealt with the odious Preston, who's proven that he is exactly as Martin assessed him - a kid. Not just a kid, but a spoiled, imposing and tactless kid, who really knows no boundaries. 

One of the most subtle, yet effective moments of the episode came as Preston was jumping about, panicking that Michelle was out for the count inside the BMW, when he turns frantically to Kathy and exclaims, Michelle's inside! I love her.

The look on Kathy's face was positively priceless, as she realised the meaning behind his words. At the hospital, he totally disregards the presence of Martin and Kathy, Michelle's brother and her aunt, and doggedly imposes himself on the situation. Daran Little totally got Kathy's conflict between knowing that this association was totally wrong, yet feeling a bit of compassion for Preston because he is, ultimately, still a child.

But he's a sexually precocious child, who struts right into Martin's sphere of comfort in the waiting room, physically imposing himself on Martin's space as he waited for word about his sister. He's already blaming Martin for Michelle's predicament, which is the reaction of a spoiled brat. Michelle's situation was orchestrated by her and her, alone. And was he stupid to think that her relatives and the rest of the community would react as if their relationship was the most normal thing in the world. He's a teenager; she's two years off fifty.

The way Preston was baiting Martin in the waiting room, obviously hoping to provoke the same sort of reaction which resulted in the sort of violent altercation that occurred as a result of the reveal. Nothing of the sort happened.

Instead, Martin sat quietly, not even looking at Preston as this asshole openly boasted about his conquest of Michelle, how he pursued her, how he wanted her, how her marriage was dead - it never mattered to him that she was married or that she had a son older than he was; she was an object he wanted, and he tried to obtain her. 

I stress, this doesn't make Michelle a victim in anyway at all, because legally, Preston was under the age of consent, legally a child; and she was an adult. The onus was on her to act responsibly - to either deflect his advances or, if they became persistent, to make a complaint, first, to the principal of her school and quite possibly, to the police for sexual harassment.

But she didn't. And even though he is, legally, the victim of a sex crime, he is no more deserving of sympathy than she is. His crying in the rain outside her hotel takes on the aspect of a spoiled brat crying the first time he's been denied something that he wanted. She is someone who's almost addicted to this kid - maybe because he fed on her ego, maybe because, when he rocked up in Walford, she was caught in a vulnerable moment again. 

That she never began to imagine that their relationship was pejorative until she was presented with cold, hard evidence that her actions and her reputation for committing a sex crime followed her across continents. The supply agency to which she applied told her in no uncertain terms that her last school had spelled her gross misconduct blatantly to them. As she reiterated, her relationship with Preston was wrong, it was criminal, and she was lucky not to have been prosecuted. (Pssst, in real time, she'd be wearing an orange jumpsuit.)

It was this death of her professional career which made her break with Preston, and whenever she rebutted him or refused him, we saw him for what he was - a spoiled kid who flounced out of the room whenever he heard something he didn't like.

When she rejected Preston and told him to find someone his own age, he manipulated her cruelly, by beginning a relationship with her niece, at which time, the hapless Rebecca became a pawn in their silly bait-and-switch game.

Martin simply and quietly informed Preston that his boasting might make him think he's a man, but he's nothing like a man at all.

I was hoping this kid would die or get killed in this fray, but he's still hanging around like a bad smell, with his dodgy accent and looking at least five years older than he's supposed to be.

In the background of all of this, we find that Ian hasn't insured the chippy, as he confessed to Steven, so that means that one of Ian's businesses is, effectively, kaput; but also, we had Dennis and Louise, showing up like waifs and strays on Ian's doorstep, with Louise quick to inform Ian that "his cousin had assaulted her." (True, she did), but resulting in the two kids bedding down in Ian's house because Jane thought they shouldn't be at home in the Mitchell house, after all of this; and ending with Kathy, laying down the law to Ian, telling him he had to phone Sharon and that Sharon had to come home. 

Apart from the Fowler scenes, this is yet another one of EastEnders' stunts turning out to be less than it was promoted.


Just stop trying to promote Michelle as a victim. If she died as a result of her injuries, I wouldn't be sad. They've ruined this character irreparably, and the actress re-cast to play her isn't working.

Strange, the people for whom I feel sorriest the most in the world at the moment, are two people in way over their heads in the jobs they've been given to do - Jenna Russell and Sean Spicer.

Horniness in the Hospital. Tonight was the night that Kush and Denise simply became trite as a couple. 

Anyone, even with Kush's physique, who absorbed the force of an SUV crashing through the chippy, would be dead in real time, or critically injured. Kush got off with a dislocated shoulder.

This was the age-old ubiquitous scene of someone being cool on another person, until that person is in danger or potentially grievously ill or injured. We even got Denise landed with the tired ol line about life being too short.

Spare me. 

If that isn't enough, it seems Denise is turned on by the sight of an injured Kush in a hospital bed and she closes the curtains around the bed for a moment of privacy and some overt foreplay.


She is just as bad as he is. This is just another relationship based on sex and nothing else. We'll see how far this goes when she starts being pedantic with him, quoting obscure lines from literature or bringing literary themes from classical works into the conversation. Remember, she tried this at the communal Christmas meal in the Vic, which prompted a look of morbid misunderstanding across Kush's face. 

The only thing interesting about this horny pair will be the ubiquitous scene where Carmel, like Michelle, walks in on Kush and Denise in bed, and then goes into helium mode. That may be a matter of weeks or a matter of months, but it won't be that long that we won't realise that we've already been there, done that, read the book, seen the movie and bought the teeshirt regarding yet another sordid tale. 

So gird your loins because we're about to see various scenes of Kush and Denise having surreptitious sex - down the alleyway, in Kush's flat, in the loos of the Vic - sneaking around, almost being caught, being stupidly coy, having Denise call the relationship off again and again before Carmel discovers them, and then we'll be treated to months of circular scenes involving Denise and Carmel, Denise and Kim, Denise and Carmel, Denise and Kim, discussing the same thing again and again - Carmel arguing that she wants Kush to have a nice girl young enough to give her grandchildren, and Kim whining about Denise going after a younger man.

To quote Bette Davis once again, Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

I guess it was for Denise and Kush in that hospital bed.

And It's Good-bye To Her. Well, I suppose Sylvie wasn't in SOC's grand scheme of things. That's about all we get concerning the issue storyline about caring for an elderly relative. The irony is that Tina had relented to other people's advice about getting her mother into a care home, and Queen Bee Whitney had to suggest a 60s party to celebrate the night before Social Services were to assess Sylvie for a home. 

I don't get it. The assessment didn't mean that she would have been taken there and then. But still ... sharp eyes picked up the extension lead and the CD player, reckoning that this would be something to do with Sylvie's death. I must admit, I didn't think her death would occur so soon, but this has always been the way of EastEnders, of late, in ending issue storylines abruptly and unsatisfactorily. 

The message sent out about Lee was that anyone with a mental health issue has to be sent away. Ironic that Radio 4 was all over the place on their Today programme about the BBC promoting mental health treatment in a series of documentaries and in their programming. Obviously, Sean O'Connor never read that menu.

One of the worst performances tonight came from Shona McGarty. It goes to show how much of an impression the bus crash didn't make on me that I couldn't understand why Whitney was getting so upset about Michelle crashing the BMW, when only minutes before that, Whitney was handing Preston his arse about his appalling behaviour with Rebecca and the next, she's crying about Michelle, who was someone she barely knew?

It had to take a line of dialogue to remind me and every other viewer, Johnny (who else) pontificating how "this brings the bus crash back to her." Yeah, I'll bet, and the memory of the snog she shared with Mick and all.

It's a false sense of security that bodes Tina to ask if she and Sylvie could stay that night in the Vic, and it's down to Whitney, who has no more claim on that establishment or that family than nothing, to give her consent, graciously allocating them Mick's and Linda's room.

We got a touching scene between Tina and Sylvie as she brings the CD player into the bedroom to play songs from Sylvie's youth, whilst getting her ready for bed. In the midst of her confusion, Sylvie mistakes Tina for her own mother. It gave us Daran Little at his best with a heart-breakingly beautiful exchange. 

Sylvie: I love you, Mum.
Tina: I'm not your mum, you're MY mum.
Sylvie: Well, I love you anyway.

Tina will live with that memory for the rest of her life. 

In all of this segment, Johnny kept excusing himself from dancing with Sylvie, saying he was tired and wanted to go to bed, but after Tina settled Sylvie, it seemed that she, Whitney and Johnny were drinking downstairs, Tina being stopped by the suddenly needy Whitney from checking on Sylvie.

Another piece of irony - and irony was strong tonight - was that the incident which prompted Tina to seek Social Services help, was when Sylvie mistakenly got into a cold bath in their flat. Tonight, finding some lavender bath salts, she thinks to run a bath for herself and bring the CD player into the bathroom to entertain her whilst she bathed. 

And that was her undoing. She electrocuted herself, to be discovered by Tina.

I knew the character was going to die, but this surprise death was curiously low key and had the feel of a rushed finish to a storyline. 

All in all, it was an uneven episode, and this week, heavily touted, has, yet again, failed to live up to expectations.

Oh, and as for Prestonovich's unfathomable Russian-American accent, here's what Preston, coming from the Florida Panhandle, would really sound like. Listen to the character named Gomer:-

Now imagine that voice cooing to Michelle.

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