Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Half an Hour of Nothing - Review:- Tuesday 25.04.2017

It's official. EastEnders is probably now Britain's third soap, maybe even its fourth. There's no talk anymore of the show vying with Corrie and very little of it vying with Emmerdale. Tonight was the fastest 30 minutes of my life I'll never get back where virtually nothing happened. It was a filler episode for a filler episode. Shirley forged a signature. There was yet another Ladies' Night in the Vic. Jane and Sharon drank cocktails. Max superficially reached out to his daughters. We got a smidgeon of  EastEnders-Does-Men-Behaving-Badly with Donna slotting into the Dorothy role. Kim tried to be funny and failed. Bonnie Langford tried to act drunk and failed. Honey has turned into a cold-faced, intolerant bitch, who's attitude hasn't been lost on Derek, because Honey - like a lot of the writers in the show's writing room at the moment - thinks elderly people are slow-witted and bumbling. Even when Derek won Kim's pathetic quiz, which she tried to rig for Denise's benefit,for them, Honey was hard put even to crack a smile of thanks. Lauren and Abi sniped at each other when Lauren wasn't staring at her phone. Abi made a profound statement, reckoning that maybe Lauren wasn't getting any job offers because she wasn't qualified to do those jobs for which she was applying. That was a pretty shrewd assessment. Woody, who continues to get better and better each episode,is onto Whitney,but not in the way Whitney would like him to be. Johnny is too boring to pull a date on his own. And, once again, the last scene was the highlight of the episode - when Max lets a significant penny drop that selling the freehold of the pub is a lot more complicated for the Carters than Shirley thought.

And the star of the show managed to look significantly wan and worried in anticipation of her latest issue storyline concerning starvation and hunger.

Is It Me or Do Walford's Two Pubs Really Suck? Under the Carters' watch, the Vic has done so many Quiz Nights, so many karaokes, so many Ladies' Nights, that these things have become routine. At the other end of the Square, Kim's attempt at competition with a music quiz in a pub whose floor space encompasses about three tables, was a massive flop. The most exciting thing that happened was when a very drunk Carmel fell off her chair and spilled her drink.

The real star of that show, the understated star, was Vincent. The quiz was rigged by Kim for Denise to win the prize. So much for community. Kim looks out for Denise. She rigs a quiz for her, she offers her a free holiday, and throughout everything, Denise wears a po-face.Because that's just the way she is. Call it pride; it's not. It's just sheer bloody-mindedness.

Yes, yes, yes ... I know this is all gearing up to yet another Massive Issue Storyline featuring Denise - and one that's going to emphasize hunger, poverty, deprivation and food banks in London 2017. I'm all for the show doing issue storylines, if they're done well; but this is just another frivolous addition to the long list of storylines we've had to endure whilst Sean O'Connor refits EastEnders to the notion that its three biggest attributes are Denise, NuMichelle and the teens. Having given up a child for adoption - and knowing SOC and EastEnders, this won't be the last we'll hear of that, pursued the only GCSE course in the history of British education which reads and sounds like a graduate course in English Lit at Oxford, assaulted a minor, slagged off the company who re-employed her after she stole from them, refused to adhere to a disciplinary measure which may have saved her job, single-handedly organised a fund-raising fayre on the Square whilst at the same time saving Walford from rats, rubbish and an ineffectual mayor, our heroine will now succumb to financial stringency and starvation. She'll suffer in silence and sneak around to a food bank.

This - this! - is meant to illustrate poverty and deprivation in May's Britain.

Such a potential storyline with this character sucks shit. Indeed, any such storyline with any character, including the cash-strapped Carters would suck shit. Why Denise? Why not Ben and Jay, who - last week - were reduced to cadging free meals off Kathy in the café? Well, because of just that. Kathy, and by extension, Sharon, in Phil's absence, would never have let either lad starve.

Why not Billy? After all, he's the perpetual loser? Well, because Billy's gainfully employed in management now, with his wife bringing in a second income from the Minute Mart. Dot's looked after by Jack, for the most part, and Abi. Derek might have worked, considering he's only just returned and is a fairly isolated, elderly man living on his own; but he's not that familiar to a lot of viewers who may not remember his original stint on the Square.

I'll tell you on whom this storyline would have worked a treat and would have resonated too - Bianca and all her 'Owmahgonnafeedmahkids glory. Her bottoming out came right at the time when food banks were beginning to make their presence known in Britain. Instead, Kirkwood/Newman had Tanya feeding the Jackson-Butchers the leavings from her table, which consisted of a box of wine and some roast potatoes.

We're going to have to watch Denise's dignified, secret suffering, and we all know how that will pan out ... like Camille ...

... except that, instead of dying, our heroine will fall daintily into the massive arms of Kush, and he'll rescue her. As usual.

Still, I couldn't get over all the kerfuffle about the holiday offered by Kim. Paying for the flights shouldn't have been a problem. Kush would have probably have paid for Denise's (that's what toyboys boyfriends do), and flights to Spain are cheap via EasyJet and Ryan Air.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The gist of this entire torturous ordeal was Carmel forcing herself to spend time with Kush and Denise in order to try to accept them as a couple.At least, she's trying, but Denise sat there throughout the entire evening with a face like a wet weekend, and I daresay Carmel, narcissist that she is, would be pretty perceptive to spending time with someone whom she thought was her friend, only to have that friend virtually say Fuck you, I'm fucking your son. That was a nice send-off to a friendship. Even now, Carmel hesitates before referring to Denise as her "friend."

I will give kudos to Vincent for understanding Carmel and being sensitive enough to her issues. Denise attaches herself to Kush from the shoulder down in The Albert and visibly distances him from Carmel, and Vincent is perceptive enough to know how difficult it is for her, even saying such a relationship would be difficult for him to accept if Pearl one day rocked up with a sugar daddy who happened to be a mate and a contemporary of Vincent's. But like everyone else, he encourages her to continue spending time with them, only to have her insinuate herself into what Kim describes as a "family" holiday.

Meanwhile on the other side of the Square, a decision had been made. Shirley talked to Linda,and Linda decided to sell the freehold of the pub and thus, save Lady Di's life. There's one stipulation - that Mick not be told,which is a bit stupid anyway because he's going to find out eventually.

Please remind me ... what was that promise, only just reiterated during Linda's last visit to the Vic, about Mick and Linda keeping secrets from each other? Oh, well, that makes a change having Shirley and Linda keep a secret from Mick. Usually, it's Mick and Shirley keeping a secret from Linda.

Now this is going to be interesting, especially considering that Linda's unknown rival, dirty Whitney, seeks to scupper the idea and sneaks behind Shirley's back to warn Mick what's afoot. You'd like to think that Mick would sacrifice the freehold of the pub if it meant money to clear his debts and to save a much loved family pet; but the Mick of late is too obtuse and too stubborn to see anything outside his blinkered view of the world.

Woody is growing on me more and more as a character. He and Konrad are examples of just how much this show is crying out for new blood. I knew nothing about Lee Ryan, but he fits the bill well for the show, and I loved his putting the simpering, doltish Whitney in her place, by reminding her just exactly what her place in the order of that pub really is,catching her trying to call Mick on the sly  ...

Woody: Don't; you think that's Linda's decision to make and not yours? At the end of the day, we just work here. Everything else just isn't our business, is it?

Whitney: Well, if you'd seen how much he's been through and what this place means to him, you wouldn't be saying that.

Woody:No, I would. Cos I know my place. And if you want to keep yours, don't call him again.

Wow, the ultimate in handing an upstart her arse. First, he succinctly reminds her that she, like he, is paid help.Any responsibility for informing Mick about pub matters should, rightfully, come from Linda. Whitney, like Woody, needs to know her place, or else she'll lose it. And that might not be such a bad idea.

We know what will happen. Mick will return, Whitney will tell him the big secret,and there'll be a ructure between Mick and Linda. Whitney will side with Mick and then the omnipresent Denise will reveal to Linda something she will think Linda needs to know ... the kiss.

Ultimately, it was Linda who made the decision to sell the freehold and to keep this a secret from Mick.Presumably, she also knows that Shirley would have to have forged Mick's signature on the official paperwork - Mick and Linda being majority shareholders in the pub, so right away, the document is invalid, or will be when it's discovered that Mick's signature is forged. With Woody admitting that most of the pubs where he's worked have been leaseholds and Sharon confirming (great continuity) that Den and Angie were leaseholders in the Vic, what could go wrong for Shirley?

Well, Max lets the penneth drop at the end, informing her that Grafton Hall or whoever would be making an appearance soon to take a look at the pub and "make suggestions" as to how the business might maximise its profits. I imagine "Grafton Hall" will be Lisa Faulkner's front, considering that she gets on "the wrong side" of a particular family. So suddenly Shirley realises that this transition might not be as easy as she thinks.

And finally, hungover Johnny is no different from common-and-garden-stick-of-wood Johnny - so much so, that various Carters and faux Carters (Whitney) have to reiterate constantly the fact that Johnny's hungover.

He's hungover.

He's so hungover.

Johnny's hungover.

It's a not-so-subtle recognition of Ted Reilly's acting inadequacies. In fact, Johnny needs help all around, because Woody hires two mates as strippers and tips one off about gay Johnny, then bets the other stripper that the mate would chat up Johnny.

This was a ladies' night - and yet no one had the foresight to hire strippers, something of which Woody thought and everyone hailed as genius.


Has everyone suddenly become stupid in this mess? 

Same Shit, Different Day. Ben and Jay do Men Behaving Badly (again) with Donna morphing into the Dorothy character. She ends up in the Vic where Max has arranged a night out with his two reluctant daughters - how's that for originality?

Lauren continues looking for a job, registering online with an agency and sending her CV out to prospective employers twenty times a day.

The prospect of Lauren's CV is something to consider. What, exactly, has she done? What are her academic qualifications? None. What are her life skills? Self-obsession and selfishness. What is her work experience? The odd shift at Beales' as a waitress, occasional cleaner, tea-maker for web designers, nothing much, really. It was amusing when she told Max at the pub that she hadn't yet received any positive feedback, which handed Abi the most truthful line of the night:-

Well, you're obviously applying for things you're not qualified for.

Brilliant, Abi,and brilliant for Abi challenging Lauren's self-centred view and pithy excuse that she didn't want to be "reliant" on Steven, by reminding her that she'd been reliant on him for months. The plain truth, and I would bet Abi susses it, is that Lauren is bored with Steven - that much was obvious in the backhanded way she slapped down his suggestion that they spend another evening of quality time together. Oh, they could do that anytime,she dismissed it. She, quite obviously, envies Abi's freedom and has to get a dig at her relying on Dot, as if Lauren is so obtuse that she only sees the reason for two people living together in whatever circumstance is for one to sustain financially the other. It means nothing to her that Abi reiterates that if she didn't live with Dot, who would look after her? As much as Lauren asserts that they all do their fair bit, they actually don't.

Max's quality time with his daughters is all feint. He was too quick to offer Lauren praise for being "proactive" and to offer her some leads for jobs. I know Max, the former Max, was always able to forgive and love his daughters unconditionally, but I remember all too well his ultimate reconciliation scene with Lauren some months back, how she genuinely wanted to be back in his good books (remembering how stupid she was not to realise why Max spent all those months rejecting her in the aftermath of his imprisonment), and how it was obvious that Max had other things on his mind. He's encouraging both girls to think of themselves before others - but hasn't that always been the Brannings' modus operandi?

Both daughters betrayed him in different ways, and I daresay Max has them both in his crosshairs as well as everything else.

Honey, who's turned into a brittle, tense, intolerant bitch obviously thinks Derek is old and bumbling and insensitive to her criticism. It's Derek who wins their team the prize in Kim's music quiz. It's also a smack in Honey's face that he's sensed the fact that she finds him a chore to train and to be around daily, and it comes as a shock when he accedes to her secret wishes and says he's not taking the Minute Mart job except on a casual basis. 

People forget that Honey has an ugly, passive-aggressive bitchy side to her character, and also that she can be quite intolerant as well. She's another one who got subtly put in her place.

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